College

Top 40 Colleges to Cheer

If you are involved in cheerleading at all or are interested in trying it, you’ve probably seen multiple “best places to cheer in college” rankings. This, however, is a little different. Instead of ranking by who wins the most or who has the coolest uniforms or whatever criteria you have seen before, we decided to check out all aspects of various programs, give them points, then let the numbers do the ranking.

We created four categories to use as our criteria.

  1. Scholarships offered: Schools that offer no scholarships get 0 points, and five points to schools that offer full rides and/or more than $1000 a year. Other scholarships amounts were awarded points based on what they were. Some schools scholarship information could not be found, so we worked them in where we felt they fell in the list regardless of the scholarship amounts.
  2. Academics: While we didn’t dive in to what kind of grades you need to get into the college or how hard the schools are, schools that offered a variety of majors with well respected programs received five points.
  3. Game day atmosphere: One of the coolest parts of cheering in college is being down on the field or on the sideline of games. For this category, five points were awarded to schools that have incredible game day atmospheres, the kind you hear about on TV. Five points were also awarded to schools that had strong football and basketball programs, because those are the main two events that cheerleaders are there for. Three points were given to the teams that represent smaller athletic programs and teams that schools that primarily are known for just one sport.
  4. Competitiveness: Teams that have won a national title or are consistently in the top three in their divisions were awarded five points. Teams that are always strong competitors but haven’t made their way to the top yet were given three points, and teams that are still working their way up received one point.

So, let’s get to it.

40. Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, Michigan

CMU was one of the few teams at UCA College nationals to have an all girl and coed IA team to make finals. They also field a small coed team so there is something for every type of athlete that makes the team.

39. University of Central Arkansas – Conway, Arkansas

UCA has two very strong competitive teams. The small coed team won back to back NCA Division I titles in 2012 and 2013 and the large coed team won in 2014.

38. Davenport University – Grand Rapids, Michigan

They are the only D III on this list, but they are as deserving as any. The all girl squad from Davenport University could easily compete with the big dogs from Division I. They are the reigning D III NCA National Champs.

37. Austin Peay State University – Clarksville, Tennessee

APSU has had a consistently strong cheerleading program for years and has, in recent years, become a strong large coed division I competitor at NCA Nationals. Lead by two former University of Kentucky cheerleaders, Austin Peay has great leadership and is moving in the right direction. Though it is a smaller school, they offer cheerleading scholarships.

36. Trinity Valley Community College – Athens, Texas

As you go down this list you are going to notice something – community and junior colleges in Texas have some great cheerleading squads. Trinity Valley is the first up on our list. They have won nine Junior College titles at NCA Nationals and are among the top in their division every year.

35. Columbus State University – Columbus, Georgia

CSU has won 11 Division II titles since 2002 in the large and small coed divisions. While none of those titles have come since 2010, they are still a program and a great place to check out for prospective college cheerleaders.

34. Wilmington University – New Castle, Delaware

Another strong D II competitor and the 2015 Small Coed D II UCA National Champs come from WU. They, year after year, have a competitive team as well as good finished in the all girl and coed partner stunt divisions.

33. Stephen F Austin State University – Nacogdoches, Texas

SFA has a small and large coed cheerleading squad that competes at NCA Nationals and is known as being one of the most close knit cheerleading programs out there. Tradition within the program is not the only that is strong, as the teams always place well in the national competition.

32. North Carolina State University – Raleigh, North Carolina

NC State is a program that is strengthening every year. They field division IA large and small coed teams that compete at NCA College Nationals as well as cheer for one of the nation’s top basketball programs. Their cheerleading teams have continued to move up in placements, placing 2nd in all girl partner stunt, 5th in large coed, and 4th in small coed at NCA Nationals in 2014.

31. Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, Ohio

A strong competitor in the small coed division at UCA Nationals as well as an up and coming all girl team, BGSU is a great destination for a cheerleader who wants to continue in college.

30. University of Delaware – Newark, Delaware

The back to back Division I UCA National Champions come from UD. They also have an all girl cheerleading squad. Some scholarships are available for coed squad members but even if you don’t receive scholarship money, rings are pretty nice too.

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29. Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) – Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Tech is probably the strongest school academically on this list and is unique in terms of college cheerleading because they compete twice, not just once, a year. Georgia Tech competes at Cheersport and at NCA College Nationals.

