The following rankings break down the best Division III football schools in the United States. This list is intended to create awareness of accomplished Division 3 football programs based on several criteria as follows:
- Historical success in football
- Recent success in football
- Campus life, facilities, coaches
- Academic ranking
- Reputation, tradition, and culture
Below, you can find the ranking for each institution along with a description of what makes that school (and football program) so special. This should present quality depth to gain an accurate picture of what each college is about.
Best D3 Football Schools 2022-23:
University of Mount Union
Location: Alliance, OH
Description: Mount Union is a private institution located in Alliance, Ohio – which is about 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, OH.
The Purple Raiders have the most historic Division III football program with 13 National Championships and 21 appearances in the Title Game. Those numbers are the highest in Division III football along with Mount Union’s 32 playoff appearances and 85.2% postseason win rate.
Notable alumni include NFL players like WR Pierre Garcon (drafted in 2008) and WR Cecil Shorts (drafted in 2011).
US News ranks Mount Union 10th in Midwest Regional Colleges and 17th in its Best Value Schools category.
Average Cost Before Aid: $46,000
Average Cost After Aid: $23,500
Home Page: https://www.mountunion.edu/
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Location: Whitewater, WI
Description: Wisconsin-Whitewater is located in eastern Wisconsin between Madison and Milwaukee. It’s about 45-50 miles from Whitewater to each of those cities.
As it pertains to football, Wisconsin-Whitewater finished runner-up in 2019, but the Warhawks have won six Division III championship games in 10 appearances. All six of those titles came within an eight-year span from 2007 to 2014.
They have also had success in the NFL draft with notable alumni Derek Stanley and Jake Kumerow building a career in the NFL. For education, Wisconsin-Whitewater is ranked 49th in Regional Midwest Universities and 54th in Best Value Schools by US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $19,000
Average Cost After Aid: $15,000
Home Page: https://www.uww.edu/
St. John’s University (MN)
Location: Collegeville, MN
Description: St. John’s is a private school in Minnesota located about 70 miles northwest of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
The Johnnies have won two National Championship games in three appearances. They made the Division 3 playoffs 27 times, the second-most behind Mount Union. St. John’s has also made headway in the NFL draft, as Ben Bartch (drafted to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020) leads the list of notable alumni.
The Johnnies play their home games in historic Clemens Stadium, which has a capacity of around 7,000 seats. However, that doesn’t stop fans from packing the surrounding area for big games. St. John’s had more than 17,000 fans in and around Clemens Stadium for a rivalry game in 2015.
From an education standpoint, St. John’s has a ranking of 105th in liberal arts colleges and 64th in best value schools – according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $62,300
Average Cost After Aid: $25,800
Home Page: https://www.stjohns.edu/
University Mary Hardin-Baylor
Location: Belton, TX
Description: Mary Hardin-Baylor, located in central Texas, has climbed this list in the past year after winning a National Championship in 2021. The Crusaders now have two Division 3 titles while playing in the Championship Game three times in the past four years.
Notable alumni include Jerrell Freeman, who played 70 NFL games as a linebacker. Mary Hardin-Baylor is a private college that ranks 15th in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Residing in Belton, Texas – the campus is about 60 miles north of Austin and 40 miles south of Waco.
Average Cost Before Aid: $44,200
Average Cost After Aid: $27,100
Home Page: https://www.umhb.edu/
Location: Ithaca, NY
Description: Ithaca College is a private school located in central New York about 55 miles south of Syracuse, NY.
The athletics program receives consistently high rankings across numerous sports. That’s especially the case in football, where Ithaca College has won three NCAA Division 3 National Championships in seven appearances.
However, the football team hasn’t claimed the title since 1991. Still, Ithaca has appeared in 19 NCAA Division 3 football playoffs, which is fifth among all Division 3 programs. In February of 2022, Michael Toerper was selected as the next head coach of Ithaca College after former coach Dan Swanstrom departed with a 32-11 record in Division 3 football.
Ithaca College is slated to play SUNY Cortland at one of the most famous stadiums in all of sports: Yankee Stadium, which is a fantastic experience for these student-athletes. From an academic standpoint, Ithaca College ranks 10th among schools in the north region and 10th in best value schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $65,500
Average Cost After Aid: $33,500
Home Page: https://www.ithaca.edu/
Location: Rock Island, IL
Description: Augustana College is a private liberal arts school college located in Rock Island, IL along the border of northwest Illinois and Iowa.
