Published on October 20, 2023
As the most populous U.S. state, California boasts a staggering 38.9 million residents. The sheer scale of California’s population is paralleled by its educational landscape, housing 658 colleges – surpassing 19 individual states combined.
In your role as a High School Counselor, supporting students who are considering their post-secondary options in California can be a challenging undertaking. Navigating the different academic requirements, spanning from high school graduation to California A-G, NCAA, or NAIA, can be tricky. The following guide is designed to explain these three distinct high school academic pathways.
To be eligible to enter a four-year public college in the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) systems, incoming freshmen must meet a series of high school course requirements called A through G (A-G). The California A-G course requirements include:
NOTE: For California A-G, students may meet requirements with college coursework or earn the minimum scores on specific placement tests.
Though similar in some respects, A-G requirements serve a different purpose than high school graduation requirements. They are chosen by CSU and UC schools based on which classes they want students to have completed to earn admission. Many high schools across the country have different graduation requirements from the A-G prerequisites. That means your students may be passing all their classes and be on track for high school graduation, but turn out to be inadmissible to CSU or UC schools.
Honest Game Insight: Students’ A-G requirements can derail late in their high school career and are often unable to remedy the deficits before high school graduation. It’s crucial for students considering UC and CSU schools to ensure they are taking and passing the requisite A-G courses from the moment they get their first-class schedule as a freshman, through high school graduation.
No, California A-G requirements differ from NCAA academic requirements. Students can meet high school graduation requirements, and California A-G requirements and still not meet NCAA Full-Qualifier requirements.
Similarities between the A-G and NCAA requirements include:
Differences between the A-G and NCAA requirements include:
In order to meet NCAA DI requirements, student-athletes must meet an NCAA Core GPA of 2.3 or higher and are required to complete 16 NCAA-approved Core Courses at their high school. There are a specific number of English, Math, Natural/Physical Science, and Social Science course units that every student-athlete must complete, and each high school has its own distinct list of NCAA-approved Core Courses.
Note: students must complete 10 of those NCAA-approved Core Courses before the start of their senior year (7th semester) of high school. Seven of the ten NCAA-approved Core Courses completed by the start of senior year must be in English, Math or Natural/Physical Science. The grades in these seven courses will be “locked in,” meaning the credit and the grade earned can not be replaced by another course taken after the start of senior year.
Honest Insight: While there are slightly different academic eligibility requirements for NCAA DI and DII, in 98% of the cases, if students are eligible at the DI level, they will also be eligible at the DII level. It is best for students to schedule courses that meet DI requirements, as this will safeguard them academically for both NCAA DI and DII.
Honest Insight: Plan your academic journey strategically to have the opportunity to access the $3.6B in scholarships NCAA DI and DII award every year.
Initial eligibility rules for NAIA institutions are significantly different from the NCAA eligibility rules. NAIA requirements do not require NAIA-approved coursework. Furthermore, the NAIA does not calculate a special GPA based on that coursework. Instead, NAIA qualifiers are deemed qualifiers if they meet a minimum school-calculated GPA (4.0 scale):
Students who do not meet the 2.3 minimum school GPA requirement upon graduation may still become eligible to compete at an NAIA school by meeting 2 of the following 3 criteria:
Honest Insight: If a student does not meet the initial 2.3 GPA requirements upon graduation and the high school issuing a student’s final transcript does not calculate class rank, a student must meet both the GPA and test score requirement.
By Kim Michelson, Honest Game Co-Founder and CEO
In 1987, Kim was the first female student-athlete in California to play on male varsity athletic teams, basketball and baseball. She has mentored hundreds of student-athletes through the college recruiting and eligibility process to help them attain their dream of playing collegiate sports. During her tenure as the Executive Director of Beyond Sports Foundation, 89% of their students matriculated to four-year universities on athletic scholarships. Interested in working with Honest Game? Contact us.