28. Sam Houston State University – Huntsville, Texas

Sam Houston is a solid destination to be a college cheerleader for both all girl and coed athletes. They offer up to $2,000 scholarships for their athletes and are a competitive program at NCA Nationals. They are home to the 2014 All Girl Division I NCA National Champions and 2015 UCA Coed Partner stunt champions.

27. University of West Georgia – Carrollton, Georgia

The D II dynasty – West Georgia has won a total of 18 titles. Their coed squad has won 11 of those in Division II Coed at UCA Nationals, the most recent coming this year. UWG All Girl has the other seven, coming from All Girl Division I, where the finished 2nd this year.

26. Pennsylvania State University – University Park, Pennsylvania

Penn State is a cheerleading program on the rise with a great college and game day atmosphere to go with it. Both their all girl and coed teams made finals at the 2015 UCA College Nationals.

25. Hofstra University – Hempstead, New York

Hofstra University is home to the 9-time UCA College National Champions in the Small Coed Division I division. You could say they are the Kentucky of UCA Small Coed. While Hofstra isn’t a huge school and only limited cheerleading scholarships are available, the rings and titles speak for themselves as to why this school is on our list.

24. San Diego State University – San Diego, California

Living close to the beach in sunny California plus cheering on a strong all girl or small coed competitive team was enough for SDSU to make our list.

23. Florida State University – Tallahassee, Florida

FSU fields both a coed and all girl cheerleading squad that competes at UCA Nationals. While they don’t offer cheerleading scholarships, getting to cheer on one of the country’s top football teams and living in a place with nice weather year round help make up for that.

22. University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minnesota Gophers have one of the largest spirit programs in the country, fielding an all girl and coed team that competes, and a small coed team. They also credit themselves with the birth of sideline cheerleading, so they have to make this list right?

21. Mississippi State University – Starkville, Mississippi

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State have it pretty nicely – they cheer for athletics that are strong year after year in one of the biggest athletic conferences (Southeastern Conference) and represent their university in both the all girl and coed divisions at UCA College Nationals. On top of that, the school is located in Starkville, Mississippi which is known for being a great little college town.

20. Navarro College – Corsicana, Texas

This two year school in Texas has one of the best cheerleading squads in the nation. Not only have they won the Junior College division at NCA College Nationals the last six years, but they have also been grand champions for the last three years. If you don’t care so much about cheering big games and just want to win, Navarro might be the place for you.

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19. University of Oregon – Eugene, Oregon

Though Oregon does not compete, how cool would it be to cheer for the Ducks? Oregon is notoriously known for their sponsorship by Nike and all of the apparel they receive, so imagine the cool gear you would get being on the cheer squad. They also offer small scholarships for their cheerleaders. That paired with cheering on one of the nation’s top football teams year after year in Autzen Stadium was enough for them to make our list.

18. Washington State University – Pullman, Washington

While Washington State is and up and coming team in the competition world, they have made finals and put on great performances at UCA Nationals the last two years. They made this list mainly because of the awesome college atmosphere in Pullman, Washington. Pullman is in the middle of nowhere, and everyone there loves the Cougs.

17. University of Oklahoma – Norman, Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma has a storied athletic program with great teams for the cheerleaders to cheer for year round. They also have a strong cheerleading program composed of an all girl and coed team. Cheering on the Sooners in one of college football’s best conferences and getting to compete was enough for them to make it in our top 20.

16. Western Kentucky University – Bowling Green, Kentucky

WKU was one of only two universities at the 2015 UCA College National Championship to have two top ten finishes for Division 1A All Girl (8th place) and Coed (5th place). Though it is a smaller school in a smaller conference, the Hilltopper’s consistently have good athletic programs and make many postseason appearances at tournaments and bowl games. This year, the coed cheerleaders got to travel to the Bahamas to cheer on the football team in a bowl game, talk about a sweet trip!

15. Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana

IU’s athletic department is known for their strong basketball history but the all girl cheerleaders at Indiana have made a name for themselves in the last few years after a 3-peat in the All Girl Division 1A category at UCA College Nationals. Though they do not offer any scholarships for cheerleading, the University is very strong academically making it a great place to cheer while you are getting your education.

14. Morehead State University – Morehead, Kentucky

If you want to be on one of the best cheerleading squads year in and year out, head on down to Morehead, Kentucky. Both their all girl and coed programs have 10 titles or more EACH. What Morehead lacks in size (as a university) and game day atmosphere, the make up for in cheerleading tradition and national championship rings.

13. Texas Tech University – Lubbock, Texas

Texas Tech made the cut for our top cheerleading colleges because they are becoming increasingly more competitive at NCA Nationals and provide a great scholarship opportunity for their coed and all girl cheerleaders.

