If you have an interest in the military, you probably know about the ROTC. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) has been helping high school and college students explore the U.S. military since 1916. With over one million cadets passing through the program since its creation, it’s safe to say the ROTC can be hugely beneficial to students who have an interest in serving their country. And with more than 1,700 colleges offering ROTC programs, there’s no shortage of options available
If your heart is set on a military career and you already know you’ll be part of your college’s ROTC, you’re probably wondering where you should focus your studies. While there is no specific major that readies you for work in the military, certain majors can help you gain skills and knowledge that will be extremely valuable in the military. Discover which undergraduate majors are best suited for a career in the military, learn how different degrees can benefit your branch, and get information on scholarships for ROTC students.
Getting to Know the ROTC: Branch Breakdown
Though there are three different branches of ROTC available, not all of them are offered at every school. This means that the ROTC program you join may depend heavily on which ones your school offers. Additionally, understanding the differences and similarities among the branches will help you make an informed decision. Here’s what you should know about each branch of the ROTC.
With more than 1,100 campus locations spread throughout the United States, finding a school with an active Army ROTC program should be easy. The basic AROTC program focuses on core topics like:
- Army Leadership
- Army Customs and Traditions
- Military Operations and Tactics
- Goal Setting and Accomplishment
- Health and Physical Fitness
- Combat Survival
- Principles of War
Depending on the type of scholarship you accept, plan for between 3-8 years of active-duty service after graduating. Some of the job pathways up for consideration include infantry, medical corps, civil affairs, and military intelligence.
Navy & Marines
The Navy ROTC program maintains 63 units at 77 colleges and universities, but more than 160 institutions participate in the program. If your school doesn’t have a host unit, you may be able to find a college with an enrollment agreement from another school.
Topics covered as part of the Navy ROTC training program include:
- Introduction to Naval Science
- Sea Power and Maritime Affairs
- Ships Engineering Systems
- Fundamentals of Maneuver Warfare
- Naval Operations
- Leadership and Ethics
- Organization and Management
Length of service obligation is 3-12 years and depends on the type of scholarship you receive and the degree level you seek. Common career paths include nursing, explosive ordinance disposal, and submarine operations.
As of 2021, the AFROTC maintains 145 detachments at over 1,100 higher education schools throughout the country. Programs are still competitive, though, and require thoughtful applications. Classes within the General Military Course include:
- Foundations of the Air Force
- The Evolution of Aerospace Studies
- Leadership Studies
- National Security Studies and Preparation for Active Duty
- International Security
Jobs available to you after graduating include aircraft maintenance, piloting, tactical air control, battle management, or cyberspace operations. Plan to provide 4-10 years of active service depending on the type of scholarship you accept.
Top 10 College Majors for ROTC Students
While any major can lead to a fulfilling military career, certain subjects are especially fitting. Some ROTC branches also require you to complete a degree from an approved list, especially if you receive a scholarship. Below are ten degrees especially well-suited for a future in the military.
Criminal justice plays a massive role in each of the armed forces and leads to a variety of important jobs. By studying topics such as forensics investigation, psychology of criminality, and crime prevention strategies, graduates receive the training needed for countless military jobs. Military police work to maintain order on armed forces bases, while special agents investigate crimes involving military members as either victims or perpetrators. After leaving the military, you can also find work in federal branches of the government like the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security.
Majoring in criminal justice as an undergrad means you’ll have knowledge and understanding of a topic that’ll transition seamlessly to a career in the military. Most colleges and universities offer a criminal justice or related major and online criminal justice degree programs also exist, giving busy students a more flexible option.
Considered a highly desired major by the military, completing an engineering degree can lead to fascinating jobs with significant salaries. Engineering covers a vast array of topics and disciplines, making it easy to find one that suits your interests and talents. Options pairing well with a military career include aeronautical engineering, bioenvironmental engineering, mechanical engineering, and nuclear engineering. After gaining experience as an engineer, you can qualify for managerial positions paying even higher salaries and allowing for more responsibility.
