All, Military, Summer

Service Academy Summer Programs

For most high school students, exposure to the military is limited to books and movies.  Even those from military families may wonder what it would be like to personally have the restrictions and responsibility of military life.  Service academy summer programs offer high school students a chance to experience what life as a cadet or midshipman is like. This can help students know if they really want to apply to attend an academy.

These programs are relatively small and cannot accept all of the students who apply, so take the time to submit a quality application. You don’t need to apply the first morning the application is open, but don’t procrastinate either. The applications may require essays, transcripts, and recommendations that you can’t produce at the last minute. The application periods vary for each academy, but generally require applying in the winter or early spring of junior year. Check out the end of the article for additional programs, including some for younger students.

What Are Service Academies?

You might have heard of the Army-Navy Football Game, one of the longest running rivalries in college football. But you might not really understand that service academies are both military training centers and colleges.

There are five federal service academies: US Naval Academy (Navy & Marine Corps), US Military Academy (Army), US Air Force Academy (Air Force & Space Force), US Coast Guard Academy, and US Merchant Marine Academy (civilian maritime professions or a military commission). Each is a college, run by the federal government, that offers an undergraduate education and immersive military training for future officers. 

Students (called cadets or midshipmen) attend college classes, gain leadership experience, and go on summer military training.  At the end of four years, they earn a Bachelor of Science degree and become officers in the branch of the military associated with their academy. Students receive a 100% scholarship that covers tuition, room & board, and a monthly stipend. In return for the tuition-free education, graduates serve for several years in the military. As a result, applications are competitive and should be started in spring of junior year.

Students who are interested in applying to a service academy should also consider college ROTC programs. College ROTC programs are another pathway to becoming a military officer. ROTC scholarships can pay for tuition, fees, books, and a monthly stipend.

Benefits of Attending a Service Academy Summer Program

Students Get a Better Sense of What Attending an Academy Is Like

Service academy summer programs are packed with presentations from academy leaders, demonstrations of military gear, and tours academic facilities. But it’s not all passive watching. There is hands on training too: obstacle courses, basic squad tactics, damage control exercises, and more.

Summer Programs Are Led by Current Cadets & Midshipmen

This gives participants a chance to talk to someone currently going through the academy. Their descriptions of academy life up to date and often less filtered. They may explain why they chose their academy over other opportunities or the good and bad side of being there. There are other opportunities to meet cadets and midshipmen, like admissions information events, but service academy summer programs offer several days of interaction, not just the chance to ask one or two questions.

Students Learn if They’re Physically Ready for an Academy

Service academy summer programs often start with morning fitness training, and include other physical activities throughout the day. Just getting from one side of campus to another may involve a fair amount of marching or jogging. In addition, academies usually do a full administration of their fitness test for all participants. If your score is strong, you might not need to take the fitness assessment again. If it’s not so great, you can use this as a practice test and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Service Academy Summer High School Programs

The following Service academy summer programs are one-week orientations for rising seniors, usually held before the incoming freshman class arrives.  Training is primarily led by current midshipmen and cadets, along with recent graduates.  The cost includes room and board, but students are responsible for their own travel arrangements.  I’ve put these in rough order by when the applications open and close. Because of the high number of applications, late applications are not usually considered. Applications are typically open in late fall to spring of junior year, but vary by program. Most applications for summer 2023 are closed, but session dates and application timelines are posted as a guideline for what to expect next year.

US Air Force Academy Summer Seminar

US Air Force Academy
The Terrazzo and Center for Character and Leadership Development at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO
Photo credit Fresh Photography by Suzie Barber

The US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO trains officers for the Air Force and now the Space Force. Its Summer Seminar gives seniors an opportunity to experience life as a cadet. Seminar dates are typically mid-June.  The Air Force Academy Summer Seminar applications opened December 1 and close January 15.  The program typically costs $300.

2023 Session Dates:
Session 1: 6-9 June, 2023 (in-person)
Session 2: 12-15 June, 2023 (in-person)
Session 3: 21-23 June, 2023 (virtual)

Read more about Space Force training at the Air Force Academy.

US Naval Academy Summer Seminar

Naval Academy Chapel dome in Annapolis, Maryland.
US Naval Academy
Photo credit, Lisa Rielage

The US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD prepares future Navy and Marine Corps officers. It hosts the Naval Academy Summer Seminar or NASS. This is an introduction to “academic, athletic, and professional training.”  There are three sessions in June. 

2023 Session Dates:
Session 1: June 3 – June 8, 2023
Session 2: June 10 – June 15, 2023
Session 3: June 17 – June 22, 2023

The Naval Academy Summer Seminar application opens January 4 and closes April 15, 2023. The application must be completed in one sitting. You cannot save and come back to it later. Cost: $550.

US Military Academy Summer Leaders Experience

Exterior of the granite, gothic style Cadet Chapel at West Point.
Cadet Chapel at West Point. Photo credit: Lisa Rielage

The US Military Academy in West Point, NY holds a Summer Leaders Experience or SLE. This offers an immersion in cadet life for rising seniors.  Classes, physical and military training are held in the first two weeks of June.  Rolling admission application for the Summer Leadership Experience opens February 1 – March.  Cost is $625 and need-based scholarships are available.