12. University of Kansas – Lawrence, Kansas

The University of Kansas has become a top competitor at UCA College Nationals, finishing fourth in the most recent competition. All cheerleaders at KU receive scholarship money and get to cheer for football and for the men’s basketball team, who plays in what is considered to be one of the best college basketball environments at Allen Fieldhouse.

11. The Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

The Buckeye cheerleaders had the best seats in the house for their football teams national championship earlier this year then represented themselves well at their own nationals just a few weeks later. They are a steadily improving cheerleading program with tons of potential.

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10. University of Memphis – Memphis, Tennessee

The University of Memphis consistently has a strong cheerleading program but they are so high on our list because of the great scholarship opportunity there. They offer 12 full rides for the coed team and up to $1,000 per semester for qualifying all girl team members, which is some of the most amount of scholarships offered out of anyone on this list. They are also a very competitive program having had a team finish in first or second place in five of the last eight UCA College Nationals in various divisions.

9. Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

LSU cheerleaders lead the crowds at one of the nation’s best college football venues, Tiger Stadium. They are no strangers to being on College Gameday on Saturdays and cheering huge games. They also fare well at nationals every year, consistently placing in the top 10.

8. University of Mississippi – Oxford, Mississippi

Not only does Ole Miss have a great cheerleading program, they also have one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country and great athletic programs to cheer for. They award a good amount of scholarships to their cheerleaders and are improving in competition with each year.

7. Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma State University is ranked almost every year not only in cheerleading, but also in football and basketball, making it a great place to cheer. Their small coed, all girl, and large coed teams are consistently among the best at NCA Nationals each year.

6. University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Tennessee

Nothing says game day atmosphere like leading a crowd of 103,000+ fans at every home football game. If game days in Knoxville aren’t enough to make Tennessee a top cheerleading destination, 12 full tuition scholarships should.

5. University of South Carolina – Columbia, South Carolina

The University of South Carolina has a strong all girl and coed competition team that competes at NCA Nationals and that leads the crowd at games for one of the SEC’s strongest athletic programs.

4. University of Louisville – Louisville, Kentucky

U of L is home to the winningest program in NCA National titles. Each team, all girl, coed, and small coed, has won the national competition multiple times. Aside from being one of the best competition teams in the country, they cheer for one of the nation’s elite basketball programs as well as cheering for the football team that has done well in recent years.

3. University of Central Florida – Orlando, Florida

UCF is one of the perennial powerhouses in college cheerleading. They are consistently among the top three in Division 1A Coed cheer and offer scholarships to up to 16 of its cheerleading squad members. The school is also in a great location, just a few minutes from Disney World and where the weather is nice pretty much year round making it an enjoyable place not just to cheer, but also to go to school.

2. University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Getting to cheer for the 15-time national championship football team, having access to some of the best athletic facilities in the country, and being on one of the best cheerleading teams in the nation make Alabama one of our top colleges for cheer. The Crimson Tide’s cheerleading program made history this year when they won the Division 1A cheerleading title in both coed and all girl.

1. University of Kentucky – Lexington, Kentucky

The 20-time UCA National Champions are at the top of this list for more than just their impressive number of titles. On game day, whether it be football or basketball, Kentucky fans show out making UK not only one of the most competitive places to cheer at, but one of the most fun. From cheering big SEC games to Final Fours and National Championships, plus earning championships of their own, cheering at Kentucky is a perfect mix of sideline cheering and competition.

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Top 40 Colleges to Cheer
41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. brian

    April 14, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    you know not all of this information is correct, right?

    • Alex

      April 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Hi! I reached out to you via email so I could fact check my information with yours, but have yet to receive a response. If I have made an error, please get back to me, as I strive to be as accurate as possible. Thanks!

      • andy

        April 16, 2015 at 2:09 am

        KU is NCA.

        • Shawn

          April 16, 2015 at 12:37 pm

          KU is UCA and placed 4th list year i sat right in front of them as they talked about it in the milkhouse…

      • Abbie Hall

        August 11, 2015 at 6:04 pm

        Hi, I was wondering if Utah has any cheering in their colleges?