As the armed forces continue to modernize, possessing a computer science degree puts you in good stead for many different military jobs. Whether working as a computer programmer for the Air Force or providing operations research analysis for the Navy, each branch needs computer science graduates to bring new ideas and technologies to the forefront to help them continue improving from the inside out. Computer science also plays an incredibly important role in combating cybersecurity attacks from foreign entities, making you an in-demand graduate.
Myriad nursing jobs exist within the military, providing graduates of these programs an array of careers to pursue after graduating and gaining licensure. If you want to work on the frontlines, positions for critical care nurses and travel nurses abound. Conversely, those looking for steadier positions on armed forces bases can pursue positions as public health nurses or family nurse practitioners. Whether pursuing an associate degree in nursing as a first step into the field or getting your doctorate, nursing degrees are always in demand by the military.
Completing an education degree provides the skills and qualifications needed to teach both traditional and adult students within the military. Your job may revolve around providing career and technical education for active-duty members transitioning to civilian life or acting as a drill instructor for recruits. Many military bases also provide education for the children of service members, creating opportunities in more traditional teaching roles. If you have a thirst for adventure, you can even become a teacher on an overseas base.
Education degrees are popular and offered at most public colleges and universities. Students can also find a variety of online education and teaching degree programs that offer added flexibility.
The FBI reported an increase of a jaw-dropping 300% in cybercrimes during the pandemic. Cybercriminals work around the clock to break into networks and infrastructures within the military that hold national secrets, combat procedures, and other sensitive documents. A cybersecurity degree helps you understand defensive and offensive strategies for fending off and responding to cyberattacks. Common courses include advanced ethical hacking, incident response and malware analysis, and cyber law and policy.
An increasingly popular major, cybersecurity programs can be found at most colleges today. Because of the nature of the coursework, students can also find a number of online cybersecurity degree programs that can fit into their busy schedules.
As one of the most versatile degrees available, a bachelor’s degree in business puts you in good stead for countless jobs in all branches of the military. After graduating from a business program, you could work as a business operations and management analyst, a purchasing manager, human resources manager, or any number of roles that depend on sound knowledge of business principles. Classes usually include principles of management, business organizational behavior, and business administration ethics.
Completing a social work degree provides the training and credentials needed to support members of the military and their families during critical times. While you’ll need a master’s degree to provide mental healthcare, a bachelor’s degree allows you to connect clients with meaningful military and civilian services, including healthcare, support groups, and educational resources. You may also help those transitioning back into civilian life gather helpful resources to get them started successfully.
Social work in another popular major that you can find offered at the majority of four-year colleges. Online social work programs also exist but may require some type of in-person experience.
Working as a military psychologist allows you to help military personnel work through difficult experiences during their time in the service. Whether addressing a military spouse’s emotional and mental stress while their partner is away on duty or supporting returned combat members as they work through PTSD symptoms, these roles provide critical services. You’ll need a doctorate to work as a licensed military psychologist, but plenty of support roles also exist that require only bachelor’s and master’s degree credentials.
The most popular undergraduate major, psychology programs are offered at nearly every four-year college. Students looking for added flexibility can also find an array of online psychology degree programs so they can study at their own pace.
Another versatile career path, information technology allows you to compete for many jobs both while in the military and after returning to civilian life. Positions include military intelligence systems manager, computer and detection systems repairperson, cryptologic linguist, and geospatial intelligence imagery analyst. Classes typically include computer organization and platform technologies, web systems and technologies, and software engineering and management.
5 Major Benefits of Joining the ROTC
Joining the ROTC provides benefits both while you’re in college and long after you graduate. If you’re on the fence about joining – or simply don’t know much about what the program offers – consider these significant benefits.
Both high school and college students can apply for scholarships specifically designated for ROTC cadets, making it a great way to save money on higher education costs. Most scholarships last between 2-4 years and provide substantial support for tuition, fees, books, and other associated costs. Even if you don’t plan to pursue an Active Duty military post, some states provide awards for those going into the Reserves.
