Programs That Inspire

Updated, Athletic Department Rankings

The Top 25 (Rank, School, Affiliation)

  1. Wisconsin – Oshkosh (WI, NCAA Division 3)

  2. NW Missouri State (MO, NCAA Division 2)

  3. Williams College (MA, NCAA Division 3)

  4. Azusa Pacific University (CA, NCAA Division 2)

  5. University of Rochester (NY, NCAA Division 3)

  6. Middlebury College (VT, NCAA Division 3)

  7. St. Anselm College (NH, NCAA Division 2)

  8. Pomona – Pitzer (CA, NCAA Division 3)

  9. Seattle Pacific University (WA, NCAA Division 2)

  10. Emory University (GA, NCAA Division 3)

  11. Carroll College (MT, NAIA)

  12. Christopher Newport University (VA, NCAA Division 3)

  13. Wittenberg University (OH, NCAA Division 3)

  14. West Chester University (PA, NCAA Division 2)

  15. Nebraska Wesleyan University (NE, NCAA Division 3)

  16. Augustana College (IL, NCAA Division 3)

  17. Indiana Wesleyan University (IN, NAIA)

  18. Queens University (NC, NCAA Division 2)

  19. Swarthmore College (PA, NCAA Division 3)

  20. Yeshiva University (NY, NCAA Division 3)

"It's critical, particularly in this moment, to recognize athletic departments that provide exceptional experiences to student-athletes. These athletic programs strengthen their institutions as a whole. Participating student-athletes develop into successful alumnae with powerful ties to the college and the capacity to pay their experience forward," says College Athletic Advisor's CEO, Dave Morris. "It's exciting to be able to recognize this particularly elite collection of programs and also remind folks that many programs in NCAA Divisions 2 and 3, the NAIA, and the USCAA are serving student-athletes and their institutions in life changing ways."

About These Rankings

These holistic, institution-wide rankings are open to any of the roughly 1,700 4-year U.S. colleges that sponsor athletics outside of NCAA Division 1. Rankings are based on a subjective assessment of student experience in four areas:

  • An athletic program-wide commitment to excellence
  • Holistic development of student-athletes in the institution
  • Academic achievement & support for the academic success of student-athletes
  • Overall college experience for participants within the program
  • Affordability/Graduation Rates/Student Satisfaction

These rankings are meant to highlight programs that may not be widely publicized despite having achieved consistent elite status in competition and in elevating the lives of participating student-athletes. While this is a subjective list, we believe these rankings present an informed starting point for a discussion about where student-athletes can excel as “triple-threat” competitors (academics, athletics, and socially) in college and in their future lives.

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