High School Juniors and Seniors
Starting 1 June (of your junior year) the application process opens for the High School Scholarship Program. Start the process by going to www.afrotc.com. If you have missed the deadline to apply you can still enter the program as an incoming freshmen.
Several Prospect Sessions are available to provide you an opportunity to learn about Air Force ROTC opportunities here at Penn State to include High School Scholarship Program details. If you are planning a Prospective Student Visit at University Park with Penn State we offer corresponding sessions. These session will be held at the Detachment in 109 Wagner Building and are open to anyone interested in learning more about ROTC, register here for a PSU AFROTC Prospect Session.
If you are scheduled for a Spend a Summer Day Visit there will be an ROTC briefing offered at each of those visits. Plan to join in that session during your visit to learn more about ROTC and meet with our recruiting team.
If you are unable to attend any of these sessions please contact the detachment (814-865-5453) to set up a telephone session with our recruitment officer.
Incoming Freshmen to University Park Campus
To enter the Air Force ROTC program you need to register for AIR 151 when you set your schedule at Penn State NSO. AIR 151 is a 2.0 credit introductory class and has a 2 hour Leadership Lab attached. You are required to attend class and lab as well as two one hour physical training sessions per week. You are also encouraged to sign up for the New Cadet Orientation Program to hit the ground running. If you have questions, please stop by the ROTC NSO table when you come to UP for your New Student Orientation visit.
Incoming Freshman to Altoona Campus
If you are an accepted student to the Altoona Campus, please visit the New Cadets page for details on registering for AFROTC classes and to sign up for the New Cadet Orientation Program. If you have questions, contact the detachment directly.
Sophomore Students (attending University Park and Altoona campus only)
Our program requires that you have 3 years remaining to earn your degree, so this is the last opportunity to join our program without special approvals. Sophomore students are competing for an enrollment allocation with the current sophomore class, to be competitive a strong GPA (3.0 or higher) is recommended.
To enter the Air Force ROTC program as a sophomore you need to register for AIR 151 and AIR 251, our freshmen and sophomore classes, simultaneously. You will need to contact our Administrative Assistant or call 814-865-5453 to schedule those classes. Both courses are 2.0 credits each and have the same Leadership Lab and Physical Training requirements. You are also encouraged to attend the New Cadet Orientation Program.
Air Force ROTC has two scholarship programs available to cadets.
The High School Scholarship Program is available to high school students late in their Junior year and until Dec of their Senior year. The application process entails an online application, interview and board review. The application process starts for Juniors on 1 June and applicants have until 1 Dec to complete the application. Visit the following link to learn more.
The In College Scholarship Program is for eligible active cadets in our program. Please contact us for more information.
So what is being an Air Force ROTC cadet like?
Being a member of Air Force ROTC will immediately connect you with great people who care about you, making this big university seem a little smaller. Here, you’ll be with other motivated students and staff who share your goals and who want to help you achieve them. Although ROTC only requires cadets to participate five hours per week, most students become much more involved in the many extracurricular activities and teams in ROTC.
There are many activities you can choose from to include aircraft orientation flights, color guards at home football games, Air Force Base visits, Honor Guard, Arnold Air Society a national community service organization, Civil Air Patrol aviation, Wild Blue Yonders, intramural sports teams, etc. During the summer, some of our cadets volunteer and are selected to ride in Air Force fighter jets, sky dive at the USAF Free-fall School, observe active duty operations, learn foreign languages abroad, participate in internships with three-letter agencies in Washington DC, and much, much more. We recognize that you are a college student first, and we encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute while here at Penn State. Our students are also involved in campus and local area groups such as Blue Band, Orchestra, Navigators, Volunteer Firemen, various honor societies, and community service organizations.
Whether you complete the three or four year program, Penn State Air Force ROTC offers the same commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force as cadets who attend the military academies (West Point, Air Force/Naval Academy). We also offer the same career opportunities. A notable difference, however, is that Penn State Air Force ROTC cadets get the college experience. For example, our cadets attend football games in the #1 student section in all of college football, join university clubs, and enjoy many other opportunities that are unique to Penn State and Air Force ROTC.
Another notable difference is that ROTC is an elected college program incorporated into your normal college experience. Cadets are only required to participate a minimum of 5 or 6 hours per week. This includes one or two hours of class per week, two hours of military/leadership training, and two hours of physical fitness training. You will have the opportunity to compete for many exciting travel and training opportunities around the United States and overseas. Cadets will attend a three-week intensive Field Training at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL during the summer between your sophomore and junior year.
Upon graduation and successful completion of the program, you will be commissioned a second lieutenant and have a four-year active duty service commitment (longer for a few specialty career fields such as pilot, navigator, and air battle manager). Although some graduates choose to serve only four years, many go on to serve 20to 30+ year careers. These currently include generals, and dozens of colonels who are graduates from Penn State ROTC, now serving in key leadership positions around the world.