While learning about your chosen academic subject and building skills in the discipline, your concurrent ROTC training also helps build leadership qualities. Cadets experience situations where they learn how to lead small and large groups of people alike with emphasis on organizing others by their skills and creating cohesive teams. ROTC cadets also organize volunteer programs in their communities while enrolled, building both leadership skills and real-world experience.
Unique resume addition
While many students participate in internships or volunteer experiences while in college, only a select few can list ROTC experience on their resumes. Employers and hiring managers familiar with the rigors of this program will immediately recognize you as a driven, disciplined candidate used to working hard while serving others. Many ROTC experiences also allow you to build skills that future employers find desirable in job candidates.
Joining the ROTC helps students build stronger senses of personal worth and value by putting them in situations where they must stretch themselves and rely on their skills and knowledge, which increases confidence and self-esteem. When students achieve feats they once thought themselves incapable of, they learn to trust their abilities and become willing to take more chances and risks in other parts of their lives.
Varied job prospects
Whether you join the Army, Navy, or Air Force ROTC, participating in these programs sets you up for many different military and civilian roles after you graduate. The Army alone has 17 branches to choose from, ranging from military intelligence and finance to air defense artillery and medical service. After finishing your required service commitment, your experience in both the ROTC and the military helps you stand out when you seek work as a civilian.
Paying for Your Program: How ROTC Scholarships Work
While there are tons of reasons to join the ROTC, one of the major ones is the incredible scholarship opportunities available to you. Scholarships last up to four years, some provide stipends and allowances, and requirements and benefits vary by branch. Below is an overview of what’s available in ROTC scholarships for paying for your program.
All three ROTC branches offer four-year scholarships. Both the Army and Navy/Marine Corps provide four-year awards covering full tuition, some fees, and a book allowance. The Army also provides a monthly stipend while the Navy/Marines offer a subsistence allowance. The Air Force offers three different 3-4 year awards covering a variety of educational costs.
If you plan to pursue this type of scholarship, expect to commit to between 4-8 years of service, depending on the branch. Application requirements vary but typically include being a U.S. citizen between the ages of 17-26, possessing a minimum 2.5 high school GPA, passing a physical fitness test, and meeting minimum ACT/SAT score requirements.
The Navy requires you to select an approved college major, while the Marine Corps also includes the Armed Forces Qualification Test that you must pass. Deadlines vary, so check with a recruiting officer for specifics.
You can apply for three-year awards with all of the ROTC branches, and each sets unique requirements. The Army provides full tuition, a book allowance, and a stipend in exchange for a four-year commitment of active service. Applicants must be 17-26 years old, maintain a 2.5 or higher GPA, and score a 920/19 on the SAT/ACT. They must also pass the Army Physical Fitness Test.
The Navy provides a three-year scholarship offering full tuition, partial fee payments, a book stipend, subsistence allowance, and uniforms. Applicants should have at least 30 credits on their transcript and plan to serve five years of active duty. They must also pick an approved major and pass standardized tests.
The Type 2 scholarship offered by the Air Force provides up to $18,000 per year in tuition along with a book stipend and fee payments. This scholarship requires a four-year active-duty service commitment along with participation in summer training. Application requirements include 3.0 or higher GPA, physical fitness assessment, and 1180/26 scores on SAT/ACT.
The two-year scholarship offered by the Army provides full tuition and fees, a monthly stipend, and a book allowance for students entering their junior year of studies. This award requires four years of full-time, active-duty service and the same application requirements as the three- and four-year scholarships.
The Navy’s two-year scholarship includes full tuition and partial fees, a monthly stipend, uniforms, and a $750 book allowance in exchange for at least five years of service. The application requirements are the same as those set forth for the three- and four-year awards.
The Air Force does not currently provide a two-year scholarship.
ROTC Student Resources
This article in the University of Portland’s student newspaper, The Beacon, highlights what you can expect if you join ROTC as a college student.
