The Reserve Officer Training Corps was founded with the passage of the National Defense Act in 1916 and is now offered at more than 1,100 colleges across the country. In addition to providing an avenue for college students to works towards commission as an officer in the armed forces, the ROTC also offers participants grants and other opportunities to college students as part of their agreement to service.
The Reserve Officer Training Corps are armed services basic training programs at colleges and universities designed to train commissioned officers. While ROTC participants are not required to complete military service upon graduation, those who have received an ROTC scholarship incur a service obligation, with the amount of time required dependent on which type of commission they accept.
The Army, Navy and Air Force all have ROTC programs. Students interested in the Marines participate in the Navy program and the U.S. Coast Guard has its own Split Training programs similar to ROTC. Students should speak with a recruiter to determine which branch of the military best suits their needs and personality.
Requirements for ROTC programs vary depending on branch of military, but all three programs have requirements for:
Highly valuable ROTC scholarships are available to students who meet certain criteria and can commit to ROTC during college and active service upon graduation.
Prospective Army officers may complete ROTC officer training in two or four years and graduate ready to lead Army recruits. Training is part of an elective curriculum students complete along with required college courses. Students may participate in Army ROTC during their first two years of college (Army ROTC Basic Course) without incurring any service obligation.
Navy ROTC runs concurrently with a student’s regular college course of study. Students in the Navy ROTC take one Naval Science class each semester and participate in weekly drills. They also have the opportunity to attend Summer Cruise Training, working alongside Navy officers. Participants attending college on a Navy ROTC scholarship are required to serve on active duty between four and five years after graduation, depending on which of the following options they choose : Navy option (five years), Marine Corps option (four years) and Navy Nurse Corps Option (four years).
Students at more than 1,100 colleges across the country may participate in the Air Force ROTC at the same time they are completing their college degree. The Air Force ROTC offers two- and four-year programs, which are led by active-duty Air Force officers. Cadets accept a commission as second lieutenants in the Air Force, and service commitments range between four years and 10 years (pilots).
Use the search tool below to search the more than 1000 colleges and universities offering ROTC programs. While the branch ROTC programs are very similar in style and requirements, each one prepares graduates for a very different career in military service. While the Army ROTC is the largest and most popular branch of ROTC, the requirements are very similar for all branches. Applicants must meet certain age and academic requirements as well as pass a physical fitness test. Students may also qualify for scholarships based on similar academic and physical achievements.
Graduates of ROTC programs become commissioned active duty officers, bound by service in the military for two to ten years, depending on the length of training, military branch and the degree earned.
Many students commit to a college ROTC program because of the generous scholarship opportunities available to them. Two-, three- and four-year scholarships are available.
Four-year ROTC scholarships pay full tuition and fees, include a book allowance and monthly stipend. These scholarships are highly competitive and must be applied for at the end of the junior year of high school. Successful applicants are typically in the top 25 percent of their class, belong to an honor society, and participate in a variety of organizations and sports. Four-year scholarships are available to qualified students who meet certain criteria, including:
Note: Scholarship recipients who don’t commission into the army, don’t fulfill program requirements, or aren’t able to finish school, unless its due to a medical condition, will have to pay back the scholarship.
Three- and two-year scholarships are available to college students who are already enrolled in a college or university and have two or three years remaining. Requirements are the same as for high school students, but the commitment to the Army upon graduation is four years instead of eight.
The Army Green to Gold Program provides several options to qualified enlisted soldiers who are interested in pursuing a degree and earning a commission as an officer in the Army. Options include:
Soldiers without college credit who require four years to complete their degree are considered for four-year scholarships.
Soldiers with two years of college remaining to complete their degree are considered for two-year scholarships, and those with three years of college remaining are considered for three-year scholarships.
Three- and four-year scholarships are available. Four-year scholarships are activated in the fall of freshman year, while three-year scholarships activate in the fall of sophomore year. Recipients of three-year scholarships are required to complete AFROTC training during their freshman year in order to gain eligibility to activate their scholarships at the start of their sophomore year.
The types of Air Force ROTC scholarships are as follows, and the application process is the same for all.
Enlisted Air Force service members may qualify for the following scholarships:SCP
The ASCP allows enlisted personnel to separate from active duty and receive a scholarship worth up to $18,000 per year while pursuing their commission through Air Force ROTC.POC-ERP
Air Force ROTC Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program (POC-ERP) offers active duty Air Force enlisted personnel an opportunity for an early release from active duty to enter AFROTC and receive a commission as an officer in the Air Force. Recipients separate from active duty and become full-time college students. Upon completion of requirements, recipients are commissioned as second lieutenants and returned to active duty for a period of at least four years.SOAR
This program enables enlisted members to leave active duty and receive a scholarship worth up to $18,000 per year while pursuing a commission through Air Force ROTC.
