The Best Colleges With Bowling, Both Men and Women’s Varsity Teams

Tons of colleges have bowling teams, but which ones are the best academically? Check out our study of the best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level.

The Best Colleges With Bowling, Both Men and Women’s Varsity Teams
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A good amount of high school students want to know the best colleges with bowling teams, specifically varsity teams, as opposed to club or intramural teams. Fortunately for these students, there are many colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level. And many of these colleges have both varsity men’s and women’s bowling teams. 

BrokeScholar decided to identify the best colleges with bowling teams in terms of their academic record as well as in terms of having both varsity men’s and women’s bowling teams. We took into account graduation rates, admission rates, and costs of tuition and required fees. We also noted which sanction body these colleges with bowling teams fall under, such as NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) versus NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) versus NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). All data was sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Read on to find out the best colleges with bowling teams, including both men’s and women’s varsity teams.

The Best Colleges With Bowling

The best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level tend to belong to the NAIA sanction body. In general, NCAA colleges tend to be more expensive than NAIA colleges, though this isn’t always the case. Colleges that belong to the NJCAA are two-year institutions, or “junior colleges.” Both NCAA and NAIA colleges are split up into different division levels, such as NAIA Division I or NCAA Division II without football, for example. 

According to NCES data, there are 67 colleges that have both men’s and women’s varsity bowling teams. We then analyzed those 67 colleges in terms of graduation rates, admission rates, and costs of tuition and required fees. Each college was scored based on these factors and then ranked. For each of the colleges with bowling, we included the men’s and women’s teams’ RPI (Ratings Power Index) from the most recently completed season, the 2021-2022 bowling season.

Here’s a look at the best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level.

1. Madonna College

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.549

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.567

Madonna College is located in Livonia, Michigan, and ranked at the top of our list of the best colleges with bowling. Based on NCES data, the men’s varsity bowling team has 12 players and women’s team 10 players. Madonna College has a very solid graduation rate of 64%, which is higher than the average graduation rate for all 67 colleges analyzed in our study, which was 49%. 

Madonna College has an admission rate of 52%, making it one of the hardest colleges to get into among the colleges with bowling teams. The average acceptance rate for all 67 colleges in our study was 80%, so Madonna College is markedly more selective in its admissions. The Madonna Crusaders compete in NAIA Division II, with the men’s bowling team finishing the 2021-2022 season with a record of 73 wins and 55 losses. The women’s bowling team finished that same season with an even better record of 87 wins and 41 losses.

2. Spring Arbor University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.557

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.554

Located in Spring Arbor, Michigan, Spring Arbor University ranked second in our study of the best colleges with bowling. The school has an undergraduate population of a little over 1,200 students. Like Madonna College, the graduation rate at Spring Arbor University is 64%, beating the average for all the colleges in the study. The acceptance rate at Spring Arbor University is 60%, which is also more selective than the study’s overall average admission rate of 80%. Costs of tuition and required fees, however, are above average at approximately $31,080, according to NCES data.

The Spring Arbor Cougars compete in NAIA Division II. The men’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season with 44 wins and 24 losses. The women’s bowling team finished with a very similar record of 45 wins and 20 losses. 

3. Huntington University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.530

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.518

Huntington University is located in Huntington, Indiana, and competes in NAIA Division I. In terms of its academics, Huntington University boasts very solid scores. It has a graduation rate of 69%, which is 20% higher than the 49% average for the study as a whole. Its admission rate of 79% is just shy of the 80% average for all 67 colleges with bowling considered in the study. Huntington University’s 69% graduation rate is the third highest in the study, making this college with bowling even more impressive academically.

The Huntington Foresters finished their 2021-2022 season under 500, for both the men’s and women’s teams. The men’s bowling team finished with a record of 43 wins and 50 losses. The women’s bowling team ended the season with 40 wins and 56 losses. Thus, while the Foresters need to improve their bowling records, academically Huntington University is one of the strongest colleges with bowling academically speaking.

