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College Rowing Scholarships


Rowing scholarships are becoming more and more readily available to high school athletes, even those who have never rowed before.


The Basics of Rowing Scholarships


In women’s rowing, there are 80+ Division I, 15 Division II, and 40+ Division III programs, a total of 130+ colleges were high school rowers can compete at the next level. Men’s rowing is not sanctioned by the NCAA, but is offered as a club sport at many schools.


Women’s rowing has about 20 scholarships per team, and since it is an equivalency sport, that means these are not full scholarships, and coaches divide the money as they choose.


Your 2k erg score speaks volumes to coaches about your rowing abilities and potential if you’re new to the sport; while it is not the only measure for coaches it is the most widely-used.


Novice Rowing


Rowing is a highly competitive college sport, but actually doesn’t require previous experience! That is why you may find a lot of novice rowers on a college program. Rowing is known for its walk-on scholarship opportunities because it is not a high profile sport, but not just anyone can be a rower. The sport of rowing requires a lot of physical stamina, strength, and dedication. If you bring all of that, plus an ability to learn the proper technique, you have a good shot of earning a rowing scholarship.




It is very difficult for coxswains to find full scholarships. Unless you have demonstrated success in high profile races or junior development experience, coxswains will most likely be offered a partial scholarship. As you contact college rowing coaches, it will be important for you to be able to provide recorded tapes of you during practice and during a race if you want a shot at a rowing scholarship. Whether or not a coach is looking for a coxswain depends on their current roster and whether or not they think you’ll be able to make an immediate contribution to the team.




Lightweight rowers are just as able to find scholarship opportunities as open-weight rowers, but there are many schools that don’t have specialized lightweight programs. This means that you may have lightweight scores, but you can be recruited for non-lightweight spots in a college rowing program. For those schools that do have lightweight divisions within their program, you can expect a highly competitive and highly selective environment.


NCAA vs. Club Rowing


There are dozens of opportunities for rowers to compete in college, at both the varsity level and as a club sport. Some schools don’t support rowing as a varsity sport, so it may be offered as a club. In most cases, clubs do not have the budget for scholarships but might be able to waive the club fees for a rower; it just depends on the team. Club teams offer rowers an opportunity to compete at the college level if they end up at a school that doesn’t have a varsity squad.




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