The football team has found plenty of success with four NCAA Championships at the Division 3 level (third-most in D3) and 15 playoff appearances. Having said that, the Augustana Vikings have not made the NCAA Division 3 playoffs since 2005. That’s to say this team has a rich history but a failure to create that success in recent seasons.
According to data provided by US News, Augustana ranks 65th in the country for best-value schools and 92nd in liberal arts colleges.
Average Cost Before Aid: $58,600
Average Cost After Aid: $23,900
Home Page: https://www.augustana.edu/
North Central College
Location: Naperville, IL
Description: North Central is a private institution located in Naperville, Illinois – which is part of the greater Chicago area.
The Cardinals have been to 13 of the last 16 NCAA Division 3 playoffs, winning a National Championship along the way. Due to that success, former coach Jeff Thorne accepted an offer in Division I ranks as an offensive coordinator for Western Michigan. Brad Spencer will take over as head coach in 2022.
Despite that change, North Central still seems to be trending up thanks to finding some of Division 3’s best athletes in its recruiting process.
Overall, this is a solid choice for student-athletes, as US News ranks North Central 49th in midwest regional colleges.
Average Cost Before Aid: $55,900
Average Cost After Aid: $24,800
Home Page: https://www.northcentralcollege.edu/
Location: Springfield, OH
Description: Wittenberg is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio – which is near the central part of the state. It’s about 45 miles west of the Columbus, OH metropolitan area.
For football, Wittenberg has won two NCAA Division 3 titles while appearing in 19 playoffs. The Tigers play in the North Coast Athletic Conference for most major sports. Their coach, Joe Fincham, has had an extremely successful career with an 82% win rate across 19 seasons. For education, Wittenberg has a ranking of 155th in national liberal arts colleges according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $55,500
Average Cost After Aid: $22,900
Home Page: https://www.wittenberg.edu/
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Location: La Crosse, WI
Description: Wisconsin-La Crosse is one of the rarer public four-year schools on this list. The campus is located in the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin – which is near the Minnesota/Wisconsin border in a fairly remote area.
The football team has played in two Division III championship games, winning both times (1992, 1995). UW-La Crosse put together a strong 2021 season, ranking 11th in the final NCAA Division 3 football poll.
Because it’s a public institution, UW-La Crosse is one of the more affordable schools to attend on this list.
Prospective students can take comfort in knowing that UW-La Crosse ranks 37th in regional midwest colleges and 67th in best-value schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $17,900
Average Cost After Aid: $14,600
Home Page: https://www.uwlax.edu/
Location: Chester, PA
Description: Widener is located in Chester, PA – which is part of the greater Philadelphia, PA area. This gives students access to big city amenities while attending a small private school.
For football, Widener has played in two NCAA Division 3 title games while winning both of them (1977, 1981). The Pride play in the Middle Atlantic Conference with a record 20 conference championships in football.
For education, Widener is ranked 213th among National Universities, according to USNews. For more information, you can view the school’s website below.
Average Cost Before Aid: $65,400
Average Cost After Aid: $31,300
Home Page: https://www.widener.edu/
Central College (IA)
Location: Pella, IA
Description: Central College is fairly remote with a location in Pella, IA. The town has a population of around 10,000 residents, but Pella is only 45 miles southeast of Des Moines, Iowa.
Central has attended three NCAA Division III title games while winning one championship. They have made the playoffs 22 times, which is fourth-most in Division 3 history.
Central Dutch, as they are referred to, finished with a top 25 ranking in the past two seasons.
This is a quality school for an athlete to receive an education, as Central College ranks 136th in National Liberal Arts Colleges according to USNews.
Average Cost Before Aid: $33,300
Average Cost After Aid: $23,300
Home Page: https://central.edu/
Location: McMinnville, OR
Description: Linfield is a top Division 3 football school in the northwest region. Located in McMinnville, Oregon – the campus is about 40 miles southwest of Portland, OR.