  2. ConcernedAthlete

    April 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    While Tennessee does have a great game day atmosphere, they certainly don’t offer 12 full scholarships anymore. Actually, the past few years there have been several cases of the top males getting less scholarship amounts (or sometimes none) while the top females get full amounts. In other cases, females have gotten scholarships before the semester starts while the males have been forced to take out student loans to pay for tuition with the hopes of getting reimbursed at the end of the semester. The scholarships are hard to track since they are revoked for things like forgetting to bring your “cheer bible” to practice, and since the retention rate is so low due to coaching issues. Is cheering in Neyland Stadium worth that? You decide…

    • Alex

      April 14, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Hi! The scholarship information cited was found on the official Tennessee Athletics website (www.utsports.com) and it did not specify which members of the team they would be distributed to. As for the way the scholarships are handled within the program, that is an internal matter that we are not a part of so it would be unfair to speculate. Based on the criteria that we created, Tennessee was in the top portion of the list. Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond.

    • Fred Barstool

      April 14, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      as someone who’s cheered in Neyland Stadium I can honestly say…HELL YES its worth it! #allvol #scholarshipsgototheoneswhodeservethem

  3. Ummmmm

    April 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    University of Hawaii?!

  4. Melissa

    April 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    While I know times have changed. I am flabbergasted as to why UMD did not make the cut. They have a very strong all girl program. Their recruiting reaches all across the nation. If you are an elite allstar cheerleader and want to compete at the all girl level I would encourage Louisville or Maryland. Not alabama with a baby program and poor competition at UCA. Very biased article.

    • ConcernedAthlete

      April 14, 2015 at 11:09 pm

      Poor competition at UCA? Alabama set a precedent this year by winning both the coed and all-girl division at UCA, how is that poor competition? I know UMD is a very good program, but you can’t ignore the results from Alabama. Just like their football program: you may not like them, but you can’t deny the talent.

    • Colin

      October 23, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Alabama is one of the most elite uca squads in the country consistently competing with Kentucky and have won national championships beating out Kentucky. They deserve their ranking

  5. Taylor

    April 14, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    What a joke. How can UGA not be on this list and Ga Tech is? UGA’s program is way better.

    • John

      April 15, 2015 at 6:21 am

      UGA just lost their competition program. They are no longer allowed to compete.

      • Neil

        April 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        What do you mean Uga lost their competition program? How? I haven’t heard anything about it, they just did great at nationals and scored 3rd last year. Do you mean the club all girl team can no longer compete or the real small dawgs? Was it a lack of funding or a disciplinary thing?

  6. Hannah

    April 14, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Liberty University should have definitly been on this list…

    • Alex

      April 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Hi! Liberty University is a wonderful program on the rise and I could definitely see them working their way on to a list of this type at some point. With only 40 spots, some great programs had to be left off. Thanks for reading!

    • thatschoolscarespeople

      April 18, 2015 at 10:36 pm

      why?

  7. jan

    April 14, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Hey check out Bryan college. No football, but thousands in cheer scholarships available. Great team environment with a caring coach. If there is a list of colleges with cheer scholarships, great people and amazing education then they should be on it. 🙂

    • Alex

      April 15, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Hi! Thanks for the info, i’ll definitely look into Bryan College for future articles of this type!

  8. Cynthia Montogmery

    April 15, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Glad to see Georgia schools rated in the pole 3 times. West Georgia has an awesome freshman cheerleader I have watche grow up for years and she continue to be what every cheerleader shoudl be! GO JAMIE!

  9. melissA

    April 15, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Texas State University All Women Cheer has won 4 National Titles. Why aren’t they listed?

    • cici

      April 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Like She said its not all based on how many titles they have one it’s also about scholarships and game day atmosphere!

    • Colin

      October 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Texas state is for sure one of the top cheerleading squads in the nation. Not sure why they are not listed

    • Colin

      October 23, 2015 at 10:22 am

      Apparantly Sam Houston is better than Texas state haha good one. They are trash compared to Texas state

  10. Brandon

    April 15, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Why is University of Hawaii not on there? They get to cheer at aloha Stadium where the Pro bowl is played and also receive scholarships for every member on the team. They are also under the athletic department which not many university cheer team are. University of Hawaii has gone to UCA nationals for many years and has received as high as third place, including partner stunt national champions. on top of all of that the University of Hawaii has one of the best campuses with a view of the ocean and Diamondhead. also with some of the best academic programs including nursing and business. So for you next article I think you should include one of the best programs that have ever been around. And not to mention that the coach Mike Baker has some of the most experience out of any of the coaches around. Thank you for looking at this.

