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It can be difficult to prepare for college, and there are a lot of things to keep in mind-- from academic offerings, to financial need, to location. In the midst of all the craziness of college applications, extracurriculars and sports may slip your mind. But if you love attending basketball games in your spare time-- or, more seriously, if you’re a woman seeking to play basketball at the collegiate level-- it’s definitely important to make sure that your future school can meet your needs with its sports teams.
If you want to play basketball at a high level in college, or just like going to high-energy games with your friends, here are some of the best colleges for women’s basketball in the country!
Here are the Best Colleges for Women’s Basketball:
Stanford University has perhaps the best women’s basketball program in the country. The Stanford Cardinal women’s basketball team has won three National Championships and has been the runner-up to the NCAA championship twice-- and the team has accomplished all of this under their legendary coach, Tara VanDerveer, over the course of her insanely successful career with Stanford. A Division I team, the Stanford Cardinals are part of the Pacific-12 Conference.
Besides its fearsome women’s basketball team, Stanford’s reputation as a rigorous academic institute is well-known. The university offers a wide variety of majors in seven different schools, all of which are located on one campus. If you’re looking for research opportunities as well as a great basketball program, this is definitely a school to aim for.
University of Florida
Although the University of Florida’s women’s basketball team, the Florida Gators, doesn’t have the same winning streak as Stanford does, it’s still a great college to consider if you want to play basketball after high school. Florida’s women’s basketball program has sent several players to the Women’s National Basketball Association, and the team has made appearances in 15 NCAA tournaments-- so the basketball program is a strong one. It’s also one of the first four women’s basketball teams in Florida-- in 1976, the Gators won the first women’s state championship against the other three women’s teams in existence at the time.
The University of Florida is also just a good college overall. In 2022, it was one of the 5 best public universities in the United States, and it offers plenty of courses of study in 16 different schools and learning centers. The college also has a strong financial aid game-- more than half of students graduate with no student loan debt.
University of California-- Los Angeles
Another NCAA Division I team in the Pacific-12 Conference, the UCLA Bruins have won one Women’s National Invitational Tournament (2015) and, like the Florida Gators, have sent several women on to careers in the WNBA. The current coach is Cori Close, who has been with the team for ten years. UCLA’s women’s basketball team consistently performs well in the NCAA and has a solid record of wins, making it a great school to consider if you’re interested in playing basketball.
UCLA is also a great school. Having kept its position as the best public university in the country for seven years straight, it’s got a good reputation. With over 125 majors to choose from, UCLA offers plenty of research opportunities for students to participate in. Plus, due to its location in Los Angeles, it’s a great place to make connections in the city and network.
University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, the UConn Huskies, has the most successful record among women’s college basketball teams in the country. An NCAA Division I team, they have competed in the American Athletic Conference and the Big East Conference, appearing in a record 14 consecutive Final Four tournaments, winning a record 4 consecutive NCAA National Championships, and winning another 7 NCAA National Championships besides. In addition to all of that, the team has won over 50 tournament or season championships within their conference-- truly a stunning record. If you’re interested in playing for an excellent team, this is a school you’ve got to check out.
The University of Connecticut also has plenty of courses of study to choose from. In addition to the school’s more than 115 majors, there is the opportunity for students to develop their own course of study. There’s also no shortage of things to do on campus, with over 700 clubs and organizations to participate in.
Since Gail Goestenkors’ term as head coach, starting in 1992, the Duke Blue Devils’ women’s basketball team has had a great run. An NCAA Division I team in the Atlantic Coast Division, the team has appeared in 11 Elite Eight or Final Four NCAA tournaments, and the team has sent many women on to successful careers in the WNBA-- including WNBA champions Tricia Liston, Alana Beard, and Chelsea Gray of the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, respectively.
Outside of its women’s sports program, Duke University has an excellent academic reputation. With 53 majors and 52 minors to choose from under either the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or the Pratt School of Engineering, students can find their own unique mix of subjects to study. Over three-quarters of students study more than one subject, and there is also the option of designing your own major, if your area of interest is not included on the list of established programs.
University of Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish women’s basketball team plays in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference. The team has another excellent track record-- in addition to their two NCAA National Championships, in 2001 and 2018, the Fighting Irish have reached the Final Four 9 times, making them the fifth most-frequent Final Four team. The team has sent several women on to the WNBA, including Ruth Riley, who led the team to its first NCAA National Championship victory in 2001.
Notre Dame also has an excellent academic reputation. It’s a great school for research opportunities-- a third of its undergraduate students participate in research of some sort, and there are plenty of courses of study to choose from in one of the six schools under the University.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University’s women’s basketball team plays in the Big Ten Conference, where they have won 14 titles-- a record for that conference. Besides that, the team has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 23 times. OSU has an extremely passionate sports fanbase, so this is a great school to both play basketball for and to attend games.
Ohio State University is itself an excellent college, too, aside from its lively sports programs. With over 200 majors to choose from, a host of graduate programs and specializations, and a reputation for rigorous academics, students have the opportunity to pursue their interests while exploring the city of Columbus, Ohio, where the main campus is located.
University of Michigan
Another Division I team in the Big Ten Conference, the Michigan Wolverines-- the University of Michigan’s women’s basketball team-- is part of a very strong, well-known basketball program, too. The Wolverines have won one WNIT tournament and reached the semifinals for that tournament twice, and have sent more than half a dozen players to the WNBA. The school has a passionate sports fanbase, too!
The school itself is one of the top public universities in the world, with over 250 degree programs in 19 schools to choose from. With its main campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan-- a lively college town with a rich arts and culture scene-- and over 1,000 student clubs and organizations, there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved on campus and enjoy their free time.
Those are Some of the Best Colleges for Women’s Basketball!
The college search and application process can certainly be daunting. You have to worry about academics, high school transcripts, applications and essays-- and, not to mention, it can be difficult to figure out how to finance your education in the first place. It’s also important, though, to keep an eye on the non-academic opportunities that your chosen college offers-- whether you’re looking for a rich arts and culture community, volunteer opportunities, or great sports programs to participate in.
Our hope is to take a little bit of the stress away from you by providing financial aid resources and by doing some of the research for you. The colleges on this list all have excellent women’s basketball programs with competitive track records-- so if you want to pursue basketball at the collegiate level, we’d recommend looking into these schools!