2023 Session Dates:
Session 1: June 3 – 9, 2023
Session 2: June 10 – 16, 2023

US Coast Guard Academy Academy Introduction Mission

Brick buildings at the US Coast Guard Academy on a sunny fall day.
US Coast Guard Academy. Photo credit: Lisa Rielage

The US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT holds the latest of the academy summer programs. The Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) runs in July. This summer program has a reputation for its realistic exposure to life at a service academy.  For 2022, the Coast Guard Academy held a total of four AIM session, three on campus and one virtual session. The application for AIM is usually open February 8 – April 15.  Cost is approx $750. Some need based scholarships are available. 

2023 Session Dates:
Session I: 2-7 July, 2023 (On Campus)
Session II: 9-14 July, 2023 (On Campus)
Session III: 16-21 July, 2023 (On Campus)

US Merchant Marine Academy

The US Merchant Marine Academy in King’s Point, NY does not hold a summer camp for high school students. Contact USMMA directly for information about touring King’s Point.

How to Apply to Service Academy Summer Programs

Applications typically ask for grades in academic courses, an activities list, an essay, and PSAT, SAT, or ACT test scores. Students should prepare to be physically active in a military setting during the summer programs. Some applications require a letter of recommendation.  While academies may not require test scores for their summer programs, test scores remain a significant part of the eventual academy application. So, I encourage students to take the PSAT junior year (or earlier if offered) and consider taking the SAT or ACT in fall/winter of junior year.)

Due to limited capacity in these service academy summer programs, they sometimes prioritize students who live far from the school or in under-represented geographic areas. Students should submit a well-prepared application early in the application window. Students should not assume a turn-down letter for a summer program means a lower chance of an appointment to that academy. If you are interested in attending an academy, you should lean in to complete your application early by the fall of senior year.

Related: Learn about US Service Academy Nominations

Other Military Summer Programs

In addition to the academy camps for rising seniors there are other opportunities to get exposure to a service academy or the military.  Some are open to students in earlier grades.

Naval Academy STEM Camps – One-week STEM intensive camps for rising 9th-11th grade students in June.  This camp focuses more on STEM experiences than military orientation.  Each grade level attends during a specific week of camp. Application opens January 4 and closes April 15, 2023. Cost $800 (includes food and lodging at the Naval Academy). 

2023 Session Dates:
Rising 9th Graders: June 5 – 10, 2023
Rising 10th Graders: June 12 – 17, 2023
Rising 11th Graders: June 19 – 23, 2023

Note: Sessions vary by grade level. Students may only attend the session designed for their grade.

West Point STEM Camps – Week-long, hands on STEM camps for middle school (rising 7-8th grade) and high school (rising 9-10th grade) students. West Point faculty and cadets teach classes and hands on workshops. All participants must show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. Application usually closes in March. Cost: The Center for Diversity and Leadership in STEM pays the costs of tuition, food, and housing. Participants must pay for transportation to and from West Point or Newark Airport.

Summer 2023 Cancelled. West Point hopes to resume the program in 2024.

Villanova University Navy ROTC Summer Seminar – This is a 4 day/4 night introduction to Navy ROTC on the Villanova University campus for rising seniors. 2023 is the second year for this program, which is the only ROTC specific summer program for high school students I’m aware of. Cost $625 includes food and lodging on campus. 2023 application deadline: May 13, 2023.

2023 Session Dates: June 19-23, 2023

Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) conducts STEM Summer Camps at military bases around the country.  These camps focus on military construction and engineering, and are open to rising 10th-12th grade students.  Applications open December – April 15,.  Cost $100-800 depending on camp, but sponsorships may be available for some camps.

Year Round Military High School Programs

Students interested in deeper exposure to the military might consider a year-round program. 

Many high schools have Junior ROTC units associated with a branch of the military.  Students in these units usually have a Junior ROTC class as part of their school schedule, as well as associated after school and weekend training.  Activities may include fitness and obstacle course training, flight familiarization, marksmanship, cyber security competitions, and ceremonial events. Students in some Junior ROTC units may also be eligible for an academy nomination through their Junior ROTC unit.

Sea Cadets – Run by the Navy League of the United States and supported by the Navy and Coast Guard, Sea Cadet units have regular meetings through the year, as well as a two-week summer training camp and additional advanced training opportunities focused on seamanship and seagoing topics.

Civil Air Patrol – Part of the Air Force Auxiliary, CAP Cadet squadrons typically meet weekly with a longer event once a month on a weekend and a one-week summer encampment. 

Sea Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, and Junior ROTC do not require students to join the military.  They do offer opportunities for doing hard things and being active in small group leadership experiences.  8-15% of incoming service academy freshmen participated in one of these organizations.

