Jul 14, 2024  

Aerospace Studies

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The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is the oldest major continuous source of officers for the United States Air Force. Its mission is to develop quality leaders for the Air Force. The Air Force Senior ROTC Program is designed to recruit, educate and commission officer candidates through college campus programs based on Air Force requirements. Units are located at 144 college and university campuses throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Students from schools near Air Force ROTC host institutions can attend classes through 1025 separate cross-town enrollment programs or consortium agreements.

Air Force ROTC is one of the three main long-range programs designed to provide the Air Force with the bulk of its professional officer corps. The others are the Air Force Academy and the Officer Training School. The Air Force is depending on high quality Air Force ROTC men and women for much of its future leadership.


Air Force ROTC was established in 1946 at 78 colleges and universities including Tuskegee University. The ROTC program continues the previously established program of training military leaders. During World War II, the Army Air Corps contracted with Tuskegee University to conduct primary Pilot Training for Black Officers.

This was the only training site in the nation where Blacks could train to be military pilots. The 992 black military aviators trained at Tuskegee’s training complex were organized into four squadrons designated the 332nd Fighter Group. The Group became know as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen distinguished themselves by flying 1,578 missions and 15,533 combat sorties; destroying 112 German aircraft in the air and another 150 on the ground. They also destroyed 950 railcars, trucks and other motor vehicles and even sunk an enemy destroyer by P-47 machine gun fire. Most notably, they flew over 200 bomber escort missions and had a nearly perfect record of never losing a bomber aircraft to enemy fighters. The outstanding record of black airmen in World War II was accomplished by men whose names will forever live in hallowed memory. Each one accepted the challenge, proudly displayed his skill and determination while suppressing internal rage from humiliation and indignation caused by frequent experiences of racism and bigotry, at home and overseas. These airmen fought two wars - one against a military force overseas and the other against racism at home and abroad.

These brave African-American airmen earned 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Legions of Merit, Silver Stars, Purple Hearts, the Croix de Guerre, and The Red Star of WWII and achieved greater accomplishments. Most notable on 29 March 2007, approximately 300 Tuskegee Airmen (or their widows) received the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. The medal is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Although they did not receive the recognition they deserved in terms of promotion, many went on to live very distinguished civilian lives as doctors, lawyers, politicians, and educators. The late Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. retired in 1970 as a Lieutenant General. President William J. Clinton promoted him to four-star General on January 14, 1999.

This AFROTC detachment has continued to be a major source of minority leadership as evidenced by the achievements of some of its graduates. Tuskegee University has produced more African American General Officers than any other institution of higher learning. Most notably, the late General Daniel “Chappie” James, United States Air Force was our nations’ first African American four-star General.

ROTC Program

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is an educational program designed to provide college students an opportunity to become commissioned officers in the United States Air Force while completing their college degree programs. There are several routes to become an Air Force Officer. Air Force ROTC offers three routes to an Air Force commission, which is either through the Air Force ROTC Four-Year, Two-Year, or One-Year Programs.

Four-Year Program

The General Military Course (GMC is the first half of the Four-Year Program) is taken during the freshman and sophomore years. This program allows students to “try out” Air Force ROTC for one to four semesters without incurring an obligation and let students learn about the Air Force and the historical development of air power.

Entrance in to the last half of the Four-Year Program, called the Professional Officer Course (POC), is highly competitive. These junior and senior level courses cover leadership, management theory skills and national defense policy. Students selected for this program must: pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Assessment; complete an Air Force medical examination; meet minimum GPA requirements; meet U.S. citizenship requirements; and not exceed more than 30 years of age at the time of commissioning. After meeting those requirements, applicants must attend a four-week summer Field Training Encampment course. After successfully completing the summer Field Training course and passing an Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT), applicants may then be enrolled in the Professional Officer Course (POC) during their last twoyears of college. Students will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the United States Air Force after successfully attaining their degrees.

Two-Year Program

This program, also called the Professional Officer Course (POC), is open to qualified juniors, especially those majoring in selected scientific and technical areas, such as electrical and computer science, nursing, any critical foreign languages. Students desiring entry into the two- year program must have two academic years remaining in full-time student status. Because entrance into the POC program is competitive, it is important to apply by the second semester of the sophomore year of college. Students applying to enter the Two-Year Program must pass the same requirements as in the Four-Year Program. All other benefits and obligations are the same as under the four-year program.

Air Force ROTC Scholarships

Air Force ROTC offers four-year scholarships (College Scholarship Program) on a competitive basis to high school seniors or graduates who want to major in selected scientific and technical areas such as engineering, mathematics, and computer science, as well as some nontechnical areas. The deadline for submitting the complete scholarship package is the first week in December of the year prior to the college freshman year.

Scholarships are also available for students already enrolled in college (In-College Scholarship Program) for 3.5, 3.0, and 2.5 years to college students in the scientific, technical, and non-technical areas. Application inquiries and submissions can be made to the Professor of Aerospace Studies at the Air Force ROTC detachment, located at the General Daniel “Chappie” James Center, during the freshman and sophomore levels of college. Air Force ROTC scholarships pay full college tuition and most laboratory, textbook, and incidental fees. In addition, all scholarship recipients receive a non-taxable monthly stipend.

Qualifications for Air Force ROTC Scholarships

Students applying for In-College AFROTC scholarships must have a minimum grade point average of 2.5 the semester prior to scholarship activation, successfully complete an Air Force medical examination, and successfully pass a physical fitness test. In addition, the student must be enrolled and in good academic standing in the applicable Aerospace Studies and Leadership Laboratory courses.

Registration for Air Force ROTC Courses

Air Force ROTC courses are listed in the Tuskegee University Undergraduate Programs bulletin, and the Tuskegee University Schedule of Courses. Students who wish to enroll in General Military Courses may do so just as they would for any other campus course.

As an Air Force ROTC cadet, students spend one class period each in a Leadership Laboratory putting into practice the leadership skills and management theory acquired during class. Leadership Laboratory is a cadet-centered program designed to improve the cadets’ leadership skills as Air force officers.

Qualifications for Aviation Programs

Air Force ROTC cadets, both men and women, may compete to become pilots and navigators. All pilots and navigator candidates must successfully pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT), and be medically qualified, in order to be officially selected as a pilot/navigator candidate by a board of Air Force officers.

Air Force pilot training is conducted at several bases in the United States. These training courses are available to commissioned men and women who qualify for duty as rated pilots. Officers must meet physical qualifications and apply in sufficient time to enter Undergraduate Flying Training (UFT) prior to reaching age 30. Therefore, AFROTC pilot candidates must be scheduled for commissioning before reaching 29 years of age. This will allow AFPC the time necessary to schedule a selected pilot or navigator cadet into an appropriate training class.

Air Force navigator training is available to qualified commissioned officers. Officers must meet physical qualifications and apply in sufficient time to enter UFT prior to reaching age 30. Therefore, AFROTC navigator candidates must be scheduled for commissioning before reaching 29 years of age. This will allow AFPC the time necessary to schedule a selected pilot or navigator cadet into an appropriate training class.

Medical Programs

The Air Force offers direct appointments to graduates of medical, dental, and nursing schools, as well as to members of other professional medical services.

Air Force ROTC Pre-Health Professions Program: This program encourages students to earn commissioning through Air Force ROTC, and subsequent special qualifications for scholarship under the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program in a selected health professional school, or in the Uniform Services University of Health Sciences. College students are eligible to compete in the Pre-Health Professions Program, which includes scholarships. Program members are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Air Force upon completion of Air Force ROTC and baccalaureate degree requirements. Participants are guaranteed an Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship to attend medical school, provided they gain acceptance to a medical school prior to their commissioning/graduation date.

Graduate Educational Opportunities

Once cadets complete Air Force ROTC and are commissioned, they may request a delay from entry into active duty to complete graduate work. This advanced education is pursued at the individual’s own expense. Air Force ROTC graduates may also apply for graduate education at the Air Force’s expense under the Air University’s Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) program. Those selected for AFIT receive all pay and allowances of a second lieutenant and have their tuition and expenses paid for by the Air Force. Once on active duty, the Air Force Officer has additional opportunities for graduate and advance professional education.

Air Force Societies and Activities:

Aerospace Field Training Encampment Course: Four week Field Training Encampment courses are conducted during the summer at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. These courses include leadership training and evaluation, officership training, survival training, physical training, human relations instruction, small arms familiarization, first aid and other supplemental training. Cadets are organized into units modeled after active duty Air Force organizations (flight, squadrons, groups, and wings). Each cadet receives several opportunities to serve in leadership positions within these units. Discipline is maintained with emphasis on high standards for military appearance and personal grooming, orderliness and neatness of living areas, military customs and courtesies, and drill and ceremonies.

Arnold Air Society: This Honorary Professional Organization was named in honor of General H. (Hap) Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Force in World War II. The Arnold Air Society is an honorary professional organization of Air Force cadets. Its units provide a variety of services to their institutions as they promote the interests and ideas of the U.S. Air Force. The Society also enables its members to prepare themselves as future Air Force leaders. Basis for membership is the cadet’s desire to promote traditions and aspiration of the Air Force and to foster citizenship. Tuskegee University’s Arnold Air Society Squadron takes part in university, civic, charitable, and service activities in keeping with its dedication to public service.

Silver Wings: The coed auxiliary of the Arnold Air Society. They participate in an active program of professional service projects of their own, as well as serving as hostesses at university, civic and AFROTC functions. Thus, they become better informed about the contributions of the Air Force to our national security, while assisting their host Arnold Air Squadrons. Competition for membership in the organization is keen. Selection criteria include the candidate’s interest, sociability, demeanor and academic achievements at the university.

Air Force ROTC Drill Team: An organization of cadets who learn that art of standard and “creative” military drill techniques. The Air Force ROTC Drill Team offers cadets an excellent opportunity to refine their leadership skills.

Pay and other Benefits:

Air Force ROTC cadets are entitled to many of the benefits that are offered to active duty Air Force personnel. Social and other extracurricular activities, along with the leadership and academic training are intrinsic to Air Force ROTC. There are also more tangible benefits:

  • All non-scholarship status (contract) ROTC cadets receive a non-taxable monthly stipend.
  • Scholarship cadets receive a non-taxable monthly stipend. They also receive paid tuition, laboratory fees, and incidental fees and books. Tuskegee University also offers free room and board for all ROTC scholarship recipients.
  • All uniforms and textbooks are provided by the Air Force while on campus and at the summer Field Training Encampment courses.
  • Cadets who have completed the program, but are not yet on active duty may purchase uniforms and accessories from the detachment at considerable savings.
  • Notable cadet achievements are recognized by a variety of awards.

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