Progress Rule vs. 24/36-Hour Rule

The two core NAIA continuing eligibility requirements, the 24/36-Hour Rule and the Progress Rule, are often mistaken for one another. However, they represent separate concepts and are to be applied independently. Previous installments of this series explored only the 24/36-Hour Rule. This article explains the Progress Rule and its relationship to the 24/36-Hour Rule.

Progress Rule (Bylaws Article V, Section C, Item 9)

The main goal of the Progress Rule is to ensure a student-athlete is progressing toward earning a degree. To ensure this progress, a student-athlete must have earned a minimum number of institutional credit hours prior to participating in each additional season of competition. The progress rule does not apply to a student-athlete’s first season in a sport.

 In order to satisfy the Progress Rule, a student-athlete must have earned 24 semester/36 quarter institutional credit hours prior to the start of his or her second season of competition. Prior to a student-athlete’s third season of competition, he or she must have earned 48 semester/72 quarter hours of institutional credit. Finally, a student-athlete must have earned 72 semester/108 quarter institutional credit hours prior to his or her fourth season of competition. The Progress Rule has one additional requirement in the student’s fourth season of competition: at least 48 semester/72 quarter hours must be in general education or the student’s major field of study.

 Semester Hours Earned (Minimum Requirement)Quarter Hours Earned
(Minimum Requirement)
Second Season*2436
Third Season
(GPA Requirement applies)
Fourth Season
(GPA Requirement applies)
w/ 48 gen ed./major credits
w/ 72 gen ed./major credits
*See freshman exception below. 

Transfer Students

Transfer students can use certified institutional credit hours earned at their previous institution(s) to meet this requirement only for their first term of attendance at their new institution. After the student has been identified at the NAIA institution for one term, thereafter only credit hours recognized by the student’s current institution and appearing as cumulative earned hours on the student’s NAIA transcript shall apply.     

For example, Sally attended Old Institution in 2013-2014, where she played soccer. At Old Institution, Sally earned 24 institutional credit hours, including one three-hour course in which she earned a D. Over the summer of 2014, Sally transfers to New Institution, which does not transfer in any course passed with a D. In her first term of identification (Fall 2014), all institutional credit hours from all past institutions are counted, meaning Sally satisfies the Progress Rule to play in her second season. However, after her first term of attendance is completed (Fall 2014), from then on only courses recognized by New Institution may be counted toward the Progress Rule. The three hours that did not transfer in to New Institution no longer count toward satisfaction of the Progress Rule.

Grade Point Average Requirement*

To participate in a second, third and/or fourth season in each sport, all students must have and maintain a total cumulative GPA of at least 2.000 on a 4.000 scale.  The GPA is calculated differently for students continuing to identify at your institution and entering transfer students.

Students with continuing identification: Use the official institutional policy for calculating the cummulative grade point average.

Transfer Students: Divide all quality points achieved by the total number of hours attempted for all courses listed on all official transcripts from all institutions previously attended.

(*see this article for GPA requirements)

Differences between the Progress Rule and the 24/36-Hour Rule

Progress Rule24/36-Hour Rule
Intent: To ensure a student’s academic progress corresponds with the student’s athletic experience.Intent: To ensure a student is enrolled and passing institutional credits in a manner consistent with full-time enrollment.
Rule Trigger: The Progress Rule is triggered by the seasons of competition with which a student is charged.Rule Trigger: The 24/36-Hour Rule is triggered by the terms of attendance with which a student is charged.
Repeat Courses: The Repeat Course Rule (Art V, Sec C, Item 12) does not apply to the Progress Rule. Institutional credits from previously passed courses will apply if accumulated on the transcript.Repeat Courses: Courses previously passed with a D that are repeated and earn a higher grade may count toward satisfying the 24/36-Hour Rule if required for degree completion.
Non-term Hours: The Progress Rule does not limit the number of non-term institutional credit hours a student may accumulate for eligibility purposes.Non-term Hours: A student may use no more than 12 non-term institutional credit hours to satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule
Transfer Credit: After a student’s first term of attendance at the NAIA institution, only institutional credit hours recognized by the NAIA institution apply.Transfer Credit: All institutional credit hours earned during an applicable term of attendance and up to 12 applicable non-term hours  (regardless of issuing institution) can be applied to satisfy the 24/36-Hour Rule.

Related Progress Rule Interpretations:

Progress Rule GPA & Exception

Progress Rule Exception Mixed Terms

Progress Rule Calculation: Term Totals vs. Accumulated Totals

Progress Rule Exception for 2nd Season of Competition