Guide to ROTC Programs

13 Jan 2020

The Reserve Officer Training Course, which is usually abbreviated as ROTC was developed with the intention to allow people who want to serve in the military do not miss the opportunities that are offered by the college education. In fact, obtaining the diploma opens perspectives for career growth as a skilled officer. Basically, the applicants who are awarded the ROTC scholarship are required to serve in the military for a certain period upon graduation. They receive coverage of the college education instead and should join additional ROTC training courses dedicated to military career training and leadership development.

Types of ROTC Programs

There are numerous educational institutions across the U.S. that offer the ROTC programs. These include not only full-tuition covering scholarships but also two- and three-year options for current students who decided to build their careers in the military. Non-scholarship ROTC participants may receive monthly living allowances or additional allowances for studying expenses.

Programs’ specific terms differ not only based on the presence of a scholarship but also the branches of the military the cadet is associated with. The Army, Navy, and Air Forces have different versions of the ROTC programs so that the students can choose the service according to their preferences.

  Army Air Force Navy
How many programs are available approximately? At more than 1100 colleges and universities. More than 1100 programs. At more than 160 educational institutions.
Associated service obligations for scholarship winners Either 8 years (a combination of full-time deployment and serving as the Army reserve) or 4 years on active duty. Officers have a 4 to 6 years active duty commitment depending on the program. Pilots must serve 10 years on active duty. Navy officers are required to serve at least 5 years on active duty while Marine Corps and Navy Nurses – 4 years.
Associated service obligations for non-scholarship program participants Either 5 years in the Inactive Ready Reserve (IRR) or 3 years on active duty. There is no service commitment for those who did not receive a scholarship and did not sign the contract. At least 3 years on active duty.
Samples of training courses and covered topics Military Operations and Tactics, Health and Physical Fitness, Applied Leadership Theory, Army Customs and Traditions, Principles of War, Weapons, Military Justice, Personnel Management. Air Force Organization, Air & Space Studies, Leadership Laboratory, National Security Studies and Preparation for Active Duty. Naval Science, Calculus, Physics, National Security Policy, American Military Affairs, Surface Warfare Orientation.
Variants of Specific Career Paths for New Officers After ROTC Air Defense Artillery, Infantry, Military Intelligence, Nurse Corps, Quartermaster, Transportation. Airfield Operations, Pilot, Aircraft Maintenance, Air Battle Manager, Logistics Readiness, Space Operations, Combat Systems. Submarine Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, Naval Aviator, Navy Nurse, US Marine Corps.

Why it is Worth Joining an ROTC Program?

While there are considerable benefits, a student must review all the service obligations and requirements to be sure that he or she can comply with them. While some peculiarities of the ROTC programs may appear to be drawbacks, such as the inability to build a civil career for up to 10 years upon graduation, many students may not even treat them as disadvantages.

  • Participation in the ROTC program is prestigious. It is a great honor to meet high standards set by the military and be accepted as a future officer.
  • Financial benefits are significant. Students who do not have the opportunity to pay for higher education may win a scholarship that will cover the tuition fees for the period of study or enjoy additional opportunities to cover housing expenses.
  • Participation in the ROTC program allows one to enjoy the same college life experience as other students do. The only difference is the necessity to attend additional few classes on a weekly basis or take part in summer field training courses for active duty.
  • All these programs are intended to develop important leadership and managerial qualities in the participants along with training discipline and caring for good physical and health conditions.
  • Undergraduate education could not be interrupted by the request to serve active duty.
  • Students who obtained their undergraduate degrees and fulfilled the military duty have multiple opportunities for postgraduate education and more scholarships associated with their military service.
  • Employers are more willing to hire workers who successfully held leadership roles and the ROTC programs are always connected to leadership raining and application of obtained skills in real life.
  • The ROTC program is a sensible way to start and proceed with one’s military career in one of the branches of the military for those who have chosen this life path. The reason is that this program allows one to start the service at the officer level instead of the entry-level positions.

