Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Staff Writers | Updated/Verified: Apr 1, 2024

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) was founded in 1916 to entice and prepare those that are college-bound to consider a career as a commissioned officer. This program is currently offered at over 1,700 colleges and universities across the U.S. and prepares young adults to become military officers. The cadets, or those formally enrolled in the program, commit to serve in the military after graduation in return for their education is paid for and a guaranteed graduate career. The ROTC for each branch differs slightly in what is offered, what is expected during college, and the length of the commitment after graduation. Only the military branches with the Nurse Corps will be detailed.


Army ROTC is known for being a demanding but successful leadership course. During the years of college or university, cadets will learn leadership skills, military history and environment, career pathways, and tactical military skills. These courses are incorporated into the routine academic courses related to the cadet's major and include didactic and fieldwork. Graduates of the Army ROTC program are awarded officer status upon completion.

The Army ROTC offers numerous scholarship programs. One is for high school students who are intent on completing college and serving as Army officers. Another scholarship is for those who have already started college and are looking toward a military officer career path. For enlisted soldiers seeking an officer track, the Army offers a scholarship to support the soldier on the officer’s career path. The Army ROTC also has a Nurse Training and Scholarship Program that offers two-, three-, or four-year scholarships for undergraduate nursing programs.

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, the Army ROTC cadet must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 26
  • Have a high school GPA of at least 2.50
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Score a minimum of 1000 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT
  • Pass the Army Physical Fitness Test
  • Have no medical issues to prevent serving as an officer in the Army
  • Agree to accept a commission and serve in the U.S. Army on active duty or in a Reserve for a predetermined time period post-graduation

The Nurse Summer Training Program is a paid three-week course that assigns nurse cadets to hospitals all over the world. This program offers the nurse an in-depth and hands-on experience nursing and leadership under the supervision of experienced Army Nurse Corps officers.

Read more about Army Nurse Corps.


The Navy ROTC (NROTC) is the largest source of Naval officers for the branch with over 160 colleges and universities offering the program nationwide. The Navy ROTC includes mixing military education and training with general and major-specific courses. Upon completion of coursework, the NROTC graduate is awarded officer status and the choice of careers in surface warfare, naval aviation, submarine ,or special warfare.

The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship program pays for academic tuition and provides leadership training and an additional stipend of money for up to five years of college or university. Applicants can apply while still in high school.

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, the Navy ROTC cadet must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 23 and no older than 27 by graduation
  • Have no criminal record
  • Be enrolled in a college or university with a Navy ROTC unit
  • Have no moral obligations that prevent conscientious bearing of arms
  • Have no body piercings or tattoos that violate the Navy standards
  • Have no more than 30 semester or 45 quarter hours
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Score a minimum of 1000 on the SAT or 19 on the ACT
  • Meet the Navy's height/weight standards

NROTC cadets are required to participate in weekly military drills and exercises that focus on building leadership skills. Summer programs with NROTC called Summer Cruise Training include career orientation and training for midshipmen. Assignments vary and can include areas of focus such as the NROTC Indoctrination Program, Ashore Aviation Option, Sea Trials, and Afloat Aviation Option.

Read more about Navy Nurse Corps.

Air Force ROTC

The Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) program is an impressive program being offered at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the U.S. The Air Force offers both a three-year and four-year ROTC program where cadets are required to take military leadership courses in addition to their major studies of focus. The Air Force ROTC cadet learns leadership through didactic and hands-on leadership-building exercises throughout the program. When all Air Force ROTC and academic degree requirements are met, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force. Nurse Corps officers are required to serve four years, although pilots commit to 10 years of active duty service.

Air Force ROTC offers several scholarships for high school students, current college or university students, and active enlisted airmen who are seeking an officer career pathway. Nurses apply for nontechnical scholarships with the Air Force and are expected to sit and pass the NCLEX to become fully commissioned.

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, the Air Force ROTC cadet must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen at least by the freshman year
  • Be between the ages of 17 and 31 (up to 35 with a waiver)
  • Be of good moral standing
  • Be enrolled in a college or university with an Air Force ROTC unit
  • Meet the required physical fitness standards
  • Be medically qualified

The Air Force Summer ROTC commitment is a 2-week program designed to expose cadets to real-world Air Force base or hospital environments. In addition to learning operations and support, the nurse candidate will be assigned to a Naval Hospital across the U.S. and will be assigned to an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps for oversight and training.

Read more about Air Force Nurse Corps.

Do Potential Military Nurses Need to Join ROTC?

No. Nursing students who are interested in joining the military to become commissioned officers are not required to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in order to be eligible to volunteer for a military branch. Nurses with a BSN can apply to any of the military Nurse Corps as long as they meet the additional requirements without having gone through a pre-military education and training program.

However, there are several advantages for aspiring military nurses to enroll in this intensive leadership program during college, such as the opportunity for general scholarships, nurse-specific scholarships, and focused preparation for becoming a military officer.

Lt. Colonel Leesa Harrie, RN states, "I highly recommend ROTC for those interested in joining the Nurse Corps as an officer. It gives a lot of education and experience to the individual. In my personal opinion, direct-commission officers are at a disadvantage because they do not understand the military. ROTC really helps with that. Plus, there is an opportunity for scholarships, and they can start getting paid a monthly stipend starting their junior year of college."

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