Veterans and active-duty service members have many degree and certificate programs at their disposal to facilitate a smoother transition into civilian life after completing their military service. These military colleges not only offer flexible class schedules but also provide course credits for military experience, along with tailored counseling and career services, going the extra mile to cater to the needs of our nation’s heroes.Harnessing their prior military experience, veterans can propel themselves forward in their chosen fields by capitalizing on these programs. Military colleges incorporating military-focused programs serve as invaluable resources for those seeking to further their education, acquire new skills, or embark on fresh experiences.For high school students with aspirations of kickstarting their college journeys, schools that offer military programs present an enticing option. Programs like the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) seamlessly infuse a military perspective into conventional degree programs.
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In this article, we’ll delve into a comprehensive examination of the finest colleges in the United States that offer military programs. Additionally, we’ll provide insights into essential factors to consider when selecting a college with military programs, streamlining your decision-making process.Now, let’s dive right into it.Also Read: 10 Best Grants for Military Spouses in 2023 | APPLICATION GUIDE
Are Colleges With Military Programs Right For You?
When deliberating between attending a military college or a civilian university, various considerations come into play. Firstly, it’s crucial to gauge your level of enthusiasm for military service and training. Enrolling in a program that mandates post-graduation military service demands a deep commitment to this path.Next, reflect on your compatibility with military colleges’ structured and hierarchical environment . Assess whether you are comfortable within such a regimented setting.Consider your preferred learning environment. Do you excel in a serene atmosphere conducive to focused study, or do you thrive on balancing rigorous academic pursuits and physical training?Additionally, contemplate the desire for the unique camaraderie that often develops among cadets at a military college. Is this sense of kinship something you seek in your educational journey?These factors, among others, should guide your decision-making process when choosing between a military college and a civilian university.How to Choose What Type of Colleges with Military Programs is Right for You
Numerous pathways exist for individuals seeking to integrate military education with higher education. Two primary options include enrolling in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at virtually any college or participating in the cadet program at specific maritime colleges, service academies, senior military schools, and junior military colleges.To determine the most suitable educational route for your aspirations, several crucial considerations merit contemplation:How committed are you to pursuing a career in the military?
Service academies are a great option if you want to serve in the military once you graduate. If you want to receive military training, you must attend a Military College but are unsure if a military career is for you.
Do you want to be surrounded by civilian students or immerse yourself in a military environment with other cadets?
Consider these educational paths:1. Enroll in an ROTC program at a conventional university to combine peer camaraderie with military discipline.2. Choose a service academy if your goal is to learn and develop alongside fellow future military officers.3. Explore Senior Military Colleges (SMCs) that admit non-cadet students if you seek a blend of military training and interaction with civilian college peers.4. Attend a Military Junior College for two years, then transfer to a four-year university for a dual experience, encompassing the cadet lifestyle and a traditional college education.Are you a competitive applicant?
Competition for admission to service academies is fierce. Your chances of being nominated or admitted to an academy will drop unless you have stellar academic credentials. You may choose to apply to a less competitive SMC if your grades and test scores are below those of the typical student in the academies.
You can also enroll in an Early Commissioning Program at a Military Junior College. If you are determined to attend a service academy, you can complete a Service Academy Preparation Program at a Military Junior College.
How Do Finances Affect Your Decision?
Nonetheless, finances invariably play a pivotal role in decision-making. Ideally, they should not be the sole determinant. Military academies stand out as an excellent choice for those prioritizing a financially sound option. However, it’s worth noting that scholarships can facilitate a comparable experience at a Higher Military College or a Junior Military College.
Top Military Colleges with Military Programs in the US
Numerous universities and colleges nationwide offer military programs to individuals aspiring to serve their nation or pursue a military career. These programs allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree alongside comprehensive military training and education.In this article, we’ll highlight the top institutions with military programs, evaluating them based on
academic excellence, military resources, and the overall student experience.
