College Soccer Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the world of scholarships in collegiate soccer and the chances of getting one. We also deliver some advice that can be used to aid in the recruiting process.


Soccer is an immensely popular sport, though not so much in the United States. But for some the sport is a lifelong passion. If this describes you, and you excel at the sport on your high school team, you may want to consider pursuing a soccer scholarship at the collegiate level. Not only can it help you pay for college, but you can represent your school while playing the sport you love.

The rest of this lesson will explore soccer scholarships, how easy it is to get one, and some tips for the recruiting process.


Soccer players have options if they want to try to gain an athletic scholarship, as over 1,600 schools field teams at the collegiate level. However, not all of these schools offer scholarships. Of those that do, how many scholarships each school is allowed to offer depends on what collegiate athletic association and division to which they belong. Scholarships break down as follows:

  • NCAA Division I: 9.9 scholarships for men's teams, 14 scholarships for women's teams
  • NCAA Division II: 9 scholarships for men's teams, 9.9 scholarships for women's teams
  • NCAA Division III: no scholarships offered
  • NAIA: 12 scholarships for men's teams, 12 scholarships for women's teams
  • NJCAA: 18 scholarships for men's teams, 18 scholarships for women's teams

Now, at first glance, these numbers probably don't look right. Don't soccer teams need at least 11 players? How can schools only give out 9 scholarships then? Well, that's because not everyone on these teams gets a scholarship.

Additionally, if you are good enough to get one, it probably won't be a full scholarship. Soccer is an equivalency sport, meaning that coaches can divide scholarships in myriad ways, so long as the sum total is less than the maximum allowed for the division. So, while it is possible to get a full scholarship, it is far more likely you will get a partial.

One other thing to note on scholarships is the NJCAA. While the 18 scholarships available for both men's and women's teams may make it appealing, know that the 'JC' in NJCAA stands for 'junior college'. That means these programs are generally not four-year institutions where you can go for your entire education. Junior colleges are meant to give students and student-athletes a place to work on their grades and hone their schools before jumping to a larger, four-year institution.

Tips & Tricks

While scholarships may be scarcer in soccer than in other sports, there are things you can do to help improve your visibility with college coaches. Following some of these handy pointers below can mean the difference in getting recruited.

Positional Needs

Soccer requires a diverse skill set beyond the basics. The skills and technique that make someone a good striker are not the same as those required to be a good central defender. If you have made it this far, it's likely you are very good at one or a few positions, and you are out of place in others. That's normal, but knowing the positional needs of college teams is important to the recruiting process.

For example, if you are a central midfielder, but your three favorite schools all have high-performing midfielders on scholarship, then you may want to look elsewhere. It be hard for you to find playing time, and with a finite amount of scholarships, a coach may not choose to give one to a player that will mainly be on the bench for the next year or two.

Do some research to know which schools need players in your position and which do not.

Contact Coaches

College soccer coaches usually do not have a huge network of scouts or a large budget with which to make recruiting trips. Unless you are one of the top players in the country, it's likely that you will need to make first contact. This can be done a number of ways. Sometimes, picking up the phone and calling the school's athletic department is all that's necessary.

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