Service Academy Applications Help

The military is a great choice for many students.  Paths to an officer commission include not only attending a service academy, but also enrolling in a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) unit at a civilian college

When I applied to the Naval Academy, the application was a packet of paper forms with space for hand-written essays and bubbled in activity listings. The format has changed over the years, but the need for organization and timeliness remains. Applying to any military academy or ROTC scholarship requires organization and attention to detail and deadlines. If you’d like guidance with this process, please schedule an inquiry meeting.

US Air Force Academy Terrazzo and Center for Character and Leadership Development

New copper dome of the US Naval Academy chapel gleams in the sun.
aerobatics air air force aircraft
Financial Fit, Military

ROTC Scholarship Board Dates 2022-23

The ROTC scholarship boards for the 2022-223 have concluded. Most students should know by now if they were selected for a scholarship. I’ll update this page when dates for the ROTC scholarship boards for 2023-24 are available. Students who are applying in 2023-24 who would like help with their applications may be interested in working with me. You can read about how I support students with their military college program applications on the Services page or you can reach out to schedule an initial meeting.

Students often ask when they should submit their ROTC scholarship applications.  The short answer is to submit a strong and application early enough to be competitive when there are still many scholarships available. For many students, that means they need to be ready to submit complete packages by the beginning of October senior year. For some students, it may be better to wait to improve standardized test or fitness test scores or have first semester grades in hand, even if that means waiting until a later board. But be diligent about making the deadlines, because late applications are not considered.

In the sections below, I’ve listed most of the ROTC high school scholarship board dates for the 2022-23 academic year. These are the scholarships for high school seniors in the Class of 2023 (or students who have graduated from high school, but not enrolled in college).

Current juniors in the Class of 2024 should expect ROTC scholarship applications to open in spring/summer before year. (I’ll update this post as soon as the information for the new application cycle is available.) College students interested in ROTC scholarships should contact the staff of the ROTC units at their college or nearby colleges that have a crosstown agreement with their school.

How Do ROTC Scholarship Boards and Deadlines Work?

You definitely don’t want to miss the application deadlines. Usually, applications that are not complete when the application closes do not go before a review board at all. Some services allow interviews to occur after the scholarship deadline, as long as the interview is completed before the final board of review. Because ROTC scholarship applications are more complicated than the average college application, you should start early and work diligently through the process. Keep reading for info on deadlines and when you should submit your application.

Some services score each package submitted by the document deadline. Others, like Navy ROTC, review a set number of packages at each board. Usually, students who are offered scholarships will hear results 2-3 weeks after the end of a board. Applications for Space Force scholarships have a two part review process, so those notifications occur around 40 days after the review board. Notifications can be made by email, through the scholarship portal, or from the student’s recruiter. However, final turn down notification may not occur until after the final board for the selection cycle.

Army ROTC 4-Year Scholarship Board Dates

The application portal for the Army ROTC scholarship for high school students opened on June 12, 2022.

Army ROTC Scholarship Information

Scholarship Application OpensJune 12, 2022
Deadline to Submit Documents for First BoardOctober 10, 2022
First Selection BoardOctober 12, 2022
Deadline to Submit Documents for Second BoardJanuary 16, 2023
Second Selection BoardJanuary 23, 2023
Deadline to create an online application for a High School Scholarship February 4, 2023
Deadline to Submit Documents for Final Board (Missing Items)March 6, 2023
Final (Third) Selection BoardMarch 13, 2023
FY23 Army ROTC Scholarship Board Dates

Students who are not selected for a scholarship on one board may be considered at subsequent boards, but aren’t completely reevaluated. The candidate score from their board review carries over to later boards. Students can update their SAT or ACT test scores, which may improve their overall chance of being selected for a scholarship.

Air Force ROTC & Space Force ROTC High School Scholarship Program Board Dates

The application for the Air Force and Space Force FY23 scholarship for high school students opened on July 1, 2022. The Initial Online Application was due no later than December 31, 2022 and Completed Applications (including fitness tests) were due no later than January 12, 2023.

The application for the next High School Scholarship Program for students starting college in Fall 2024 opens July 1, 2023.

Air Force ROTC Scholarship Information (Includes Space Force)

High School Scholarship Application OpensJuly 1, 2022
Deadline to Submit Documents for First BoardOctober 14, 2022
First Selection Board (23HS01)October 17-21, 2022
Deadline to Submit Documents for Second Board (Interviews)November 30, 2022
Last Day to Submit Initial Online ApplicationDecember 31, 2022
Last Day to Submit Completed ApplicationJanuary 12, 2023
Second Selection Board (23HS02)January 3 – February 3, 2023
Deadline to Submit Documents for Third Board (Interviews)March 10, 2023
Third Selection Board (23HS03) [Only convened if needed]March 13-17, 2023
FY23 Air Force ROTC HSSP Board Dates

Marine Option boards are coordinated by each Marine Corps Recruiting District. Typically there is a board in in November and February. Board results are usually announced a month after the end of the board.