#1. US Naval Academy
- Founded: 1845
- Location: Annapolis, Maryland
- Acceptance rate: 8.4%
- Average Annual Tuition: N/A
The United States Naval Academy has the most competitive admissions process, but graduates can look forward to a rewarding Navy or Marine Corps career. The United States Naval Academy has an admission rate of less than 9%, making it the most competitive service school.
Like the other federal service academies, the USNA offers those lucky enough to be accepted free tuition and a monthly stipend. The United States Naval Academy is the second oldest of the five United States military schools that train Navy and Marine Corps officers.
At the mouth of the Severn River and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, the United States Naval Academy (like West Point) stands on the site of a former fort. Its proximity to Washington, DC, is a great advantage for high school students seeking the nation’s various service academies.
The beautiful and historic campus is home to Division I track and field, which competes annually against Army and Air Force schools. Like West Point and the USAFA, the Midshipmen need a nomination from a member of Congress and agree to serve upon graduation.
Officers-in-training may have a broad education to the Bachelor of Science level. The US Naval Academy is renowned for producing some of the highest-paid graduates of any four-year university.
Midshipmen uphold the Concept of Honor and develop their historical traditions like their counterparts at other military academies. This is the best university with military programs.
#2. US Military Academy (West Point)
- Founded: 1802
- Location: West Point, New York
- Acceptance rate: 9.6%
- Average Annual Tuition: N/A
One of the top universities with military programs is the US Military Academy, also known as West Point. This institution has a rich heritage and culture, setting the standard for military academies. With a student body of around 4,300, it’s on par with the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).
West Point has a long history, serving as a military stronghold even before the American Revolution. The campus, located in New York City, is the oldest of the five American service academies and offers picturesque views of the Hudson River.Many high school students aspire to attend West Point to serve their country, but only a small percentage of applicants are accepted. If you are one of the fortunate few, the government will pay for your college education.
West Point boasts several significant historical sites, buildings, and monuments that contribute to its status as a national landmark. Officer candidates, or cadets, work towards a Bachelor of Science degree and are expected to excel in academics, military leadership, and interscholastic athletics. The Honor Code is strictly enforced, requiring cadets to uphold the values of “no lying, cheating or stealing,” among other criteria for evaluating their performance.
The United States Military Academy is the first university in the country to award an officially recognized civil engineering degree. Graduates are typically commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States military, but they may also apply for an interservice appointment in another branch of service. The school is known for its strong alumni network, with students and graduates referred to as “The Long Gray Line.” Many US Presidents, Generals, and Medal of Honor recipients are among its ranks.
#3. US Air Force Academy
- Founded: 1954
- Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Acceptance rate: 11.9%
- Average Annual Tuition: N/A
Although relatively young, the Air Force Academy has quickly become one of the best colleges with military programs for prospective students. One of the most picturesque campuses in the United States is home to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).
The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is a competitive institution that offers free education to those who meet its high standards. Established in the 1950s, it is the youngest of the five service schools in the country. Upon graduation, cadets become second lieutenants in the United States Air Force and earn a Bachelor of Science degree. Admission to the academy is highly competitive, and congressional nomination must be considered.Each entering class usually consists of around 1,200 cadets, but only 20% of them graduate. The academy prepares cadets for a career in either the United States Air Force or the newly established Space Force. The academy’s core principles of “Integrity First,” “Service Before Self,” and “Excellence in All We Do” guide its values and vision. The four pillars of success at the academy are military training, academics, athletics, and personal growth.
All cadets must practice intercollegiate or intramural sports in addition to their military training.
#4: Virginia Military Institute
- Founded: 1839
- Location: Lexington, Virginia
- Acceptance rate: 53.1%
- Average annual tuition: $18,862 per year (in-state), $45,706 per year (out-of-state)
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a highly respected American Senior Military College that is fully dedicated to serving the military. VMI exclusively accepts cadets as students and is located in Lexington, Virginia. It is the first publicly funded four-year military senior college in the nation. The cadets at VMI can earn a variety of bachelor’s degrees while serving in the Corps of Cadets, which involves rigorous academics, physical training, and strict military discipline. There are 14 academic programs offered at VMI, covering a wide range of STEM and liberal arts subjects. It is mandatory for all students to enroll in the ROTC program.