    • Alex

      April 15, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Hi! Unfortunately, only 40 teams could make the list so some teams had to be left off. I do agree with you, though, that Hawaii is an exceptional place to cheer in college! We are looking at doing more lists of this type with more specific criteria and rankings that are based on specific things, and i’m sure Hawaii will find a place on one of those. Thanks for reaching out.

    • howsitbah

      April 18, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      #truth^^^ Hawaii is…in HAWAII. Mike Baker is a class act in a profession ruled by class clowns. Manoa Valley is one of the prettiest places on earth. Great facilities to practice in as well.

  11. Kel

    April 15, 2015 at 7:32 am

    This is a horribly biased list… Wichita State University makes deep runs in the Men’s NCAA tournament, has ESPN’s College Gameday, has a top 50 wbb team & volleyball team as well as an amazing environment to receive an outstanding education. Plus they’ve finished top three at UCA nationals for the last two years and top five since 2008. Keep looking back and you’ll see their cheer program has competed yearly since the 1980s, been asked to preform in the opening ceremony of the Alanta Olympics and several of the school’s listed have ties to WSU with their coaches. If you do a little more research you’ll find you missed the boat with this article in many ways.

    • Alex

      April 15, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Hi! Unfortunately, with a set number of schools to rank, some great programs did not make the list. That does not take away from the program, as the accomplishments you listed speak for themselves. We did extensive research and tried to find a variety of well rounded and diverse programs. We’ll definitely keep Wichita State in mind next time we compile a list related to college cheerleading.

  12. Amanda

    April 15, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Why is University of Maryland not on this list? They are a top rated program year in and year out, not only do they compete at NCA and place in the top 3 nearly every year, but they compete in Stunt competitions all across the nation, all while representing UMD athletics at Men’s and Women’s Basketball games/tournaments, and football games and bowl games. They also offer their team members scholarships, and its a beautiful campus located only 20 minutes from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where the Ravens play where they do some performances there as well. #TERPS

  13. UCAJudge

    April 15, 2015 at 8:58 am

    I know you can’t get them all because there are so many spirit programs, but based on the fact that several other Junior Colleges made the list it would have been good to mention Iowa Western. They have no in-state tuition, offer scholarships, have placed Top 3 at UCA nationals the past 5 years (the last 3 have been 2nd in large coed). They have great community and administrative support, a brand new campus with on campus housing, and all of the teams they cheer for are ranked nationally. They send their cheerleaders on to cheer at schools like UCF, Sam Houston, Morehead State and many others. Their info is at GoReivers.com and they are on Instagram and Facebook.

    • Alex

      April 15, 2015 at 10:33 am

      Hi! Thanks for reaching out and providing that information. As you mentioned, with a set number of 40, obviously every great team could not be included. That said, we are looking to do more of this type of article in the future with more specific criteria so we can include other schools that maybe don’t get as much mention as some of the other programs you always here about and Iowa Western sounds like a wonderful place to cheer!

  14. Riley Large

    May 29, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Faulkner state community college in Bay Minette AL

  15. Kate Wilson

    June 16, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Would love to see more lists like this. How about a list of smaller programs that are up and comers? Or a list that with similar criteria that includes the top 100 instead of 40? We will be shopping for a school soon and this info will be invaluable. Thanks and would love to see more.

  16. Mary

    June 16, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Davenport University is not a D3 school. They are NAIA and are comparable to a D2 school. They were placed in the D3 division because the NAIA division was too small. They will no longer be associated with D3 because they give out scholarships including full rides.

  17. unchicounhombre

    August 3, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    If your going to go by all around programs then Uk should not be first! They only take girls of a certain size and stature they have to have a certain shoe size they Do not have an All girl and a small co Ed team! Maybe you should be looking across the state and see who has continually won nationally titles with giving more athletes opportunities! I’d rather go to a school that I had a chance then go to a school bc I didn’t look like a toddler ? Take it as you may it’s true those UK girls may be little but look at Louisvilles girls they are Gorgeous ! And they have over 60 , National champs year in and year out 💄👄

    • ADag

      December 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Are you mad because you or someone you knew didn’t fit their criteria? They have a scoring sheet, if you don’t fit what they’re looking for then of course you won’t make it. All those big schools that have big programs all have scoring sheets that have appearance on it, they have an image that they stick to, Louisville is one of those schools as well.

  18. Colin

    October 23, 2015 at 9:33 am

    How is Texas State University not on here when their all woman squad has won 4 national titles in the last 15 years?

  19. Todd

    December 16, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Could anyone here tell me how Univeristy of Florida ranks?

  20. Tory

    March 1, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    California Baptist???

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