Navy and Marine Corps ROTC Scholarship Information

First Selection BoardNovember 2022
Deadline to Submit Completed ApplicationJanuary 31, 2023
Second Selection BoardFebruary 2023
FY23 NROTC-Marine Option Scholarship Board Dates

The Navy holds frequent review boards for Navy Option and Navy Nursing applicants from September through April. One issue with the Navy ROTC scholarship board schedule is that results from later boards may come out after May 1, the date most colleges use as an enrollment deadline. This can leave students in the position of choosing which college to attend without knowing if they would have a scholarship. This is a good reason not to wait for the last minute to submit a scholarship package.

Navy and Marine Corps ROTC Scholarship Information

Four Year Scholarship Application OpensApril 1, 2022
Last Day to Submit Completed ApplicationJanuary 31, 2023
FY23 Navy ROTC Scholarship Board Dates

When to Submit ROTC Scholarship Applications

If the application opens in July and the first board is in October, submitting an application in August that was rushed and has a weak score on the fitness test doesn’t present a strong case. The board isn’t going to give a pass on a slow run time just because the student submitted their package early. On the other hand, don’t wait until the last minute. If the board receives strong applications on earlier boards, they may select fewer scholarships on the later boards or cancel them altogether. Note for example that the third Air Force board will only convene if needed.  

Too often later applications reflect procrastination, not time spent working hard improving the application. My general suggestion is to work on your application over the summer, so you are ready to submit in the fall, but consider if another test sitting or targeted fitness training would improve your package. You may also want to skip the first board if your application would not stand out in a highly competitive group (see notes in the Army ROTC section).

ROTC scholarships can pay for tuition, fees, books, and a monthly stipend at civilian colleges that have a ROTC unit on campus or a crosstown agreement with another college. Also, some services allow scholarship selectees to use the scholarship to pay for food and housing instead of tuition. Graduates become officers in the military and have a 4-10 year military service obligation as “payback” for the scholarship.

If you have questions about the details of a ROTC scholarship, reach out to the staff of the ROTC units at colleges you’re applying to. If you’d like personalized assistance, this is one of my specialty areas at Admissions Decrypted. The best time to connect with me is junior year or earlier, so don’t wait until crunch time to ask for help. If you’d like help with your military college program applications contact me to set up an initial meeting.

Air Force major show Air Force cadets around a T-6 Texan II training aircraft parked on the flight line with air control tower in the background.
Financial Fit, Military

Changes to Air Force ROTC Scholarships (2022-23)

There have been several big changes to the Air Force ROTC scholarship program that affect who will be offered scholarships and how much money they will receive. These changes affect:

  • Current high school students applying for Air Force ROTC scholarships in 2022-23 (for scholarships that start in Fall 2023) and future applicants to the HSSP.
  • Rising 200 and 300 level cadets (sophomores and juniors) currently enrolled in college Air Force ROTC programs

TL;DR More scholarships will be awarded to current cadets through the In College Scholarship Program (ICSP) who have demonstrated sustained interest and strong performance in Air Force ROTC. Fewer scholarships will be awarded to high school seniors, but those scholarships will all be Type 1 (full tuition) scholarships.

More Current Air Force ROTC Cadets Will Get Scholarships

The details are still coming out, but multiple Air Force college ROTC recruiting officers (unit staff members responsible to communicating with students interested in the program) have confirmed that Air Force is changing its scholarship program to award more scholarships to students who are already enrolled in ROTC units. These are cadets who have demonstrated readiness for college academics and performed well at the military requirements ROTC put in front of them, including fitness tests, air science courses, and military training. This applies to students interested in both Air Force and Space Force commissions (which are both administered through Air Force ROTC).

These changes to how Air Force ROTC scholarships are distributed will be a boost for Air Force and Space Force cadets who were not offered scholarships directly out of high school. It also allows the Air Force to base its scholarship decisions (and the decisions about who becomes an Air Force or Space Force officer) on observations by ROTC staff over the course of months or years rather than best guesses based on test scores, high school grades, and a relatively short interview. This change in the scholarship program is also based on the observation that cadets awarded ICSP scholarships tend to have higher retention than cadets awarded scholarships out of high school, probably because those cadets have had their own opportunity to see what ROTC and the Air Force or Space Force is like and not base their continued service on a best guess based on recruiting videos and a brief unit tour.

Fewer Air Force ROTC Scholarships for High School Students

However, since the scholarship budget didn’t get bigger, the increase in scholarships for current college cadets has to be offset by a reduction elsewhere. Specifically, there will be fewer scholarships awarded to students applying through the High School Scholarship Program (HSSP). This includes students applying as high school seniors and high school graduates who have not attended college yet. In the past, around 1,000 scholarships (of varying award levels) were awarded through HSSP. The expectation is that this will drop to around 500 scholarships (but it could be fewer).

Fewer Types of AFROTC Scholarships

Another change to Air Force ROTC scholarships is that there is now only one type of high school scholarship award level, the Type 1 scholarship, which pays full tuition and fees at any public or private institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment. The Type 2 ($18,000/year at public or private institutions) and the Type 7 (full tuition capped at in-state tuition rate where the cadet qualifies for in-state rate) are no longer available.

