Introduction to Army ROTC
The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a unique college elective. It takes no more of your time than would most other college courses. The credits you earn from ROTC classes go toward your diploma. And when you graduate, you’ll receive a diploma and a commission as a Second Lieutenant (2LT) in the U.S. Army.
ROTC training goes beyond the typical college classroom. You could be leading your classmates on a tactical “mission”, or taking part in outdoor adventure training designed to improve your ability to solve problems under stress.
You’ll learn skills you would expect to find in an Army officer including how to motivate co-workers, cope with the unexpected, and organize large, complex tasks. But you’ll also learn skills in demand today in the civilian and business world such as teamwork, tact, and effective communications. You’ll learn from experienced Army officers and noncommissioned officers and, in time, help pass on what you’ve learned to newer students as well.
ROTC Program Structure
Traditionally, Army ROTC is a four-year program. The first two years comprise the Basic Course. This includes classroom studies in such subjects as military history, leadership development and national defense. You can enroll in the program for the first two years without incurring any future military obligation (if you don’t have an ROTC scholarship).
After you’ve successfully completed the Basic Course, you can compete to gain admission into the Advanced Course. It’s during this part of the program that you’ll get to put your newfound management skills to the test. Of course, you’ll also continue to get instruction in tactics, ethics and professionalism.
As a cadet in the Advanced Course, you’ll spend the summer between your junior and senior years attending the National Advanced Leadership Course. There, you’ll be asked to handle the complex tasks of a unit leader. You may have to lead your group across difficult terrain or build a bridge across a river. You may have to solve difficult personnel problems, or be in charge of expensive military equipment. It’s all meant to teach you how to think quickly when the pressure is on, and how to motivate your team.
Then, as a cadet in the Advanced Course, your management skills will continue to be sharpened. You’ll teach new ROTC students what you’ve learned. And when you graduate from college, you’re ready to be a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
Can I enroll even though I am not a First Term Freshman?
Enrollment in the ROTC program is traditionally a four-year program, in which an incoming freshman enrolls during the first semester in college. However, enrollment can still be achieved up through the end of the second year in college. Basic Course ROTC credit and Advanced Course enrollment can be achieved in a few different ways:
- Sophomores can compress the Basic Course into one year.
- Sophomores with Junior ROTC can meet the requirements of the first year of the Basic Course.
- Sophomores can attend the Leader’s Training Course during the summer preceding their junior year.
- Veterans, Army National Guardsmen and U.S. Army Reservist can enroll directly into the Advanced Course at the start of their junior year.
The Basic Course
The Basic Course takes place during your first two years in college as elective courses. It normally involves one elective class or lab each semester. You will learn basic military skills, the fundamentals of leadership and start the groundwork toward becoming an Army leader. You can take Army ROTC Basic Courses without a military commitment.
- Freshman Year: The Role of the Army
- Sophomore Year: The Role of an Officer
The Advanced Course
The Advanced Course takes place during your last two years in college as elective courses. It normally includes one elective class or lab each semester, plus a summer leadership camp. You will learn advanced military tactics and gain experience in team organization, planning and decision-making. To benefit from the leadership training in the Advanced Course, all cadets must have completed either the Basic Course or have attended the Leader's Training Course. Entering the Advanced Course requires a commitment to serve as an Officer in the U.S. Army after you graduate.
- Junior Year: Small Unit Training
- Senior Year: Transition to Becoming an Officer