Education & Training

ROTC Programs

The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is a college program offered at more than 1,700 colleges and universities across the United States that prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. Military.

In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, participants, or cadets, commit to serve in the Military after graduation. Each Service branch has its own take on ROTC.


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Getting the Most out of ROTC

Through Army ROTC, Cadet Ryan Cho is taking advantage of everything the Military has to offer college students.

Length 2:27 View Transcript


Cadet Ryan Cho: My name is Ryan Cho. I am in the Army National Guard, and my rank is cadet. I currently attend Columbia University in the city of New York. My major is political science, with a focus in American politics.

I actually always wanted to serve in the Military, but for my family, definitely, and for myself, education was a priority. I actually didn’t know about the National Guard until I entered college. I didn’t know about that Reserve option. And that allowed me to both attend college and serve in a branch of Service in the Military, and serve the country.

The Army National Guard understands that a lot of the new people that enter are going to be younger and are actually attending school because that’s one of the benefits of being in the Army National Guard. So I actually enlisted under what’s called the Split Option program. The Split Option program allows you to attend Basic Training during the summer, and then attend AIT, which is Advanced Individual Training, the next summer as well. And so you’re able to split that training up so that you’re not missing school time, but you’re also able to start your service.

So, in ROTC, we have, kind of, three different types of trainings. One is physical training, of course. Then part of our training is devoted to military science classes. That’s where we’re learning tactics and how to apply different principles of military strategy. And then in lab, we’re taking what we’re learning and applying that in a practical setting. So we’ll actually be leading Soldiers, doing simulations and drills, in order to make sure that we understand those principles that we’re learning in class.

Time management is really important, and that’s one of the things that they stress in the training for becoming an Army officer. And at the end of the day, if you, you know, do that time management, not only am I able to participate in all of these different activities, but I’m also, you know, able to have a social life, go out with my friends.

Hurricane Irene was actually my first activation. So that, I mean, was basically why I joined the Army National Guard, not only because I wanted to serve my country, but also the state. And so being able to be activated and participate in a mission that was, you know, helping my neighbors, and my fellow classmates in New York City, was just an amazing and grateful experience.

I think the Military is a great option for people looking to serve, not only because you’re able to contribute back to, you know, your country and state, but you’re also able to develop yourself personally and get, you know, education, military training and a lot of personal development out of it as well.


Army ROTC is one of the most demanding and successful leadership programs in the country. The training a student receives in Army ROTC provides leadership development, military skills and career training. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field, and are mixed with normal academic studies. Additional summer programs, such as Jump School, may also be attended. Upon completion, an Army ROTC graduate is commissioned as an officer in the Army.

Navy and Marine Corps ROTC

As the single largest source of Navy officers, the Navy ROTC program plays an important role in preparing young adults for leadership and management positions in the increasingly technical Navy. Offered at 77 leading colleges and universities throughout the United States, Navy ROTC offers a mixture of military training and normal academic study. Courses take place both in the classroom and in the field. Upon completion, an NROTC graduate is commissioned as an officer and has the ability to choose an officer career in surface warfare, naval aviation, submarine warfare or special warfare.

Aspiring Marine Corps officers can also participate in Navy ROTC. The ROTC academic curriculum for a Marine Corps–option student requires classes in national security policy and the history of American military affairs, in addition to the regular academic requirements for the student's degree.

Air Force ROTC

The Air Force ROTC mission is to produce leaders for the Air Force and build better citizens for America. The program is offered at more than 1,100 college and university campuses throughout the United States.

Air Force ROTC offers a four-year program and a three-year program, both based on Air Force requirements and led by active-duty Air Force officers. Courses are a mix of normal college classes and the Air Force ROTC curriculum, which covers everything from leadership studies to combat technique. Upon completion, a student enters the Air Force as an officer.