Military Academies

Updated: January 9, 2021
In this Article

    If you are interested in becoming an officer in the U.S. military, then attending one of the five military service academies is one of your best options. The service academies offer the biggest scholarships in the nation. If you qualify and are accepted, your will get a four-year scholarship that includes free tuition, room and board, and amazing benefits and training. In the end, you will be commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces. In exchange for this awesome education and training experience, you will have a service commitment

    You probably think that this is a great deal—it is! But, the competition to get into any of the service academies is fierce. The application process is lengthy, and only the most deserving and determined will be offered an appointment. But don’t let that stop you!

    At a minimum, you will need:

    • Superior high school GPA
    • High standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)
    • Athletics and extracurricular activities
    • Leadership experience and community involvement
    • A congressional letter of recommendation (not required by the Coast Guard Academy)

    To help you decide which service academy is the best fit for you, we have put together a comprehensive guide to each military school. Here is a look at the highlights of each of the five federal service academies.

    U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point

    Service: U.S. Army
    Location: West Point, New York
    Applications: 12,294
    Admitted: 1,210
    Acceptance Rate: 10%
    Total Enrollment: 4,457

    About West Point:

    The United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point is the oldest of the service academies and is steeped in tradition and history. At the USMA  you will be taught leadership and tactics while pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in one of 35 majors. You can study everything from Chemical Engineering and Economics to International Affairs and Foreign Languages. After graduation, you will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army.

    U.S. Naval Academy (USNA)

    Service: U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
    Location: Annapolis, Maryland
    Applications: 16,086
    Admitted: 1,211
    Acceptance Rate: 8%
    Total Enrollment: 4,524

    About the Naval Academy:

    Located in historic Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Naval Academy is home to a Brigade of 4,000 Midshipmen. At the USNA, you can choose from more than 20 majors ranging from Aerospace Engineering to Oceanography to Robotic Engineering. As you can tell, the academic program is focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This allows the USNA to meet the current and future technical requirements of the Navy. You will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and be commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy or Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

    U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA)

    Service: U.S. Air Force
    Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
    Applications: 10,376
    Admitted: 1,170
    Acceptance Rate: 11%
    Total Enrollment: 4,304

    About the Air Force Academy:

    If your dream is to become a pilot, engineer, computer programmer, or scientist, then U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) may be the right choice for you. Located in picturesque Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Air Force Academy is home to the 4,000 cadets who make up the Cadet Wing. You can choose from among 27 majors, ranging from Aeronautical Engineering to Computer Science to Political Science. Upon graduating, you’ll receive a Bachelor of Science degree and be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

    U.S. Coast Guard Academy

    Service: U.S. Coast Guard
    Location: New London, Connecticut
    Applications: 1,853
    Admitted: 265
    Acceptance Rate: 19.1%
    Total Enrollment: 1,069

    About the Coast Guard Academy:

    Located in historic New London, Connecticut, the Coast Guard Academy is home to 265 students who make up the Cadet Regiment. You can choose from more than nine majors ranging from Electrical Engineering to Cyber Systems to Marine and Environmental Science. Once you receive your Bachelor of Science degree, you will be commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Coast Guard.

    U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA)

    Service: U.S. Merchant Marines and reserve officer in any military branch
    Location: King’s Point, New York
    Applications: 1,758
    Admitted: 281
    Acceptance Rate: 15%
    Total Enrollment: 952

    About the Merchant Marine Academy:

    The United States Merchant Marine Academy  (USMMA) is a federal service academy (but not part of the military). You’ll go through a rigorous academic program that requires more credit hours for a baccalaureate degree than any other Federal Service Academy. You’ll also get a chance to spend a year at sea. You can choose from five programs that lead to a bachelor of science degree. When you graduate from the USMMA, you’ll have earned a U.S. Coast Guard license and a reserve officer’s commission in the U.S. Armed Forces.


    What are you waiting for! You can start the official applications in your junior year of high school. If you want to get a jump-start on the process, you can go online and get the pre-candidate questionnaires and candidate kits at any time. You can also chat with an academy liaison officer in your area to get a feel for what academy life is all about. If you prepare early, your dream of attending one of the five service academies can become a reality.

    About The Author

    Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.

    Written by Team