4. Cumberland University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.438

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.425

Located in Lebanon, Tennessee, Cumberland University has an undergraduate population of approximately 2,257 students, making it slightly larger than most colleges with bowling in our study. Its graduation rate of 52% is slightly better-than-average, but its admission rate of 58% makes it one of the most selective colleges with bowling. According to NCES data, the costs of tuition and required fees are an estimated $25,412 per academic year, which is more affordable than the study’s average of $27,786 for in-state students and $27,969 for out-of-state students.

While academically Cumberland University has a strong record, its bowling teams need to improve a bit. The Cumberland Phoenix compete in NAIA Division I. At the end of the 2021-2022 season, the men’s bowling team posted a record of 19 wins and 92 losses. The women’s bowling team fared slightly worse, with a record of 10 wins and 83 losses. Still, it's important to note that Cumberland University ranked as the 13th best college in Tennessee in another BrokeScholar study.

5. Bethel University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.491

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.499

Like Cumberland University, Bethel University is one of the best colleges in Tennessee academically that has both men’s and women’s varsity bowling teams. Bethel University has one of the most competitive acceptance rates in our study, with an admission rate of 50% compared to the 80% average for the study overall. On the other hand, its graduation rate is only 38%, which kept it from ranking higher in our study. However, Bethel University has very affordable costs of tuition and required fees, at an estimated $17,482 per academic year, according to NCES data.

The Bethel University Wildcats compete in NAIA Division I. Though Bethel University has comparatively strong academic numbers, its bowling teams also show room for improvement. The men’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season with 38 wins and 61 losses. The women’s bowling team finished out their season with a slightly better record of 38 wins and only 52 losses.

6. University of St. Francis

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.626

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.661

Located in Joliet, Illinois, the University of St. Francis combines a strong academic record with impressive bowling teams. The university has a graduation rate of 65%, which is one of the highest rates in our study. And its admission rate of 68% puts it on the more selective side of the 67 colleges with bowling analyzed in the study overall. What kept the University of St. Francis from ranking higher is its above-average costs of tuition and required fees, which are an estimated $35,000 per academic year, according to NCES data.

The St. Francis Fighting Saints compete in NAIA Division I. And when it comes to colleges with bowling in our study, the Fighting Saints are excellent. In the 2021-2022 season, the women’s bowling team finished with the best record in the division: 148 wins and 16 losses. The men’s bowling team is no slouch either, finishing the 2021-2022 season fourth in the division, with 133 wins and 34 losses. 

7. Tennessee Wesleyan University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.596

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.495

Another Tennessee college to make our list of the best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level, Tennessee Wesleyan University competes in NAIA Division I. The university has a graduation rate of 52%, making it better-than-average. And its admission rate of 60% makes it more selective than the average of 80% admission rate for the study as a whole. According to NCES data, its estimated costs of tuition and required fees are $26,590, which is slightly cheaper than the study’s overall average. Tennessee Wesleyan University is also a bit smaller than most colleges with bowling, having an undergraduate population of less than 1,000 students.

The Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs compete in the Mid-South Conference. In terms of its bowling teams, the Bulldogs are tough competitors. The men’s bowling team finished out the 2021-2022 season with a record of 88 wins and 30 losses, good for 11th place in the division. The women’s bowling team finished the same season with a record below 500, with 47 wins and 63 losses.

8. Lincoln Memorial University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NCAA Division II without football

Men’s bowling team RPI: N/A

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.557

Here’s yet another Tennessee school to make our list of the best colleges with bowling. Located in Harrogate, Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University is an interesting school because its total student population (approximately 5,118) is far higher than its undergraduate population (approximately 1,673). The university’s graduation rate of 53% is better-than-average, as is its admission rate of 70% compared to 80% for the study overall. The costs of tuition and required fees at Lincoln Memorial are cheaper-than-average at an estimated $24,210 per academic year, according to NCES data.

The Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters compete in NCAA Division II, with the bowling teams competing in the Conference Carolinas, while the rest of the teams are members of the South Atlantic Conference. The women's bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season with a record of 66 wins and 52 losses. Though Lincoln Memorial University does have a men's varsity bowling team, the NCAA only features women's bowling as a collegiate sport.