In past years, the Type 1 scholarships were only offered to about 5% of AFROTC scholarship awardees and were almost exclusively reserved for cadets doing critical majors (being technical majors (with the exception of biology) and high need language majors). Now all high school students offered an Air Force ROTC scholarship will get the higher value Type 1 scholarship, but there will be fewer scholarships offered to high school students overall.

What Should Students Do Now?

What do these changes in the Air Force ROTC scholarship mean for high school students interested in becoming Air Force or Space Force officers? The selection rate for Air Force ROTC scholarships will be much lower for high school seniors this cycle (and probably for several years). They will likely go to the most outstanding applicants – with high test scores AND strong grades in rigorous classes AND outstanding fitness test scores AND a demonstrated history of leadership. The AFROTC interview will continue to be a key part of the scholarship application, and students walk in ready to clearly communicate why they want to be part of the Air Force or Space Force for the next 10 years (or longer).

It also means that students who are not offered a scholarship straight out of high school should go ahead and join the ROTC unit and demonstrate their potential as future officers – with great college grades (particularly in critical majors) AND outstanding performance in unit military training and fitness AND high grades in air science classes AND taking initiative to find ways to make a difference in the unit (aka show leadership). But it also means that they need to look closely at college affordability when they build their college list, since they will be paying for at least a year of tuition.

Some aspects of the changes in the Air Force ROTC scholarships are still unclear, like exactly how many high school scholarships will be awarded and what percentage of current cadets will be offered scholarships. In addition, some colleges offer institutional scholarships to defray the cost of food and housing. If a college has typically offered this scholarship only to incoming freshmen, will they change their eligibility policy to reflect the shift in Air Force priorities?

Air Force ROTC Recruiting Officers will likely have more clarity later in the cycle. If you read through the HSSP Applicant Guide and still have questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to a Recruiting Officer to ask them. But remember you are creating an impression; so be professional and show that you’ve done your homework first. I’d recommend starting with an email, since that gives you a chance to think through what you’re asking before hitting send.

At Admissions Decrypted, I work to guide students through the college application process. This includes ROTC Scholarship applications. If you want help with your application (including essays and practice interviews) please reach out.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Ohio State University ROTC building entrance with signs for Military Science, Air Science, & Naval Science
Financial Fit, Military

What Are ROTC Scholarships?

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC, often pronounced ROT-see) is a program to educate and train future US military officers at civilian colleges and universities. Students are simultaneously full-time college students and ROTC cadets or midshipmen. They take courses in military, air, or naval science alongside their other college classes. They also have regular military training during the school year and over the summer to prepare them for their role as future military officers. ROTC scholarships pay for tuition and more at many colleges around the US.

Three ROTC Programs, Five Military Branches

There are three different ROTC programs. Army ROTC trains future Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard officers. Navy ROTC trains future Navy and Marine Corps officers, and has a special track for Navy Nursing. Air Force ROTC trains future Air Force officers and now offers some cadets the option of commissioning into the Space Force.

Host Units and Cross Town Agreements

Students can only participate in ROTC at colleges that host a ROTC unit for that program, or that are a cross town affiliate with the unit at another college. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Navy ROTC unit includes cross town students from Harvard and Tufts. Meanwhile, Air Force ROTC Det 60 at University of Southern California includes students from USC as well as students from two dozen nearby colleges including Embry-Riddle, Occidental, Cal State Polytechnic Pomona, and Chapman.

Make sure that there is a ROTC unit or cross-town agreement for the specific program you want to join. Students at Occidental for example could affiliate with the Army ROTC unit at UCLA or the Air Force ROTC unit at USC, but would not have a Navy ROTC option available.

It’s also important to remember that the high school scholarship applications are just that, an application for a ROTC program scholarship. Students still need to apply to – and be admitted to colleges where they’d like to use the scholarship.

ROTC Scholarships

ROTC Scholarships for High School Students

Each ROTC program has a scholarship competition for high school students. The application typically opens in spring of junior year, with scholarship review boards over the fall and winter. Because students might not hear the results of their scholarship application until spring of senior year, it’s essential to complete college applications without waiting for ROTC scholarship results.

The application typically requires an academic record, SAT/ACT test scores, teacher recommendations, activities list, essay responses, an interview, and a fitness assessment. Students must also go through a medical review board that determines medical qualification. Students are evaluated on their academic ability and potential as future military leaders.

Participation in high school Junior ROTC is not required, but is one of many ways a student might develop leadership skills. Other common venues of growing as a leader include team sports, scouts, Civil Air Patrol, Sea Cadets, student government, academic teams and clubs, and work.

ROTC Scholarships for College Students

College students can join a ROTC unit whether or not they have been awarded a 4-year scholarship. They would take the same ROTC courses and do the same school year training events, but usually don’t do summer training. Non-scholarship students may be considered for 3- or 2-year scholarships or a contract that results in a commission after graduation. Usually, success in earning a scholarship as a college student depends on college grades and performance as a ROTC cadet or midshipman.

