Women’s Soccer in the USA: The College Way

Women's college soccer in the US has long been big. We give you everything you need to know about it right here.

Women’s college soccer in the US is unique.
In male-dominated sports such as basketball and American football, the US has historically been favored on the male side, but women’s football in the US has long been mature and at a high level. Here, a host of talented girls combine elite football with higher education. Some are national team players. Some dream of becoming professionals. Some want to develop as whole people. Some do it for the experience. What they all have in common is that girls’ college soccer is a great place for those who have athletic ambitions but don’t want to compromise on education and a future off the field.

Title IX: Girls' soccer takes over universities

Back in 1972, a groundbreaking law in education in the US came into effect;
Title IX.
Its purpose was to prohibit any form of discrimination based on sex within educational programs that receive federal funding.
In other words , universities and colleges should now start distributing their scholarships equally between male and female athletes.
Title IX
came into effect, most scholarships went to male-dominated sports like basketball and football. After
Title IX
came into effect, girls were now more able to take advantage of the many scholarships – and many young American women fell in love with European soccer.

A 1974 study counted 6,635 girls who played high school soccer in the US.
In the 2018/2019 school year, the same study counted 394,100 girls playing high school soccer in the US. A massive development.

American girls' soccer: a mature and recognized soccer culture.

Title IX
laid the foundation for what is now women’s soccer in the United States – professional and collegiate: a behemoth of a sport that, with
the best national team in the world
and stars playing for the best clubs around the world, it’s recognized globally.

…A diametric opposite to the male soccer in the US, which is perpetually victimized by stigma and generally lags behind its European competitors.

Daniella Diaz
in action for Florida Atlantic University, playing in NCAA Division 1.

College football and professional dreams

In 2021, 21-year-old Danish national team player Josephine Hasbo packed her bags and enrolled at Harvard University.
Instead of choosing either her dream study or her soccer career, she chose to kill two birds with one stone and became a student athlete in the US.
Josephine is far from the only one choosing this path.
20 players from the 2022 US World Cup squad were former student athletes in the USA.
21 players across the remaining participating nations for the 2022 World Cup were current student athletes in the USA.
It is now a fact that a large number of talented female soccer players combine the sport with higher education in the US, without compromising their professional ambitions.

College soccer is for all girls

Even though an increasing number of the most talented players in their age group are choosing college in the US, it doesn’t mean you have to be the next
Pernille Harder
or Sanne Troelsgaard to become a student athlete in the US.
Football in the USA is very diverse and there are several different divisions, each with their own level of play.
In 2023 we have assisted Danish girls who have played everything from
Gjensidige Kvindeliga
to Serie 2.
Some have professional dreams and others prioritize international education and a day-to-day life filled with doing what they love. daily sports and new acquaintances.

Gry Boe Thrysøe
who plays for Old Dominion University. Here with their newly won Conference trophy!

The college ranks in the US

There are 3 different leagues to play in for college football in the USA;
NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. They all have their own requirements and characteristics.
Below you can learn a little about each of them.

NCAA Division 1: The highest level

NCAA Division 1
is the highest level of college football and includes some of the largest, most well-known and competitive universities in the country.
Some of the best women’s teams are
Stanford University
, University of Florida and University of Virginia.
This level is known for attracting the best high school players, the most promising international players and is known for its intense competition.

Josephine Hasbo
and her team from Harvard University play e.g. in NCAA Division 1.

NCAA Division 2: High level and great competition

NCAA Division 2
also offers a high level of football and is home to several renowned universities such as
Western Washington University
, University of California San Diego and
Mercy University.
The best teams in Division 2 can often compete on par with or even surpass the average of the teams in Division 1.

The crucial sporting difference between Division 1 and 2 is usually your physique. In Division 1 – and in the US in general – there is a strong emphasis on physicality and athletic skills. Often it’s these athletic attributes that determine whether you end up in Division 1 or Division 2.
Our client
Julie Andersen
and her team from
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
play in NCAA Division 2.

Julie Andersen (#14) and her teammates from SWOSU for media day.

NCAA Division 3: The well-rounded experience

NCAA Division 3
presents a more balanced experience, where the academic component carries more weight than the athletic. Student athletes need to be able to manage their time effectively, as the sports component is not as prioritized as in Division 1 and 2.

In Division 3, colleges do not usually offer scholarships, which means that students often have to cover the costs themselves. This can make training more expensive for the individual.
We have not yet placed a client in NCAA Division 3.

NAIA: Private universities and a high but varying level of excellence

also offers a high level of soccer and is home to several renowned universities such as
Keiser University
Lindsey Wilson College
Southeastern University

In the NAIA, however, the sporting difference between top and bottom is more volatile than in both NCAA Division 1 and 2.

However, the main difference between NAIA and NCAA universities lies in the size of the institutions and whether they are public or private. The NAIA is primarily home to private universities and also has more lenient academic requirements than the NCAA.
That said, in the NAIA you can play at a high level, get a quality education and receive scholarships just like you can in the NCAA.

