The Army is the largest of the five branches of the military, consisting of over one million active and reserve soldiers. Participating in an Army ROTC program while attending college is one way to join the ranks and become an officer. Following graduation, cadets will receive their commissions and can choose to serve on active duty, with the Reserves, or with the Army National Guard. ROTC isn’t just for prospective college students, though. Currently enlisted soldiers who aspire to become officers may also participate in ROTC programs.


Traditional Army ROTC

Students who elect to participate in Army ROTC will enroll in the Army ROTC Basic Course during their first two years of college. This course consists of physical training and field exercises, as well as one elective course and associated lab each year. Their first year, students will learn how to prepare for success as an Army officer, while their second year the course will focus on the role of an Army officer. Topics covered include leadership, Army traditions, military tactics, and principles of war. Any student can enroll in the basic course without having to commit to joining the Army after college, with the exception of scholarship recipients, who are obligated to join.

Junior and senior years, cadets will enroll in the Army ROTC Advanced Course. Junior year, students will learn about what is required to lead small tactical units; senior year, students will learn about transitioning from a ROTC cadet to an officer in the U.S. Army. Topics covered in the advanced course include laws of war, military justice, leadership, weapons, and ethics. Between junior and senior year, students will attend a five-week summer training camp, called the Cadet Leadership Course, at Fort Knox, KY. All students who enroll in the advanced course are obligated to accept a commission after graduation.

Students can enroll in the advanced course without first taking the basic course, but they must attend a four-week training camp called Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) at Fort Knox, KY during the summer to prepare. There are four phases of CIET: the soldier first phase, the warrior leader phase, the bold leader phase, and the future leader phase. During each of these phases, students will learn the same material that is covered in the Army ROTC Basic Course in an accelerated manner. They will also participate in field exercises and physical training activities. Students who participate in CIET will be given a stipend for their time and free transportation to and from Fort Knox.

ROTC cadets are allowed to major in just about any subject area that they want. When they commission as second lieutenants, students will pick the branch of the Army that has specific positions relevant to their degrees. You can explore more about officer careers here.

Army ROTC offers competitive scholarships to eligible cadets. After graduation, scholarship recipients must serve four years on active duty and four years with the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). Non-scholarship recipients only have to serve three years on active duty (and five with the IRR). ROTC graduates are not obligated to join the regular Army; they can choose instead to join the Reserves or the Army National Guard.

Nationwide, 1,100 colleges and universities have an Army ROTC program or are affiliated with an institution that has one. You can learn more about participating institutions here.

Army ROTC Scholarship

  • Award amount: The Army will provide merit-based scholarships for two, three, or four years to cover all tuition and fees as well as providing an allowance for books and a monthly stipend of up to $500, depending on the student’s year in school ($300 per month for freshman, $350 per month for sophomores, $450 per month for juniors, and $500 per month for seniors).
  • Eligibility: Students must:
    • Be U.S. citizens
    • Be between 17 and 26 years old
    • Have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a high school diploma or the equivalent
    • Have scored a minimum of 1000 on SAT (math and evidence-based reading and writing combined) or 19 on the ACT
    • Meet physical fitness standards consisting of push-ups, curl-ups, a one-mile run and be within Army height and weight standards
    • Agree to accept a commission to serve as an officer in the Army (four years on active duty and four years with the Individual Ready Reserve)
  • To see a full list of Army ROTC scholarships provided by the U.S. Army, go here.

Specialized Army ROTC Programs and Scholarships

Ike Skelton Early Commissioning Program Scholarship

This two-year scholarship is available to students who want to attend a junior military college and receive a commission in the Army. Following graduation from the junior military college with an associate’s degree, students will continue on to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. Students must join an ROTC program and join the Reserves or National Guard while simultaneously working on their bachelor’s degree. Students must also be able to finish and receive their bachelor’s degree within 36 months of completing their education at a junior military college.

  • Award amount: While attending the junior military college, all tuition and fees or room and board will be covered, the choice of which is up to the student. There will be an additional $1,200 annual stipend to be used toward books. Cadets will also receive a monthly living allowance of $450 their first year and $500 their second year.
    • After graduating from the junior military college, students have the option of enrolling in the Educational Assistance Program while completing their bachelor’s degree. This will cover full tuition and fees or room and board up to $10,000 annually for two years. For each year that the student participates in the Educational Assistance Program, they will incur a one-year service commitment.
  • Eligibility: Students must be U.S. citizens, in possession of a high school diploma or the equivalent, over the age of 17 by the end of their first semester of college, and less than 31 years old by December 31st of their sophomore year. Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 and a minimum cumulative score of 1000 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT.

Army Green to Gold

This program provides eligible enlisted soldiers the chance to finish their undergraduate education and receive a commission as an Army officer. Soldiers are typically nominated for the program by their superior officers.