9. Lourdes University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.514

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.541

Located in Sylvania, Ohio, Lourdes University is a college with bowling that’s on the smaller side, with an undergraduate population of less than 1,000. The university’s graduation rate of 58% is better-than-average as is its admission rate of 75%. According to NCES data, its costs of tuition and required fees are an estimated $27,072 per academic year, which is slightly cheaper than the average for the study as a whole. 

The Lourdes University Gray Wolves compete in NAIA Division II, and their bowling teams compete in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). The men’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season just below 500, with a record of 44 wins and 56 losses. The women’s bowling team fared better, finishing the season with a record of 56 wins and 37 losses.

10. Midway University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.517

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.458

Midway University is located in Midway, Kentucky, and competes in NAIA Division I. Like Lourdes University, the graduation rate at Midway University is 58%, which is better than the 49% average for the study overall. Its admission rate of 78% is on the higher side, though still more selective than the study’s overall average. Based on NCES data, the costs of tuition and required fees are an estimated $24,850 per academic year, which makes it more affordable than the in-state average of $27,786 and out-of-state average of $27,969 for the 67 colleges analyzed in our study.

The Midway Eagles are associate members of the Mid-South Conference. The Midway Eagles men’s bowling team ended the 2021-2022 season just below the 500 mark, with 61 wins and 64 losses. The women’s bowling team fared a bit worse, wrapping up their season with 43 wins and 101 losses.

11. Marian University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.605

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.528

Located in Indianapolis, Marian University is on the larger side of our study of the best colleges with bowling. It has an undergraduate population of approximately 2,980 students and over 4,000 students total. Marian University boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the study, at 64%, and an admission rate of 73%. Marian University also ranked among the best colleges in Indiana in a separate study conducted by BrokeScholar. Marian University would have ranked higher in this study, but its estimated costs of tuition and fees are $36,600, according to NCES data, which is higher than average.

The Marian University Knights compete in NAIA Division II and are members of the Crossroads League conference. The university’s men’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season in 9th place, with 77 wins and 28 losses. The women’s bowling team finished out the same season just below 500, posting 51 wins to 55 losses.

12. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.669

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.645

As suggested by its name, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is located in Savannah, Georgia. SCAD is the largest college in our study of the best colleges with bowling, having an undergraduate population of approximately 12,772 students. While its admission rate of 81% is above the average for the study overall, its graduation rate of 71% is the highest in the study. SCAD also has a comparatively low transfer-out rate of only 14%. However, its costs of tuition and required fees is on the higher end of the spectrum. According to NCES data, tuition and required fees are an estimated $38,840.

The SCAD Bees compete in NAIA Division II. And SCAD’s bowling teams are superb. Both the men’s and women’s bowling teams finished at or near the top of their division. The men’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season in 1st place, with 119 wins and just 5 losses. The women’s bowling team finished their season in 4th place, with 104 wins and 15 losses.  

13. University of the Cumberlands

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division I

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.610

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.540

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands benefits most from its affordable rate of tuition. According to NCES data, the estimated costs of tuition and required fees are $9,875 per academic year. The university’s graduation rate of 48% is right around the study’s overall average as is its admission rate of 85%. 

The Cumberlands Patriots compete in NAIA Division I, playing in the Mid-South Conference. Both the men’s bowling team and women’s bowling team finished the 2021-2022 season above 500. The women’s bowling team posted 74 wins and 60 losses. The men’s bowling team finished the season in 8th place in the division, with a record of 91 wins and 23 losses.

14. Siena Heights University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NAIA Division II

Men’s bowling team RPI: 0.465

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.443

Siena Heights University is located in Adrian, Michigan, and has an undergraduate population of nearly 1,800 students. The university;’s graduation rate is above the average of the study overall, at 51%, while its admission rate of 68% makes it one of the more selective colleges with bowling to get into. Siena Heights University offers degrees across multiple levels, including associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and certificate programs. According to NCES data, the costs of tuition and required fees are an estimated $28,502, which is slightly higher than the study’s overall average. 