Although it has been called “the West Point of the South,” the structure of this institution distinguishes it from the academies of the federal military service. More than 1,700 students are enrolled in the academy this year. They may pursue civilian occupations or accept officer commissions in the United States Armed Forces.
Distinguished VMI alumni include US Cabinet officials, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and a Medal of Honor recipient. This is one of the best universities with military programs.
#5. The Citadel Military College
- Founded: 1842
- Location: Charleston, South Carolina
- Acceptance rate: 81.1%
- Average annual tuition: $12,516 per year (in-state), $34,988 per year (out-of-state)
The Citadel is a prominent university in the United States with a large student and staff population of over 2,300 individuals. It is renowned for its exceptional military programs and is home to one of the largest uniformed organizations in the country. The institution competes in several Division I sports and offers more than 20 specializations across its 18 departments. Additionally, the school has a separate department for military studies, and a group of South Carolina-based cadets are part of the Citadel community. The Corps of Cadets is a highly disciplined and physically demanding organization, and all members are required to join ROTC. Cadets can choose from five different schools, including Engineering, Science and Mathematics, Business, Education and Humanities, and Social Sciences.
Another unique aspect of cadet life is the disproportionately large number of women and minority residents. The Citadel also offers a program for veterans to help them return to school and finish their studies.
#6: Valley Forge Military Academy
- Founded: 1928
- Location: Wayne, Pennsylvania
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Average Annual Tuition: $29,975 per year
Valley Forge Military Academy and University’s Corps of Cadets program is unique in that it is entirely student-led. Located in Wayne, Pennsylvania, the institution is recognized for its prestigious military education, albeit at a high cost.
The school serves as a public two-year college and a private, co-educational, college preparatory boarding school for students in grades 7 through 12. In adherence to Army customs, Valley Forge Military Academy and College operates similarly to a conventional military academy. Upon graduation, students have the option of pursuing a military career or other professional opportunities. One defining aspect of the Valley Forge Corps of Cadets program is that it is entirely student-run, from the top down.
Valley Forge Military Academy and College is the sole US military institution that follows British rank, practice, and ceremony traditions. Furthermore, the Corps of Cadets is the only organization in the United States that maintains a conventionally mounted battalion consisting of a cavalry unit and an artillery battery. Prospective cadets must pass an exam and obtain a “Cap Shield” before being admitted into “The Military College of Pennsylvania.” To join the Corps of Cadets, each cadet must pass a board and receive a “Cap Shield” to indicate their status.
#7. Georgia Military College
- Founded: 1879
- Location: Milledgeville, Georgia
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Average Annual Tuition: $6,480 per year
The residential ROTC program at Georgia Military College (GMC) is relatively modest. A wide variety of courses is available at Georgia Military College (GMC).
Middle school, high school, a military college, and an Advanced Placement high school are part of the military-focused educational complex. It receives state funding but is independent of the Georgia University System.
Located on the historic Georgia State Capitol grounds, the main building is historically and architecturally significant. About 250 ROTC undergraduates and cadets live on campus full-time.
More than a thousand students make the daily trip to the relatively small school. The Army Early Commissioning Program includes only four military high schools in the United States, and Georgia Military College is one of them.
After two years, graduates become officers in the United States Army. Students completing a two-year program at the University of North Georgia are eligible for a transfer scholarship to the state’s top military college, where they can earn a four-year (UNG) degree.
Georgia is the only state with a junior and senior military college. Georgia military college is also one of the best colleges with military programs in the US.
#8: US Merchant Marine Academy
- Founded: 1943
- Location: Kings Point, New York
- Acceptance rate: 22.2%
- Average Annual Tuition: $1,080 per year
College tuition at the United States Merchant Marine Academy is among the lowest in the country for colleges with military programs. The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) is inexpensive compared to other military colleges.
In-state and out-of-state students spend less than $1,000 per year in tuition. The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) educates officers in the maritime and military sectors of the United States military.
