5 Best NAIA Schools in Arizona: Excelling in Academics and Athletics

I believe you came looking for NAIA Schools in Arizona because you’re a student-athlete and would love to continue your athletic career even in college. And, I also believe at the back of your mind you’re thinking of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools too.

Probably you’ve even made some research on them too, and both of us would agree (that’s no argument about this) that NCAA is best for those intending to play sports professionally. But NAIA provides lots of scholarships, I’m talking about over $600 million in scholarships and students still have the chance to compete in 26 national championships.

Even though NAIA has rules but they are not as strict as the NCAA where each division has its own set of rules.

We’re not here to talk about the difference between NAIA and NCAA but to show you the best NAIA universities in Arizona that you can depend on for both academic distinction and athletic prowess.

But, let’s first list some basic eligibility in NAIA.

NAIA schools in Arizona
NAIA schools in Arizona

NAIA Eligibility Basic Rules

An NAIA student:

    • May only compete during four seasons
    • May only compete during his/her first 10 semesters/15 quarters
    • Must meet freshman and/or continuing eligibility requirements
    • Must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours; degree
    • Must be making normal progress towards a baccalaureate degree
    • Must Have a 2.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale (for juniors and seniors athletically or academically); and
    • Must meet transfer eligibility requirements (if applicable)

NAIA Schools in Arizona

1. Arizona Christian University (ACU)

The Arizona Christian University (ACU) is a very prestigious college that is internationally recognized for lots of things including being ranked the #1 University in Arizona by College Consensus. ACU is also ranked a “Best College” by U.S. News & World Report.

Not only do they produce exceptional academic students, but they also deliver student-athletes who are challenged in a competitive environment to refine their skills and develop qualities that lead to success in all areas of life. Since it’s a Christian NAIA school in Arizona, they can’t do anything without putting God first, so coaches mentor student-athletes to be faithful disciples of Christ, servant leaders in their communities and lifelong learners.

Arizona Christian University has won lots of NAIA awards including 11 Championships since 2011 and ten Nationally ranked teams including Football, Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Tennis and many more.

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2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Athletics

This is one of the NAIA Schools in Arizona where their student-athletes have higher grade point averages than the overall student body, this makes their athletes to be outstanding both on and off the field. The school has two athletics which are;

    • Daytona Beach Athletics offers 20 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II and has won two national championships, 29 individual championships, 110 regular season conference championships, and 51 conference tournament titles.
    • Prescott Athletics features 13 varsity sports in NAIA athletics and has won 8 wrestling national championships, 24 California Pacific Conference championships, and the conference Commissioner’s Cup for the past four years.

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3. Ottawa University-Arizona (OUAZ) NAIA

This is one of the NAIA universities in Arizona that is celebrating its 150+ years of providing excellent academics to more than 22,000 OU graduates, including 5,000 in the Pacific Rim. Also, some of their students are chosen for the big league, for instance, OUAZ football punter Austin Bohn was named an AFCA NAIA First Team All-American when the annual teams were announced.

In general, they provide various men’s and women’s sports which include;

    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Bowling
    • Cross Country
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Soccer
    • Softball
    • Stunt
    • Swimming & Diving
    • Tennis
    • Track g Field
    • Volleyball
    • Water polo
    • Weightlifting

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4. Park University – Gilbert Campus (Park)

The Gilbert Campus is the University’s first location outside Parkville to offer a traditional daytime campus, as well as NAIA-level athletics programs.

Their NAIA Sports include;

    • Basketball
    • Baseball
    • Beach Volleyball
    • Cross Country
    • Golf
    • Soccer
    • Softball
    • Volleyball
    • Track & Field

They also offer two club sports which are Ice Hockey and ESports.

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5. Benedictine University at Mesa

This is among the NAIA colleges in Arizona located in the heart of downtown Mesa, Arizona, where students can explore the city’s global cuisine, enjoy a play or concert at one of the many entertainment venues, or participate in one of the city’s many indoor or outdoor activities.

Their men’s sports include;

    • Baseball
    • Men’s Basketball
    • Men’s Golf
    • Men’s Soccer
    • Men’s volleyball

Whereas their women’s sports include

    • Women’s Basketball
    • Women’s Golf
    • Women’s Soccer
    • Softball
    • Women’s Volleyball
    • Women’s beach volleyball

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Though there are just five NAIA universities in Arizona, they are outstanding in both academics and athletics, so one of them can just meet all your needs. Sometimes, the lesser the better.

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