ROTC Scholarship Benefits

ROTC scholarships pay for part or all of college tuition and required fees, depending on the program and scholarship category. Scholarships usually also include a book allowance, uniforms, and a monthly tax-free stipend.

Basic Eligibility

  • Be a US citizen
  • Be within age requirements
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Meet fitness standards
  • Meet physical (medical) standards
  • Agree to accept a commission and serve in the respective branch of the military after graduation

How to Apply for ROTC Scholarships

The specific eligibility, application, and service requirements vary according to which ROTC program the student joins and what career path they are assigned after graduation. See each Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program page for current information.

Navy ROTC (Navy and Marine Corps) scholarship opens April 1, 2022 and closes January 31, 2023.

Air Force ROTC (Air Force and Space Force) scholarship application opens July 1, 2022 and closes January 12, 2023.

Army ROTC (Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard) scholarship usually opens in June.

Ohio State University Buckeye statute in a green flight suit.
Ohio State University Buckeye Statue
space shuttle launch during nighttime
All, College Fit, Military

Space Force Training at the Air Force Academy

The Space Force became the newest branch of the US military in 2019, and the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) commissions about 100 cadets as Space Force officers each year. This is around 10% of each graduating class. To prepare cadets for future Space Force roles, the Air Force Academy has added more Space Force officers to the staff, increased space oriented academic programs, and created summer training opportunities that expose cadets to life as a Space Force junior officer. The Space Policy Show recently devoted an episode to Space Force training at the Air Force Academy. I thought this was an excellent overview of what cadets experience. It should be of interest to students considering applying to the Air Force Academy.

Space Related Academics

There are several majors associated with space, including Astronautical Engineering and Space Operations. However, cadets in any major can also complete the Space Warfighting minor. There are four different tracks within the minor: Operator, Intel, Digital, and Acquisition. Each track has several required courses plus related electives that cadets can choose from to meet the minimum 15 credits.

Space Force Training

Exposure to the Space Force starts with required briefings as part of the professional training for new freshman cadets. Opportunities to learn from Space Force officers continue throughout the four years at USAFA. Space related clubs include the Cadet Space Operations Squadron, an astronomy club, rocketry club, and a strategy & policy club. These activities are open to any cadets, not just those aiming for the Space Force.

Cadet summer training traditionally includes the Operations Air Force program, where rising juniors learn about potential career fields at Air Force bases around the US. In Summer 2021, through the new Operations Space Force program, around 70 cadets visited Space Force bases to get a deeper orientation to what they might do if they become Space Force officers.

Finally, the Air Force Academy is developing a program for rising seniors called Azimuth. This is an intensive summer training and assessment program modeled on the Naval Academy’s Leatherneck training for prospective Marine Corps officers. The Azimuth program will draw from pre-astronaut candidate training to “motivate, inform and also evaluate” cadets. The Space Force assignment board will consider performance in Azimuth, academics, and extracurricular activities when making service assignments decisions.


Over forty Air Force Academy alumni have become astronauts and the Air Force has many space related missions. However, the Space Force is more than just space operators. The Air Force Academy plans to expose cadets to the range of responsibilities held by future Space Force officers. The goal of these initiatives are to generally increase “space mindedness” for all cadets. This will help them in their careers, whether they commission as Space Force or Air Force Officers.

There will be very few opportunities to commission into the Space Force from other service academies. According to Col. Jeffrey Greenwood, the US Space Force Liaison to the Air Force Academy “If you want to come to the Space Force, you need to come to the Space Force Academy – and that is USAFA.” This echos comments from Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond (the service chief of the Space Force) in June 2021. Because the Space Force only brings in around 300 officers a year, he doesn’t see a need for a separate Space Force Academy. The largest group of officers will come from USAFA and Air Force ROTC. The Space Force also has a University Partnership Program to reach out to college STEM majors who are interested in space.

High school students interested in the Space Force should watch the whole episode. It will give you a broad view of what training you might expect as a cadet. It may even suggest topics to discuss in application essays or during interviews. If the idea of attending a service academy sounds interesting, consider applying for one of the academy summer leadership programs when you are a high school junior.

Naval officer shouler boards
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US Service Academy Nominations

What Are Nominations?
Where Do I Get a Nomination?
Congressional Nominations
Vice President
Additional Categories

What Are Service Academy Nominations?

In the many years I’ve advised students interested in academies, the topic of nominations seems to be the area that causes the most confusion. A nomination is more than just an endorsement or letter of recommendation. Most nominations involve a competitive process, with deadlines that may be earlier than most college application deadlines.

The process of requesting a nomination is separate from the academy application itself, with different requirements and deadlines for candidates to adhere to. A nomination is not a guarantee of admission to an academy. Many more students will receive a nomination than will gain an offer of appointment. This guide is intended to help you better understand which nominations you might be eligible for and how to get started with the nomination request process.