Joseph Smith has held the head coach job since 2006 while sporting a 127-26 record. In fact, Linfield is considered a top-five destination for coaches among the Division III ranks due to its success and support for coaches and student-athletes alike.
Despite that, Linfield is still searching for its first NCAA Division 3 Championship in football, even though they marked 65 straight winning football seasons in October of 2021.
Linfield ranks 117th in National Liberal Arts Colleges according to USNews.
Average Cost Before Aid: $61,000
Average Cost After Aid: $28,000
Home Page: https://www.linfield.edu/
Washington & Jefferson College
Location: Washington, PA
Description: Washington & Jefferson College is located in western Pennsylvania about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, PA.
“W&J” has been to 26 NCAA Division III playoffs, which is second-most among all teams. However, it has not won a championship despite two trips to the title game.
Aptly nicknamed the Presidents, they participate in the President’s Athletic Conference. Their head coach, Mike Sirianni is considered one of the top coaches in D3 football. He has built a culture of success with 153 combined wins across 17 seasons.
According to USNews, “W&J” ranks 92nd among National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Average Cost Before Aid: $64,600
Average Cost After Aid: $26,400
Home Page: https://www.washjeff.edu/
Location: Glassboro, NJ
Description: Rowan is a public institution located in western New Jersey near the Philadelphia, PA metro area.
Rowan has not participated in an NCAA Division 3 championship game even though it has made the playoffs 16 times with a robust 65% win rate in the postseason.
Student-athletes of all sports represent the Rowan Profs while they compete in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
US News ranks Rowan 179th in National Universities and 71st in Best Undergraduate Teaching.
Average Cost Before Aid: $35,000
Average Cost After Aid: $25,500
Home Page: https://www.rowan.edu/
Location: San Antonio, TX
Description: Trinity is located in San Antonio, TX in close proximity to the downtown area.
Trinity has appeared in one NCAA Division 3 title game, losing 48-7 to Mount Union in 2002. Nicknamed the Trinity Tigers, the football team has qualified for 13 Division III football playoffs with a 50% win rate.
While the football team has shown signs of strength, it’s not necessarily the sport associated with Trinity. Students also sign on with this institution for its tennis program.
According to US News, Trinity ranks first in Regional Universities West and first in Best Undergraduate Teach. Trinity is also 12th in Best Value Schools for the country, so the data supports students finding a positive academic environment here.
Average Cost Before Aid: $62,600
Average Cost After Aid: $24,700
Home Page: https://www.trinity.edu/
Location: Waverly, IA
Description: Wartburg is a small college located in the remote town of Waverly, Iowa – which has around a population of 10,000. It is about 125 miles northeast of Des Moines, IA.
Wartburg has made the Division 3 playoffs on 14 occasions, but the Knights have not participated in a championship game. They participate in the American Rivers Conference while consistently competing with Central College for the top spot in those rankings.
Wartburg ranks 165th in National Liberal Arts Colleges according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $57,700
Average Cost After Aid: $21,800
Home Page: https://www.wartburg.edu/
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Location: Geneva, NY
Description: Hobart and Williams Smith College is primarily located in Geneva, NY – which is between Syracuse, NY and Rochester, NY in the western portion of the state.
The Hobart Statesmen football team qualified for 12-of-16 Division III playoffs starting in 2000, but they have not participated in the postseason since 2016. Despite those frequent trips to the postseason, Hobart has never won a Division 3 title.
Hobart and William Smith ranks 75th in National Liberal Arts Colleges and 67th in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $76,500
Average Cost After Aid: $32,900
Home Page: https://www.hws.edu/
Location: Williamsport, PA
Description: Lycoming is located in Williamsport, PA – which is the central part of Pennsylvania. Although Williamsport has a greater area of over 100,000 residents, the town is fairly remote at 190 miles northeast of Philadelphia, PA.
Lycoming has participated in 12 Division III football playoffs while holding a 52% win rate over 25 total games. The Warriors have not played in a Division 3 title game in their program history. They will eventually move to the Landmark Conference in 2023.
This is a fine institution whether you are a prospective athlete or not. Lycoming ranks 124th in National Liberal Arts Colleges according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $59,600
Average Cost After Aid: $18,600
Home Page: https://www.lycoming.edu/
Location: Wheaton, IL
Description: Wheaton College is located in northeast Illinois about 25 miles west of Chicago, IL.
