Military training has existed at MIT ever since the Institute opened its doors in 1865. More than 12,000 officers have been commissioned from MIT, of whom more than 150 have reached the rank of general or admiral. Students who are United States citizens or who have applied for citizenship, are of good moral character, and are medically qualified for military service, may enroll in the programs for leadership training. Non-citizens who fulfill naturalization requirements for citizenship prior to graduation may enroll and participate in the Army or Naval ROTC two-year non-scholarship programs. Any full-time MIT student may participate in the Army or Naval ROTC programs for leadership training.
All three programs—Air Force, Army, and Naval ROTC—have the following characteristics in common:
- Application is voluntary.
- Admission is selective.
- All admit men and women.
- Enrollment as a non-scholarship first-year student or sophomore does not involve a military service obligation.
- Most students enter the program at the beginning of their first year. However, entry up to the middle of the sophomore year is available. (For Army ROTC, students may enter at any time as long as they have four full semesters remaining until undergraduate or graduate degree completion).
- To be eligible for a commission as an officer in the Armed Forces, students must complete the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, including summer training, and earn their bachelor's degree. (Army ROTC students who are pursuing a graduate degree must complete the ROTC program, including summer training, and earn their graduate degree).
- Upon request by the student, any required summer employment financial aid contribution can be waived if summer training makes such employment impossible.
- Non-scholarship students may compete for ROTC scholarships, many of which cover full tuition and fees, and range from one to four years for the Army, Air Force, and Navy.
- Enrollment as a scholarship recipient beyond the first year generally creates an obligation of four years of active duty service in the Navy or Air Force, or four years of active duty or eight years of reserve duty in the National Guard or Reserve for the Army.
Aerospace Studies (AS), Military Science (MS), and Naval Science (NS) subjects are not included in a student's grade point average, and the credits do not count toward a degree. These subjects can be applied toward the Physical Education and Wellness Requirement. In some cases, the ROTC programs may include departmentally approved subjects that provide academic credit.
Students who accept a contract to become an officer must maintain acceptable levels of academic performance and physical fitness. ROTC academic performance requirements may exceed Institute standards. Breach or willful evasion of the contract could lead to a period of enlisted service or to repayment of scholarship funds.
Specific information concerning benefits, ROTC training programs, career opportunities, and contractual obligations can be obtained from the program offices listed in this section.
Air Force ROTC
The Air Force ROTC program provides students the opportunity to become commissioned officers in the Air Force or Space Force after completing their undergraduate or, with exception, graduate degree. It is designed to develop the leadership and management skills essential for an Air Force or Space Force officer while preparing the student for assignment in a career field related to his or her academic specialty.
The program consists of classroom and leadership laboratory work during the four years of academic study and one summer training period of two weeks between the second and third years at an Air Force base. Students with three academic years remaining may enroll in the four-year program by combining the first two years.
The first two years of the four-year program are known as the General Military Course (GMC). Upon completion of the GMC and summer field training, students may compete for entry into the Professional Officer Course (POC). Selection into the POC is based on academic aptitude and performance, successful completion of the GMC and field training, recommendation of the professor of Aerospace Studies, and needs of the service.
Air Force ROTC scholarships are available on a competitive basis to qualified applicants. Scholarships pay up to full tuition, include $900 per year for textbooks, and a $300–500 nontaxable allowance each month. Two- to three-year scholarships are offered on a competitive basis in addition to the four-year scholarships offered to high school seniors.
The Aerospace Studies curriculum emphasizes the history, organization, and mission of the Air Force and Space Force, including its role in national defense strategy and American society. Academic classes and leadership laboratory activities provide training and practical experience in developing leadership and managerial skills.
Students enrolled in the first two years of the program attend one hour of academic class and two hours of Leadership Laboratory (LLAB). In the final two years of the program, the academic class time increases to three hours per week with the same LLAB requirement. LLAB has always been a highlight of the program, introducing cadets to a variety of motivational and interactive activities. Aside from military customs and courtesies, and standard drill practice, students participate in guest-speaker events, athletic competitions, self-defense class, marksmanship training, rock climbing, career day, and much more. Cadets must also complete two hours of physical fitness training each week.
To be eligible for the Air Force ROTC scholarship program and the POC, students must be citizens of the United States; physically qualified in accordance with existing Air Force regulations; and enrolled at MIT, Harvard University, Tufts University, or Wellesley College as full-time students.
