Founded in 1916, ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps. It’s a college program offered at over 1,700 colleges and universities across the United States that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the Military after graduation. As detailed below, each Service branch has its own take on ROTC.
Army ROTC is one of the most demanding and successful leadership programs in the country. The training a student receives in Army ROTC teaches leadership development, military skills and career training. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field and are mixed with normal academic studies. Additional summer programs, such as Jump School, may also be attended. Upon completion, an Army ROTC graduate is awarded officer status in the Army.
Navy and Marine Corps ROTC
As the largest single source of Navy officers, the Navy ROTC program plays an important role in preparing young adults for leadership and management positions in the increasingly technical Navy. Offered at more than 160 leading colleges and universities throughout the U.S., the Navy ROTC offers a mixture of military training and normal academic study. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field. Upon completion, an NROTC graduate is awarded officer status and the ability to choose an officer career in surface warfare, naval aviation, submarine or special warfare.
Aspiring Marine Corps officers also participate in Navy ROTC. The ROTC academic curriculum for a Marine Corps-option student requires classes in national security policy and the history of American military affairs, in addition to the regular academic requirements for the student's degree.
Air Force ROTC
The Air Force ROTC mission is to produce leaders for the Air Force and build better citizens for America. Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., the Air Force ROTC commands 145 units at college and university campuses throughout the United States.
Air Force ROTC offers a four-year program and a three-year program, both based on Air Force requirements and led by active-duty Air Force officers. Courses are a mix of normal college classes and Air Force ROTC curriculum, which covers everything from leadership studies to combat technique. Upon completion, a student enters the Air Force as an officer.
Coast Guard Split Training
Unlike other Service branches, the Coast Guard does not have an ROTC program. However, high school seniors, college and vocational students between the ages of 17 and 31 can enroll in Coast Guard Split Training. Enlistees train for two summers and serve one weekend a month during the school year. Schooling continues uninterrupted. They receive pay for their weekend service and, after training is complete, begin Reserve duty. For more information, contact a recruiter.
Get an inside look at ROTC with selections from our ROTC Videos collection.
Schedule a meeting with a recruiter and learn what to expect from your visit.
Get a complimentary DVD and magazine, plus additional information from each Service, sent to your home.
View answers to commonly asked questions about the Military.
The Next Step: Working
After a service member has completed his or her training, it's time to put what they've learned to use.