The NCAA, the major governing body for intercollegiate sports, separates its member institutions by divisions. Division I colleges are generally the biggest. They have the largest athletic department budgets and their sports teams generate the most revenue. All of the schools that participate in bowl games and March Madness are Division I schools. However, there are some regional colleges and smaller private schools you may not be familiar with that are also classified as Division I. In this article, I’ll give you a basic understanding of Division I and a complete list of current Division I schools by state.
UPDATE: NCAA Changes Due to COVID-19
As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, NCAA has made changes to player eligibility. First, prospective Division I and Division II players are no longer required to submit ACT or SAT scores (although submitting them is still highly recommended). Their academic eligibility will only be based on GPA and core course requirements. Additionally, the NCAA granted spring and fall 2020 athletes an additional year of eligibility and season of competition. You can find more COVID-19 NCAA updates here.
Why Are There NCAA Divisions?
NCAA Divisions exist to create parity and level the playing field. With divisions, schools should be competing against other schools of a similar size and with similar resources. However, in the climate of today's NCAA sports, there can be huge disparities between schools in the same division, especially in Division I.
For example, from 2006-2011, the athletics revenue for the University of Alabama was $124,498,616. During that same period, the athletics revenue for Alabama State University was $10,614,081. Both are Division I schools.
What Makes Division I Unique?
Compared to NCAA Division II and III schools, NCAA Division I schools have the biggest student bodies, the largest athletic budgets, and the most athletic scholarships.
All of the major sports conferences, including the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC, are composed of Division I colleges.
While Ivy League colleges are Division I, they don't offer athletic scholarships.
Division I Fun Facts
- There are currently 350 colleges classified as Division I for NCAA competition.
- Alaska is the only state without a Division 1 school.
- Stanford University has the most Division I NCAA championships with 123.
- On average, only 4% of the student bodies at Division I schools participate in NCAA sports.
- Stanford has won the most Learfield Sports Directors' Cup awards, which are given to the most successful Division I athletics program each year.
- The University of Oregon won the very first NCAA men's basketball championship in 1939.
- Louisiana Tech won the very first NCAA women's basketball championship in 1982.
The 1982 Louisiana Tech women's basketball team
How Should You Use This List?
If there's a college you're considering, you can determine if it's a Division I institution. If you're interested in a particular sport, check to see which colleges are Division I in that sport. Some schools are Division I in one or two sports and Division II or III in the rest. For example, Colorado College is Division I in men's ice hockey and women's soccer, but the rest of their varsity sports are Division III.
If you're interested in football, you should also check to see if a particular school is FBS, FCS, or if it even has a football program.
Division I Colleges By State
District of Columbia
University of Hawaii, Manoa
University of Maine
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of St. Thomas
University of Vermont
University of Wyoming
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.