United States Service academies
The United States service academies, also known as the United States military academies, are federal academies for the undergraduate education and training of commissioned officers for the United States Armed Forces.
There are five U.S. service academies:
- The United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York, founded in 1802
- The United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland, founded in 1845
- The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in New London, Connecticut, founded in 1876
- The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, founded in 1943
- The United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, founded in 1954.
Service academies can be used to refer to all of the academies collectively. However in popular usage, this term is more often used for the academies of the four branches of the military: those of the Army, Navy, and Air Force (under the Department of Defense); and that of the Coast Guard (under the Department of Homeland Security). These are the only four academies whose students are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States from the day they enter the Academy, with the rank of officer cadet or midshipman, and subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In the case of the Merchant Marine Academy, midshipmen may elect to receive an active duty or reserves commission in any branch of the uniformed services, including NOAA and the U.S. Public Health Service, most are commissioned into the Navy Reserve, Strategic Sealift Officer Program.
In the context of college football, the term "service academies" most often refers specifically to the grouping of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the three academies whose football teams compete in the top-level NCAA Division I FBS. The three schools compete annually for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Coast Guard and Merchant Marine compete at the NCAA Division III level and play each other annually for the Secretaries Cup (formerly Secretary's Cup when both academies were under the Department of Transportation).
The United States Coast Guard, and therefore the Coast Guard Academy, is a United States armed service under the Department of Homeland Security but in time of war it can be placed under the Department of the Navy.
Applicants to all service academies, except the United States Coast Guard Academy, are required to obtain a nomination to the schools. Nominations may be made by Congressional Representatives, Senators, the Vice President and the President. Applicants to the Coast Guard Academy compete in a direct nationwide competitive process that has no by-state quotas.
The admissions process to the US service academies is an extensive and very competitive process. The US Military Academy at West Point, the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Spring all require an applicant to submit an on-line file and proceed through pre-candidate qualification before an application is provided. All these schools have an extremely competitive application process and are ranked annually by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes.com as one of the most selective colleges and universities in America. The average acceptance rate is between 8-15% for each of the schools.
Students at the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Coast Guard Academy are cadets. Students at the United States Naval Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy are midshipmen. All cadets and midshipmen receive taxable pay at a rate of 35% of O1 under 2 years of service (which can be used to pay for textbooks and uniforms), free room and board, and pay no tuition or fees, with the exception of USMMA who receive taxable pay at $1006.80 a month only during their required 300+ days at sea during their 4 year studies.
Upon graduation, the former students become second lieutenants or ensigns and must serve a minimum term of duty, usually five years plus another three years in the Reserves. If the student's chosen occupation requires particularly extensive training (such as naval aviator), the tour of duty may be longer.
With respect to the Merchant Marine Academy, midshipmen repay their service obligations through a variety of methods depending on their selected career path. On average, about one third of the graduating class each year will actively sail on their Coast Guard License as either Unlimited Third Mates or Third Assistant Engineers in the United States Merchant Marine, about one third will go to work in the civilian maritime industry ashore, and the remaining one third will enter active duty military service. A midshipman who enters active duty military service will typically assume a similar service obligation to those cadets and midshipmen entering the military services from their respective service academies (i.e. a Merchant Marine midshipman entering the U.S. Marine Corps would assume a similar obligation to a midshipman from the Naval Academy entering the Marine Corps). Merchant Marine midshipmen not entering active duty typically assume an eight year obligation to the Naval Reserve Strategic Sealift Officer Program, unless they have elected to enter another reserve branch of the armed forces. In addition, midshipmen who do not see service on active duty are restricted from working outside the maritime industry or merchant marine for a period of five years following graduation and must seek annual MARAD approval for their employment.
United States Senior Military Colleges (SMCs)
- Norwich University - Norwich Corps of Cadets
- Texas A&M University - Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets
- The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
- University of North Georgia
- Virginia Military Institute
- Virginia Tech - Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and other DOD graduate institutions
The United States federal government also runs the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a post-graduate institution for the training of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals for the military and uniformed services. Additionally each of the services also operate a number of other graduate schools, granting master's and in some cases doctoral degrees. These schools include:
- National Defense University (Washington, D.C.)
- U.S. Army War College (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)
- U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas)
- U.S. Naval War College (Newport, Rhode Island)
- Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, California)
- Air University (Montgomery, Alabama)
- Marine Corps University (Quantico, Virginia)
Every commissioned officer in the United States armed forces is expected to have a post-graduate degree and Joint Professional Military Education prior to promotion to lieutenant colonel or commander. One more institution that does not fit neatly is the National Defense Intelligence College which is run by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for the benefit of the United States Intelligence Community. It grants both Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
The DoD also runs three schools for the training of lawyers within the military services (i.e., judge advocates). The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School serves the Army; the Naval Justice School collectively serves the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; and the Air Force Judge Advocate General School serves the Air Force. Of these, only the Army school actually awards a degree. It operates a special graduate course of study for lawyers in all of the services, known as the Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course. This program is accredited by the American Bar Association to grant the Master of Laws to its graduates.
These schools provide for strengthening of academic potential of candidates to each of the above-described United States service academies. Admission is restricted to those students who have applied to an academy, failed initially to qualify, either academically or physically, but who have demonstrated an ability to qualify during the initial admission selection process:
United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School
- Prepares students for the Air Force Academy.
- Located on the campus of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
United States Military Academy Preparatory School
- Prepares students for the United States Military Academy (West Point).
- Presently located at West Point since 2011.
Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS)
- The only prep school for students for the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis)
- Located at Newport, Rhode Island.
- United States Coast Guard Academy (CGA Scholars Program)
- United States Merchant Marine Academy
- List of defunct United States military academies
- List of United States military schools and academies
- Publicly chartered distance education for military members
- Reserve Officer Training Programs
- Staff Colleges
State/Private Military junior colleges
- Five institutions are considered military junior colleges. These five schools participate in the Army's two-year Early Commissioning Program, an Army ROTC program in which qualified students can earn a commission as a Second Lieutenant after only two years of college
State-supported maritime colleges and universities:
Students at these academies may graduate with appropriate licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard and/or a direct commission in the U.S. Military
- California Maritime Academy (Vallejo, California)
- Great Lakes Maritime Academy, a division of Northwestern Michigan College (Traverse City, Michigan)
- Maine Maritime Academy (Castine, Maine)
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts)
- State University of New York Maritime College (Fort Schuyler, New York)
- Texas Maritime Academy, a division of Texas A&M University at Galveston (Galveston, Texas)
- Students at these academies may graduate with appropriate licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard and/or a direct commission in the U.S. Military
- United States Military Academy
- United States Naval Academy
- United States Coast Guard Academy
- United States Merchant Marine Academy
- United States Air Force Academy