International sports career beckoning? These are the subjects to take at school


So, you’re interested in applying for an international scholarship, but not sure where to start? Well, choosing your subjects wisely can play a major role in your USA athletic chances, and is a good starting point.  

There are three major sporting associations that you need to know:

  • NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association),
  • NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), and the
  • NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association).
By following the subject requirements set out by the NCAA, you will qualify for all three and will give yourself the best opportunity to secure a scholarship. 

All the above-mentioned associations take your Grade 9 to Grade 12 marks into consideration. The NCAA requires South African students to take Mathematics, English and an additional language for four consecutive years. They also require 2 Social Sciences and 2 Natural Sciences (Maths Literacy is not accepted).

Social Sciences

When choosing your Social Sciences, the following subjects will give you credit: History, Geography, Religion, Archaeology, Criminology, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology and Economics (Business Studies and Business Economics do not qualify). 

Ways to ensure Social Science compliance: 

  1. When selecting subjects in grade 9, you should choose either History or Geography. This is the best way to qualify for NCAA eligibility.
  2. If your high school does not combine History and Geography into Social Science in grade 9, you will get two credits. It does not matter that both subjects were taken in the same year.
  3. If you are in Grade 11 and it is too late to switch subjects, you can complete an online course to make up what you’re missing. These online courses are eight weeks long and are turned in and marked online. (For more information click here

Natural Sciences

The following subjects will give you credits toward your Natural Science requirements: Biology, Life Science, Physics, Chemistry, Physical Science, Anatomy, Environmental Sciences and Physiology. The NCAA requires students to complete two years of Natural Science in high school.

Ways to ensure Natural Science compliance: 

  1. In Grade 9 you took Biology and Physical Science which were not combined into Natural Science.  
  2. In Grade 9 you should select Biology or Physical Science as a high school subject. This is the best way to qualify for NCAA eligibility.
  3. If you are in Grade 11 and it is too late to switch subjects, you can complete an online Natural Science course. These online courses are eight weeks long and are turned in and marked online. 

Common problems students experience:

In Grade 9, South African schools often combine History & Geography into Social Science and Life Science & Physical Science into Natural Science. As a result, the NCAA will only recognise one year, and you will need to take additional subjects in grade 10. 

Maths Literacy

Maths Literacy is not acknowledged by the NCAA. No matter how talented you are, you will not be eligible to compete in the NCAA for one year. The problem is, coaches do not offer scholarships to ineligible athletes when they can recruit someone who can play. Our advice is to avoid Maths Literacy at any cost; it is better to get 50% for Core Mathematics than 80% for Mathematics Literacy. (Maths Literacy is, however, accepted by NAIA and NJCAA Colleges.) 

Can I still play in the NCAA if I do not meet their requirements?

Yes, you can still play in the NCAA. The requirements listed above are specific to the NCAA which is the biggest athletic association in the USA with over 1100 top institutions. The NAIA has 300 member colleges, and the NJCAA has over 500. When students do not meet the requirements, they will have to spend at least one season outside the NCAA before being able to transfer in. This is not uncommon and is used by many top athletes in our program.

Does your child have hopes of becoming a professional athlete? How are you helping them achieve their goals? Send us an email to and we could publish it.

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