Skip to main content

About ROTC

Becoming a leader for life

The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps is an all-encompassing leadership, academic, and physical challenge. Students who participate in the program will have the unique challenge of training to become an Army officer while also earning a degree at a prestigious Ivy League institution. ROTC will teach cadets to be virtuous students that follow the 7 Army values:

  • Loyalty
  • Duty
  • Respect
  • Selfless-Service
  • Honor
  • Integrity
  • Personal Courage


A common misconception about ROTC is that participation in ROTC requires that you sign a contract with the military and that ROTC will take up all of your free time. While ROTC does take up some time, the commitment is only 2-5 hours per week, with some weeks having more hours if there are other events occurring in the community. The more senior in rank, the more the weekly time commitment will be. You can learn about the average time-commitment in the “typical schedule” section.

Of course, there are plenty of optional activities that cadets can participate in that will take up more time. These optional activities will add a lot of leadership and athletic opportunities to the normal ROTC curriculum.

Optional Training Activities

Ranger Challenge

Every year, US Army Cadet Command (USACC) hosts Ranger Challenge events for each of its 8 Brigades (or regions). Cornell University and its branch campuses fall into the 2nd Brigade and competes against 41 other ROTC programs from the northeastern United States. Ranger Challenge is a 48 hour event that tests 10-person teams’ fitness, critical thinking, and their teamwork capabilities. Members of the Ranger Challenge team will begin training in the spring time with competition occurring during the 3rd weekend of October. The winners from each Brigade are afforded the opportunity to compete against one another as well as some teams from the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Sandhurst competition in the springtime.

Ranger challenge team members must be extremely physically fit. They must be able to make split-second decisions and they must be able to work well with others in a team environment. Team members will be expected to participate in physical training six times per week, including Saturdays.


Members of the Ranger Challenge team carry their weapons and equipment over 6 miles for time against the other 41 school in the 2nd Brigade.

Army Ten-Miler: Trevor Jahn Memorial Team

Every year, Cornell’s battalion sends ten cadets to Washington D.C. for one weekend in October to run the Army Ten Miler. The team is funded by the Jahn family as a way to commemorate their son Trevor. Trevor Jahn was a cadet at Ithaca College, one of Cornell ROTCs neighboring branch campuses. The team started participating in the annual event in 2005.

This event is only open to sophomores through seniors because registration occurs in May. Candidates will be given the opportunity to try out for the team in the springtime. Candidates must be excellent runners and mentally strong enough to handle an hour to two hours of running. Members of the team will be expected to work out 6 days a week and are sure to see their run times improve drastically over the course of the months of training.


The Trevor Jahn Memorial Team poses with the commanding general of cadet command, MG Peggy Combs after the completion of the Army Ten Miler

The National Society of Scabbard and Blade 

Every semester, the best upper class cadets and midshipmen of Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC are chosen for induction to the National Society of Scabbard and Blade. This organization, which was founded in 1904, is a military honor society that focuses own the professional development of cadets as they study to become officers. Cadets that are lucky enough to be selected for entry into the society will have the opportunity to help plan some of the biggest ROTC events for all three military services and they have a great influence on the social dynamic of the Tri-service Brigade. Members will spend extra time studying the art of being a leader and will learn about current happenings in the world that affect the United States’ defense and readiness.

Members will be expected to attend monthly meetings, as well as participate in the planning and set-up for major brigade events, such as the military ball or the Memorial Day Parade. Additionally, members must be show a level of dedication and success that is above that of their peers. Army cadets will be exposed to cadets and midshipmen from Navy and Air Force ROTC and will work closely with them, allowing them to expand their frame of reference for solving problems. The ideas that are shared between members of Scabbard and Blade help to greatly increase the ability for the cadets and midshipmen to think on a larger scale.

Color Guard

An important part of being a member of ROTC is being actively engaged with the community. The color guard is an old tradition of carrying the flags (or colors) of the nation, the state, the military services, and/or Cornell University. Members of the color guard will travel around the local area and present the colors during the national anthem during sporting events or will be responsible for presenting the colors at local parades. The color guard often consists of members of the Air Force and Naval ROTC programs as well, allowing for cadets and midshipmen from other services to interact with one another and share ideas on leadership. Often, members of the color guard will also see how different services of the US military conduct drill and ceremony, offering different perspectives on drill and ceremony.

Members of the color guard may be expected to practice once or twice a week to prepare for upcoming events. Members must be good with drill and ceremony and must have a level of discipline that exceeds that of their peers. Color Guard members will become the experts of the battalion in drill and ceremony and it will serve them well as they move into cadet leadership positions.


Members of the Tri-Service Color Guard lead the Cadets and Midshipmen of Cornell’s Tri-Service Brigade in the annual Veteran’s Day Parade in Ithaca, NY.