|1978 NCAA Division I-AA season|
|Number of teams||43|
|Duration||December 9–December 16|
|Championship date||December 16, 1978|
|Championship site||Memorial Stadium|
Wichita Falls, Texas
|NCAA Division I-AA football seasons|
The 1978 NCAA Division I-AA football season was the first season of Division I-AA college football; Division I-AA was created in 1978 when Division I was subdivided into Division I-A and Division I-AA for football only. With the exception of seven teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Division I teams from the 1977 season played in Division I-A during the 1978 season. The SWAC teams, along with five conferences and five other teams formerly in Division II, played in Division I-AA.
The Division I-AA season began in August 1978 and concluded with the 1978 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship Game played on December 16 at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, Texas. The Florida A&M Rattlers won the first I-AA championship, defeating the UMass Minutemen in the Pioneer Bowl, 35–28. Florida A&M of 1978 remains the only team from an HBCU to play in the I-AA/FCS national championship game.
|School||1977 Conference||1978 Conference|
|Bucknell||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Florida A&M||SIAC (Division II)||I-AA Independent|
|Lafayette||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Lehigh||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Northeastern||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Nevada||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Northwestern State||D-I Independent||I-AA Independent|
|Portland State||D-II Independent||I-AA Independent|
Big Sky Conference – Northern Arizona
The bracket consisted of three regional selections (West, East, and South) plus an at-large team. Florida A&M (FAMU) of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) was the at-large selection. While the SIAC was a Division II conference, FAMU had successfully petitioned the NCAA for Division I classification (Division I-AA in football), which took effect on September 1, 1978.
|National Championship Game|
Memorial Stadium–Wichita Falls, TX
* Denotes host institution