Nominations are required for appointment to the three Department of Defense Service Academies: the US Military Academy, the US Naval Academy, the US Air Force Academy. A Congressional Nomination is required for appointment to the US Merchant Marine Academy. The US Coast Guard Academy does not require nominations. The service academy nomination requirement is set by law and acts to ensure that appointees come from across the US and reflect many family backgrounds.

Where Can I Get a Nomination?

There are several sources of nominations and candidates should apply for each nomination they are eligible for. For most candidates this will be their members of Congress (two senators and one representative) and the vice president.

Some candidates applying to a Department of Defense service academy may also be eligible for additional nominations based on military affiliation.

Deadlines for requesting nominations are strict; late requests are usually rejected without consideration.

Congressional Nominations

Students can request a nomination from each of their members of Congress. Congressional nominations may also be made by the Delegate for the District of Columbia, the Delegate from the US Virgin Islands, the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, the Delegate from Guam, the Delegate from American Samoa, and the Delegate from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Each congressional nominator may set their own application process and deadline. Most members of Congress list the application requirements and timeline on their official website under a heading such as Services. If you are unsure of who your members of Congress are, use the Look Up tool for the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Congressional nomination requests might require documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume, or an essay. Some members will ask students to rank which academies they want a nomination for or may only allow students to request a nomination for a single academy. Many representatives and some senators hold in person interviews to select final nominees. These interviews are usually conducted by local constituents with military experience and/or staffers for the member of Congress. Students do not have to know the member of Congress personally in order to request or receive a nomination.

Each member of Congress may have five students at each Department of Defense academy “charged” to their office at a time. They may select up to ten students for each vacancy. The service academy nominations slates are submitted to each academy by the end of January.

The US Merchant Marine Academy requires candidates to have a congressional nomination from one of the members of Congress for their state. Members of the House of Representatives may nominate candidates from anywhere in their state, not just their own congressional district. Because of the Merchant Marine Academy’s small size, midshipmen appointments are allocated to the states according to population. For example, Virginia is allocated 5 seats per year, while California is allocated 19 seats. The Merchant Marine Academy does not use Vice Presidential nominations or military connected nominations.

Vice President

The vice president may have five students at each Department of Defense academy “charged” to his or her office at a time. Any US citizen applicant is eligible to apply for a vice presidential nomination. The vice president nominates without respect to geographic restriction, so students who are US citizens living overseas are particularly encouraged to apply for this nomination.

To apply, candidates complete an online application that is available March 1 – January 31 preceding the date they would enroll at the academy. Candidates may indicate interest in any or all of the three Department of Defense academies. Each academy will screen and rank candidates using information provided to the academy via their application process.  Notification to those selected is usually made in February or March of the year the class enters the academy.

Vice Presidential Nomination Application

Military Service Connected Nominations

Presidential Nominations

Children of career officer and enlisted members of the armed forces (active or reserve), including the Coast Guard, are eligible for a presidential nomination. A request for a presidential nomination is made through each Department of Defense service academy and requires documentation of the parent’s qualifying military service. Students who are interested in applying to multiple DOD service academies must request separate presidential nominations through each academy they are applying to.

Students must have an active duty, reserve, or retired military parent to be eligible for this nomination.

A request for a presidential nomination may be made after July 1 of the year before entering the academy and before January 31 of the year of entering the academy.  

There is an unlimited number of presidential nominations, but a cap on the number of students who may be appointed under a presidential nomination. Therefore, it’s important to apply for a presidential nomination in addition to and not instead of congressional and vice-presidential nominations.

Additional Categories

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Units

Students who are actively participating in college ROTC units or Junior ROTC may be able to obtain a nomination from their unit. The number of nominations depends on the type of unit. Contact your ROTC unit Commanding Officer or JROTC unit Senior Military Instructor for application information and deadlines.

Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard Enlisted Members of the Associated Service

Enlisted members of the branch of service(s) associated with each academy may be nominated through their Service Secretary. Contact your service Career Counselor or service academy admissions office for information.

Children of Deceased, 100% Disabled, or Missing/Captured Armed Forces veterans or Missing/Captured Federal Civilian Personnel, or Children of Medal of Honor Recipients

Request process for these categories varies by service academy. Consult the Nominations pages of the admissions website for each academy or contact Admissions directly for current procedures. Note that students eligible for service connected nominations must submit an application at each Defense Department academy they are applying to. And remember that the US Merchant Marine Academy only uses congressional nominations.

Tip Sheet for Service Academy Nomination Types

Infographic for Service Academy Nomination Sources
Students should apply to each nomination they are eligible for.
All, Book Reviews, Military

Military Leaders Are Readers – Reading List for Future Officers

Most high school students only have a vague idea about the life of a commissioned military officer. Even students from military families experience military life at one degree of separation. What’s more, they are usually watching a parent who has spent a dozen or more years gaining both experience and rank — two qualities they will lack if they join the military.

Military Reading Lists

I am a big reader, which leaves me prone to thinking that a book might just be the solution to most problems. While that might not be true for every situation, I do think books offer a chance to walk a mile in someone else’s boots. A memoir lets the reader, experience some of the thoughts and feelings of a new leader. This can help students decide if joining the military is a good choice for them. Most commissioning programs require an interview. These books can give a student a reference point when explaining why they want to become an officer.

