The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps
) program is a college
-based, commissioned officers
recruitment tool of the United States Navy
and the United States Marine Corps
In 1926, the U.S. Department
of the Navy established the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Its purpose was to produce a reserve of qualified officers who would be needed for a possible rapid expansion of the military in the case of an unforeseen emergency. The original units were at the University of California
, Northwestern University
, University of Washington
, Harvard University
, Yale University
, and Georgia Institute of Technology
Under the modern U.S. Naval ROTC system, graduates become active duty
officers rather than reserve officers. The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
commissions individuals into either the United States Navy
as an Ensign
or the United States Marine Corps
as a Second Lieutenant
. While attending college, these prospective officer candidates are known as Midshipmen
. Whereas Naval Academy Midshipmen are on active duty
, NROTC Midshipmen are in the Naval Reserve
but are on active duty for periods of training during the summer. The primary difference is that NROTC Midshipmen attend an ordinary civilian college or university, whereas Naval Academy Midshipmen attend the U.S. Naval Academy
in Annapolis, MD
, which is a much more regimented, military environment.
Joining the Program
The majority of NROTC Midshipmen join the program immediately after completing high school. Those Midshipmen are either Scholarship or College Program Midshipmen.
Scholarship Midshipmen are those who applied to the Navy for an ROTC scholarship (during their senior year of high school, or during early college studies). The highly selective application process involves an extensive written application and an interview with a Navy representative. Applicants must also pass an entrance medical examination process. The Navy pays tuition for Scholarship Midshipmen, educational fees(i.e. lab fees), as well as a stipend for books, but not room and board (however some schools will offer scholarships to cover at least a portion of room and board). In addition to tuition, the Navy pays a monthly stipend during the school year. As of 2008, the stipend was $250 per month for first-year Midshipmen, with a $50 increase each year after that (i.e. $300/month for sophomores, and so on).
College Program Midshipmen are those who join Navy ROTC without being offered a scholarship. They will often be offered a scholarship by the Navy if they perform well in college. Because of the technical nature of the Navy, students entering college without a 4-year scholarship who are planning to major in a technical field, such as engineering, science, or math, are more competitive for the scholarships.
All Midshipmen fall under one of three types: Navy Option, Navy Nurse Option, or Marine Option. Marine Option Midshipmen have been granted a Marine Corps scholarship. Students without a Marine scholarship who want to be Marine officers often join NROTC as Navy College Program Midshipmen. Then, while in ROTC, they attend Marine training and apply for Marine Option status (all Midshipmen who are officially Marine Option receive the scholarship).
Some NROTC students had served as enlisted men or women in the Navy or Marine Corps. If they are awarded an NROTC scholarship, their enlistment is nullified and they are sworn in as midshipmen. If they are accepted through an officer commissioning program, such as STA-21, they retain their enlisted paygrade. They are not called Midshipmen; instead they are called either Officer Candidates for the Navy, or by their rank for Marines under the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (known as MECEPs).
During the school year
Most college NROTC units are only a part-time commitment during a student's course of study at a university or college. There are three basic parts to a student's ROTC commitment in a typical week:
One or occasionally two days a week are set aside as uniform days, where the midshipman spend several hours attending military training such as inspections, close-order drill practices, and training lectures (either by officers attached to the NROTC unit or guest lecturers). The training is usually in the late afternoon after most classes have ended for the day, or in early mornings before classes. It is common for Marine Option midshipmen and MECEPs to have an additional training period for Marine-specific training.
Usually one to three physical training sessions are required in a week (depending on the specific NROTC unit), generally early in the morning. It is common for Marine Option midshipmen and MECEPs to have additional physical training days.
In addition to those activities, there are regularly scheduled classes in Naval Science that must be taken on top of the usual college load. The classes are in Naval history, Naval engineering and weapons, leadership and ethics, and other areas. Besides Naval Science classes, the Navy requires its Midshipmen to take certain calculus, physics, and political science classes taught by the college, and the Marine Corps requires certain history classes for its Midshipmen.
There are other miscellaneous activities scheduled occasionally; some are voluntary and some are mandatory.
