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How to apply for an ROTC scholarship

by New York University
October 21, 2022
6 min read
Deadline12 days left to apply
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An ROTC scholarship is a reserve officer training corps scholarship, which is awarded to college students who sign up for military service. ROTC scholarships can be found in a variety of places, including To unlock exclusive ROTC scholarships, sign up here!

There are over 1,700 junior military, military, and civilian colleges that have connections to an ROTC program. Three branches of the military— the army, navy, and air force— each have their own ROTC program. This means that high school students must apply for either an army ROTC scholarship, a navy ROTC scholarship, or an air force ROTC scholarship.

You can find more information in this guide about what an ROTC scholarship is.

Many high school students who receive an ROTC scholarship will be eligible for award money that covers the full price of their college education, as well as other educational fees such as textbooks and supplies. Many college scholarships will only cover a part of tuition costs. Some college scholarships will cover a full ride. A full ROTC scholarship can cover all four years of a college education and even provide a small allowance for any personal expenses an ROTC scholarship winner may incur.

How to apply for an ROTC scholarship

However, there are several conditions that ROTC scholarship winners must adhere to. First, students who accept ROTC scholarships must commit to serving in the military for the amount of time stipulated in the scholarship package. Second, it is very important that high school students maintain their GPA. Different types of ROTC scholarships may have different academic requirements. Students who fall below the academic performance required in their scholarship agreement may be expelled from the ROTC program or even be asked to serve additional years in the military and repay the scholarship funds.

As mentioned, three branches of the military have their own scholarship programs. Consequently, the requirements for these three types of scholarships are different. High school students should research which branch they want to apply to and make sure they fit the requirements for that branch.

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After graduating, Army ROTC scholarship recipients must serve a total of 8 years in the army. This service will consist of four years of active duty and four years of service in either the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard. Navy ROTC scholarship recipients will need to serve for 5 years of active duty. The number of years an Air Force ROTC scholarship recipient has to serve will depend on the career path they choose— 4 years for students entering non-flight occupations, 6 years for those in battle management or combat systems, and 10 years for those who intend to become pilots.

There are some basic requirements high school students must meet to be eligible for ROTC scholarships. Prospective students must be at least 17 years old, have U.S. citizenship, a minimum GPA of 2.5, meet physical fitness standards, and have a high school diploma. There are also standardized test requirements that differ based on the branch of the military you apply to. Any high school student who matches these requirements can consider applying for Navy ROTC, Air Force ROTC, or Army ROTC scholarships.

ROTC scholarship programs are an excellent way for eligible students to fund their college education. In addition, the ROTC program offers a stable career after graduation and specialized training for military career fields. This program can also be a good way for students to receive mentorship and make connections in the military field. For more information, check out our ultimate ROTC guide!

Research ROTC programs

Research ROTC programs

There are several things students can do while still in high school to increase their chances of winning ROTC scholarships later on for college. First, students need to maintain their grades otherwise they risk being disqualified from the ROTC program before they even apply. Students should aim to maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students who exceed this requirement will likely appear more impressive, so it’s best to earn the highest grades possible in high school instead of shooting for the bare minimum.

Secondly, showing interest in the ROTC program as early as possible is a good way to make connections in the ROTC program and increase your chances of winning scholarship money when you apply. Students can express interest by getting in touch with an ROTC officer at the college they hope to enroll in. If students aren’t sure which college they will attend, contacting the ROTC advisors at your top three or four schools won’t hurt.

For more dedicated students, joining the Junior ROTC may be a good option. This program allows high school students to participate in ROTC training before going to college and before winning a scholarship. This can also help students get a sense of whether an ROTC scholarship would be right for them before they commit.

Choose an ROTC program-approved major

Some majors are more valuable than others in the military. Though most ROTC programs will not stipulate that students must study any particular subject, certain fields may give applicants an edge in their application. Many technical majors, such as mechanical engineering, fluid mechanics, biochemistry, and more are considered highly desirable by the military.

For college students who don’t consider STEM to be their strong suit, many foreign language majors are also considered desirable, such as Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, French, and more.

College students who apply with these majors may receive priority in the application process. However, all college students can apply and win ROTC scholarships, regardless of their intended major.

Apply for ROTC scholarships

Each branch of the military will have a slightly different application process.

Students who hope to earn an Army ROTC scholarship will need to fill out the official online application. Students also need to send their high school transcript, SAT or ACT scores, and their results from the ROTC basic fitness test.

For a Navy ROTC scholarship, students will need to send in all of the above materials as well as their volunteer and work history, extracurriculars or achievements, planned college major, and a few scholarship application essays. Students will also need three references from their high school teachers and advisors.

For an Air Force ROTC scholarship, students will need the official online application, high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, a signed form from their high school counselor, and the results from the Air Force physical fitness assessment.

Students should visit the official websites for each of the ROTC programs to verify that they have all the necessary materials. The official websites are also where students can find the online application.

Frequently asked questions about ROTC scholarships

Frequently asked questions about ROTC scholarships

What disqualifies you from an ROTC scholarship?

Citizenship can be a reason an otherwise ideal candidate is rejected from the ROTC program. Students must have U.S. citizenship in order to even apply for ROTC scholarships. Low grades or standardized test scores can also disqualify students from earning ROTC scholarships.

Students must also be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma in order to apply. Lastly, students will need to be physically fit in order to be considered. Students who cannot pass the military’s fitness tests will not be able to join the program.

You can find additional tips in this post about how to get an ROTC scholarship.

What GPA do you need for ROTC?

Students need to have a GPA of at least 2.5 to apply for ROTC scholarships. For students looking to apply to the Air Force ROTC program, this may be raised to a minimum GPA of 3.0. For additional funding, you can find hundreds of scholarships on!

New York University
Content Writer

About Elise

Elise is a skilled and knowledgeable writer. Her understanding of scholarships and internships enables her to craft insightful and informative content that resonates with students, helping them navigate the often complex processes of applying for financial aid and career opportunities.

Elise graduated from New York University with a double major in English and Psychology, as well as a minor in Creative Writing.


Through challenging university coursework and corporate experience, Elise has become an expert in several different types of writing, including literary analysis, content pieces, formal scientific writing, SEO editing, and more. Elise expanded on her knowledge while interning in marketing, using her understanding of SEO to boost website traffic and customer engagement.

She’s published a short story in The Foundationalist literary magazine and has also won several short story writing awards at the regional and international levels. Elise loves to craft content that helps students navigate college life and scholarship applications. She makes use of syntax and tone to write readable, engaging pieces. Elise has a solid understanding of linguistics and grammatical structures across multiple languages thanks to her fluency in English and proficiency in Mandarin and Cantonese. 

Elise first joined in 2022 during her undergraduate studies, explored other pursuits in 2023, and happily returned in 2024 as a Content Writer. Motivated by her writing skills, she aims to make educational resources more accessible for students of all backgrounds. Additionally, she believes it's important to add to the available information on student loans and student finances in a way that's user-friendly and easy to understand.

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“I try to create content that would have helped my younger self— stuff I wish I knew when I was starting college.”

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