18 NAIA Schools in California | How To Get In

California has 18 colleges affiliated with the NAIA that allows students to pursue any degree program and play a sport while on scholarship. They are known as NAIA schools and in this post, I have listed and discussed some of them for you to find the one that is a good fit for you.

Being a student-athlete in college is pretty cool. Some perks come with it like being popular in and outside your school and there is also the myriad of opportunities that comes with it. As a student-athlete, you are pursuing two big careers – sports and degree – simultaneously. This is where the myriad of opportunities comes in.

When you graduate, you can decide to fully pursue a career in the sporting industry either by becoming a full-time player or conducting other businesses within the industry. Or you enter into the workforce or set up a business with your degree and academic expertise. All in all, there is just success waiting for you when you graduate.

What is now left to guarantee this success is the type of school you want to attend to realize this dream as a student-athlete. Now, when choosing a school there are factors to consider to help set you on the right path like the location of the school, the athletic strength and success of the school team, top athletes that graduated from this school as student-athletes, the athletics association(s) they are affiliated with, and whether scholarships are offered.

While there are different athletics associations for you to check out on your own, this blog post emphasizes the universities and colleges in California with the NAIA. Firstly, California is a great location that any student-athlete would like to go to. It is a center for everything and the sporting spirit there is on the high side coupled with a large population.

The resources you need to develop your talents and shine out to the world as an athlete are there and then there are the top-notch colleges dish out widely recognized degrees. To this effect, we have created this post on the NAIA schools in California to give you a range of options on where you can earn a degree while playing as an athlete.

And if you do not live in California nor want to go there to pursue a student-athlete career, there are other options for you to consider. I have published other articles on the NAIA colleges in Texas for residents of Texas, NAIA colleges in Michigan for those who live there, and NAIA colleges in Florida to give you as many options as possible. But you should attend an NAIA college in your residence to increase your acceptance of getting accepted into the school as a student-athlete.

About NAIA Schools in California

The NAIA stands for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. It is a collegiate athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America that oversees more than 77,000 student-athletes from over 250 colleges in the US and offers up to $800 million in scholarships annually.

When you get accepted into one of the NAIA colleges in California, you can get an average scholarship amount of $7,000 to support your education. Also, there are other soccer scholarships in the US that you can apply for if you are student-athlete playing soccer.

Every year, the NAIA sponsors more than 15 different sports in men, women, and co-ed categories and conducts 22 championships that are aired on major US sports channels. This presents an opportunity for student-athletes to bring their talents to maximum capacity and catch the attention of big teams for possible signing.

As an aspiring student-athlete, if you play any of the sports below whether male or female, you can go ahead to apply to a degree program at one of the NAIA colleges in California.

  • Baseball
  • Bowling
  • Competitive cheer
  • Competitive dance
  • Cross country
  • Football
  • Lacrosse
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming/diving
  • Tennis
  • Indoor track & field
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling
  • Beach volleyball
  • Flag Football

The NAIA, as well as, the students and colleges involved live up to five core values which are integrity, respect, responsibilities, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.

How To Get Into NAIA Schools in California

There are certain requirements that you must meet to get accepted into any of the NAIA universities in California but first, you must have a track record of playing one of the sports listed above and be applying for a degree program at one of the NAIA schools, then go ahead to satisfy the others below:

  1. You must have completed high school or be accepted as a regular student in good standing at the enrolling institution.
  2. Meet two out of three entry-level academic requirements below:
  • Test score: minimum score of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT (critical reading & math section only); or
  • Minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0 on a scale of 4.0; or
  • Class rank – top 50% of high school graduating class.
  1. Must be making normal progress towards a bachelor’s degree
  2. Must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours
  3. May only compete during four seasons
  4. May only compete during his/her first 10 semesters/15 quarters
  5. Must meet transfer eligibility requirements (if applicable)
  6. Complete NAIA official eligibility certificate and NAIA certificate of clearance to compete.

To learn more and apply, click here.

NAIA schools in California

18 NAIA Schools in California

According to the NAIA, there are 18 colleges and universities in California affiliated with the association. These schools are:

  • California State University – Maritime
  • California University of Merced
  • Hope International University
  • La Sierra University
  • Life Pacific University
  • Menlo College
  • Pacific Union College
  • Providence Christian College
  • San Diego Christian College
  • Simpson University
  • Soka University of America
  • The Master’s University
  • University of Antelope Valley
  • University of Saint Katherine
  • Vanguard University
  • Westcliff University
  • Westmont College
  • William Jessup University

Below are details of some of these NAIA colleges highlighting the names of their athletic teams, the number of awards they’ve won, and the sports played in men’s and women’s categories. Let’s get started.

