At some colleges and universities, water polo is only a club sport; at others it is a competitive, D1 sport. In either case, it takes strength and endurance to be one of the best. A scholarship to play at collegiate level requires you to be one of the best in the nation. Full scholarships are hard to come by, and most who get these scholarships have represented their country at International level across specific age groups.
Most of the time, the coach is the one who decides what scholarships are awarded to the student-athletes that he/she is interested in recruiting. Some coaches focus on giving partial scholarships to create a well-rounded team, others focus on giving full scholarships to a few players in order to get the best recruits.
The NCAA, is the governing body for all collegiate sports, including water polo. There are other sports programs that are members of the NAIA, but water polo is not one of the represented programs.
The NCAA has hundreds of member institutions that offer both Men’s and Women’s water polo programs at D1 and smaller D2 programs. There are 21 Division I and 9 Division II water polo teams. Most of the schools that participate in DI water polo are in California. Not surprisingly, these schools dominate the sport.
Men's Water Polo Scholarships
NCAA Division I: College/Universities: 37, 4.5 scholarships for men per team, average roster size: 13
NCAA Division II: Colleges/Universities: 12, 4.5 scholarships for men per team, average roster size: 13
NAIA: College/Universities: 2, no scholarships for men per team, average roster size: 13
Women's Water Polo Scholarships
NCAA Division I: Colleges/Universities: 33, 8.0 scholarships for women per team, average roster size: 21
NCAA Division II: Colleges/Universities: 12, 8.0 scholarships for women per team, average roster size: 19
NCAA Division III: Colleges/Universities: 17, they do not award sports scholarships only academic ones, average roster size: 16
NAIA: Colleges/Universities: 1, they do not award sports scholarships only academic ones, average roster size: 20
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