With more than 1,100 participating colleges and universities, you can easily find AFROTC opportunities across the country. On the AFROTC website, you can find information for high school and college students, parents and mentors, and those already enlisted.
After completing the AROTC program in college, you can join the Army as an officer and take on many fascinating and exciting military roles. The AROTC website provides information on how to get started.
This interactive website provides all the information you need to decide if the NROTC fits with your goals for college and beyond.
As one of the biggest and best ROTC programs in the nation, Virginia Tech offers plenty of support and opportunities for involvement both on campus and off.
What majors are good for Army ROTC? ›
Army ROTC scholarships are awarded in five major categories: engineering, analytic/physical sciences, nursing, technical/management, and generalists (all other majors except theology).Is ROTC considered a major in college? ›
The ROTC curricula are not considered academic majors, but ROTC courses may be taken as free electives and applied toward the total course requirements of a major.What makes a good ROTC cadet? ›
Successful candidates pursue academic excellence. Most fall in the top 25% of their class. These top achievers score on an average, between 1050 and 1350 on their SAT and between 22 and 30 on their ACT. An Army ROTC battalion is the group of all cadets enrolled in the program at a particular school.How are ROTC cadets ranked? ›
Cadet rank structure
Each MS III rotates through the squad leader (SL), platoon sergeant (PSG), platoon leader (PL), First Sergeant (1SG), and Company Commander positions throughout the course of the year under the supervision and direction of the Seniors (MS IV).
- Strategic Intelligence. ...
- Criminal Justice. ...
- Management Information Systems (MIS) ...
- Political Science. ...
- Healthcare - Nursing, Biology, Radiology. ...
- Philosophy. ...
- Psychology. ...
- Theology (military chaplains)
Description: A program that introduces students to the theory and practice of military science, life in the U.S. Army, and prepares them for cadet status (Junior ROTC or JROTC) or for service as commissioned reserve or active duty officers (senior AROTC or ROTC).Does ROTC look good for college? ›
Yes, joining JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) during high school can have benefits for your college application. Here are some things you will learn in JROTC that can help build your admissions profile: Public speaking and confidence. Teamwork, leadership, and discipline.Do colleges like ROTC students? ›
Note that many schools do not give preference to ROTC scholarship applicants. The Ivy League Schools as well as schools such as Georgetown are examples. The only way you can know if the school will give preference to scholarship recipients is to talk to that ROTC program and ask.Can you quit ROTC in college? ›
Cadets can drop the AFROTC program the same way they would drop any other college class (until the point of contracting after Field Training).What is a good GPA for ROTC? ›
ROTC Scholarship Qualifications.
Must have at least a 2.5 GPA (3.0 for Air Force ROTC) Must meet minimum SAT and/or ACT requirements. Must have a high school diploma.
Does your degree matter in ROTC? ›
While there are no specific academic major requirements, scholarships are merit-based, therefore students pursuing a technical major may receive priority in the selection process.What is the best part of ROTC? ›
- An opportunity to develop technical and leadership skills.
- A structured path to a career after college.
- Specialized professional training for military officer positions after college.
Rank: Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major
They are the most senior cadets in the ACF and often take on ceremonial duties in the local area.
Battalion Executive Officer (Cadet Major)
The cadet battalion executive officer (XO) supervises, directs, and coordinates the cadet battalion staff to prevent overlapping efforts and to ensure that the commander's desires are understood and achieved.
The rank of Senior under officer is the most highly awarded rank to a cadet in a unit.What is higher than a major in the military? ›
The rank of major has always been below that of lieutenant colonel. In a regiment commanded by a colonel, the major was third in command; in a battalion commanded by a lieutenant colonel, the major was second in command.What is the hardest branch of the military to get into? ›
1. Air Force. It is regarded as the hardest branch of the military to get into among the 5 main US military branches. It not only requires being physically fit but also mentally sharp.Which field is best for Army? ›
- Finance. This is an excellent degree path for someone who wants to earn a high salary in the military. ...