1.     William Jessup University

William Jessup University is a private Christian institution of higher learning located in Rocklin, California with a student population of nearly 2,000. It is one of the NAIA universities in California and a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference. The name of the athletic team is Warriors and they have won up to 366 scholar-athlete awards.

There is a wide variety of sports and other athletics here in men’s and women’s categories. The sports are:

  • Baseball (men only)
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Softball (women only)

2.     Vanguard University

Vanguard University is another private higher institution located in Costa Mesa, California, and one of the NAIA universities in the state. It is organized into 15 departments offering more than 30 undergraduate degree programs.

The school is also a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference and the team, the Lions, have won 379 scholar-athlete awards.

Compared to the university above, Vanguard plays more sports in the male in female categories which are:

  • Baseball (men only)
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Softball (women only)
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling
  • Competitive dance
  • Women’s beach volleyball

3.     Soka University of America

The Soka University of America is a private university founded in 1987 by a Buddhist but accepts students from all walks of life. It is located in Aliso Viejo and is listed among the NAIA colleges in California on the NAIA website and is part of the California Pacific Conference.

The Lions, the athletic team, have won 275 scholar-athlete awards. There aren’t very sports here but you might still find what you like. The sports are swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track & field, soccer, cross country, and golf which are played by only women.

4.     The University of Antelope Valley

This is a private, for-profit higher institution located in Lancaster, California offering a wide range of academic degree programs in master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees, as well as, other certification programs and continuing education courses. It is one of the NAIA universities in California giving students the opportunities to enroll as student-athletes and pursue a degree and play sports at the same time.

The University of Antelope Valley athletic team, Pioneers, are also members of the California Pacific Conference. They have won 87 scholar-athlete awards and not many sports are played here but they are the popular ones. The sports include basketball, baseball (played by only men), cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track & field, women’s volleyball, women’s beach volleyball, and softball played by only women.

5.     California State University – Maritime

Cal Maritime, as it is commonly referred to, is a public university located in Vallejo, California, and one of the 23 campuses of California State University. It is also one of the NAIA schools in the US and a member of the California Pacific Conference. The name of the athletic team here is Keelhaulers and they have won 72 scholar-athlete awards.

Very few sports are played here in men’s and women’s categories with the most common ones being basketball, golf, and soccer. Others are cross country and outdoor track & field.

6.     Hope International University

HIU is a private Christian university in Fullerton, California affiliated with the Restoration Movement and the Christian Churches and churches of Christ. About 2,000 students are enrolled here from different states in the US and other countries. Students from all walks of life are accepted.

If you want to play sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, golf, cross country, or be part of a cheerleading time while pursuing a widely recognized degree, you may want to put HIU on your list. It is one of the NAIA schools in California whose team, the Royals, has won 200 student-athlete awards.

7.     Menlo College

Menlo College is a private college in Atherton, California specializing in business degrees and is part of the NAIA colleges in America. It is also a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference and its team, Oaks, has won 310 scholar-athlete awards.

The college has many varieties of sports in men’s and women’s categories, they are:

  • Baseball (men only)
  • Basketball
  • Cross country
  • Golf
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Outdoor track & field
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Softball (women only)
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

8.     San Diego Christian College

This is also a private, evangelical college located in Santee, California offering a wide range of degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. It is one of the NAIA colleges in California and is also a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference. Its athletic team, the Hawks, has won 156 scholar-athlete awards.

There are very few sports played here but they are the most popular sports which are baseball for men only, basketball, cross country, soccer, softball for women only, women’s volleyball, and women’s beach volleyball.

9.     Pacific Union College

If you are looking for a liberal arts college in California to pursue a degree and play sports like basketball, cross country, soccer, volleyball, and outdoor track & field then you should put Pacific Union College on your list. It is one of the NAIA colleges in the state and a member of the California Pacific Conference.

10.  La Sierra University

La Sierra University is another private higher institution located in Riverside, California affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist. It is one of the NAIA colleges in California that offers student-athletes scholarships while they pursue a degree program and play baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, cross country, and volleyball.

This wraps up the post on the NAIA schools in California and from this post, you should be able to figure out a school that will better receive you as a student-athlete. If you need further info on tuition costs and programs offered, contact the admissions office of the school.

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Thaddaeus is a lead content creator at SAN with over 5 years of experience in the field of professional content creation. He has written several helpful articles for Blockchain projects in the past and even recently but since 2020, he has been more active in creating guides for students who want to study abroad.

When he's not writing, he's either watching anime, making a delicious meal, or definitely swimming.

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