Volleyball in the USA

Teams, Divisions and Competitive Quality

More than a thousand universities and colleges in the USA offer athletic scholarships to women volleyball players.  Competitive quality is from high to low.  Some teams are equal to the world’s best professional teams.  Most American teams are similar to secondary European leagues.

There are five categories of American volleyball teams:

• NCAA Division I  (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
This includes 328 universities and colleges.  The top Division I teams are nearly equal to the best professional teams in the world.

• NCAA Division II  (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
This includes 270 universities and colleges.  The best Division II teams are stronger than many Division I teams.  Most Division II schools have a smaller number of students than Division I schools.

• NCAA Division III  (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
These schools do not offer athletic scholarships.  They can pay some of your expenses, but not all of them.  Many Division III schools are elite in academics, but sports are a lower priority.

• NJCAA  (National Junior College Athletic Association)
Junior colleges are two-year schools that prepare students to advance to NCAA and NAIA universities.  Most two-year schools have easier entry requirements.  They can be excellent starting places for student-athletes from other countries.  The volleyball teams range from strong to weak.

• NAIA  (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)
These schools include a variety of teams, scholarships and academic quality.  Most are small colleges and universities.  Some have a religious emphasis.  Many NAIA schools are eager to recruit foreign students and have easier entry requirements.

Yearly Calendar

The life of a typical student-athlete in the USA follows this schedule:

• August:  Train with your team and prepare for official matches.

• September-November:  Study and attend classes.  Train with your team and compete in official matches.

• Early December:  Finish classes.  Some teams compete in national championship tournaments.

• Middle December-Middle January:  Holiday.  Return to your home if you like.  Many foreign students stay at the homes of friends from school.

• Middle January-Early April:  Study and attend classes.  Train with your team, and compete in friendly matches.

• Early April-Early May:  Finish classes.  Train with your team.

• Early May-Early August:  Holiday.  Return to your home.  Some foreign students stay on campus or visit the homes of their friends.

Professional and Amateur Rules

Professional volleyball players in some countries can not be student-athletes in the USA.  If you signed a contract and received money from a club, a scholarship might not be possible for you.  However, rules about professional and amateur status are complex, and many professional players have scholarships at American universities.  If you are not sure about your status, email your questions to AVSR.

Volleyball Terms in the USA

• Athletic Scholarship:  Contract between a student-athlete and a university or college.  The student plays on a sport team and studies at the university.  All major expenses are paid by the school.
• Coach:  Combination of a trainer and manager.  The head volleyball coach is the team’s #1 trainer and manager.
• College:  Similar to a European university.  Most colleges are smaller than universities and offer a narrower range of studies, but the quality of education may be excellent.
• Conference (League):  A group of university or college teams that compete against each other.
• High School:  Secondary school (final education level before university or college).
• Junior College:  Two-year college that prepares students to advance to full universities and colleges.
• Student-Athlete:  A student who plays on a sport team at her university or college.
• University:  Similar to a European university.  Most student-athletes earn a bachelor's degree in four or five years.  Students can earn a master's degree in one or two more years.