- Strategic Intelligence. ...
- Business Administration. ...
- Nursing. ...
- Management Information Systems. ...
- Information Technology. ...
- Aviation. ...
The UP ROTC Corps of Cadets is divided into four units: Rayadillo, Infantry, Rescue, and Artillery.Can you double major in ROTC? ›
Army ROTC does not restrict what you may or may not major in. You will have to take ROTC classes, but other than that you will be free to major in whatever you desire, and can even double major or minor.
What are Army ROTC students called? ›
In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, participants, or cadets, commit to serve in the Military after graduation.What are the negatives of ROTC? ›
Drawbacks: More responsibilities in college: While in college, you will have more mandatory commitments than the average student. You must take the classes required for your ROTC program in addition to all the classes required for your major.What college has the best ROTC? ›
1. Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech tops the list of the best ROTC colleges with their outstanding Corps of Cadets program. The program was established in 1872, the same year that the university was founded, and focuses on developing and nurturing leadership skills among its participants.What rank are you after ROTC in college? ›
All who graduate and complete ROTC training are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army.How does ROTC affect college life? ›
Making the ROTC commitment doesn't interfere with your college and career goals. Instead, it's an additional program that students enroll in for military leadership preparation. You can think of it as a minor that gives you the tools and experience you need to lead other military members.What is the minimum SAT score for ROTC scholarship? ›
To be eligible for scholarship consideration, the student must achieve an SAT critical reading/math composite of 1100 or an ACT score of 24 and attain a cumulative unweighted GPA of at least 3.0.What percentage of ROTC get scholarships? ›
For academic year 2020-21, 9300 high school senior applications for the scholarship were reviewed. About 2500 applicants were awarded a scholarship. About 25% of those were 4-year scholarships and 75% were 3-year scholarships.How many years do you owe after ROTC? ›
What is the military obligation after graduation from college? Following graduation, ROTC cadets are required to serve in the active Army, Army National Guard, or Army Reserve. All graduates are required to serve in the military for a period of eight years.What happens after 4 years of ROTC? ›
Upon completion of the Army ROTC program, graduates will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army and will embark on specialized training in their first Army branch.Do ROTC cadets have to cut their hair? ›
What about haircuts, wearing uniforms, and harassment? Well, you have to be well-groomed; hair off your ears and not down your shoulders (crewcut not required). You will learn how to wear a uniform properly, but the uniform is only required to be worn during class times and training.
Can you fail ROTC? ›
ROTC Disenrollment: Academic Performance
Failing to meet academic requirements is one of the leading bases for disenrollment but does not have to end your career.
What are the requirements? You need at least a 3.0 grade point average and an 1100 SAT. The average SAT score for ROTC scholarships is 1260; the average grade point average is 3.77.How many pushups do you have to do for ROTC? ›
male between 17 and 21 years old should arrive at college able to do 42 push-ups; a female 19 push-ups. A male needs to be able to do 53 sit-ups and a female 53 sit-ups. A good time for the two-mile run for a male would be 15:54 minutes and for a female 18:54 minutes.What branch is the easiest to become an officer? ›
What is this? The U.S. Marine Corps provides the easiest path to becoming an officer. All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces allow the possibility for an enlisted service member to become a commissioned officer.Does graduating ROTC make you an officer? ›
Will I become an Officer if I complete ROTC? Yes. After graduation, you are commissioned as a highly respected second lieutenant in the Army, entrusted with leading other Soldiers.What degree is best for commissioning? ›
Commissioning engineers usually study electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or engineering. 70% of commissioning engineers hold a bachelor's degree and 12% hold a master's degree.What will I gain if I join ROTC? ›
The specific skills you receive in Army ROTC will include things like leadership development, military skills, and adventure training. This will take place both in the classroom and in the field, but you will have a normal daily schedule like all college students.How do ROTC motivate your college life? ›
The Camaraderie of ROTC
You'll have a college schedule like your fellow students, but you'll also receive classroom and field courses that will challenge and excite you. Beyond that, you can take part in events and activities with fellow Cadets that will make your college experience even better.