Academics are our first priority. Our students come from all over the United States and major in most offered disciplines including Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Science, Japanese, Russian, German, Nursing, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Information Sciences and Technology, Meteorology, Music Education, and many more. We offer tutoring committees in math, physics and chemistry. We have a high-speed computer lab, offer a quiet place to study, and hold weekly study sessions. Our cadets typically earn GPAs well above 3.0.
Physical fitness is also an important element of becoming an officer. Our fitness test consists of running 1.5 miles, push ups and sit ups. Our cadets lead twice weekly highly intense Physical Training (PT) sessions. We have many success stories of cadets who have come to us totally out of shape, and within 6 months can pass our PT test. Our best success story is of a cadet who lost 70 pounds and went on to score a perfect 100 points on our PT test! Of course, results vary according to your personal effort and how much you do on your own as well, but almost everyone gets in better shape and sets personal fitness records. Our standards are high, but don’t worry if you are not in shape, we will help you get there.
Our goal is to produce the best Air Force officers in the world. They will lead tomorrow’s young airmen in executing and supporting our country’s operations in air, space and cyberspace. To do so, our students learn to lead through hands-on experiences including small group exercises, deployment scenarios, tactical movements, airpower exercises, and much more.Air Force ROTC combines traditional undergraduate education with military instruction that will prepare you to tackle the leadership challenges awaiting the Air Force in the 21st century. Our emphasis is to produce proactive leaders who know how to achieve their mission while simultaneously taking care of their people.
Air Force ROTC FAQS
See below for answers to some frequently asked questions. For answers to specific Detachment 720 policies or procedures you can contact us directly at 814-865-5453 or use this contact form or email us.
Q) Can I join if I don’t have an AFROTC scholarship?
A) Absolutely! The majority of AFROTC cadets are NOT on scholarship. All cadets that successfully complete the program become USAF officers regardless of scholarship status.
Q) If I join AFROTC, do I have a military service commitment?
A) NO. Not by joining. Not unless you are contracted for scholarship (after freshman year) or you complete the entire program.
Q)I have had some medical issues, can I still serve as an officer?
A) Perhaps. All cadets go through a DOD Medical Evaluation Review Board (DODMERB) soon after they join. Our doctors will evaluate your situation and determine if you can serve as an USAF Officer. Your DODMERB is funded by ROTC at no cost to you.
Q) If I’m in AFROTC, can I get called to duty while in college?
A) Not through AFROTC. Our program is to recruit and train college students to be officers with degrees – it does the USAF no good to interrupt this process.
Q) Do I have to be a US Citizen to be an USAF Officer?
A) YES. Students in pursuit of a US Citizenship may contact our office to see if they are eligible to complete the AFROTC program.
Q) If I earn a scholarship, will PSU cover my housing?
A) NO. PSU does not cover any housing regardless of scholarship type or state residency. Every university handles this differently.
Q) If I join AFROTC, will my tuition be covered by the US Government?
A) Only if you qualify for a High School Scholarship or earn an In College Scholarship (ICS) will you receive all or partial tuition assistance.
Q) If I join AFROTC, can I be a pilot?
A) YES – If you qualify. Det 720 has commissioned officers in every USAF career field. PSU has historically had a high Rated Categorization (flying jobs) selection rate. Flying jobs are offered by needs of the USAF.
Q) Do I need to take the ASVAB?
A) NO. The ASVAB has no AFROTC relevance. We will give you the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT).
Q) I missed the High School Scholarship deadline. Can you help me?
A) No, but you could have 2 opportunities for an In College Scholarship – if you qualify & AF budget pending.
Q) How do I qualify for an ICS?
A) ICS funds and rules vary per year by needs of the USAF. Historically, you will need to be enrolled in AFROTC (meeting all entry criteria) and perform well enough in college to be selected in a national board. The USAF currently desires Technical, Foreign Language, and Nursing majors – they typically get boarded first.
Q) I’m a master’s student. Can I join for 2 years?
A) NO AFROTC regulation requires a minimum of 3 years (6 semesters in college to complete AFROTC). Masters students are currently ineligible.
Q) I’m a Junior/Senior at Penn State. Can I join?
A) You must have no less than 6 semesters remaining in your undergraduate program to join. No exceptions. If you plan on graduating in 2 years or less, we suggest you contact the local Officer Training School (OTS) recruiting office and begin your application to that commissioning program.
Q) I’m a Penn State Law student. Can I join?
A) The USAF has a special JAG program for law students. Contact our office to learn more.
Q) Am I required to work for the USAF over the summers?
A) Though we do have Professional Development Training catered to qualified cadets, the only summer requirement for cadets is to attend Field Training for 21 days one time.
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