What is a ROTC program

Reserve Officer Training Corps

The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTCReserve Officer Training Corps) is a training program of the US armed forces at colleges and universities for the recruitment and training of officers. The program is administratively supervised by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). It is designed as an elective and includes leadership, problem solving, strategic thinking, and ethics.

60% of all officers in the US armed forces and 75% of all officers in the US Army come from the ROTC. Each branch of the armed forces offers its own ROTC program, in which scholarships are awarded on the basis of performance and sometimes the entire course is financed. A military scholarship is a chance for students from low-income families to finance their studies. In return, scholarship holders usually undertake eight years of military service, of which at least four years in active service; There are different regulations, especially for cost-intensive training in the Air Force, for example for pilots.[1] Army ROTC graduates who do not receive any scholarship are generally not required to do military service;[2] for the Navy and Air Force, some exceptions also apply here.


The concept of the ROTC was established in 1862 by the Morril Act, which created the first land-grant universities. The US government made sure that the subject military tactics was included in the curriculum. The first college to have a US Army ROTC unit was that Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.

Until the 1960s, many large universities made the ROTC a compulsory part of the curriculum for male students. In the course of the protests against the Vietnam War, the mandatory ROTC participation was converted into a voluntary offer, which is still in place at many state and private universities today.[3] At some universities, the official ROTC offer was completely discontinued at the time, even if the students there still have the option of one Off-campus ROTC is open.

Efforts have recently been made, particularly at some universities on the east coast, including Harvard University and Columbia University, to reintegrate ROTC into official university offerings.


Army and Air Force ROTC students are called cadets, while Naval ROTC (NROTC) students are called midshipmen. The Naval ROTC also covers officer training for the Marine Corps. Army training units are in brigades and battalions, U.S. Air Force units in Detachments (Eng. departments) divided into squadrons, groups, squadrons and wings, as in the normal Air Force structure. The Navy's training units are divided into battalions. Each NROTC unit is given an official name after its college, e.g. the unit is "NROTCU UNIV OF MN.", Which is at the University of Minnesota.


US Army ROTC coat of arms
ROTC-Cadets on a field exercise

The US Army's ROTC as it exists today was created by the National Defense Act of 1916. In 1920 the first class of officer candidates was awarded their patent. It was the British Officer Training Corps modeled after that through which most British officers were trained for the First World War.

George H. Decker, a graduate of Lafayette College, became the first ROTC graduate in 1960 to be named Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), the highest officer in the US Army. Other ROTC graduates who later became CSAs include Fred C. Weyand (University of California, Berkeley) and Gordon R. Sullivan (Norwich University). General Colin Powell, also a ROTC graduate of the City University of New York, was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was appointed Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. Another chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was Henry H. Shelton, who was a ROTC graduate from North Carolina State University.

Most of the US Army generals emerged from North Carolina State University's ROTC program, followed by the US Military Academy at West Point.

According to existing law, there are three types of ROTC programs.

First, civil universities, public or private, award bachelor's degrees; they do not operate on a military base.

Second, the military colleges or senior military colleges award bachelor's degrees while offering military education courses for those students who are physically fit, US citizens, have not served in the US armed forces, and are male; participation is voluntary for women. These colleges organize the students into one Corps of Cadets (German cadet corps) with military discipline and oblige their cadets to move around the campus in uniform. They train the students based on the military model and with military discipline, just as the military academies of the armed forces do.

There are currently six military colleges, Texas A&M University, Norwich University, Virginia Military Institute, The Citadel, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and North Georgia College and State University.

The third type of ROTC program is the junior military colleges, which offer high school education as well as college education up to an associates degree (not a bachelor's degree).

The difference between the three types is that the ROTC program is voluntary at civil colleges and compulsory at military colleges. Another big difference is that under federal law, graduates of military colleges are entitled to later active service in the US Army.

Air Force ROTC

The first ROTC units of the US Army Air Corps were at the University of California, Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, University of Washington, MIT, and Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College.

After the Second World War, General Eisenhower, as Chief of Staff of the Army - the US Air Force had only become an independent armed forces in 1947 - that Air Force ROTCs were set up at 77 colleges and universities.

The Air Force ROTC Vitalization Act by 1964 created a two-year senior program, fellowships and a junior program. An experimental program was run between 1956 and 1960 in which women were also to receive their officers' license through the US Air Force ROTC. Women were given the opportunity to complete their training here in 1969 with a new senior program and four years later with a junior program. In 1973, all non-commissioned officers, whether men or women, who were interested in a degree and an officer career, were given the opportunity to do so through the US Air Force ROTC Airman Scholarship. In 1978, the Air Training Command based on Randolph Air Force Base, Texas was created, which oversaw the entire ROTC program of the US Air Force.

On July 1, 1993, Air Training Command was merged with Air University to create Air Education and Training Command. The Air University was directly subordinated to the command, with the ROTC units in turn being the Air University were subject to. In February 1997 this structure was reformed again in order to streamline it. In the course of this, the Air Force Officer Accession and Training Schools (AFOATS) command was created. So three-quarters of the US Air Force officer training positions were combined, namely under the commander of AFOATS, a brigadier general.

Naval ROTC

ROTC- US Navy officers

The U.S. Naval ROTC program was established in 1926. From 1932, the US Marine Corps participated in this program. In 1990 the first scholarship for the US Navy Nurse Corps was awarded.


The program has been criticized because it was often the only way for high school graduates from poorer populations to get into higher education. That is why opponents of the system criticize the ROTC because young people usually only see the opportunity to study and do not take the opportunity to a sufficient extent, but that they are primarily soldiers.

Proponents see the ROTC program as an important part of the US recruiting system, which produces a large portion of the officer corps. This would anchor the basic principles of democracy in the officer corps, since most officers are trained at civil institutions.


JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and is a training program that was established in the United States of America in 1916 under the National Defense Act. It includes pre-military training, as well as military history and civics classes in high schools. As with the regular college-based ROTC, the JROTC is divided into the individual armed forces Army (AJRTC), Navy (NJROTC) and Air Force (AFJROTC), as well as the Marine Corps (MCJROTC). Retired members of the respective armed forces act as trainers.

At regular high schools, JROTC is an elective. The students there wear the uniform one or two days a week. In addition, there are also military schools or cadet schools where participation in the JROTC program is compulsory. The most famous such schools are the Marine Military Academy and the Florida Air Academy.

Other countries

Various countries also have ROTC programs, such as the Philippines, which established their program in 1912 during the US occupation. South Korea started its program in 1963, Taiwan in 1997.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps to the US Air Force website (accessed November 21, 2007)
  2. Your commitment to the Army at www.goarmy.com (accessed November 21, 2007)
  3. ↑ Contribution from the Free Speech Movement Archives (English)
  • Military (United States)
  • Military training