As of the 2011-2012 season, there were 49 teams competing in NCAA Division III women’s hockey in five conferences. In addition, there were three colleges who are not in Division III who compete primarily against Division 3 schools (and participate in a Division III conference), bringing the total number of teams competing in regular season play to 52 schools (there is one Division 1 team, and two Division 2 teams who play predominantly Division 3 schedules). Many NCAA Division III schools are smaller than NCAA Division 1 colleges, though size is not the determining factor. There is a mix of private colleges and public colleges (and universities) among the NCAA Division III schools. Some women student-athletes play two sports in NCAA Division III, though it remains a challenge to mix hockey and another sport because as a winter sport, hockey will still overlap with a fall or spring sport.
NCAA Division III women's ice hockey may begin formal practice on October 15 and are limited to 25 games in the regular season. Four of the five conferences begin practice on this date (all except for the New England Small College Athletic Conference) and once the season begins, most teams practice or play six days per week.
The women' ice hockey championship possesses 5 conferences for the NCAA Division III:
New England Small College Athletic Conference
The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is the premier historic Division III athletic conference in the United States, consisting of highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities located in New England and New York. NESCAC is often referred to as the “Little Ivies”. The women's ice hockey teams that make up NESCAC are: