The Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC)

Updated: March 7, 2021

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    If you have dreamed of flying an F-18 Hornet off the deck of an aircraft carrier, aspired to be a nurse in the U.S. Navy, or imagined yourself leading a U.S. Marine Corps platoon, then you have to check out this article.

    The Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC)The Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) program will allow you to get your college degree and pursue a highly desirable career as a commissioned officer in the Navy or Marines. You may also qualify for a NROTC scholarship that will pay for your college tuition—and more—for up to four years. Read on to find out opportunities to earn your degree and receive your commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.

    What Is ROTC?

    ROTC is an acronym for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and is one of the pathways to earning a commission in the Navy or Marine Corps.  You’ll find NROTC programs at more than 160 top colleges and universities all around the country. ROTC lets you “train as you learn” by taking naval science classes alongside your regular college courses. You must meet minimum age and academic requirements and pass medical and physical fitness standards to be commissioned in the Navy or Marine Corps.

    You may also qualify for Navy ROTC scholarships based on your academic performance. Once you commit to and complete an NROTC program, you’ll be commissioned as an active duty or reserve Ensign in the U.S. Navy or a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    How Do I Enroll In Navy ROTC?

    High School Students

    If you’re a junior or senior, you can choose from more than 160 colleges and universities that offer Navy ROTC programs. Your high school guidance counselor has information on ROTC programs and scholarships or you can download the complete application information checklist at https://www.nrotc.navy.mil. You may be eligible to compete for two, three, or four-year merit-based scholarships.

    College Students

    If you’re in college and are interested in joining an ROTC program, you can talk to the Candidate Midshipmen Guidance Office on campus about the NROTC program and scholarships that are available.


    What Are The Requirements To Join NROTC?

    To join the Navy or Marine Corps, you must obey strict moral, physical and academic standards.

    Here are some of the basic requirements to apply for the NROTC program. You must:

    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Be between 17 and 23 years of age and not older than 27 when you graduate
    • Have graduated high school by Aug. 1 the year you enter the NROTC program
    • Have no moral obligations or personal convictions against the bearing of arms
    • Be physically qualified by Navy standards
    • Not have 30 or more semester hours of college credit when you apply

    Nurse Program

    If nursing appeals to you, then NROTC is a fantastic way to pay for a school and set yourself up for an excellent career in the Navy. Once you’ve graduated from nursing school, you’ll begin your career as a nurse and Navy Officer.

    Marine Option

    If an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps is the path you choose, then the Marine Option NROTC program is the path for you. Marine Option NROTC units are located at selected colleges and universities throughout the United States. To find out which school have the Marine Option, check with the Candidate Midshipmen Guidance Office on campus. After you complete the ROTC program and get your college degree, you’ll be appointed a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. If you’re an active duty Marine on a Marine Option NROTC scholarship, you’ll be released to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and won’t get your pay and allowances.


    What Navy ROTC Training Do I Have To Complete?

    The NROTC program is a four-year program that runs alongside your normal college classes. In addition to your normal college classes, you’ll take a Naval Science course each semester, take part in drills and wear your Navy uniform (provided at no cost to you) at least once a week. You’ll also participate in physical training and other military activities that prepare you for a career as a respected Navy Officer.

    New Student Indoctrination (NSI)

    If you are an incoming Midshipmen Candidate on a four-year scholarship or in a College Program status, you will have to complete New Student Indoctrination (NSI) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois before your freshman year. NSI is three weeks long and is held during July and August. You’ll be notified to which NSI block you’ve been assigned and provided with information on how to prepare for NSI.

    NSI provides an introduction to the military instruction, discipline, and physical training you’ll be expected to follow in your four years in the NROTC program and as an officer in the military. Check out this overview of NSI to see what it is all about.

    Summer Cruise Training

    Another highlight for NROTC students is Summer Cruise Training, where you’ll spend part of your summers beside Navy Officers in the Fleet. Summer training is a major portion of your professional training during your four-year program. NROTC summer training includes Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) for midshipmen third class (sophomores), and Atlantic/Pacific Training for midshipmen second and first class (juniors and seniors). Your summer training will not only give you on-the-job experience as a Navy Officer, but it will also help you select which area of the Navy you want to pursue.

    Here are some of the summer cruise options:

    • CORTRAMID – Navy ROTC second-and third-class scholarship midshipmen are assigned to this training. Training consists of surface, submarine, aviation, and Marine Corps Orientation
    • Nuclear Power – Assigned to a nuclear submarine or surface vessel
    • Afloat Aviation – Assigned to train aboard an aircraft carrier, including flight time if possible
    • Ashore Aviation – Assigned to train with an aviation squadron, including flight time if possible
    • Foreign Exchange – Assigned to train with naval forces of other countries
    • Marine Corps Six-Week Course – First class Marine Option midshipmen are assigned to Marine units for summer training

    Navy ROTC National Scholarship

    Four-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, partial fee coverage, $750 book stipend, uniforms, and subsistence allowances
    • Deadline: The end of January for the school year you are applying for. Navy recruiters have more information on timeframes
    • Navy and Nurse Application Requirements: Select a Tier 1-3 college major
    • Marine Corps Application Requirements: Pass the Marine Corps physical fitness test and get a minimum of 74 on the Armed Forces Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT)
    • Service Commitment:
      • Minimum of five years for most candidates
      • 12 years for medical/dental school students
      • Four years for Marine Corps or Navy Nurse Corps scholarships

    Two- or Three-Year Scholarship

    • What it covers: Full tuition, partial fee coverage, $750 book stipend, uniforms, and subsistence allowances
    • Deadline: The end of January for the school year you are applying for. Navy recruiters have more information on timeframes
    • Application Requirements:
      • Meet the basic requirements of the four-year scholarship
      • Minimum cumulative college GPA of 2.5
      • Earned between 30 and 90 semester hours
    • Service Commitment:  Same as a four-year scholarship

    Marine Option Two & Three-Year Scholarship Application Process

    You must contact the Marine Office Instructor at the Navy ROTC Unit you are planning on attending for details on the application process.

    What Is The Stipend And Subsistence Allowance?

    A stipend is money paid to you to help pay for books and the subsistence allowance provides funds for personal expenses. You are eligible for the subsidies even if you are not on an NROTC scholarship.

    Book stipend: $750 per academic year

    Monthly subsistence allowance: Based on your class status:

    • Freshman – $250
    • Sophomore – $300
    • Junior – $350
    • Senior – $400

    Life After NROTC

    After you graduate, you’ll be trained for a ready-made position of leadership and responsibility as an ensign in the U.S. Navy or a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marines. You’ll pursue your career in one of the exciting, challenging, and rewarding fields offered in many areas like aviation, intelligence, infantry, and engineering.


    About The AuthorJim 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.


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    Written by MilitaryBenefits