Overall, deciding to join ROTC is a serious decision that will change one’s life from a long-term perspective. The prospective participant must understand that all multiple benefits go along with serious consequences in case of a standards violation. Participation requires constant work and discipline to live up to expectations in service and academic achievements and this is the only way the student may forget about any potential legal action or paying back the amount of scholarship.

How Does the ROTC Program Work?

High School Students

Those who start to think about their education and future career early may benefit from joining the four-year ROTC scholarship programs. They are extremely appealing as they cover tuition fees in full including a stipend on a monthly basis and assistance with accommodation and books for studies. Basically, a scholarship winner will not need to worry about the financial aspect of obtaining an undergraduate degree, which causes high competitiveness among applicants.

As a result, only the best candidates are accepted based on their abilities and achievements rather than their financial need. Those who win ROTC scholarships usually demonstrate a high level of academic achievements with high school GPA no less than 2.50, meet rather high physical fitness requirements and participate in various sports competitions or activities. Joining the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) federal program while still studying in high school is a very good idea as well, though this is not obligatory.

College Students

Requirements for currently enrolled students who have two or three years remaining are basically the same: good academic achievements, physical condition, and readiness to accept the obligation to serve in the military for a certain period. However, the commission into the army or other branches usually has lesser terms depending on the chosen program. Two- and three-year scholarships are essentially the same as the four-year one.

How to Earn an ROTC Scholarship?

These scholarships are highly competitive due to the advantages offered, for example, ROTC in the Army branch only provides more than $270 million to programs and there are more than 13.000 high school and college students contesting each year to win one of approximately 2.000 scholarships.

Those who missed the opportunity to apply during high school may wait until they are enrolled at college and join ROTC to apply for a scholarship after that. Both ways are sensible and which one to choose is up to the student. He or she only must adhere to a short but rather difficult checklist of requirements to earn the desired award:

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen aged between 17 and 26.
  • High school diploma (or another equivalent) and high level of academic achievements – the higher, the better.
  • SAT test score of at least 1000.
  • The applicant must be physically qualified to meet set standards.
  • Understand and accept the fact that he or she must meet certain benchmarks while studying and serve in the military after graduation.
  • Participation in extracurricular activities or being a member of the National Honor Society is a huge plus that will demonstrate the ability to set goals and achieve them.

ROTC Scholarships

The ROTC programs are available in multiple colleges and universities across the country and one can choose the specific program that meets all expectations.

Scholarships for Army

Four-year College Scholarship offers full college tuition assistance and the opportunity to advance the chosen career path since the very first day of obtaining an undergraduate degree. The obligation to serve a four-year full-time term in the U.S. Army is what is expected in return.

Three-year College Scholarship requires the same obligations and can be obtained by students who already finished their sophomore course.

Two-year College Scholarship is still the possibility for those who are half-way through the college but require assistance with college fees and/or consider joining the Army. Four years of service on active duty are still obligatory requirements.

Scholarships for Air Force

Type 1 ROTC Scholarship is the most desired option for those who want to start their sophomore year knowing that full college tuition will be covered along with many other fees. It covers full college tuition with both public and private institutions that participate in the program. Available for already enrolled college students.

Type 2 ROTC Scholarship covers tuition fees and book allowance up to $18.000 in total, which is also a very good option to receive as it also includes a monthly stipend and a book allowance. This type is also available for those who are already in college.

Type 7 ROTC Scholarship is similar to Type 1 as it also provides full coverage of tuition fees including stipend and book allowance but only at a public institution. Though now winners of this scholarship may choose to convert it to a three-year Type 2 program that can be used at any private institution.

Scholarships for Navy

Navy ROTC National Scholarship should be the first variant to check as there are multiple programs including two-, three-, and four-year ones as well as stipend allowances and the possibility to choose from Navy, Marine Corps or Nursing career path.

Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship is the opportunity for those who intend to become one of the Marines only. Another peculiarity of this program is that it is dedicated to students who want to attend one of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

General Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship is another Marine option that the students of Hispanic-American heritage might like to consider to show honor to the memory of Lieutenant General Pedro del Valle and attend one of three enrolled institutions: California State University at San Marcos, University of New Mexico, and San Diego State University.