How Do College Divisions Work? 

Upper 90 College works relentlessly to find the right fit for each of our recruits.  Because of our years of experience in building solid relationships within our own network of schools in the USA, we have a very diverse list of college sports programs who we constantly work with to find the very best fit for our clients. Our focus is to always look at the best academic fit first, while still keeping in mind the social and athletic fit of programs we present back to each client we work with.  Upper 90 College now has relationships with coaches in over 1000 college and universities in the USA.

Navigating the different divisions across different governing bodies of US college sports can be difficult, our team of Recruiting Directors make it easy. For example, the top programs in Division 1 (usually the top 20-30 ranked teams) are looking for top national team  athletes, who are also good students and  can make the transition to the professional game. Teams in lower NCAA D1, D2, D3, and NAIA have a strong affinity and in many sports teams can compete with other teams in other divisions.  Our team firmly believe that to our recruits should never be tied to any one division, but rather look at many factors in choosing the right school, including:

  • Academic Level
  • Location
  • Opportunities to compete their first season
  • Interest and scholarship amounts



NCAA Division 1 is one of the most noticeable conferences in the US, however it is also one of the most challenging levels of college sports competition to gain access to.  The top ranked schools in this division are some of the top programs in each of their respective sports.  NCAA Division I schools offer both academic and athletic scholarships, although Ivy League schools (such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale and similar universities) do not offer athletic awards. 


NCAA Division 2 encompass smaller schools that still can compete at a very good level.  It is not uncommon for NCAA D2 programs to compete, or even beat, NCAA Division 1 programs.  NCAA D2 athletes can receive academic and athletic scholarships. 



NCAA Division 3 consist of some to the top academic institutions in the USA. Division 3 schools want their student-athletes to focus predominantly on academics, rather than just athletics alone.  Nonetheless, there are very good athletic programs, in NCAA Division 3 that also can compete (and beat) NCAA Div 2 and even Div 1 universities.  Because of this focus of academics, all NCAA Division 3 schools only offer academic awards. 


The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a separate governing body of college sports that consist of smaller colleges and universities across the United States.  Some of the top athletic programs in the NAIA have historically been some of the top programs in their respective sports no matter the division.  NAIA programs can provide both academic and athletic scholarship awards.