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Military Academies

Army schools fall into four categories. Based on any one of these, you can find a school that will help you get a degree and pursue a military career.

These four categories include:

  1. Federal Service Academies; undergrad education and training of commissioned officers of U.S. armed forces.
  2. Senior Military Colleges; schools that offer Reserve Officers Training Corps
  3. Junior Military Colleges; allows cadets to become commissioned officers in the U.S. Army reserve in two years, instead of the usual four, through the Early Commissioning Program.
  4. United States Staff Colleges; train military officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of their profession.

Federal Service Academies

The five competitive and prestigious federal service academies have schools that cover the four branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force (under the Department of Defense), and the Coast Guard (under the Department of Homeland Security). The students enrolled in federal service academies are also enlisted in active duty from the day they enter the Academy.

A military academy is the most specific to the Army. Many commonly refer to West Point, a recognized school for military excellence.

Post Graduate Studies of the Federal Service Academies

The post graduate federal service academy that offers a M.D./Ph.D. is the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. This school offers education to train doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals for the military and uniformed services.

You can also study for a master's degree, or in some cases a doctorate, at a number of other armed services affiliated schools under the banner of "United States Staff Colleges." More information on said schools can be found under that heading, below.

Senior Military Colleges

There are six senior military colleges (SMCs) in the United States. These schools also include a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. The six senior military colleges are:

  1. North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, Georgia
  2. Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont
  3. Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas
  4. The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina
  5. Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia
  6. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia

Under U.S. law and U.S. Army regulations, there are three types of ROTC programs administered, each with a different element. Do keep in mind that in addition to ROTC at Senior Military Colleges, there are ROTC programs at civilian colleges and at Military Junior Colleges as well. However, the criteria for being a SMC is different. Here's some tips on figuring out if you meet the criteria:

  • Baccalaureate degrees must be granted at the school
  • All physically fit male students who reside on campus must take courses in military training. Federal law currently prohibits the Department of Defense from requiring a policy in SMCs that mandates female students to participate in the ROTC Programs. Exceptions to this requirement include foreign nationals, prior-service personnel, and students specifically excused by a professor of military science.
  • Outside ROTC, the school must establish a corps of cadets in which all students wear military uniforms. The corps of cadets involves a military environment in which the students live constantly, not just during the school day, and in which the students are subject to military discipline.
  • The SMC must have as an objective the development of character through military training and the regulation of cadet conduct according to principles of military discipline (a cadet code of conduct).
  • The SMC must maintain military standards similar to those of the federal service academies.

Specific Benefits of SMC

  • Cadets at SMC are authorized to take the ROTC program all four years, but taking a commission upon graduation remains optional, unlike other colleges where ROTC cadets are required to sign a contract to take commission before entering their final two years.
  • Under both AR 145-1 and federal law, the ROTC programs at the Senior Military Colleges are treated differently. Unlike ROTC at other schools, the Department of Defense is prohibited from closing or reducing the ROTC programs at an SMC, even during time of war (full or total mobilization).
  • In contrast with other colleges and universities: "Under full or total mobilization, the Secretary of the Army may withdraw the ROTC detachments without giving prior notice to the academic institution. The establishment of new SROTC detachments will not be authorized after full mobilization has been declared." All MS-IV cadets at the Senior Military Colleges will be commissioned and directed to attend the proper officer's basic course (OBC). At other colleges, ROTC programs will be suspended and the cadre will immediately be available for reassignment.
  • All cadets at the Senior Military Colleges are guaranteed active duty commissions when they graduate.


North Georgia College & State University

This school has a large United States Army ROTC program and is the only Senior Military College without Navy/Marine Corps and Air Force programs.

Norwich University (Private School)

This is the oldest senior military college and recognized by the Department of Defense as the "Birthplace of ROTC." It is the oldest and currently only private military college in the United States. It is home to both a corps of cadets and a smaller traditional student population.

Texas A&M University

Texas is one of the largest of the SMCs, which proudly hosts cadets but has a much larger civilian population of students. During World War II, Texas A&M produced 20,229 Aggies who served in combat. Of those, 14,123 Aggies served as officers; more than the combined total of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy and more than three times the totals of any other SMC.

