Division II

Division II programs must offer at least 10 sports (at least five for men and five for women, or four for men and six for women). MORE »

Division III

Division III programs must offer at least five sports for men and five for women. MORE »

Differences Among the Three Divisions: Division I

Number of required sports: Division I members must offer at least 14 sports (at least seven for men and seven for women, or six for men and eight for women). The institution must sponsor at least two team sports (for example, football, basketball or volleyball) for each gender. The school also must have participating male and female teams or participants in the fall, winter and spring seasons.

Scheduling: Each Division I program must play a minimum number of contests against Division I opponents. The minimums vary by sport.

Financial aid: Division I institutions must offer a minimum amount of financial aid but may not exceed established maximums. Football Bowl Subdivision football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, women’s volleyball and women’s tennis are considered head-count sports for financial aid purposes in Division I. Financial aid equivalencies (one grant-in-aid package divided into smaller pieces) may be offered in all other sports.

Subdivisions: Division I allows for institutions to choose subdivisions based on the scope of their football programs. The three subdivisions are:

  • Football Bowl Subdivision (120 members): The Football Bowl Subdivision uses the postseason bowl system rather than a playoff to determine a national champion in football. FBS members must comply with higher standards for sports sponsorship (the overall program must offer 16 teams rather than  the 14 required of other Division I members), football scheduling and overall financial aid. In addition, FBS members must meet minimum attendance standards in football.
  • Football Championship Subdivision (118 members). FCS members determine their football champion through an NCAA playoff.
  • Division I (97 members). The remaining programs of Division I do not sponsor football.

Total Division I membership: 335 members.

Public/private: In Division I, 66 percent of the members are public institutions; 34 percent are private.

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2011