National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 3

Teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 3 women’s hockey compete for conference and national championships.  As of the 2009-2010 season, there were 47 teams competing in Division 3 women’s hockey in five conferences.  In addition, there were three colleges who are not in Division 3 who compete primarily against Division 3 schools (and participate in a Division 3 conference), bringing the total number of teams competing in regular season play to 50 schools (there is one Division 1 team, and two Division 2 teams who play predominantly Division 3 schedules).  Entering the 2010-2011 season, two new programs will begin Division 3 play, bringing the total to 49 teams who are eligible for the NCAA playoffs.

No Division 3 colleges offer athletic scholarships in any sport, so this applies to women’s hockey as well.  Schools may offer academic and/or leadership-type scholarships based on their own requirements, which can help defray the cost of tuition.  Many colleges offer need-based financial aid to students. Ones family’s income and/or financial assets will determine whether one can qualify for need-based aid.

Many Division 3 schools are smaller than Division 1 colleges, though size is not the determining factor.  There is a mix of private colleges and public colleges (and universities) among the Division 3 schools.  Some student-athletes play two sports in Division 3, though it remains a challenge to mix hockey and another sport because as a winter sport, hockey will still overlap with a fall or spring sport. While it’s not necessarily common, it’s not rare, either, for a hockey player to play another sport in Division 3.

Division 3 colleges may begin formal practice on October 15 and are limited to 25 games in the regular season.  Four of the five conferences begin practice on this date (all except for the NESCAC division) and once the season begins, most teams practice or play six days per week.  The NCAA mandates one day off per week, the same rule that applies to all sports sponsored by the NCAA.

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