Students are “midshipmen” and study maritime law and engineering subjects. You will also learn international law, customs, naval navigation, and ship management.
There are five US service academies, and USMMA is one of them, but it doesn’t get as much attention as Air Force, Navy, or Army schools. You can pursue five majors at the Bachelor of Science level at the US Merchant Marine Academy.
Maritime logistics, security, marine engineering, and shipping fall under this category. A vast list of famous and respected people have graduated from USMMA.
#9. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
- Founded: 1872
- Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
- Acceptance rate: 70.1%
- Average annual tuition: $13,620 per year (in-state), $31,908 per year (out-of-state)
Virginia Tech University, also known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is a well-known institution that offers both military and civilian programs. Located in Blacksburg, it is one of six top military colleges in the United States. With a student body of nearly 35,000, Virginia Tech’s ROTC Corps of Cadets program is highly esteemed and ranks second among Virginia higher education institutions.
The university offers 280 different majors and degree options to its students. In the US News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s best universities, Virginia Tech is ranked 74th. Thanks to its Corps of Cadets program, it is also recognized as one of the “Most Innovative” universities. With a military academy and a regular student body, Virginia Tech is one of only three public schools in the United States that offer such programs.
Blacksburg’s main campus is home to over a thousand cadets who value the university’s military program. Overall, Virginia Tech stands out for its exceptional academic programs and commitment to military education.
#10. US Coast Guard Academy
- Founded: 1876
- Location: New London, Connecticut
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Average Annual Tuition: N/A
The United States Coast Guard Academy flies under the radar to a greater extent than it should be. Although not as well known as others on our list, the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) is one of the best service schools in the country.
It is the second smallest compared to the other four US military academies. The Coast Guard Academy trains its cadets to become officers in nine different specializations.
However, a congressional nomination is not needed for admission to the USCGA, unlike other US military academies. The student’s ultimate goal is to become commissioned officers after completing their Bachelor of Science degrees.
After graduation, students are commissioned as ensigns in the Coast Guard and must serve on active duty for five years. Performance-based learning encompasses academics, fitness, leadership, and character education.
The United States Coast Guard Academy is unique in that it does not charge its students tuition and provides them with a modest stipend for their time and effort. Traditions at the Coast Guard Academy, such as “Swab Summer”, have been around since the establishment of the school.
Several well-known United States Coast Guard admirals are among the graduates.
Don’t Forget To Read: Top Best Military Schools For Girls Around The World
#11. La Salle Institute
- Founded: 1850
- Location: Troy, New York
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Average Annual Tuition: $14,150 per year
Upon completing the La Salle Institute, students can continue training in a military establishment. There is a private university with a military program on the East Coast called the La Salle Institute.
The impeccable history of the prestigious institution dates back to 1850. Instituto La Salle educators have twice received the designation “School of Educational Excellence” from the US Department of Education.
It has a high acceptance rate and helps students get into elite universities and colleges, such as military service academies. Since the late 19th century, La Salle’s college preparatory school has included an Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) curriculum.
HVCC’s dual credit program offers flexible course schedules and college credit possibilities for high school seniors interested in a military career. Numerous prominent politicians, businessmen, engineers, and judges are among the graduates of the La Salle Institute.
#12. New Mexico Military College
- Founded: 1891
- Location: Roswell, New Mexico
- Acceptance rate: 42.3%
- Average annual tuition: $4,530 per year (in-state), $14,534 per year (out-of-state)
The ECP program at “The West Point of the West” trains students to become officers. Locals and visitors alike can find the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in the town of Roswell, New Mexico.
Nearly a thousand high school and college students enlist in the public military college. It is the only university with a military program in the West receiving federal government funding.
Several high-ranking military officers are among the notable graduates. NMMI’s rigorous intellectual and physical preparation is well known.
One hundred students go to one of the top five US military academies after completing the Army ROTC Early Commissioning Program (ECP), which trains students for officer positions.
Duty, honor, and success are the New Mexico Military Institute creed. A two-year college, known as “West Point of the West,” offers BA and BS degrees.
Honor, integrity, and responsibility are central to his unique approach to education.
