Students interested in joining the military after graduation may benefit from enlisting in Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs, offered at a large number of colleges and universities around the United States. These programs offer leadership training, financial benefits, exposure to practical skills and knowledge, and the ability to join the military as an officer upon graduation. Below, we will learn more about what types of ROTC programs exist and what benefits are associated with each.
ROTC Program Comparison
|Military Branch||Number of Host Universities||Program Benefits||Unique Program Attributes|
|Navy and Marine ROTC||77||Scholarships, leadership training, career training||Summer Cruise Training, Officer Candidate School summer training for Marines|
|Army ROTC||273||Scholarships, leadership training, career training||Largest number of career options, Jump School|
|Air Force ROTC||145||Scholarships, leadership training, career training||Aerospace courses, Leadership Laboratory, Field Training|
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ROTC Program Highlights
There are three types of ROTC programs students have the opportunity to participate in. All three of the programs will provide students with a great amount of structure as they pursue a degree at their chosen university, as these programs require students to participate in a number of training exercises and weekly meetings, as well as multi-week training sessions over the summer.
Each program emphasizes leadership training, personal character development, physical fitness, and teamwork. The primary difference between these programs is that each will prepare students to enter a different branch of the military. Additionally, not all universities who offer ROTC programs offer all three types, so students may want to take this into consideration when researching what school and program to enroll in.
Navy and Marine ROTC
Individuals who are interested in joining the Navy or the Marines may want to consider enrolling in a university that offers the Navy ROTC program, as this program prepares both aspiring Navy and Marine officers for a career in the military. The Navy ROTC program is hosted at 77 different universities around the country, in addition to over 80 additional universities and colleges that are affiliated with the host institutions, allowing their enrolled students to participate as well.
Students can either commit to joining a Navy ROTC program while they are still in high school, making them eligible for a four-year National Scholarship, or after they have already completed one or two years of college. Students who would like to join the Marines after graduation also complete Navy ROTC programs, though they will be required to take additional coursework and attend different summer training sessions. Additionally, future Marines are eligible for a couple of different scholarships, including the General Pedro del Valle Leadership Scholarship and the Frederick C. Branch Scholarship.
Students who are interested in joining the Army after graduating college will likely want to consider the Army ROTC program. Of all the ROTC programs, the Army's is the most widespread, as it is offered at 273 host universities around the country, with an additional 1,100 schools who are partners or affiliates of the host programs.
Students who would like to participate in an Army ROTC program can do so in a number of ways, either from the beginning of their college career or after they have already completed one or two years of post-secondary study. Students who commit to joining Army ROTC as a high school senior are eligible for four-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition in addition to some living expenses. This scholarship also entails an eight-year commitment to the Army after completing the program. Students who would like to join ROTC after their freshman or sophomore year can also do so by joining the two or three-year scholarship program, which also provides living and tuition financial assistance and entails a four-year commitment to the Army after graduating. It is also possible to participate in the program as a non-scholarship recipient, which requires no commitment to enlist.
All students who participate in ROTC will benefit from a high-level of focused leadership and practical skills training which will likely prove helpful regardless of whether students join the Army or pursue a civilian career. Graduates of these programs who do decide or are required to enlist in the Army will be able to do so as an officer upon completion of the ROTC program.
Air Force ROTC
Air Force ROTC programs are another option for students who are considering joining the military. This program can be found at over 140 host universities around the country, in addition to almost 1,000 affiliate programs. Students who enroll in Air Force ROTC programs will be required to take two courses per semester specifically to fulfill this program's requirements. These courses will cover topics in leadership and aerospace studies. Students who join the Air Force ROTC program as seniors in high school will spend the first two years of their college careers in the General Military Course before being eligible to enroll in the Professional Officer Course during the last two years of university study.
This program also provides four-year scholarships, as well as two and three-year scholarships for cadets who join after already completing some college. Students who receive scholarships are required to commit to serving in the Air Force following graduation, though the length of service depends on the career pursued by each student. Pilots must serve for ten years, while general Air Force officers are only required to serve for four.