There are a few ROTC programs that don't follow this model, and instead require a full-time commitment from midshipmen during the school year. At a Senior Military College
, the midshipman is normally housed together with other ROTC cadets in barracks-like dormitories, a uniform
is worn at least 5 days a week, and regular morning and evening formations are mandatory. Such full-time programs provide a more regimented existence that more closely simulates enlisted military life; they tend to be more demanding than normal college ROTC programs, in that they require extra commitments of time, physical and mental energy, etc. above and beyond most normal ROTC programs. Some midshipmen are drawn to these programs, which have a rich historical tradition behind them. Other students prefer standard NROTC programs, which allow them to focus more of their energy on academics rather than being limited by a regimented military life.
Some notable full-time programs include the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M University, SUNY Maritime College and Norwich University.
During the summer
NROTC students who are on scholarship participate in a summer cruise
in the fleet, to get hands-on training with real Navy personnel and equipment. After their freshman year, Midshipmen (both Navy and Marine) either travel to San Diego or Norfolk for CORTRAMID (Career Orientation and Training of Midshipmen). The Midshipmen spend a week in each of the three primary Unrestricted Line communities (Surface, Submarine, and Aviation) as well as a week with the Marine Corps to help them decide where they want to go with their career.
In the next two summers, Navy Option scholarship midshipmen spend time with either a surface ship, submarine, or aviation squadron. For each summer cruise, they select which warfare community they would prefer to train with and are given the opportunity to train around the world. The summer cruise in between the sophomore and junior years is referred to as the second-class cruise. They are assigned an enlisted running mate, from whom they acquire a sense of the enlisted experience. The summer cruise in between the junior and senior years of college (known as the First Class Cruise) is required for commissioning, and it focuses on integrating the midshipman into the officer community. Specialty cruises include EOD cruises, SEAL cruises, FOREX cruises (midshipmen are attached to a foreign country's ship), and Navy Nurse Cruises.
Marine Option Midshipmen instead attend the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center for the second summer. In recent years they have been attached to Marine units undergoing the summer training package. They learn high altitude survival techniques and undergo high altitude conditioning. It is often jokingly called "OCS prep." Between the junior and senior years, Marine Option midshipmen attend "Bulldog," Marine Officer Candidate School.
College program Navy Option NROTC Midshipmen attend one First Class summer cruise between their junior and senior year.
The normal, "baseline" service commitment for Scholarship NROTC graduates is eight years, with no less than four served on active duty. The exact commitment will depend on which "community" of the Navy a Midshipman chooses to enter. For example, Navy and Marine pilots are generally committed to eight years after their date of winging. Because the training for a Naval Aviator
is extensive, this can lead to a commitment of up to 10 years. Naval Flight Officers
usually serve a six year commitment and Submarine Officers
usually serve a five year commitment.
Non-Scholarship students may serve shorter commitments.
Once a Naval Officer completes his active duty commitment, he must serve the rest of his eight years in some portion of the Naval Reserve.
NROTC is one of the three main ways to become a U.S. Naval Officer. The other ways include the Naval Academy
and Navy Officer Candidate School
(OCS). OCS admits candidates who already have a college degree, and is similar to a "boot camp
" for officers. ROTC and Academy graduates are generally required to become Unrestricted Line Officers
, while Navy OCS graduates can choose to become Restricted, Unrestricted Line
or Staff Officers. Unrestricted Line Officers are Surface, Submarine, Aviation, Special Operations, or Special Warfare (SEAL) Officers. The restricted line includes other officers, such as Naval Intelligence
and Information Warfare
officers; Staff officers serve supporting roles such as JAG
officers, Navy Nurse Corps
officers and medical
officers. Restricted Line officers are not trained to have command of a ship at sea; they can only command a shore installation. An alternative for people seeking Marine Corps commissions is appointment to the United States Naval Academy
as with those seeking naval commissions. Other alternatives are the Officer Candidates Class
and the Platoon Leaders Class
which allows Candidates to select ground, aviation, or law assignments. All USMC officers are trained in basic infantry tactics at The Basic School
- How to Win Rotc Scholarships: An In-Depth, Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Rotc Scholarship Selection Process (Paperback) by C. W. Brewer, ISBN 1-882897-47-1 , Lost Coast Press (July 1, 2000)