Program Description

The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (Army ROTC) is an elective program of instruction and training that offers qualified students the opportunity to earn a commission as an officer (Second Lieutenant) and to serve in the United States Army, Army National Guard, or United States Army Reserve while working toward a baccalaureate degree as a full-time student. The program emphasizes student learning and participation in applied leadership, leadership theory, decision making, management skills, time management, and military knowledge and skills. The four-year program is conducted in two successive phases--the Basic Course and Advanced Course (20 total credits). At least 6 Army ROTC credits may be applied toward baccalaureate degree requirements in all majors, usually as elective credits. Course subjects and credits appear under ROTC course descriptions in this Bulletin.

Penn State Army ROTC is one of the largest and most successful ROTC programs in the United States. Army ROTC is offered at the following campuses: Abington, Altoona, Hazleton, and University Park. However, only the University Park campus offers the complete four-year program within the Penn State Army ROTC system. Army ROTC is also available at most other campuses through cross-enrollment agreements with other colleges and universities. For additional information on Army ROTC, see the enrollment officer at 212 Wagner Building on the University Park campus or call 814-863-0368 (toll free: 1-866-558-3513) or visit our the Penn State ROTC website.

What is the Army ROTC?

Army ROTC’s mission is to educate, train, develop and inspire participants to become officers and leaders of character for the United States Army and the Nation. A large majority of Penn State Army ROTC graduates obtain a full-tuition scholarship, prior to graduation.


You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to acquire professional flexibility and proven leadership skills that every industry desperately seeks.
  • You seek an organization willing to invest risk in your potential, while setting the conditions for your success.
  • You enjoy being a member or leader of a team with a common goal.
  • You’re looking for the best version of yourself.
  • You want more, and aren’t afraid of the challenge it takes to get it.


Program Requirements

The Basic Course is a four-course series, usually taken in the freshman and sophomore years. Freshman and sophomore courses are 2 credits each. The Basic Course trains the student in a variety of topics, including the national defense structure, leadership theory and principles, land navigation, small-unit operations and tactics, military history, and basic military skills and knowledge. The student incurs no military service obligation while enrolled in the Basic Course, and may dis-enroll at any time (except for sophomores on Army ROTC scholarships). Enrollment in the Basic Course is open to all Penn State full-time students. Also, uniforms, textbooks, and most equipment are furnished at no charge by the government to all enrolled students.

The Army ROTC program is much more than just taking classes. Each semester, the Army ROTC program consists of five activity segments: classroom lectures (one or two fifty-minute classes per week), a 100-minute Leadership Laboratory, Physical Training sessions, day trips and field training exercises, and extracurricular activities that include numerous clubs and social events. While the latter three activities are generally optional for enrolled Basic Course students, most students become progressively involved to enhance their training, develop esprit de corps, and take part for the social and fun aspects of the program.

The Advanced Course consists of a series of four courses, each for 3 credits. The Advanced Course instructs and evaluates in such areas as leadership and management, tactical operations, strategy, personnel administration, logistics, military justice, and ethics. Advanced Course students incur a service obligation when contracted, after which they receive a cash stipend of up to $400 per month (tax free) up to $4,000 per academic year. Normally, in the summer between the junior and senior years, students attend a five- to six-week National Advanced Leader's Course, for which salary and travel expenses are paid for the student. National Advanced Leader's Course is a critical hurdle that students must pass to receive a commission. In addition, students must complete at least one University course in each of five areas prior to commissioning: written communications, human behavior, computer literacy, mathematical reasoning, and American military history. These courses may also fulfill the student's General Education or academic major curriculum requirements.

Three-year Army ROTC scholarships are available to students on a competitive basis. These merit scholarships pay full tuition, a book allowance ($600 per year), and a tax-free subsistence stipend of up to $400 per month up to $4,000 per academic year. Four-year scholarships are available only through competition in the high school senior year. Army ROTC scholarships are awarded in five major categories: engineering, analytic/physical sciences, nursing, technical/management, and generalists (all other majors except theology). In particular, Army ROTC has a strong program for Nursing majors with numerous scholarship and enrollment options.

Entrance to Army ROTC

Students may enter Army ROTC during their baccalaureate studies up until the start of their junior year via several lateral entry methods. These methods include compressing the Basic Course into one year (for sophomores), attending a four-week summer training program called Army ROTC Leader's Training Course, or by receiving constructive credit for prior military service. Entry after this time is possible only when an enrolling student will be continuing his/her education after baccalaureate graduation. Contracted students who wish to continue their education at a graduate level may request an education delay before starting their service obligation.

Academic Advising

University Park and Altoona

David Rizzo
Scholarship and Enrollment Officer
208 Wagner Building
University Park, PA

Career Paths

Army ROTC Cadets compete to serve on Active Duty, or elect to serve part-time in the US Army Reserve (USAR) or Army National Guard (ARNG). Career fields are wide ranging, including: Administrative Support, Intelligence/Combat Support, Arts/Media, Legal/Law Enforcement, Combat, Mechanics, Computers/Technology, Medical/Emergency, Construction/Engineering and Transportation/Aviation. Nearly any civilian professional career has an equivalent in the US Army.  Graduates’ salaries are above the national average for college grads, with regular raises and promotions in the first few years of service. Life and Health insurance are provided or available for both Active Duty and the Reserve Components (USAR/ARNG).


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Army ROTC Cadets pursuing graduate degrees in certain professional fields (medical, legal) can seek an ‘Educational Delay’ to complete their subsequent education.  Upon completion, those individuals practice their respective career fields as US Army Officers.  Additional scholarship funding may be available through the US Army Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP).



University Park and Altoona

212 Wagner Building
University Park, PA 16802