24/36-Hour Rule, Part 1: The Basics
The 24/36-Hour Rule is a core NAIA eligibility requirement, ensuring that a student is making steady, continuous academic progress. However, calculating the 24/36-Hour Rule can be tricky. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take an in-depth look at the 24/36-Hour Rule, including reviewing the foundation of the rule, examining its exceptions and application for mixed terms, and clarifying the differences between the 24/36-Hour Rule and the Progress Rule.
General Rule (Bylaws Article V, Section C, Item 6)
A student-athlete is eligible under the 24/36-Hour Rule if he or she satisfies the following:
- Semester system: student must have earned at least 24 institutional credit hours in his or her two most recent terms of attendance
- Quarter system: student must have earned at least 36 institutional credit hours in his or her three most recent terms of attendance
NOTE: If your institution uses a different academic model (e.g., trimester, three-term semester, etc.), please contact your faculty athletics representative or Legislative Services for further clarification.
What qualifies as a term of attendance? (Bylaws Article V, Section B, Item 19)
A term of attendance is any academic term (e.g., quarter, semester) in which the student becomes identified at an institution (summer sessions are excluded). A student becomes identified at an institution through either of the following methods:
- Representing an institution in an intercollegiate contest, or
- Enrolling in 12 or more institutional credit hours (minimum of nine attempted at the NAIA member institution) as reported on the official transcript based on the institution’s census date.
For a student who withdraws from an institution during a term, the key factor is not the date of withdrawal, but rather how the coursework is represented on an official transcript based on the institution’s census date. If enrollment in 12 institutional credit hours is recorded on the transcript, it will be considered a term of attendance, even if the withdrawal is noted. Please note that institutional policy determines how withdrawals are recorded on a transcript.
Non-term Hours (Bylaws Article V, Section B, Item 11)
Non-term hours may also be used to satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule, with some limitations. A non-term is any term which does not meet the definition of a term of attendance as defined above. The primary examples of non-terms are summer sessions, winter intersessions or any term in which a student enrolls in less than 12 institutional credit hours.
There are two qualifications to using non-term hours to satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule.
- Only non-term hours earned since the second most recent term of attendance are eligible. Any hours earned prior to the second most recent term cannot be used to meet the 24/36-Hour Rule.
For example, a student wishes to compete in Fall 2014. She identified at her NAIA institution in the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. She earned six institutional credit hours in Summer 2013. These six non-term hours cannot be used towards the 24/36-Hour Rule for Fall 2014 eligibility because they were earned prior to her second most recent term of attendance (Fall 2013).
- No more than 12 non-term hours may be used to satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule. A good rule of thumb to remember is if a student did not earn at least 12 institutional credit hours within the terms of attendance themselves, the student cannot satisfy the rule.
For example, a student identified in Fall 2013 and earned six institutional credit hours. The student identified in Spring 2014 and earned five institutional credit hours. The student cannot satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule for Fall 2014 because a maximum of 12 non-term hours can be applied.
This information should help you begin to navigate the 24/36-Hour Rule. Remember these steps:
- Begin by identifying the student’s most recent terms of attendance (two semesters or three quarters).
- If the student earned a total of 24 semester/36 quarter institutional credit hours over those terms, he or she meets the requirements of the 24/36-Hour Rule.
- If not, up to 12 non-term hours may be applied to help the student satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule.
Additional 24/36-Hour Articles
Part 3: The Progress RulePart 4: Summary