Competing in NAIA Division II, the Siena Heights Saints bowling teams play in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). Though Siena Heights has better-than-average academic scores in our study, in terms of its men’s and women’s bowling teams, there’s room for improvement. In the 2021-2022 season, the men’s bowling team finished with a record of 36 wins and 92 losses. The women’s bowling team finished out the same season with 32 wins and 94 losses. Now with the 2022-2023 season underway, however, the men’s bowling team has a record of 19 wins and 9 losses (at the time of this article’s publication). The women’s bowling team this season is currently under 500, with a record of 11 wins and 18 losses.

15. McKendree University

Type of institution: Private, not-for-profit

Athletic sanction body: NCAA Division II with football

Men’s bowling team RPI: N/A

Women’s bowling team RPI: 0.642

McKendree University, located in Lebanon, Michigan, rounds out our list of the 15 best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level. With a graduation rate of 56%, McKendree University beats the study’s overall average graduation rate of 49%. Its admission rate of 78% is slightly more selective than the study’s overall average. According to NCES data, the costs of tuition and required fees are an estimated $33,050 per academic year, which puts it on the more expensive side of the best colleges with bowling. However, McKendree University’s bowling record makes up for the school’s higher-than-average tuition.

The McKendree Bearcats compete in NCAA Division II, playing in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). The bowling team that stands out the most is the women’s bowling team. In the 2021-2022 season, the Bearcats’ women’s bowling team finished the season with 87 wins and 25 losses, according to their website. According to the NCAA bowling rankings, they finished at the top of the division. Since the Bearcats compete in the NCAA, at this collegiate level, bowling is only open to women. However, the school does have a varsity men’s bowling team that is strong as well, with the team finishing in 4th place out of 23 teams at the National Collegiate Team Match Games hosted by McKendree and held at St. Clair Bowl, according to the latest news on their website

An Important Note On Our Study of the Best Colleges With Bowling

This study analyzed and ranked 67 colleges with varsity men’s and women’s bowling teams in terms of their graduation rates, admission rates, and costs of tuition. This study was not a ranking of the colleges with the best bowling teams, although many of the colleges that made this list did rank highly in their collegiate sports divisions. The approach here was instead a balanced analysis of each college with varsity bowling teams that evaluated their academic record and expense of attending. 

For a look at purely the colleges with the best bowling teams, their rankings can be found at the following pages:

Another key point about bowling at the NCAA level is that collegiate bowling in the NCAA is only open to women, hence the reason why RPI statistics were not available for two colleges with men's bowling teams that compete on that level. However, all of these colleges do have both men’s and women’s varsity-level bowling teams.

The Bottom Line on the Best Colleges With Bowling

It should be noted that a number of the colleges with bowling listed above also ranked among the best colleges academically in their respective states. So, not only can you attend these colleges to pursue your passion of bowling, but you can get a solid education as well. Plus, like almost every college sport, there are bowling scholarships available based on talent, GPA requirements, letters of recommendation, and other qualifications. A great resource for finding bowling scholarships is the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). This organization has awarded more than $6 million in annual scholarships to youth bowlers based on academic, leadership, and on-lane performances. Thus, if you’re an avid and talented bowler with the right educational credentials, you could potentially land a money-saving scholarship to attend college and flex your athletic muscles.

Methodology

This study of the best colleges with bowling teams on the varsity level, both men’s and women’s, was based on data sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Factors analyzed included the following:

  • Graduation rate
  • Admission rate
  • In-state cost of tuition and required fees (2021-2022 academic year)
  • Out-of-state cost of tuition and required fees (2021-2022 academic year)

Each college was given a score for these factors, with the scores then added up, and finally ranked from best to worst. Individual college bowling team records and RPI figures were sourced from the NAIA and NCAA rankings pages.

Andrew DePietro

Author: Andrew DePietro

Senior Researcher, and Content Strategist

Andrew DePietro is a finance writer covering topics such as entrepreneurship, investing, real estate and college for BrokeScholar, Forbes, CreditKarma, and more.