In 1989, USMC Commandant General Al Gray issued the first Marine Corps Commandant’s Reading List. He viewed reading as a means of honing professional skills. Since then, military professional reading lists have proliferated. Most services have a robust list, sometimes several (service chief, senior enlisted, combatant commanders). I’ve gone through the current lists, older lists, recommendations from shipmates, and my personal favorites. I picked titles that might appeal to and inform someone who is young and new to the military.

The list is heavy on memoirs, fiction, and engaging unit histories. It is intentionally light on strategy and lengthy biographies (with apologies to my Naval Academy classmate who suggested Corbett’s Principles of Maritime Strategy). My hope is that reading some of these will help high school students consider if military service is a path they want to pursue. They may also help future midshipmen, cadets, and junior officers remember they are not alone in needing to make hard decisions with inadequate information under stressful situations.

Many of the books above can be found on audio, which might make them easier to fit into a busy schedule. These suggestions lean towards the Navy and Marine Corps team, because that is where more of my personal reading has been concentrated. I’d love to hear other suggestions if you have a favorite read you think captures part of the experience of junior officer experience.

Histories and Military Memoirs

Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest – The story of Easy Company from training through D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and combat through Germany. Based on extensive interviews and research, the book shows the combat experience of soldiers who are determined, but not career Army. This book was the basis of the 10-episode Band of Brothers miniseries directed by Tom Hanks. It would be hard to pick an episode of the series that is most impactful, but future officers would be well served to watch at least the first two episodes, Currahee and Day of Days.

The US Naval Academy Class of 2002, In the Shadow of Greatness: Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America’s Longest War – This is a compilation of essays written by members of the Naval Academy Class of 2002 that was published around the ten-year anniversary of their commissioning. They were first class midshipmen (seniors) when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred. Chapters include stories of combat as well as life outside the Navy, each from the viewpoint of fairly recent graduates. The strengths of this book are the variety of voices and the fact that time had not yet softened their experiences when they sat down to write.

Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away – Fick became a Marine Infantry Officer in after graduating from Dartmouth University. The book describes his experience at Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS) in 1998 and deployments as an infantry officer in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the War on Terror. The audiobook is read by the author.

Military Fiction

Sharon H. Disher, First Class: Women Join the Ranks at the Naval Academy – Disher graduated from the Naval Academy Class of 1980, the first class to include women. This fictionalized account of the experiences of the first group female midshipmen holds lessons for any student on what it can be like to transition from inexperienced high student to young officer.

C. S. Forrester, The Good Shepherd – You may be more familiar with the 2020 Tom Hanks movie Greyhound that was based on C. S. Forrester’s book. Both the movie and book are superb. As a former Surface Warfare Officer, I would say each is the best depiction of underway watch standing that I’ve seen/read.  The book naturally goes into far more detail. One cool aspect of the book is that each chapter covers a one watch rotation, and the entire book occurs over just three days. I also appreciate the fact that the main character is not a superstar officer. Devotion to duty is also the preserve of those who don’t have Early Promote fitness reports.

Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers – Heinlein was a 1929 Naval Academy graduate who served in the Navy before World War Two.  Published in 1959, Starship Troopers was one the works of military science fiction and shows up on many military reading lists. The story describes Juan “Johnny” Rico’s service in the Mobile Infantry in an interstellar war against aliens. [I do not recommend the movie of the same name, which is widely regarded as a satire and has little resemblance to the book.] While obviously not a first-hand account of space infantry tactics, it has been on many military reading lists and led the pack when I asked friends and shipmates for recommendations. Perhaps the reason for it’s longevity is that Heinlein had a good sense for what motivated many to commit themselves to military service. Even if you aren’t borrowing his tactics for powered armor, it may help you see inside the heads of those you serve with.


One of my favorite midshipmen reminded me that spare time is a luxury for students, so I suggest a few podcasts. These may stand in the gap if getting through lots of the books doesn’t seem possible.  There are several high quality military podcasts, with more cropping up as time passes. Give a listen to a few and find what appeals to your interests.

Center for International Military Security (CIMSEC)

Service Academy Sorority

US Naval Institute Proceedings Podcast

War on the Rocks

More Military Book Suggestions

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Other good military books for future officers include
The Caine Mutiny
All the Ships at Sea
The Return of Philo T. McGiffen
Brave Ship, Brave Men
I Love My Rifle More Than You
The Things They Carried

Furthermore, you might investigate the suggestions at DOD Reads or any of the service reading lists. What’s more, Admiral (ret) James Stavridis wrote The Leader’s Bookshelf, an annotated reading list full of books suggested by prominent military leaders. Because there are so many options, it might be best to just pick one that sounds interesting and get started. Take note of what you learn and what you might have done differently in a similar situation. If you find one you think I should include in a future list, let me know. I’d love to add it to my own To Be Read stack.