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Marine Corp ROTC: Everything You Need To Know

The Marine Corps Reserve Officers Training Program, also known as MCROTC, is a leadership development program designed to commission high-quality leaders for the United States Marine Corps.

Participants undertake this program in addition to their undergraduate academic program and attend specific Naval Science and leadership classes.

In 1932, the Marine Corps became part of the Navy ROTC program, which offered qualified Navy ROTC graduates the opportunity to commission into the U.S. Marine Corps.

The MCROTC program and NROTC program are jointly administered and share a similar curriculum. The MCROTC program specializes in courses more relevant to a career in the Marine Corps.

What are the Requirements for the Marine Corps ROTC Program?

To meet the basic eligibility requirements of the Marine Corps ROTC Program, prospective participants must be:
  • A citizen of the United States or in the process of being a citizen,
  • At least 17 years of age and no older than 23 in their first year of college
  • Have no criminal record.
The MCROTC program requires exceptional academic performance. Before entering the program, participants must have competitive SAT/ACT scores and show a high level of academic aptitude.

It is important to note that the MCROTC Program is smaller than the Army and Air Force ROTC programs, which makes it more competitive for prospective participants.

Being Accepted Into ROTC

Upon acceptance into the program, participants must complete all requirements of their Bachelor’s degree program while maintaining academic success, complete the curriculum prescribed by the Navy, participate in weekly drill sessions, and partake in four—to six-week training periods each summer.

Upon completing the MCROTC program, a minimum of two years of active enlisted service is required. If a participant chooses to disenroll, they are responsible for paying back all of the tuition money they were awarded.

Participating Schools

Over 160 colleges and universities across the country participate in Navy ROTC program. Many well-known schools participate in the program, including Penn State University, UCLA, George Washington University, University of Notre Dame, MIT, Cornell University, and more.

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

Marine Corps ROTC Curriculum

The MCROTC curriculum is designed to be rigorous in preparation for participants to become Commissioned Officers in the United States Marine Corps.

The MCROTC curriculum is divided into four major areas: naval science, leadership, navigation, and warfare principles.  In the first three semesters of the program, the Navy and Marine participants take the same naval science courses and then split off in the Junior and Senior year of the program to specialize in topics related to their respective branches.

In the third and fourth years of the program, the Marine participants focus on more specific classes about warfare and warfare maneuvers. Both the Navy and Marine Corps groups will take intensive leadership courses and one naval science laboratory per semester.

Marine Corps ROTC participants will attend Officer Candidates School (OCS) as a leadership and practical skill intensive.

Scholarship Opportunities

The MCROTC programs offer scholarships to program participants. Marine Corps ROTC scholarships are awarded based on merit, with a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5 and a competitive score on the physical fitness test being the basic eligibility requirements.

The Four Year National Scholarship is the most competitive. It covers full tuition, all fees, a textbook stipend, and room and board.

The Two and Three-Year National Scholarship is also competitive and is awarded by the national scholarship selection board each summer. Participants who are entering into their sophomore or junior years of college can apply for this through the NROTC unit located at their college.

Another option is the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Scholarship, which is available to students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), High Hispanic Enrollment schools (HHE), and other Minority Serving Institutions. This scholarship covers full tuition and fees, books stipends, and subsistence stipends each month.

For the MCROTC specifically, prospective Marines can apply for the Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship or the General Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship. Discover more about Marine Corps scholarships on CollegeRecon.

What are the benefits of entering into the ROTC program?

Military Career Opportunities

Participating in the NROTC or MCROTC program creates an opportunity to follow a military career path as Navy ROTC graduates are commissioned as Ensigns in the Navy and MCROTC graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

The program's graduates have pursued career paths as naval Aviators, naval Nurses, Special Operations Officers, Submarine Officers, Surface Warfare Officers, and more.

Skill Development

Skill development, particularly leadership skills, is a beneficial aspect of participating in the Navy or Marine ROTC program. The program is designed to build theoretical, leadership, and practical skills through classroom instruction, fieldwork, and naval science laboratories.

Other skills participants learn through their courses and other programmatic requirements include military-related skills, navigation, team building, communication, knowledge of naval science, discipline, accountability, and problem-solving.


A significant benefit of participating in the Marine Corps ROTC program is that receiving a scholarship can alleviate the costly financial burden of higher education.

The scholarships are based on merit and meet the physical fitness requirements of the MCROTC program.

How Do I Join the Marine Corps ROTC program?

The first step in getting involved with the Marine Corps ROTC program is to confirm that the school you are applying to or currently attending offers the program. Individuals interested in the Marine Corps option should note that not all universities that offer NROTC will have the MCROTC option.

Prospective Marines should connect with the NROTC program at the school they will be applying to or are currently attending to obtain information about how that specific institution handles the Navy ROTC application with the Marine Corps options.

All colleges and universities that offer the NROTC program with the MCROTC option will have a specific page and contact information on their website to answer questions and provide support.

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