#13. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
- Founded: 1891
- Location: Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
- Acceptance rate: 83.2%
- Average annual tuition: $9,728 per year (in-state), $26,106 per year (out-of-state)
Although not required, many Mass Maritime graduates want to join the military out of state to earn their degrees. Mass Maritime and MMA are the standard abbreviations for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Mass Maritime) is the country’s second oldest state maritime academy. The public university offers both undergraduate and graduate education in marine-related subjects.
In the late 19th century, Mass Maritime became a training school for deck officers and engineers in the United States Merchant Navy. Although many military college graduates serve in the active or reserve forces of the United States armed forces, this is not a requirement of the institution.e
USTS Kennedy is a beautiful student training ship. The students prepare the ship to travel to various countries in the Caribbean.
You will learn deck and engine watches, maintenance, and emergency drills as students alternate between classroom and laboratory at-sea training. Two notable alumni are Captain Richard Phillips and George W. Duffy.
#14. Marion Military College
- Founded: 1842
- Location: Marion, Alabama
- Acceptance rate: 55.9%
- Average annual tuition: $9,418 per year (in-state), $15,418 per year (out-of-state)
In terms of military education, Marion Military Institute is among the best institutions in the United States. Marion Military Institute (MMI) is a public military college in the southern United States.
The oldest junior military college in the United States, this venerable school was founded in the mid-1800s. It is also among only four junior military colleges in the United States.
Marion has fewer than 400 full-time students, making it a competitive school. Many Army programs, including ECP and ROTC, are at MMI.
The second option allows qualifying cadets to become Second Lieutenants after only two years of college study. Students interested in applying to one of America’s top-tier service academies can also check out the SAP (Service Academy Program).
Finally, interested parties might consider enrolling in the first two years of the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or the Marine Corps Platoon Leader Course (PLC). Among MMI’s illustrious graduates are some prominent US military generals.
#15. California State University Maritime Academy
- Founded: 1929
- Location: Vallejo, California
- Acceptance rate: 66.3%
- Average annual tuition: $7,056 per year (in-state), $18,936 per year (out-of-state)
You can find the campus in the warm and welcoming state of California. The California State University Maritime Academy is one of the state’s public educational institutions.
The Maritime Academy is one of 23 campuses comprising the prestigious California State University system. Additionally, it is the only maritime academy in the United States located on the Pacific coast.
There are one master’s and six bachelor’s degrees available at this school. According to US News & World Report’s “Western Regional Colleges” rankings, Cal Maritime University is the best public university in California.
Although continuing to serve one’s nation in the military after high school is not required, several opportunities exist for those interested. Less than a thousand students attend this school.
The Cal Maritime curriculum emphasizes the integration of theory and practice, technology and culture, and global understanding and leadership. The annual Golden Bear training ship is a highlight of the educational experience.
Students can learn maritime security and policy from experts from around the world through school-sponsored study abroad programs.
#16. University of Central Missouri
- Founded: 1871
- Location: Warrensburg, Missouri
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Average Annual Tuition: Average. cost after aid $14K
The University of Central Missouri is a public institution in Warrensburg, Missouri, that offers a diverse range of programs for students. Their military program is among the best in the nation and provides educational benefits to veterans and active-duty service members.
This program aims to support students in achieving academic success by granting them access to military tuition assistance, veteran benefits, and other services. The university also has a dedicated team that assists military students with their unique academic and personal needs. Overall, the University of Central Missouri takes pride in being a pioneer in meeting the educational requirements of the US military.
#17. Florida Institute of Technology
- Founded: 1958
- Location: Melbourne, Florida
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Average Annual Tuition – Average Cost After Aid $31K
The Florida Institute of Technology is a private institution of higher learning in Melbourne, Florida, USA, offering a wide range of majors and specializations, including engineering, business, and international relations. Students at the institution may join ROTC and other military-focused clubs and organizations.
Veterans and active duty military personnel can find support through FIT’s extensive military program. Veterans can get help adjusting to civilian life and furthering their education and careers through this program.
