Skip to main content

Cornell University

Army Reserve Officers Training Corps

AROTC at Cornell University


Is enrolling in Army ROTC the same as joining the Army? Once a student starts taking ROTC courses, are they obligated to join the Army?

Enrolling in Army ROTC is not, strictly speaking, joining the Army. You will not be sent to boot camp. However, the primary purpose of the Army ROTC program is to produce its Officers, so you must agree to serve as an Officer in the Army after graduation in order to go through the entire program, or if you have received an ROTC scholarship. Enrolling in the ROTC Basic Course (the first two years of college) does NOT obligate you to serve unless you have also received a scholarship.

What is my Army service obligation to pay back any scholarship benefits or for enrollment in the ROTC advanced course?

Scholarship winners must serve for four years; non-scholarship Cadets who enroll in the ROTC Advanced Course must serve for three years. All who graduate and complete ROTC training are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Why should I choose the Army ROTC over a different branch’s ROTC?

The Army offers a wider range of career opportunities, in more places around the world, than any other U.S. military branch.

Can I go into Army Reserve or National Guard after graduation instead of the regular Army?

Yes. Selected Cadets may choose to serve part time in the U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard while pursuing a civilian career.

What is my commitment to the Army for ROTC?

The answer to this question depends on a number of things. Firstly, just trying out ROTC will not commit you to the Army in any way; only after signing a contract will you have any commitment. If you sign a contract, your service obligation will be 8 years. However, how you serve those 8 years depends on where you go. If you go into the National Guard or Army Reserve, you will have to serve all 8 years serving part-time (1 weekend a month and 2 weeks during the summer). If you go active duty, you will serve 4 years full-time and 4 years on the individual ready reserve, meaning that you will only have to perform military duties if called up in a state of national emergency.

What if I want to become a doctor, vet, lawyer, physical therapist etc.?

The Army may grant you an educational delay to earn a masters or doctoral degree. This allows you to delay your service until you complete your higher degree. After completing the degree, you will be required to fulfill your military obligation.

Does the Army have programs to pay for a masters or doctoral degree?

Yes. The Army has many programs by which you can earn a masters or doctoral degree on the Army’s dime. The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill allows soldiers to earn money for college as they serve. Additionally, for officers, there may be an opportunity to take a two-year sabbatical where the Army will continue provide full pay and benefits, will pay for the cost of your education, and will allow you to continue serving after you graduate. However, you will owe the Army four years of additional service after completing the degree. A final option is to earn a limited range of masters or doctoral degrees during the course of you typical officer training. Masters degree options are available at Intermediate Level Education course for Majors and Doctoral and Masters degree options are available at the Army War College for Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels.

Does earning an ROTC scholarship increase my chances of being admitted to a university?

No. The two processes are totally separate and earning the ROTC scholarship is contingent upon being admitted to the university. However, if you receive a scholarship, we will inform the admissions office so that they put it in their notes for the application.

Do most cadets get their choice of Active Duty, National Guard, or Army Reserves?

Yes, most cadets do get their first choice of duty status. Getting active duty is competitive, but with good grades and good physical fitness, it should not be difficult to earn an active duty slot.

Do most cadets get their first-choice branch after graduation?

Generally yes. If a cadet decides to commission into the National Guard or Army Reserve, they simply need to find a unit that has a slot open for the branch they want. For active duty commissionees, it is entirely competitive and up to the needs of the Army, but a large percentage of cadets will get one of their top three branch selections.

How does Cornell University support the ROTC program?

Cornell provides the unit with office space in the historic Barton Hall (formerly known as New Drill Hall), alongside both the Air Force and Navy ROTC units. Cornell provides a large swath of land to be used as our training area, making it unique from many other ROTC programs. Cornell provides a semesterly budget for ROTC to buy supplies for the cadets, as well as a designated Human Resources Assistant. Finally, one of the non-Greek social fraternities, Seal and Serpent, remains open to cadets and midshipmen from all three services of ROTC and has become a great place for all cadets and midshipmen to hang out and be among friends.

Does Cornell University pay room and board if I get a full-tuition ROTC scholarship?

No. Cornell does have need-based assistance programs that can even be applied to students that have their full-tuition paid for. While Cornell may not pay for room and board, one of the branch campuses for Army ROTC does. Elmira College will offer free room and board to any students that have earned the ROTC full-tuition scholarship, and Elmira has a fantastic Nurse program for the Army.

How do I apply for a ROTC scholarship?

If you are a high school student, you can apply online on the Army’s High School application. In order to have access to the website, you must create an account here.
If you are a college student, there is unfortunately no way to “apply” for a scholarship. In order to earn one, you need to begin taking the classes and participating in ROTC. Your participation, grades, physical fitness, and leadership abilities will be assessed and if/when scholarship money becomes available, the top qualified person will receive the scholarship. Learn more about scholarships for college students here.