1,100 Strong: ROTC Programs Experience Resurgence

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ROTC enrollment numbers strengthened to more than 35,000 students in 2012. The program not only provides students with a more cost-effective education but also can give them leadership skills to launch their careers.

ROTC Meaning
More than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country offer Army ROTC programs. Standing for “Reserve Officers’ Training Corps,” ROTC is a program for college students that trains them to be commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces, serving all branches.

ROTC programs: "More than 1,100 U.S. colleges and universities offer ROTC programs."

Students participating in ROTC attend college like any other student, but in addition to their schooling, they take part in basic military training through the college. While the ROTC mainly refers to the Army, other ROTC programs exist for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

Not every college offers an ROTC program. Here’s a list of top-ranked schools that do.

Army ROTC Colleges List
These are the A+ Niche schools that have Army ROTC. For a complete list of schools, click here for all Army ROTC programs.

Niche Overall Grade
Name
City
State
Size
Control
A+California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaCA997Private Non-Profit
A+Claremont McKenna CollegeClaremontCA1260Private Non-Profit
A+Columbia UniversityNew YorkNY7236Private Non-Profit
A+Cornell UniversityIthacaNY14245Private Non-Profit
A+Dartmouth CollegeHanoverNH4139Private Non-Profit
A+Duke UniversityDurhamNC6631Private Non-Profit
A+Harvard UniversityCambridgeMA6652Private Non-Profit
A+Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeMA4480Private Non-Profit
A+Middlebury CollegeMiddleburyVT2493Private Non-Profit
A+Princeton UniversityPrincetonNJ5327Private Non-Profit
A+Rice UniversityHoustonTX3803Private Non-Profit
A+Stanford UniversityStanfordCA7003Private Non-Profit
A+University of ChicagoChicagoIL5377Private Non-Profit
A+University of Notre DameSouth BendIN8462Private Non-Profit
A+University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaPA10324Private Non-Profit
A+Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleTN6731Private Non-Profit
A+Washington University in St. LouisSaint LouisMO6455Private Non-Profit
A+Wellesley CollegeWellesleyMA2368Private Non-Profit

Navy ROTC Colleges List
These are the A+ Niche schools that have Navy ROTC. For a complete list of schools, click here for all Navy ROTC programs.

Niche Overall Grade
Name
City
State
Size
Control
A+Columbia UniversityNew YorkNY7236Private Non-Profit
A+Cornell UniversityIthacaNY14245Private Non-Profit
A+Duke UniversityDurhamNC6631Private Non-Profit
A+Harvard UniversityCambridgeMA6652Private Non-Profit
A+Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeMA4480Private Non-Profit
A+Northwestern UniversityEvanstonIL8542Private Non-Profit
A+Princeton UniversityPrincetonNJ5327Private Non-Profit
A+Rice UniversityHoustonTX3803Private Non-Profit
A+University of Notre DameSouth BendIN8462Private Non-Profit
A+University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaPA10324Private Non-Profit
A+Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleTN6731Private Non-Profit
A+Yale UniversityNew HavenCT5393Private Non-Profit

U.S. Air Force ROTC Colleges List
These are the A+ Niche schools that have Air Force ROTC. For a complete list of schools, click here for all Air Force ROTC programs.

Niche Overall Grade
School Name
City
State
Size
Control
A+California Institute of TechnologyPasadenaCA997Private Non-Profit
A+Columbia UniversityNew YorkNY7236Private Non-Profit
A+Cornell UniversityIthacaNY14245Private Non-Profit
A+Duke UniversityDurhamNC6631Private Non-Profit
A+Harvard UniversityCambridgeMA6652Private Non-Profit
A+Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeMA4480Private Non-Profit
A+Rice UniversityHoustonTX3803Private Non-Profit
A+University of ChicagoChicagoIL5377Private Non-Profit
A+University of Notre DameSouth BendIN8462Private Non-Profit
A+University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaPA10324Private Non-Profit
A+Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleTN6731Private Non-Profit
A+Washington University in St. LouisSaint LouisMO6455Private Non-Profit
A+Wellesley CollegeWellesleyMA2368Private Non-Profit
A+Yale UniversityNew HavenCT5393Private Non-Profit

History of ROTC
The Morrill Land-Grant Acts of the late 1800s allowed the creation of many colleges, including HBCUs, or historically black colleges and universities. Under the acts, a requirement was that schools include military instruction, which was an early form of the ROTC. Eventually, the National Defense Act of 1916 officially created the ROTC, which caused much debate through the years. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that the plan became more formalized with the ROTC Revitalization Act of 1964, which added the scholarship program, two-year and four-year programs, and financial assistance.

ROTC programs: "In recent years, the ROTC has been experiencing a revitalization on campuses."

The first ROTC program was started at Norwich University in Norwich, Vt., in 1947, although the school was then known as The Military College of the State of Vermont. Through the 1960s, many universities required ROTC training for male students, but eventually Vietnam War protests caused the ROTC to become a voluntary program, with some campuses not even offering ROTC. The 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy caused further dissent on college campuses when it came to the Army since many institutions viewed it as a policy that discriminated against homosexuals.

In recent years, the officer-training program has been experiencing a revitalization on college campuses. After “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011, ROTC programs started to return to many college campuses, including the Ivies. In 2012, Harvard allowed the return of the ROTC, as did Yale and Columbia.

Three Types of ROTC Programs

  1. Programs at the six senior military colleges

  2. Programs at civilian colleges, or schools that offer four-year or higher degrees, but not on a military basis

  3. Programs at military junior colleges (MJC), or schools that offer two-year degrees and have a military basis

Senior and junior military colleges require ROTC, whereas civilian colleges don’t.

ROTC Scholarships 
The majority of ROTC students are involved in the Army, so a majority of ROTC scholarships are Army-related. Army ROTC (AROTC) scholarships are allotted based on enrollment duration. Recent high school graduates can utilize a four-year scholarship program, while current college students can obtain scholarships for the rest of their collegiate careers.

The scholarship coverage varies according to how many years a student has left in college, whether it’s four years or two years, but an applicant must meet the following requirements to receive scholarships.

ROTC Scholarship Requirements

  • U.S. citizen
  • High school diploma
  • Age 17 to 27
  • College GPA of 2.5 of higher
  • Meet Army physical fitness standard
  • Must also agree to serve in the Army, either on active duty or reserve

There may be other requirements in the way of piercings, tattoos, and other qualifications for NROTC and Air Force ROTC. Check the organization websites for these conditions.

ROTC Pros and Cons

Pros
Cons
Helps pay for school
Can be physically demanding
You can study whatever you want. You may be deployed after graduation.
Program can take you all over the world.Army ROTC scholarship winners must agree to complete an eight-year period of service.
You can choose to serve part-time in the Army Reserve while pursuing a civilian career.
The Bottom Line
ROTC is an option for both high school graduates and college students. Recent upcoming high school graduates can look at schools that offer ROTC programs, and if a college student decides to do ROTC at a school that doesn’t offer the program, there may be nearby programs at other universities in which they can participate.