Interested students can sign up for the Air Force ROTC program by visiting the Aerospace Studies Department, Room W59-114, calling 617-253-4475, or may email the program.
The Army ROTC program at MIT is designed to enhance a student's college education by integrating into the curriculum leadership and management theory with leadership practicum modules. Through coursework and in-class practical experience, students will develop decision-making skills, climate and culture understanding, and time-management skills—leadership qualities that are essential to success in any field, including corporate or research careers. Students completing the ROTC program earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. Non-scholarship students may participate in the first two years of Army ROTC with no commitment to military service.
The Military Science and Leadership Program is a four-year program composed of the Basic Course (first and sophomore years) and the Advanced Course (junior and senior years).
The four-year curriculum combines classroom and leadership laboratory work. Any MIT student is eligible to participate in the leadership development courses regardless of academic grade.
During the summer between their junior and senior years, students participate in a four-week Advanced Camp (AC) at Fort Knox, KY (near Louisville). Upon graduation from college and successful completion of Advanced Camp, students are commissioned as officers in the US Army, US Army Reserve, or Army National Guard.
The two-year program is designed for students who did not complete the first two years of the Army ROTC program. If students have at least four semesters remaining in their academic program at MIT or are interested in pursuing a graduate degree, they may be eligible to participate in the Advanced Course. Students who do not complete all requirements of the Basic Course (first and sophomore years) of instruction must participate in a four-week training camp, called Basic Camp (BC) at Fort Knox, KY, unless they have successfully completed any service enlisted Basic Training Course or are a graduate of a certified Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program. Once students complete Basic Camp, they are eligible to receive the same benefits as members in the four-year program.
Army ROTC scholarships are available on a competitive basis to qualified applicants. Two-, three-, and four-year scholarships are available each year, and are awarded on campus through the professor of military science or through a national selection board. High school seniors may apply for four-year scholarships in conjunction with their application to MIT. Scholarships pay full tuition and all mandatory fees, plus $1,200 for books and supplies each year, and a tax-free stipend ranging from $450 per month. The scholarship is flexible and can be used for the either (1) tuition and all mandatory fees, or (2) room and board, but not combined to cover portions of both.
Program of Instruction
The Army ROTC curriculum is designed to enhance a student's college education by providing distinctive leadership and management training in conjunction with realistic experience. The program emphasizes leadership theory and practice, organizational management, public speaking, tactics, purpose and history of the military, and physical fitness.
Students enrolled in the first two years of the program attend one hour of class and three hours of physical fitness each week. Collegiate athletes, while the sport is in season, must pass the standard physical fitness test and then are exempt from ROTC physical training. In the final two years of the program, class and physical fitness total four to five hours per week. Students also participate in a weekly Leadership Lab that highlights a particular military activity. Finally, students participate in a field training exercise each semester that includes small unit tactics and leadership, firing and M4 carbine rifle, land navigation, rappelling, obstacle courses, and possibly a helicopter orientation ride.
The ROTC program offers MIT students a wide spectrum of opportunities to participate in numerous challenging and rewarding extracurricular activities, such as high adventure training and field training exercises. Army Airborne, Air Assault, Mountain Warfare, and other military schooling and training programs are available on a voluntary basis to qualified cadets. Also, there are global summer internships available at national research laboratories, numerous Army bases, or the Pentagon. Finally, following graduation there are opportunities—primarily for students going on to law, medical, seminary, dental, or veterinary school—to defer the service obligation until completion of their graduate studies. Most of these graduate study opportunities are funded by the Army, once the applicant is accepted through a national board process.
Opportunities in the US Army Reserve/Army National Guard
Army ROTC offers opportunities to seek a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve. This unique option provides the flexibility for newly commissioned officers to participate in the Army part time while pursuing an advanced degree or a full-time career.
Enrollment in the first-year and sophomore ROTC courses is open to all MIT students. To be eligible for Army ROTC scholarships and/or enrollment in the junior- and senior year ROTC courses, students must be citizens of the United States or on the path to citizenship and will become a citizen before they graduate; physically and medically qualified in accordance with existing Army regulations; and enrolled at MIT, Harvard University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, Lesley University, Endicott College, Gordon College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, or Salem State University as full-time students.
Students normally apply for the four-year program during their junior and senior year in high school, but students may enroll in the course or apply for a campus-based scholarship each semester. Interested students can inquire about the Army ROTC program by visiting the Army ROTC office at W59-192 (201 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 02139), by calling 617-253-4471, by sending an email, or by visiting the website or the program's Facebook page.