After completing your high school and junior volleyball careers, the natural progression is to play college volleyball. There are about 2,000 two- and four-year schools that offer intercollegiate volleyball, and many of those same schools sponsor a club team and/or intramural leagues. Whether you’re trying to sharpen your skills among the best players in the nation – and in some cases, the world – or continuing a healthy, fun activity with friends, there’s a spot for you in college volleyball.
High-level college ball can even be a motivating factor for many players, and it’s true that some players have some or all of their college tuition covered by athletic scholarships. Just some, though; less than six percent of high school volleyball players will play at the collegiate level, and 1.2% play in Division I. A spot on a college roster is highly contested, and USA Volleyball wants to properly arm its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to claim one of these spots.
Did You Know?
Every single member of a U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team since 2012 played NCAA Division I volleyball.
The Path Forward
Collegiate volleyball is also a critical part of the pipeline toward international volleyball. The current U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams is comprised solely of current or former collegiate players, and USA Volleyball sponsors Collegiate National Teams to help top college athletes compete against some of the best international competition in the age group. Even in the beach game, collegiate student-athletes have the chance to experience the sport on an international level before moving onto professional volleyball.
College volleyball could be one of many steps on your Path to the Podium, and USA Volleyball is proud to help young athletes sharpen their skills, face stiff competition and experience international volleyball.
Levels of Play
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the most well-known governing body of college volleyball. Roughly 1,200 NCAA schools, all four-year schools, are self-separated into three levels: Division I, Division II and Division III. Division I is the highest level of competition in all of college volleyball, and, for women’s indoor, offers full tuition coverage and room and board for those who receive one of 12 available scholarships. Division I men’s indoor student-athletes may receive an athletic scholarship up to full tuition and fees, books plus room and board, however each men’s volleyball team only has the the equivalent of 4.5 full scholarships to be shared among the entire roster. Beach volleyball has six scholarships for the entire roster.
Division II may offer a up to a full athletic scholarship, although each school may distribute them throughout the roster as the coach sees fit; women’s indoor teams receive the equivalent of eight scholarships, men’s indoor 4.5, and beach receives five. Division III schools may not offer athletic scholarships, although these schools do offer regular academic aid.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is smaller than the NCAA with about 300 schools, also all four-year institutions. It is split into two divisions, with NAIA Division I being competitively comparable to the NCAA’s Division II. NAIA schools at either level may offer athletic aid, the amount of which varies widely.
Each team, men’s and women’s, may distribute the equivalent of eight scholarships throughout the roster.
The National Junior College Athletic Association governs athletics at two-year schools across the nation. It too splits its roughly 525 schools into three divisions. Division I schools may offer up an athletic scholarship up to the full cost of attendance including room and board, Division II can offer up to the full cost of tuition and class fees and materials, while Division III does not offer athletic scholarships. Not every Division I or II school, however, must offer an athletic scholarship.
Both Division I and II schools may distribute 14 scholarships across the entire roster.
“Like many other players, college was my first time exploring life on my own and I learned A LOT of important things about myself on and off the court that contributed to the person and player that I am proud to be.”
The National Collegiate Volleyball Federation (NCVF) sponsors a national championship for collegiate club teams, now in its third decade. More than 400 men’s and women’s teams compete in the championships every April. The club teams have tryouts and generally train two or three times per week. They compete regionally against other club teams prior to ending the season at nationals. If you do not have a club at a college, start one!
Play Collegiate Intramurals
Volleyball is the most popular fall intramural sport on every college campus. Both coed and single gender competition at various levels exist. It’s a great way to start a new school year, representing your dorm, making new friends and improving your skills. Winter and spring leagues also exist, and in some warmer climes, beach or grass competition is programmed during the warmer months.