Air Force ROTC Schools

May 10, 2018

Read about your options for joining an Air Force ROTC program, and what an AFROTC program entails. Learn about and compare participating schools around the country.

Air Force ROTC prepares college students for a career as a leader in the U.S. Air Force after graduation. Schools across the country host Air Force ROTC programs, or engage in partnerships with other nearby schools to allow their students to participate. This article describes some of the country's many AFROTC programs.

School Comparison

School Name Institution Type Location 2017-2018 Tuition (in-state)* Tuition Assistance
University of Southern California 4-year, Private not-for-profit Los Angeles, CA $54,259 Full and partial scholarship options
Clarkson University 4-year, Private not-for-profit Potsdam, NY $47,950 Full and partial scholarship options plus room and board
Purdue University 4-year, Public West Lafayette, IN $9,992 Full and partial scholarship options
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 4-year, Private not-for-profit Prescott, AZ $34,662 3- and 4-year scholarships with monthly stipend
University of Colorado Boulder 4-year, Public Boulder, CO $12,086 3- and 4-year scholarships with monthly stipend

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Overview of Colleges with Air Force ROTC

Most Air Force ROTC programs incorporate physical fitness training, academic classes and a leadership laboratory, all designed to provide comprehensive training for prospective Air Force officers. However, many schools also allow students to participate in Air Force ROTC as an elective, without any service obligation, alongside those seeking a commission. Below find more details on what some Air Force ROTC programs entail.

University of Southern California

AFROTC academic classes at the University of Southern California are open to all students, not just those wishing to enter military service on graduation. Those who do enroll fully as cadets will also complete practical training components such as the weekly leadership laboratory. The full USC AFROTC program is four years, but the university has expanded its commissioning programs to offer abbreviated tracks of anywhere from 1 to 3.5 years for upper classmen. The academic classes tied to the program cover topics including leadership, national security, and applied national defense strategy.

Clarkson University

Clarkson University is a school with an undergraduate population of only around 3,000 students, as per the NCES, and it serves as the Air Force ROTC host university for three other schools in the surrounding St. Lawrence Valley. Students have the option of participating in Air Force ROTC classes to gain valuable leadership experience alongside their major of choice. For those who do the full AFROTC program, the time commitment is estimated to be approximately five hours per week in the first two years, and seven hours per week in the final two. Outside of this commitment, cadets are encouraged to participate in other university events, as well as a wide range of off-campus cultural and outdoor activities. Recipients of an Air Force scholarship at Clarkson also receive full room and board coverage for the duration of the scholarship, and agree to be commissioned into the Air Force on graduation.

Purdue University

Purdue University's Air Force ROTC program prides itself on being one of the top in the country, having won multiple Air Force excellence awards. Cadets are given many chances to participate in Air Force-affiliated events and activities in addition to their typical physical fitness, leadership and academic training. For example, students can join the drill team or color guard, do community service, or join associations like Purdue's Arnold Air Society or the Silver Wings. Purdue is also one of the few colleges in the country with an airport on campus, and AFROTC cadets can access a number of flight training opportunities as a result. These include learning with the local Civil Air Patrol unit, practicing in the detachment's dedicated flight simulator, and witnessing live flight refueling operations.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle specializes in science and technology programs related to aviation and aerospace studies, such as engineering, meteorology and air traffic control. Students from any major can join the Embry-Riddle Air Force ROTC, and have the option of completing the full program in three or four years. Embry-Riddle cadets who strive for a career as an Air Force pilot, combat systems operator or air battle manager can complete an aviation academic program and AFROTC simultaneously. Criteria used in awarding flying slots to graduates include basic flying skills test results and total flying hours, for which Embry-Riddle strives to prepare its students. The AFROTC training also includes physical fitness and field training, both designed to develop leadership skills and discipline.

University of Colorado- Boulder

The University of Colorado- Boulder's AFROTC program was the seventh largest detachment in the country as of 2018. The university serves as the host for a wide network of partner schools, including other University of Colorado campuses as well as technical and community colleges. Classes, physical fitness training and leadership laboratories are all held weekly on the UC Boulder campus. Students participate in hands-on leadership workshops each year, and take classes on topics including communication skills, the history of aerospace studies, national defense structure and strategic preparedness. When not busy with ROTC activities, students can enjoy the surrounding Rocky Mountains or participate in any of the more than 400 school clubs and organizations.

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