ROTC Programs at Colleges and Universities

ASO Staff Writers
Updated October 20, 2022
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Learn more about ROTC Scholarships, Service Commitments and Requirements

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.

ROTC Programs: Preparation for a Service-Focused Career

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 compelete 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:

  • Grades: minimum high school GPA of at least 2.5
  • SAT or ACT scores: minimum 1000 SAT, 19 ACT
  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Age: Must be between ages of 17 and 23 when starting program

ROTC Scholarships

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).

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.

U.S. Army ROTC Scholarships

starHigh School Students

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:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Between the ages of 17 and 26
  • High school GPA of at least 2.50
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Score of at least 1000 on the SAT (math/verbal) or 19 on the ACT
  • Meet physical fitness standards
  • Agree to accept a commission and serve in the Army on Active Duty or Reserves for a period of eight years.

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.

starCollege Students

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.

starEnlisted Soldiers

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:

  • Green to Gold Scholarship Option: Enlisted soldiers who qualify may leave active duty to attend college. Scholarship includes full tuition or room and board, book fees and monthly stipend.
  • Green to Gold Active Duty Option: For soldiers who want to remain on active duty and attend college.
  • Green to Gold Non-Scholarship: For soldiers who are considering leaving active duty to attend college while receiving a monthly stipend.

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.

Requirements for the Army Green to Gold Program include:

  • check-circleU.S. Citizen (non-waiverable)
  • check-circleUnder 31 years of age by December 31 of the year all requirements completed for a commission, and a bachelor’s degree must be earned by this time.
  • check-circleNo criminal convictions.
  • check-circleServed a minimum of two-years active duty as well as three months of active duty for every one month of specialized training (a waiver can be requested).
  • check-circleGT score of 110 or greater.
  • check-circlePass the APFT within the last six months with score of 180 or higher, minimum of 60 points in each event.
  • check-circleHigh school graduate or equivalent.
  • check-circleCumulative high school or college GPA of 2.5.
  • check-circleAcceptance letter from school of choice offering Army ROTC.
  • check-circleAcceptance letter from the PMS of school of choice’s Army ROTC Battalion.
  • check-circlePass National Agency check.
  • check-circleDODMERB Medical Qualification.
  • check-circleNo more than three dependents including spouse.
  • check-circleMinimum ACT score of 19 or a minimum SAT score of 1000 for four-year applicants.

Green to Gold Scholarship Option recipients receive the following:

  • Tuition or room and board support
  • Funds for textbooks, supplies and equipment
  • A monthly stipend
  • Pay for attending the Cadet Leadership Course (CLC)
  • If qualified, Montgomery G.I. Bill / Army College Fund (MGIB/ACF) benefits.

U.S Air Force ROTC Scholarships

starHigh School and College Students

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.

  • Type 1: Pays full college tuition, most fees and a book allowance.
  • Type 2Pays college tuition and most fees up to $18,000 and a book allowance.
  • Type 7Pays tuition equivalent of a public school’s in-state rate and a book allowance.


  • check-circleSAT composite of 1240 or ACT composite of 26.
  • check-circleCumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • check-circleU.S. citizen by the last day of the first term of freshman year for four-year offers or the first term of sophomore year for three-year offers.
  • check-circleHigh school graduate or equivalent
  • check-circle17 years old prior to scholarship activation
  • check-circleUnder 31 years old as of December 31 of the year of commission
  • check-circleMeet physical fitness requirements

Recipients of the scholarship must agree to the following:

  • Enroll in the academic major for which the scholarship is offered
  • Enroll in Air Force ROTC beginning with the 2018 fall term
  • Complete a 24-day summer field training course
  • Complete Air Force ROTC courses as required
  • Accept a commission as an Air Force officer and serve at least four years on active duty

Enlisted Airmen

Enlisted Air Force service members may qualify for the following scholarships:

  1. 1


    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.

  2. 2


    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.

  3. 3


    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.

U.S. Navy ROTC Scholarships

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:

  • Full tuition at participating college or university
  • Mandatory school fees
  • Text book stipends
  • Monthly living stipend


  • U.S. citizen or naturalized citizen
  • At least 17 years old by Sept. 1 of year starting college and no older than 23 on December 31 of that year
  • Must not have reached 27th birthday by December 31 of graduation and commissioning year
  • High school graduate or equivalent
  • Medically qualified by Navy or Marine Corps standards
  • Be admitted to an approved Navy ROTC college or university
  • Must not have more than 30 semester hours or 45 or more quarter hours at the time of application submission.

Navy ROTC Marine Option Scholarship

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:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 17 years old and no older than 23
  • Be physically qualified to Marine Corps standards
  • Have a SAT score of 1000 or an ACT score of 22

Frederick C. Branch Scholarship

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.

Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship

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:

  • California State University San Marcos
  • University of New Mexico
  • San Diego State University

Recipients receive full tuition, fees and a monthly stipend.

Other ROTC Scholarships

Ranging from between $2,000 and $3,000, these scholarships are awarded to Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC sophomore and junior participants with at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must be enrolled in specific degree majors.
These $3,000 scholarships are offered to Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps ROTC participants who are attending college in the AFCEA Mid-South Region of the U.S.
This $3,000 scholarship is awarded yearly to a Navy ROTC midshipman majoring in electrical engineering who are in at least their second year of college.

ROTC Program Highlights, Courses and Requirements


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:

  • minusIntroduction to Naval Science

    An orientation class that gives students a broad background of the roles of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
  • minusNaval Maritime History

    Reviews U.S. Naval history from European origin to present day
  • minusNavigation

    Helps students to understand basic piloting and the laws of vessel operations
  • minusNaval Engineering

    Teaches engineering practices as they apply to the creation of marine vessels and structures
  • minusLeadership and Management

    Explores managerial functions, communication and philosophies of leadership and motivation in the Navy
  • minusNaval Weapon Systems

    Delves into the concepts and principles that apply to naval weapon systems.
  • minusNaval Operations

    Examines relative motion, surface ship operations and naval command, control and communications


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:

  • minusLeadership and Personal Development

    Provides an overview of military leadership with a focus on critical thinking, goal setting, time management, physical fitness and stress management in leadership
  • minusIntroduction to Tactical Leadership

    Teaches students the skills needed to present briefs, problem solve, provide feedback and write effectively while focusing on leadership values
  • minusInnovative Team Leadership

    Explores leadership styles and team dynamics important in the Army leadership framework
  • minusFoundations of Tactical Leadership

    Instructs students in the implementation and challenges of leading tactical teams
  • minusLeadership Laboratory

    Gives students hands-on training in basic soldier skills
  • minusAdvanced Military Fitness Training

    Requires students to participate in various physical fitness activities modeled after the Army physical fitness training program
  • minusAdaptive Tactical Leadership

    Enables students to practice leadership scenarios and further develop leadership skills
  • minusLeadership in Changing Environments

    Delves into tactical leadership at the platoon level using simulation challenges

Air Force ROTC

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:

  • minusAir Force Organization

    Offers students a deep understanding of the Air Force as an organization including customs and officer career opportunities
  • minusAir and Space History

    Presented with an emphasis on Air Force core values and officership, students gain a historical understanding of air and space history
  • minusLeadership and Management

    Students are assigned leadership roles within the ROTC as they learn about leadership within the Air Force
  • minusOfficer Preparation

    Prepares students for active duty
  • minusField Training

    Enables students to participate in physical conditioning, weapons training and survival training

Military Academies, Colleges and Junior Colleges

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:

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