Despite not winning any championships in football, Wheaton has participated in 12 Division III football playoffs with a 61% win rate in 28 total games.
The Thunder with a top ten ranking in both 2019 and 2021, so they are coming on strong as one of the top Division 3 football colleges.
Wheaton is currently a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Prospective students can take comfort in the fact that Wheaton ranks 59th in National Liberal Arts Colleges and 63rd in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $52,900
Average Cost After Aid: $25,400
Home Page: https://www.wheaton.edu/
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Location: Oshkosh, WI
Description: You may notice that UW-Oshkosh costs less money than other options on this list, and that’s because it’s a public institution. The town of Oshkosh is located in northeast Wisconsin about 50 miles south of Green Bay.
The Wisconsin-Oshkosh football team qualified for five Division 3 playoffs between 2012 and 2019. They won 12-of-17 postseason games over that span, which includes runner-up honors in the 2016 season.
The Titans have one of the more impressive stadiums in NCAA Division 3 as well, playing at Titan Stadium with a capacity of 9,800 seats.
Even though no Oshkosh athlete got a chance to sign at the professional level, there’s still a strong culture of success here. An athlete of any sport will find an environment to thrive here as well as a solid education.
UW-Oshkosh ranks 101st in Regional Midwest Universities and 31st in Top Public Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $19,900
Average Cost After Aid: $15,500
Home Page: https://uwosh.edu/
Location: Salisbury, MD
Description: Salisbury is a public school located in Massachusetts’ eastern shore region.
Despite not winning or attending a title game, the Salisbury Sea Gulls football team has participated in 12 NCAA Division 3 football playoffs. Salisbury finished the 2021 season with a respectable 8-2 record, ranking 19th in the final Division III football poll.
The Sea Gulls are in regular contention for the Atlantic Central Conference title. Students and athletes alike have given this school high marks.
Salisbury ranks 62nd in Regional North Universities and 33rd in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $26,300
Average Cost After Aid: $19,600
Home Page: https://www.salisbury.edu/
Johns Hopkins University
Location: Baltimore, MD
Description: Johns Hopkins is a private school located in Baltimore, MD.
The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays football team has found recent success with 11 NCAA Division III playoff appearances since 2005. This includes nine victories despite never appearing in a title game.
However, the Blue Jays have won 13 Centennial Conference titles since 2002.
Johns Hopkins is a prestigious academic institution that ranks ninth overall among National Universities according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $67,700
Average Cost After Aid: $29,300
Home Page: https://www.jhu.edu/
Location: St. Paul, MN
Description: Bethel is a private school located in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Bethel joins the list of Division 3 football schools without a championship, but the Royals have competed in 10 D3 playoffs since 2000. Bethel has had recent success in the sport while ranking in the NCAA Football Division III Top 25 poll in each of the past three seasons.
In this sport, the Royals compete in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic League. Bethel ranks 202nd among National Universities according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $54,000
Average Cost After Aid: $25,200
Home Page: https://www.bethel.edu/
Union College (NY)
Location: Schenectady, NY
Description: Union College is located in Schenectady, NY — which is about 20 miles northwest of Albany, NY.
The Union Dutchmen have competed in 12 Division III playoffs despite not appearing in a title game. Union went 8-2 in 2021, but the school did not end up in the Top 25 final ranking. However, the Dutchmen have found recent success while ranking 12th in the final poll of 2019.
Union College NY ranks 50th in Liberal Arts Colleges and 75th in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $76,000
Average Cost After Aid: $34,800
Home Page: https://www.union.edu/
John Carroll University
Location: University Heights, OH
Description: John Carroll is located in northern Ohio as part of the greater Cleveland area. John Carroll narrowly makes our list of D3 favorite schools for football.
The Blue Streaks have appeared in the D3 postseason seven times in program history, and they are gaining prestige among student-athletes as a football school while finishing in the top 25 for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
John Carroll ranks second in Regional Midwest Universities and 22nd in Best Value Schools according to US News.
Average Cost Before Aid: $61,700
Average Cost After Aid: $25,800
Home Page: https://jcu.edu/