How Many Quarters Are in College Basketball?

When you spend a little time watching NCAA and NBA, you will find significant differences.

You will discover many rules and regulations strictly followed by the NBA league, but there is no concept of these rules in the NCAA league.

Similarly, many principles are considered in the NCAA league but not in NBA. This is not only about the rules, but the time also varies, the entire run of the game and per session period.

If the NBA runs for 48 minutes, the NCAA has a 40-minute course. But, how many halves or quarters are in college basketball?

Today, our main topic is all about the college basketball session time. We will discuss the length of a basketball game, the session period in NCAA, and some reasons why this college basketball shot clock is different from the professional league.

How Many Quarters / Halves Are in College Basketball?

Course Time in NCAA

If you watch college basketball tournaments, you must have noticed that the game lasts not more than 40 minutes. It is further divided into two sessions.

Session Period

Each half is 20 minutes. However, when the two halves have been played, it completes the total time of 40 minutes.

Thus, the time interval between the two halves is 15 minutes, which is not included in the game’s entire course. 


Nevertheless, if the game were tied between the two sessions, the game would be given overtime for a specific period in which the players would continue their games to see the result of which team wins the match.

The time period for the overtime is five minutes only, which would be the extension of the second half session.

Shot Clock

Talking further about the shot clock in the NCAA; the league is given 30 seconds to take a short. However, if a shot hits the basket’s hoop, the clock would be reset to 20 seconds, and the team would retake a shot.

How is NCAA Course Time Different from other Leagues?

As mentioned earlier, the NCAA league is quite different from other basketball leagues in terms of its rules and total course time. 


Anyhow, beginning with the National Basketball League, the NBA league has a total course of 48-minutes, which is divided into four quarters.

Each quarter session runs for 12 minutes to complete the whole time of 48 minutes.  However, the time interval between the four quarters is permitted 15 minutes.

This extra time is given between the first two and last two quarters as a break, which is not counted in the total course period. If the game draws, the game would be given five additional minutes to expand the last session.


On the other hand, in the National Federation of State High School Associations, the total basketball game time runs for a minimum of 32 minutes, which is divided into four quarters.

Each quarter session lasts for 8 minutes. However, just like NBA, the timeout is allowed between the first and last two quarters, which is 10 minutes and does not calculate in total time.

In case the game ties, the overtime permitted would be four minutes, which would be allowed after the last quarter.


Moreover, in the International Basketball Federation, the total playtime is 40 minutes, which is divided into four equal sessions.

Each quarter holds 10 minutes. The overtime is allowed for 5 minutes in the first, second, and third, fourth sessions. 

Game Interval in NCAA Women’s League

Thus, you’ve got to know about all course times and session periods in different leagues, which are somewhat distinct from each other. Now you must be wondering what the NCAA women’s basketball league setup is.

The Women Basketball League rules differ from the NCAA league. Although the play’s total time is 40 minutes, unlike the college basketball league, the sessional division is distributed into four quarters. Each quarter runs for 10 minutes. 

In the beginning, the College Women’s League committee considered keeping it in two halves for 20 minutes. But then it was believed to divide it into four quarters to develop the flow of the game.

Therefore, this change was implemented by the Women’s basketball association’s board of directors and coaches.

The Reason Why College Basketball Has Two Halves

In 1905, the basketball rules were quite different from current principles. It was played in two halves with the 10-minute time interval between the sessions, which was not included in the total course period.

Moreover, the play’s whole time was 30 minutes, which was divided into two 15-minute halves. But later on, it was changed. The reason was the belief that two 15-minute sessions are not adequate for the player to play freely with a flow, which ended up in lower scores. 

Nevertheless, in 1951, when this setup did not work for both players and the league, the game was split into four quarters with a total period of 40 minutes.

This NCAA rule was as same as the NBA league. But the four-quarter system also did not work for several reasons. Hence it was split into two halves, but the total time remained the same.

Final Words

In the past, many NCAA rules were similar to the NBA league, which included some principles, course time, division sessions, and much more.

However, when the authorities noticed that the players do not get a sufficient amount of time and they lack in their execution (which impacts directly on the score) they decided to change this rule.

Anyhow, I have discussed some reasons why college basketball is divided into two halves and compared the time interval with other leagues such as NBA, FIBA, NFHS, and NCAA Women’s Basketball League.