Pursuing a career as an officer in the military can be a very rewarding yet challenging path. There are ample benefits to a career in the military, but there are also drawbacks to the lifestyle that you should consider. The following United States Service Academies are all public institutions aimed at providing undergraduate education and training for students wishing to become commissioned officers in one of the branches of the military. These prestigious institutions have extremely competitive acceptance rates and have a reputation of providing a top-notch education for those enrolled. They also have some great benefits, such as tuition, room, and board fully funded by the military branch in exchange for active duty service after graduation. In many cases, students also receive a stipend for uniforms, books, and supplies. If you are interested in pursuing a degree through one of these academies and serving in the military after graduation, give serious consideration to the following.
US Military Academy
Commonly referred to as West Point, the United States Military Academy was founded in 1802 and is located in West Point, New York. The Academy educates and trains cadets for careers as officers in the Army. The Academy adopted co-education in 1976 but is still predominately male with about 15% of the total enrollment being female. Rules and regulations placed on students are generally stricter than other public colleges and universities, such as required uniforms, mandatory class attendance, and additional duties and responsibilities. Academically, the Academy offers of a variety of majors that all result in a Bachelor of Science degree. The Academy has a competitive athletic program with NCAA Division I football and a thriving rivalry with the Navy football team. Famous alumni include Robert E. Lee and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
US Naval Academy
Commonly referred to as Annapolis, the United States Naval Academy was founded in 1845 and is located in Annapolis, Maryland. The Academy trains men and women to be officers in the Navy, and students are referred to as Midshipmen during their training. Additionally, the Naval Academy adopted co-education in 1976 but remains approximately 80% male. There are a number of majors to choose from all resulting in a Bachelor of Science degree. Regulations require Midshipmen to attend classes, military formations, and meals daily and all students are required to live in dormitories regardless of their year of study. There are numerous clubs and organizations available to students as well as NCAA Division I athletics in many sports. Notable alumni include Jimmy Carter and John McCain.
US Air Force Academy
The United States Air Force Academy was founded in 1954 and is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The goal of the Academy is to train and educate men and women to be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force. The Academy is the newest of the five United States Service Academies and adopted co-education in 1976 but currently has about 78% male enrollment. Cadets earn a Bachelor of Science degree in one of a variety of majors and are additionally trained in military discipline and physical fitness. A number of bands, teams, and clubs are available to students along with NCAA Division I athletics. Notable alumni include Frederick D. Gregory, former astronaut, and Chesley Sullenberger, the captain who safely landed Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009 in what became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Admission to these Academies requires the student to be nominated by a government official, undergo a medical exam and fitness test, and meet the academic and age requirements. Serious consideration of these requires advanced planning and confidence that a career in the military is the right choice for you. The acceptance rates for these Academies range between 7%–10%; therefore, students submitting applications should be prepared to have alternative options for college.
There are numerous options for students wishing to pursue military careers. If one of these is out of reach, check out our list of military colleges to find one that can help you achieve your service and academic goals.