College Football FCS

College Football FCS

What is the FCS?

In the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), there are three divisions of competition: Division I, Division II, and Division III. In Division I, there are two subdivisions specifically for football: the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Read on to learn more about the FCS, including conferences, teams, and the National Championship format.

FCS Conferences

Within the FCS, there are 15 conferences. Each conference has between 6 to 13 teams. The current conferences in the FCS are as follows:

  • Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN)
  • Big Sky Conference
  • Big South Conference
  • Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA)
  • Ivy League
  • Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)
  • Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC)
  • Northeast Conference (NEC)
  • Ohio Valley Conference (OVC)
  • Patriot League
  • Pioneer Football League
  • Southern Conference (SoCon)
  • Southland Conference
  • Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
  • Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

FCS Teams

There are currently 130 NCAA FCS programs. Teams in the FCS tend to have smaller budgets, attendance, and less-known brands nationally than their FBS counterparts. They do, however, historically have a stable postseason tournament system, as the FBS does not. Starting around Thanksgiving, FCS schools begin to participate in the NCAA Division I Football Championship.

FCS Tournament Format

The tournament itself began with four teams in 1978, and has since grown to include 24 teams. Ten of these teams come from conference champions of automatic-qualifying conferences, while the other 14 are from at-large bids. The bids and seeding are determined by a committee (similar to the FBS’s College Football Playoff Selection Committee).

The NCAA Division I Football Championship follows a single-elimination format. There are eight seeded teams that receive first-round byes, while the remaining 16 play preliminary games. The winners move on to play the seeded teams in a traditional bracket structure. The bracket continues until the two final teams play for the championship title and trophy.

Notable FCS Programs

Since the tournament began in 1978, no program has appeared in the Championship more than Georgia Southern, who hold a 6-2 all-time record in the title game. North Dakota State has a 7-0 record in title games, winning all seven in eight years from 2011-2018. Other programs with more than two titles are Youngstown State and Appalachian State.

Some programs find so much success at the FCS level that they are able to make the jump into the FBS. Georgia State, Appalachian State, Marshall, and Boise State are a few examples of teams that made the jump from FCS to FBS.


What is the FCS in football?

The FCS is one of two main subdivisions of NCAA Division 1 football. FCS stands for Football Championship Subdivision. Compared to the FBS, the other Division 1 football subdivision, the FCS is made up of teams with less known national brands, smaller budgets, and less attendance at games. There are 130 NCAA football programs in the FCS.

How many subdivisions are there in NCAA Division 1 Football?

There are two main subdivisions in NCAA Divisions 1 Football: the FBS and the FCS. The FBS is the Football Bowl Subdivision and is made up of the most popular and high-budgeted teams in college football. The FCS is the Football Championship Subdivision and is made up of lesser known Division 1 teams. Teams will sometimes transfer from the FCS to the FBS or vice versa.

How many conferences are there in the FCS?

There are 15 conferences within the FCS. These include the Atlantic Sun Conference, Big Sky Conference, Big South Conference, Colonial Athletic Conference, Ivy League, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Missouri Valley Football Conference, Northeast Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Patriot League, Pioneer Football League, Southern Conference, Southland Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Western Athletic Conference.