There are several resources available through the program, including help with schoolwork, guidance in choosing a career path, and money for college. The program also helps military spouses and dependents, including help with job placement and internships.
The Florida Institute of Technology will ensure the professional and academic success of military service personnel, veterans, and their families.
#18. University of North Georgia
- Founded: 2013
- Location: Dahlonega, Georgia
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Average Annual Tuition: Average Cost After Aid $10K
The University of North Georgia is a public institution of higher learning in Dahlonega, Georgia. It is home to several highly regarded departments and programs, including engineering, commerce, and international relations.
Students at the institution may join ROTC and other military-focused clubs and organizations. North Georgia University prides itself on its extensive military education offerings. Veterans and active duty service members can take advantage of this program’s many benefits.
These offerings include tutoring programs, academic advising, career guidance, and other forms of counseling and guidance. The institution also houses several programs for veterans to facilitate their readjustment to civilian life.
The program’s stated goal is to provide all servicemen with the tools they need to achieve academic and career success in college.
#19. Texas A&M University
- Founded: 1942
- Location: College Station, Texas
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Average Annual Tuition: Average Cost After Aid $19K
Located in College Station, Texas, engineering, business, and international relations programs are just a few available at Texas A&M University, a public research institution.
There is also a strong military program at Texas A&M, giving students access to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and other military-focused initiatives. Texas A&M University is proud of its long history of military service and the many resources it provides to veterans and current service members.
To facilitate veterans’ readjustment to life on campus, the University provides them with an Office of Veterans Services, a Veterans Success Center, and an Office of Military Education and Transition. Many financial aid opportunities, including scholarships, are available to veterans and active duty military at this University.
Additionally, the institution has a strong ROTC program that provides students with military training alongside academics. Texas A&M University is proud of its commitment to serving the educational and professional needs of our nation’s military personnel and veterans.
#20. Norwich university
- Founded: 1819
- Location: Northfield, Vermont
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Average Annual Tuition – Average Cost After Aid $24K
Norwich University, based in Northfield, Vermont, is a military institution that offers courses in various disciplines, including engineering, commerce, and international affairs. They provide students with strong military education, training, and various athletic and extracurricular options.
Norwich University, in Northfield, Vermont, is a private institution of higher learning. As the forerunner of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the oldest private military institution in the United States, it holds a special place in American ROTC history.
Army ROTC, Air Force ROTC, and Naval ROTC are just a few of the military programs available at the University. It is the University’s largest and most attended program, training students to become officers in the United States Army.
Students interested in serving as United States Air Force or Navy officers may join the respective Air Force ROTC or Navy ROTC programs, respectively. For education and military training, Norwich University is second to none.
Frequently asked questions in universities with military programs
How do you get into a military academy?
The application procedure for military academies is usually quite similar to that of traditional institutions. High school transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, and reference letters are generally required materials for college applications. One must meet very strict requirements to enroll in one of the best schools in the world.
Why do people go to military academies?
There are various motivations for enrolling in a military academy. Although not all military academies require graduate service, some students attend these universities for that purpose. Some people are more interested in attending one of the government academies, where they can study for free for a commitment to duty when they graduate.
Can you go to college and be in the military?
The military is a popular choice for college students. Military personnel can continue their education at any time at an army university or at a more conventional institution. Many people go to college before joining the military, but those already in the service can continue their education, and those serving overseas can take advantage of distance learning opportunities. It is not uncommon for veterans to go back to school after retirement.
Do I have to finish college before joining the military?
If a person wants to serve in a technical capacity, such as an engineer in the military, they must first finish college. Various educational opportunities are available to service members during and after their time in the military. Members of the armed forces can complete their degrees before enlisting or after leaving the service; in either case, they are likely to get financial backing.
In conclusion, there are a variety of colleges that offer excellent military and veteran programs. There is something for everyone, from large public universities to small private colleges.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional college experience or a more specialized program, these Top 20 Military Colleges offer several options to help you achieve your educational goals.
With the right resources and support, you can find the perfect school to help you achieve your academic and career goals.