NAIA Academic Requirements to Play College Basketball

NAIA Requirements for College Basketball Players – What You Need to be Eligible!

The NAIA is a great option for prospective student athletes who are looking to play college basketball. It is an alternative to playing NCAA college basketball. It is advisable to consider NAIA schools to expand your college options as these school also offer student athletes a great education, great basketball competition and scholarships. In terms of academics, the NAIA requirements to be eligible are slightly different to that of the NCAA. Let’s take a look at what the differences are and what requirements you need to meet to be accepted into an NAIA school and be eligible to compete in college basketball.


Here you can access the most up-to-date college basketball openings from college coaches looking for players to fill roster spots

What is an NAIA Prospective Student Athlete?

An NAIA prospective student athlete is an individual who has never identified with the NAIA or with any another collegiate institution or division. To be a participating student athlete, all students participating in NAIA college basketball must be admitted into a NAIA school under strict admission standards. These standards must be equal to or higher than those applied to the general student body of that school.

What is an Entering Freshman?

An Entering Freshman is a student who has not been previously identified with any other schools of higher learning for any two semesters or three quarters (or the equivalent). Enrollment into an NAIA school is the completion of all the NAIA’s enrollment forms or cards. Be aware that payment of any fees associated with registering or exams or any other applicable cost is not considered by the NAIA as a definition of enrollment.


The NAIA Eligibility Center at determines the eligibility of first-time student-athletes.
Every student interested in playing basketball at NAIA schools for the first time needs to register online with the NAIA Eligibility Center and receive an eligible determination. This applies to high school seniors and transfers from both two- and four-year colleges. Remember, the NAIA and NCAA are two separate associations. The two associations have two different sets of rules and certification processes. This means that if you are looking at NCAA schools and NAIA schools you must register for each separate eligibility center.

Paperwork you will need to complete for Eligibility Certification includes:

  • Completion and filing of the NAIA Official Eligibility certificate
  • NAIA Certificate of Clearance
  • Transfer Player Eligibility Statement (when applicable)
  • Eligibility Certificate for Entering Freshmen (when applicable)
  • Competitive Experience Outside Intercollegiate Athletics form (when applicable) for all students prior to allowing those students to represent the institution in any manner during a term.

So what do you need as a Student Athlete looking to play NAIA basketball?

The NAIA is a much easier process to becoming academically eligible than the NCAA. There are only a few requirements every freshman must have to play at an NAIA school. To be eligible for NAIA competition, a freshman student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a graduate of an accredited high school or be accepted as a regular student in good standing at the enrolling school
  • Meet two of three entry-level academic requirements:
  • Test Score – Minimum score of: ACT – 18 composite score or SAT – 860 (domestic student athletes) 970 (international student athletes) between the evidence-based reading, writing and math.
  • HS GPA – Minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0 on 4.0
  • Rank top 50% in your high school graduating class (have a letter from your high school to prove this)


Mid-Year Eligibility Opportunity. If you do not meet the requirements for an entering freshman, as a student athlete you can satisfy one of the initial requirements in addition to earning 12 institutional credits hours with a grade of “C” or better during your first term of attendance at your NAIA school to be eligible. If you are a student athlete with a diagnosed learning disability, and you do not meet the freshman eligibility requirements, you may be able to have your academic profiles reviewed by the NAIA Learning Disability Advisory Committee (LDAC) at the request of an NAIA school you are looking to attend. The Learning Disability Advisory Committee will then provide recommendations to the National Eligibility Committee to assist with a final decision on your specific situation.

Are there early decisions for high school seniors?

Yes. Student athletes who have completed their junior year of high school and have at least a 3.0
GPA on a 4.0 scale (2.5 on a 4.0 scale midway through senior year) and the minimum test
scores required – can get an eligibility determination before graduating from high school.
If you are one of these student athletes, you will need to request that your official transcripts (after your junior year) be sent to the NAIA Eligibility Center and contact ACT or SAT to have their test scores sent
directly to them too.

How does a Student Athlete remain eligible during term at an NAIA school?

Once you become an NAIA student-athlete, to stay eligible you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 hours at all times and be making progress, working towards a degree. When you reach junior year (either athletically or academically), you have to maintain a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Remember, your eligibility is reviewed at the end of every term you are in school.

What if I am not academically eligible to play NAIA basketball?

If you are a student athlete who does not meet the NAIA (or NCAA) academic eligibility requirements there is another option for you. You can go to a Junior College/ Community College for two years. This way, you can still play basketball while you are working towards gaining academic eligibility to go onto either a 4 year NAIA or NCAA school after. To be eligible to go to to a JUCO school as a student athlete you must meet their entrance eligibility requirements, enrollment requirements, and accumulation requirements. These requirements might vary slightly from school to school so check with each school’s admissions department. To stay eligible at a junior college (this means being allowed to play basketball and compete) you must be making satisfactory progress within your approved college program or course that you are taking at the junior college.


Here you can access the most up-to-date college basketball openings from college coaches looking for players to fill roster spots