  • Active Duty OptionThis Green to Gold option is a 21-month program in which active duty enlisted soldiers can complete their bachelor’s degree or earn a master’s degree while simultaneously earning their commission as an officer. Soldiers aiming to complete their bachelor’s degree must have two years as a full-time student remaining in their degree program. This involves going back to an eligible school to complete coursework and simultaneously participating in an Army ROTC program.
    • Eligibility: Soldiers must be U.S. citizens in good standing who have completed at least two years of active duty service. Upon graduating from the Green to Gold program, soldiers must be less than 30 years old and have served fewer than 10 years on active duty. Soldiers must be eligible for reenlistment and have no more than three dependents. Soldiers will incur an eight-year service commitment (three years on active duty and five years in the Reserve, National Guard, or the IRR).
    • Payment: Soldiers who participate in this program are not eligible to use Tuition Assistance but can use the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty or the Army College Fund to pay for their education. Soldiers will receive their current military pay and benefits for the duration of the program
  • Scholarship OptionThis Green to Gold option provides financial aid for enlisted soldiers on active duty who want to finish their education and become officers after graduating. Scholarships are offered for two, three, or four years, depending on how much undergraduate education the soldier has already completed. Upon acceptance into the program, soldiers are discharged from active duty and enrolled as ROTC scholarship cadets. Following graduation, the soldier will commission as a second lieutenant and serve on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard.
    • Eligibility: Applicants must be U.S. citizens in good standing who will be under 31 years of age at the time of commissioning and who have no more than three dependents. Applicants must have completed two years of active duty or received a waiver approved by Human Resources Command in Fort Knox, but cannot have served more than 10 years on active duty. Applicants must attend an institution that offers an Army ROTC program.
      • Four-year scholarship recipients must have a minimum high school GPA of 2.5 and have a minimum SAT score (math and evidence-based reading and writing) of 1000 or a minimum ACT score of 19.
      • Two- and three-year scholarship recipients must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 on all previously completed college work.
    • Payment: Scholarships will cover either tuition and fees or room and board (student can choose) and provide a yearly stipend for books and supplies and a tax-free living allowance for up to 10 months each year. Scholarships will also cover the cost of attending the Cadet Leadership Course.
  • Non-Scholarship OptionThis Green to Gold option is available to enlisted soldiers who have already completed the first two years of college and can complete their bachelor’s degree in two more years. As with the other Green to Gold options, students will enroll as Army ROTC cadets and must attend a school with an Army ROTC program.
    • Eligibility: Applicants must have already completed two years of college courses and maintained a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must also be under 30 years old by June 30 of the year they would commission. Applicants can have no more than three dependents.
    • Payment: Students will receive a monthly stipend for 10 months each year and attend the Cadet Leadership Course for free. Additionally, students can participate in the Simultaneous Membership Program in which they are concurrently enrolled in ROTC and serving as members of a Reserve or National Guard unit. This would provide an additional source of income (cadets would be paid at the level of a Sergeant). However, students are responsible for paying all tuition and fees associated with their education; the Montgomery GI Bill can help alleviate the costs for eligible students.

Army Nurse Training and Scholarship Program

Students interested in both nursing school and the military can consider participating in an Army ROTC program while getting their undergraduate nursing degree in order to be eligible for Army ROTC scholarships as well as the Nurse Summer Training Program.

There are two-, three-, and four-year options for Army ROTC scholarships that cover either tuition and fees or room and board as well as an additional stipend for books. Additionally, these scholarships provide a monthly living allowance that increases in value according to the student’s year in school (between $300 and $500 monthly). Army ROTC scholarships are based on academic merit, not financial need. All ROTC cadets are eligible to apply.

The Nurse Summer Training Program is open only to ROTC cadets who are also nursing students. It is an all expenses paid, three-week program that assigns cadets to Army hospitals in the United States and Germany to gain valuable hands-on experience in a military setting. Cadets are supervised by Army Nurse Corps officers and encouraged to learn from them in a mentorship setting. Cadets will be paid for their time.

Nurses who participate in ROTC and the Nurse Summer Training Program will incur an eight-year service commitment. Students who receive a scholarship will owe four years on active duty and four years in the IRR. Students who do not receive scholarships will owe only three years on active duty and the remainder in the IRR.

Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty Scholarship

This two-year scholarship is open to non-prior service students and enlisted soldiers who have previously served in the military and would like to return to school to finish their bachelor’s degree and receive a commission in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard. Upon returning to school as juniors, service members must enroll in an ROTC course and enlist in the Reserves in the Simultaneous Membership Program (concurrent enrollment in the Reserves or National Guard and in school). The service commitment after graduating and receiving a commission is eight years. This is a merit-based scholarship.

  • Award amount: This scholarship covers full tuition and fees or room and board up to $10,000 annually and provides $1,200 annually for books. There is an additional ROTC stipend of $350-$500 monthly and a Simultaneous Membership Kicker of $350 monthly. Soldiers may also receive Montgomery GI Bill benefits.
  • Eligibility: Soldiers must be U.S. citizens with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and a minimum SAT score of 920 or an ACT score of 19. Soldiers can, but are not required to be, previously enlisted. Additionally, they may have to be qualified to fill a Military Occupational Specialty and must have two years left to complete their degree.

Page last updated: 09/2017