The Citadel

In addition to the cadet program, civilian programs are offered through the Citadel's College of Graduate and Professional Studies with its evening undergraduate and graduate programs. The Citadel enrolls over 2,000 undergraduate cadets in its residential military program and 1,200 civilian students in the evening programs. While both programs make use of the Citadel campus and Citadel professors, cadets and civilian students do not generally share classes and only cadets live on campus. The exception to this is a veterans program which allows cadets who left The Citadel for active military duty to return as civilians, attend classes with cadets, and complete their degrees if certain criteria are met. Cadets also share classes with enlisted active duty Marines and Navy personnel.

Virginia Military Institute

This school is the oldest state military college in the United States and has been called the "West Point of the South" because unlike any other military college in the United States, VMI enrolls only cadets and grants baccalaureate degrees exclusively.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This school, like Texas A&M, hosts cadets but has a much larger civilian population of students. Members of the Corps may participate in ROTC programs leading to an officer's commission or simply in Corps drill and military life ("Corps Only") on campus.

Junior Military Colleges

With an approved ROTC program, a junior military college is a military-style junior college that allows cadets to become commissioned officers in the U.S. Army reserve in two years, instead of the usual four. This is obtained through the Early Commissioning Program (ECP) created specifically for Junior Colleges. However, the students must still go on to complete a bachelor's degree before serving as regular officers on active duty.

The Early Commissioning Program

The Early Commissioning Program (ECP) plays a major role in officer production. In some years, ECP officers have accounted for over 60 percent of all ROTC second lieutenants in the United States.

The program is a major financial incentive for students who receive their commissions early and serve as officers while still attending college and gaining service time for promotions and retirement. For example, in 1984, the California Guard received 95 percent (74 of 78) of its ROTC lieutenants from the ECP program. The Army Reserve has had similar experiences.

With the United States' involvement in continuing military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of ECP slots is again being increased. There is also a new Military Academy opening in Columbia, South Carolina as Gray Military Academy. It will be on the Will Lou Gray Opportunity School campus in West Columbia, South Carolina.

The Five Military Junior Colleges in the United States

  1. Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri
  2. Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania
  3. Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama
  4. New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico
  5. Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia

Wentworth Military Academy

A military junior college and private four-year college preparatory high school in Lexington, Missouri, Wentworth is the oldest military academy west of the Mississippi River, and the campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Valley Forge Military Academy

In Wayne, Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge Military Academy is a boarding school for young males, grades seven through twelve, and additionally offers a co-ed two-year junior college program.

Marion Military Institute

In Marion, Alabama, the Marion Military Institute is also called the State Military College of Alabama.

New Mexico Military Institute

In Roswell, New Mexico this school was founded by Col. Robert S. Goss as the Goss Military Institute, and inspired by Virginia Military Institute. NMMI includes a four-year high school and a two-year junior college.

Georgia Military College

In Milledgeville, Georgia, this school includes a liberal arts junior college, a high school, and a middle school.

United States Staff Colleges

Staff colleges, also referred to as command and staff colleges or war colleges, are most widely known to train military officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of their profession. Such training most commonly occurs at several levels in a career. However, there are many opportunities available at these colleges that provide very specific training to specialized work within the military and Department of Defense, even for cadets not aiming to become military officers.

Staff colleges apply some of the principles of the education of the military colleges to the executive development of managers from both the public and private sectors. Each staff college is very specific and specialized in its training, and one can earn a bachelor's, masters, and even a Ph.D. by studying at a staff college.

Specific to officer training, for example, an officer may be sent to various staff courses. These depend on your position in the military.

  1. As a captain, the cadet may be sent to a single service command and staff school to prepare for company command and equivalent staff posts.
  2. As a major, to a single or joint service college to prepare for battalion command and equivalent staff posts.
  3. As a colonel or brigadier, you would go to a higher staff college to prepare for brigade and division command and equivalent postings.

Every commissioned officer in the armed forces is expected to have a post-graduate degree and joint professional military education prior to promotion to Lieutenant Colonel or Commander.

Apart from Officer Training, for example, The National Defense Intelligence College which is run by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for the benefit of the United States intelligence community grants both bachelor's and master's degrees.

Find Post-Military Education

Many schools set up entire veterans communities with transition assistance, tutoring, prep courses and stable support system. Finding a college that provides services for veterans is simple.

Use our FREE custom search tool to find great military-friendly schools:

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