NJCAA: The alternative route to the best universities

NJCAA organizes and facilitates sports at
junior college
in the United States. A Junior College program lasts 2 years and if a student shows outstanding performance both athletically and academically, they can transfer to a 4-year university in the NCAA or NAIA to complete their bachelor’s degree. This route is ideal for those who did not initially meet the admission requirements of a 4-year college or university.
Junior colleges are more affordable while offering generous academic and athletic scholarships.
Many of our clients have started in Junior College and their performance has led to offers from NCAA Division 1 colleges.

Amelie Wittenkamp
left for Mississippi in August 2023 to be a student athlete at Pearl River Community College.

The numbers behind the 3 college leagues and the 5 ranks

There are approximately 1571 different colleges and universities across the 3 federations that have girls’ soccer in their athletic program. Squad sizes vary and so does the competition for playing time.
The number of scholarships each team is allowed to award also varies in different college ranks.
Check out the different figures below.

Facilities at Colleges and Universities in the US

The facilities at colleges and universities in the US are an important part of the experience for girls’ soccer players. These institutions invest significant resources in creating state-of-the-art sports facilities for their athletes and players.
The best clubs in Scandinavia are struggling to keep up in this regard.

Below are brief descriptions of some of the facilities you can expect to find as a girls’ soccer player at a college or university in the USA:

A tour of the football facilities at Purdue University Purdue University which plays in NCAA Division 1.

State-of-the-art training facility:

Many colleges and universities have advanced training facilities with state-of-the-art equipment. Grass pitches. Artificial turf pitches. Indoor courts for winter.
The importance of these things is recognized and you won’t play on a bad pitch.


Many colleges and universities have their own football stadiums with stands. Some colleges also play matches here, while others have designated practice fields. This can be both artificial turf as well as indoor courts that allow you to train comfortably in the winter. Some colleges also borrow the American football stadium, which will usually be big and beautiful.

Fitness and training centers

All colleges and universities have one or more spacious gyms with state-of-the-art equipment. The physical aspect of an athlete is a major focus in the US and as a soccer player, this will be an integral part of your everyday life.

Changing rooms

A locker room is the gathering point for every sports team. They recognize this in the US and the locker rooms are large and spacious, often wrapped in the university’s colors, logos and history.

Video and analytics equipment

All colleges and universities film their games. Video analysis before and after matches – both individually and at team level – is an integral part of soccer training in the US.
Most colleges and universities also show their games live with commentators. Parents and friends can watch the games from home.

Physiotherapists, dieticians and other medical facilities

Injuries are part of being an athlete. You’re in safe hands in the USA and the athletic programs have physiotherapists, physical trainers, dietitians and more. to create the best possible conditions for their student athletes.

Everyday life as a Student Athlete in the USA

Being a student athlete at a college or university in the US is a unique experience. You juggle your passion for football with higher education.
Here’s an insight into what a typical day might look like as a student athlete:

Anna Tørsløv
Gry Thrysøe
flexing their championship rings after they and the rest of the
Old Dominion University
won their college series in 2022

Tomorrow: Rise and shine!

Your day starts early. It can vary whether your team practices in the morning or afternoon. If you work out in the afternoon, you’ll usually start your day with strength training in the gym – and vice versa.
Most often, you’ll have breakfast with your teammates and fellow students after you’ve been to the gym and showered.

Morning and early afternoon: Teaching.

After a morning workout and breakfast, it’s time to focus on your studies. This can be blackboard teaching, lectures or project work with study groups.
In many ways, you choose your own schedule and have a wide range of different subjects. Of course, this varies depending on whether you are in your first, second or third year.

Afternoon: Training, training, training!

Once you’re done with your school day, you’ll usually grab a bite to eat with your teammates and fellow students before either team training or strength training. As mentioned, it varies according to the preferences of the coaching staff.
Depending on where you are in your season or your week, it can be team and individual training as well as tactical training and video analysis.

Evening: your own time.

Everyday life as a student athlete requires discipline. It’s long days and early mornings.
As the evening approaches, time is your own. Maybe you have homework, maybe you’re going out for dinner with your friends, or maybe you just want to relax with a series in your room.
In general, college culture is very social, so there’s always something going on in the evenings and there are plenty of opportunities.

Example: Gry's everyday life in the US

Gry Thrysøe flew off in 2021 to Virginia and a life as a student athlete on the football team at Old Dominion University soccer team. She is now in her third year in the USA and is a regular part of the team playing in NCAA Division 1.
Watch the video below for a glimpse into her everyday life.

Is college soccer in the USA for me?

College soccer in the USA is a world of opportunity and adventure, no matter where you’re from or what your dreams may be. Whether you have professional soccer dreams or simply want to include soccer as a natural part of your daily life while pursuing an international and higher education, there’s a place for you.

Whatever your ambitions or skills, there’s a suitable level and an ideal university for you. Our role is to help you find a university that’s right for you – athletically, academically and financially.

So… is college soccer in the USA for you? The answer is unique to each person and we don’t have the answer in advance. However, our goal is to equip you with the necessary tools to answer this question yourself.
Check out
our college process,
which gives you an insight into the process we take you through when finding you a college in the US.
If you are eager to explore your options and want personalized guidance, you can

contact us directly here.

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