Why Choose the NAIA

Why Choose the NAIA

Membership Basics

Application Guide


Member Institutions

Member Conferences

New Member Resources

Good financial decision, institutional flexibility and autonomy, straightforward approach to rules — learn more about what the NAIA has to offer your institution. Contact Kevin Dee, Vice President for Campus and Conference Initiatives at 816.595.8000

Active membership in the NAIA is open to four-year colleges and universities and upper-level, two-year institutions in the United States and Canada that award the bachelor's (baccalaureate) degree, or its equivalent. Institutions in the U.S. must be fully accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies; Canadian institutions must have accreditation from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Associate membership is accorded to institutions that meet the criteria but do not hold full membership in one of the accrediting bodies or to institutions that hold full accreditation but are classified as developing athletic programs.

Every NAIA institution must sponsor a minimum of six NAIA championship sports no later than the beginning of the fourth full academic year of active NAIA membership.  Single gender institutions must sponsor a minimum of three NAIA championship sports no later than the beginning of the fourth full academic year of active NAIA membership.   Affiliated NAIA conferences often have more strict sponsorship requirements.

Institutions in the process of building sports programs have the option of sponsoring an intercollegiate sport and opting out of NAIA championships on a year-by-year basis. This affords the institution scheduling advantages and requires application of NAIA rules for participating student-athletes in that sport.


One-time application fee


Annual fees

Annual membership dues (2014-15)


Average dues for affiliated conference membership


Average dues for independent

$2,000 plus $200 per sport

Statistical software fees

ranges from $50 to $500 per sport

Required participation in the NAIA's catastrophic injury insurance

ranges from $2,600 to $15,000

The NAIA's catastrophic injury insurance program is administered by Summit America Insurance Co. Premiums vary annually and depend on the sponsored sports; see NAIA Catastrophic Insurance brochure, plan information, enrollent form. (Optional club and intramural plan and enrollment form.)

The NAIA has maximum institutional aid limits for each varsity sport ,but those do not apply to junior varsity. Some or all of the institutional aid awarded to individual student-athletes may be exempted based on their academic performance.

Playing rules for each sport may stipulate facility or playing field dimensions or standards. The membership evaluation process may take into consideration the quality of current athletics facilities and feasibility of planned improvements.

The NAIA has 24 conferences including the Association of Independent Institutions. Conference membership offers scheduling benefits, cost-effective post season opportunities and an environment to build relationships and rivalries with other institutions. It is recommended that prospective members engage in a discussion with potential conferences.

All first-time NAIA student-athletes must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center to have their academic and athletic eligibility determined. Ongoing eligibility is managed at the institution.

October 1 — Membership applications must be received in the NAIA National Office.
By December 1 — Initial review determines whether a campus visit will be conducted.
January — Webinar conducted with prospective member school staff
By March 1 — Membership Evaluation Team visits campus.
April — Council of Presidents meeting — Institution is notified of the decision within 10 days.
August 1 — If approved, membership becomes effective.