Specifically, the ROTC aims to: prepare college students for possible service in the defense establishment during the event of an emergency. train officers and enlisted personnel for the reserve components of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).Who are the top 10 cadets? ›
|show v - e - t Cadet Corps|
|104th Southern Division|
|Commandants||Keith Sadies †|
|Top 10||Mikasa Ackermann · Reiner Braun · Bertholdt Hoover † · Annie Leonhart · Eren Jaeger · Jean Kirschtein · Marco Bodt † · Conny Springer · Sasha Braus † · Historia Reiss|
Are cadets considered military? ›
An Army Cadet enlists for a Cadetship to become an Officer in the Defence Forces. After successfully completing the Cadet Training Course in the Cadet School, Military College, an Army Cadet is commissioned into the Officer Ranks of the Army as a Second Lieutenant (2/Lt) or Lieutenant (Lt).Do you salute a cadet? ›
Cadets or midshipmen holding cadet-enlisted rank must salute cadet or midshipman officers within their own branch of the service.What are the 5 courses under ROTC? ›
Basic ROTC focuses on equipping its graduates with the five fundamental skills of LEAD, SHOOT, MOVE, NAVIGATE, and COMMUNICATE.Why do you study in cadet college? ›
Cadet colleges are educational institutions and so their main focus remains to provide not only academic excellence, but also overall development for future leaders. Cadet colleges are different from usual residential educational institutions.Is college ROTC hard? ›
College ROTC programs can be a challenging and rewarding experience in college that reaps many benefits during and after service. However, it's important to understand the level of physical, emotional and mental commitment the decision requires.What is the lowest rank in cadets? ›
- Cadet Lance Corporal. This is the first rank on the promotion ladder. ...
- Cadet Corporal. This is the second rank on the promotion ladder. ...
- Cadet Sergeant. This is the third rank on the promotion ladder. ...
- Cadet Staff Sergeant. ...
- Cadet Company Sergeant Major. ...
- Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major.
Cadet rank structure
New freshmen (MS I) enter the Program at the rank of Cadet Private (C/PVT) and rarely hold leadership positions. Sophomores (MS II) hold the rank of Cadet Corporal (C/CPL), but like the C/PVTs, they hold few leadership positions throughout the year.
The ROTC Medal for Heroism is the highest United States Department of the Army medal awarded exclusively to Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets.Does your major matter for Army ROTC? ›
Unless you're going the nursing, pre-med, law route, your major has nothing to do with your career. A guy from my battalion commissioned in May with a degree in Recreation. He's a pilot. Well in AROTC it really doesn't matter unless you want some extra OML points or are on a pre-professional path like you said.Does your major matter for the military? ›
Aside from law, the MOS's available to you are not limited by your degree. There are several factors that go into determining what MOS is assigned to you but your degree is not necessarily one of them.
Can I change my major in ROTC? ›
Your first major change will be done at your battalion (school) level. You must create a new 104R for that new major to show it does not impact/push back your graduation date. The PMS must then sign off on it, and then that is it for your FIRST change of major.Which ROTC scholarship is hardest? ›
Navy ROTC. This is a more difficult scholarship to obtain than the Army ROTC scholarship but not as hard as the Air Force Scholarship. For the academic year 2021-2022 , more than 5,000 high school senior applications for the scholarship were reviewed.How many years of ROTC do you need to become an officer? ›
A: Scholarship winners must serve for four years; non-scholarship Cadets who enroll in the ROTC Advanced Course must serve for three years. All who graduate and complete ROTC training are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Q: What good is Army ROTC for a career outside of the Army?Does ROTC help you get into Ivy League? ›
Note that many schools do not give preference to ROTC scholarship applicants. The Ivy League Schools as well as schools such as Georgetown are examples. The only way you can know if the school will give preference to scholarship recipients is to talk to that ROTC program and ask.