In the US, there are different association, that organize competition between colleges. The biggest association is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), that is divided in three divisions (NCAA I-III).
In NCAA I the biggest and in average strongest teams can be found (in relation to the amount of students). Furthermore, they have higher amount of scholarships and offer many scholarships. Players until age of 24 are eligible for NCAA I.
NCAA II normally consists of colleges with less students than in NCAA I (nearly 90% have less than 8.000 students). Students that prefer smaller universities will prefer that. Also important to know is that top teams of NCAA II regularly beat NCAA I teams ion a mid or lower level when competing in friendly matches. Age limits do not exist, but your eligibility is determined for a limited amount of terms and the date of high school graduation.
In NCAA III colleges do not offer scholarships in soccer – therefor the sportive level is much lower however the best teams do have a good quality. Mostly, these universities enable a high-quality education and award students with valuable academic education and scholarships (e.g. music, art etc.)
In addition to the NCAA the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) is a further association that organizes college soccer. NAIA colleges are comparable to NCAA II colleges – they are also smaller and more familiar. An important difference to NCAA II colleges is the lower amount of several sports. Mostly, NAIA colleges have less sports, but can offer more scholarships per team.
An important point to understand is that the membership to NCAA/NAIA or different divisions does not allow a conclusion to the sportive level of each team. The amount of sports and the size of an university determine in which division the college may compete. Therefore, top teams of NCAA II or NAIA are better than several teams in Div I. In conclusion, students should not make a decision depending on the division, they should pay attention to the respective team level. Accordingly, the expertise of our agency is an important key factor to find university with the best fit for each student – otherwise there could be lots of disappointment.
The following overview gives you an idea about the comparison between soccer level of each American division and the German league system.
|NCAA I||Bundesliga – Bundesliga 2|
|NCAA II||Bundesliga 2 – Regionalliga/ Verbandsliga|
|NAIA||Bundesliga 2 – Regionalliga/ Verbandsliga|
|NCAA I||Regionalliga – Verbandsliga|
|NCAA II||Oberliga – Verbandsliga/ Landesliga|
|NAIA||Oberliga – Verbandsliga/ Landesliga|