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Army ROTC: Everything You Need to Know

The Army Reserve Officers Training Corps program, commonly known as Army ROTC, is a leadership training and development program for college-enrolled students designed to train and commission officers into the United States Army.

Army ROTC programs began partly due to laws enacted in the 19th century, including the 1819 National Defense Act and The Land Grant Act of 1862. This Civil War-era law provided federal lands to state-supported colleges on the condition that the colleges provide military training to students.

The modern ROTC program came with the passing of the National Defense Act of 1916, which brought military instruction on college campuses under a single, federally controlled program.

The first cohort of the ROTC program produced 133 officers who served in World War I. As of today, the Army ROTC program has enabled over 600,000 men and women to become commissioned officers in the Army.

Some notable alumni of the Army ROTC Program include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Anne E. Dunwoody, and General David Petraeus.

What are the eligibility requirements for the Army ROTC program?

This program is offered at more than 1,100 colleges and universities nationwide. To be eligible to participate in the Army ROTC program, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, a SAT score of at least 1,000, and an ACT score of at least 19.

While these are the minimums, it is recommended that students seek to score above this threshold. In addition to the academic requirements, prospective participants must pass a fitness test including a run and timed events for planks.

A critical eligibility requirement is that the student agrees to serve eight years in the Army on Active Duty or Reserve. However, students have no obligation to military service during the first two years of their college careers.

These requirements are current at press time. Check with an ROTC recruiter or campus representative to learn of any changes to the program that may affect your application.

Participating Schools

Over 1,000 schools in the United States participate in the Army ROTC program. Many well-known schools, including Penn State University, Georgetown University, the University of California, John Hopkins University, and Yale University, participate in the program.

Beyond the schools listed here, a wide range of secondary-education institutions participate in the program, which enables students from all backgrounds to access it should it align with their career goals.

Students interested in Army ROTC can discover more military friendly colleges on CollegeRecon that participate in the program by using the CollegeRecon School Finder.

Army ROTC Curriculum

The Army ROTC program has a robust curriculum intended to prepare college students to successfully enter the United States Army as commissioned officers.

The Army ROTC program is an activity that students participate in on top of their chosen undergraduate degree programs.The Army ROTC program also includes a rigorous physical component intended to prepare participants for the physical demands of serving in the United States Army.

The program's physical fitness components include strength training, endurance training, calisthenics, and cardio activity.

Army ROTC Scholarship Opportunities

Students participating in the Army ROTC program can receive financial support for their pursuit of higher education.

Eligible recipients of scholarships through the Army ROTC program include high school students enrolling in college, those already enrolled in college, and active-duty enlisted soldiers.

An ROTC scholarship is based on merit, not financial need, so individual achievements are the deciding factor in determining its award.

This scholarship can cover tuition, fees, room and board, and books. All scholarships include extra funds per month for the school year to use towards monthly expenses and an annual book stipend.

Students interested in an Army ROTC Scholarship must apply by November 15th, and selections are made continuously through May 15th. Those who meet the eligibility requirements can join an Army ROTC program even if they are not a scholarship recipient.

Learn more about Army ROTC Scholarships on CollegeRecon.

What are the benefits of participating in the Army ROTC program?

The Army ROTC program offers participants many benefits, particularly in skills and professional development. Some of the benefits of the Army ROTC program are as follows:

Participants Become a Commissioned Officer in the Army.

When the program is completed, participants enter the Army as Commissioned Officers, which allows military members of this rank to have leadership opportunities.

Additionally, participants in Army ROTC do not have to attend Basic Combat training because they receive this training as a part of the program.

Skill Development

Another benefit is skill development, particularly leadership skills. The Army ROTC Program emphasizes leadership skills and how they can be successfully applied to military environments.

Other skills participants learn through their courses and other programmatic requirements include military related skills, adventure training, team building, communication, and problem-solving.

In addition, because of the rigorous nature of the Army ROTC program, participants tend to hone their discipline skills and emerge from the program with high levels of personal responsibility and accountability.


Many enroll in the Army ROTC program because of the scholarship and financial benefits available to participants.

Receiving an Army ROTC scholarship can help cut the costs of higher education, which enables scholarship recipients to obtain their secondary education debt-free, making education more accessible.

Career Development

Participating in the Army ROTC program opens the door to many career opportunities within the United States Army. It allows participants to gain perspective on which functional area of the Army they want to enter.

Some functional areas include the Medical Corps, Cyber Branch, Infantry Branch, Behavioral Sciences, Civil Affairs, and Military Intelligence Branch.

How do I Join Army ROTC?

The first step in getting involved with the Army ROTC program is to confirm the school you are applying to or currently attend offers this program.

Prospective applicants should connect with the ROTC program at the school they will be applying to or are currently attending to get information about how that specific institution handles the Army ROTC application.

All colleges and universities that offer ROTC programs will have a specific page and contact information on their website to answer questions and provide support.

Additionally, prospective applicants can also connect with a recruiter who can answer any questions, determine eligibility, and help guide them through the application process if they don’t currently have a school in mind.