Two-, three- and four-year Naval ROTC scholarships are available, and students may apply for the Navy, Marine Corps or Nursing ROTC program. Applications are open during the second semester of the junior year of high school. These scholarships are highly coveted and competitive. Active duty Navy personnel are not eligible for Navy ROTC scholarships. Scholarship benefits include:
Students wishing to commission into the Marine Corps may do through a NROTC program. They participate with Navy ROTC candidates in the program and are required to assume leadership roles. To qualify for scholarships, students must:
This Marine Corps scholarship offers two-, three- and four-year NROTC scholarships for students to attend participating Historically Black Colleges & Universities. This scholarship pays full tuition, fees and a monthly stipend.
This Marine Corps NROTC scholarship is named in honor of General Pedro Del Valle, the first Hispanic American to earn the rank of Lieutenant General. There are two-, three- and four-year scholarships available to students who attend one of the following Hispanic Servicing Institutions:
Recipients receive full tuition, fees and a monthly stipend.
Students enrolled in a Navy ROTC (NROTC) program take a series of required classes and participate in regular physical training sessions. They learn Navy procedures and participate in weekend and summer training programs. Most NROTC members join in their freshman year of college and those who join on a scholarship become Scholarship Midshipmen and are bound to service after graduation. Scholarship programs are highly competitive. Graduates of the Navy ROTC commit to at least five years of active duty in careers within surface warfare, naval aviation, submarines, nursing corps, special warfare and explosive ordnance disposal. Scholarship and non-scholarship participants in NROTC complete the same program. All NROTC students must complete a naval science course each semester. Below are just a few examples of the courses that may be required in a Navy ROTC program, in addition to general education and degree curriculum:
Army ROTC students take elective curriculum alongside their required college classes to gain real world and leadership skills that will help them in the field. The curriculum for Army ROTC is divided into two phases: basic course and advanced course.Basic Course
Basic course typically takes place during the first two years of college and covers basic military skills and principles of leadership. During this phase, students must take one elective class and a lab each semester, in addition to physical and field training exercises. Some colleges and universities allow students to take Army ROTC basic course without indicating a commitment to the military post-graduation.Advance Course
Advance course occurs during the final two years and covers advanced military tactics, team organization, planning and decision-making. Like basic course, students must take one elective and lab each semester and physical training. In advance course, students must also take a summer leadership camp. During their senior year, students take a series of electives that prepare them for the transition to an Officer.
While Army ROTC curriculum varies from school to school, below is an example of topics that may be offered:
The Air Force ROTC program is designed to prepare future Air Force personnel for leadership roles in the military. Students apply their new skills throughout the program in practical drills and training. Air Force ROTC curriculum is divided into four areas: Profession of Arms, Leadership Studies, Communication Skills, and Military Studies/International Security Studies. During their junior year, scholarship cadets enter the Professional Officer Course (POC), which commits them to serve in the U.S. Air Force after completion of all Air Force ROTC and college degree requirements. Except for pilots, combat systems officers and air battle management, most fields require a four-year active duty commitment. Programs will vary by school, but below is a sampling of some of the courses that Air Force ROTC student may take:
Military schools and academies offer students another venue to obtain a college degree and graduate ready to serve as a military officer. They fall into the following categories:
Some of the most widely known and well-respected higher education institutions in the country are the federal service academies. Gaining entrance into one of these storied institutions is a rigorous endeavor. Applicants must typically receive a nomination from a U.S. senator or congressperson, though the USCGA does not require this. Students should also be well above average with regards to grades and extracurricular activities, particularly for West Point, Annapolis and Air Force.
There are several military-prep colleges and junior colleges from which to choose. These schools generally do not participate in ROTC programs; rather, they immerse students in the military throughout their entire degree program. The application process is more stringent and demanding, as is the training; however, graduates of both ROTC and military schools/academies have similar opportunities for leadership.
In the U.S., there are six senior military colleges that offer ROTC programs and are recognized under 10 USC 2111(a), which states:
The Secretary of the Army shall ensure that a graduate of a senior military college who desires to serve as a commissioned officer on active duty upon graduation from the college, who is medically and physically qualified for active duty, and who is recommended for such duty by the professor of military science at the college, shall be assigned to active duty.
Those six colleges include the following:
There are also four military junior colleges, where cadets can become commissioned officers in two years through the early commissioning program, which has played a significant role in producing lieutenants in past years.
The four military junior colleges in the U.S. include: