Senior Military Military College and Academy Education

With a focus on military leadership and operational skills, with an emphasis in the humanities, social sciences and economics. The UCI School of Leadership is designed to produce officers who are capable of leading today’s ever-changing world.

The “what are the 6 senior military colleges” is a question that has been asked many times. The answer to this question is: there are six senior military colleges in the United States. They include:

Are you a young guy attempting to figure out where you want to go to college?

Do you like the military’s discipline, leadership, physical, and mental training but aren’t sure whether a military career is right for you?

Do you want a college experience that includes a tough rite of passage into manhood rather than endless evenings of partying and playing video games?

Have you considered joining the ROTC in college but are concerned that the curriculum is not sufficiently immersive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (or if you have a son who would), it’s time to investigate the Senior Military College options (SMC). Most males are certainly familiar with the terms “Citadel” and “Virginia Military Institute is a military school in Virginia.,” but are likely unaware of the kind of programs these institutions offer. In other words, in addition to challenging academics, Senior Military Colleges provide the discipline and leadership training found in the military without requiring a commitment to serve. 

Why Should You Attend an SMC?

College used to be thought of as a rite of passage for young men, an experience that helped them move from boyhood to adulthood. College is more likely to be a hindrance than a help in that process these days. Many of the young men I went to high school with were gentlemanly in high school but devolved into men once they entered college. Partying, hooking up, and squandering time has become a rite of passage for college students. While there’s nothing wrong with having a good time while you’re young, guys typically leave college without the self-discipline, time management, self-reliance, or personal responsibility skills they’ll need to succeed in the future. As a result, many spend their post-graduate years disoriented, caught between childhood and maturity and unsure on how to go forward in life. A powerful solution to this problem may be found in an SMC education. It is intended to not only educate a man’s head, but also to equip him with the skills, values, and experiences necessary to become a successful, high-motivated leader.

What are the Benefits of an SMC Education?

Senior Military Colleges in the United States have a long history and were not created purely for the purpose of preparing students for military service. The founders of these institutions recognized that a military lifestyle combined with academic brilliance might help all men, regardless of their professional choice. Unlike service academies and ROTC programs at civilian institutions, which necessitate military commissioning, students at SMCs, known as the Corps of Cadets, have the option of being commissioned or opting for a civilian career after they graduate. While it varies per school, around 1/3 to 12% of graduates join the military, while the remainder pursue civilian professions or continue their education. In addition, unlike conventional ROTC students at civilian universities, if you choose to pursue a military commission, you will be assured an active duty post if you so wish.


The SMC Adventure

A student enrolls in both the ROTC and the Corps of Cadets at each SMC. The Corps of Cadets offers an experience unlike any other ROTC program. It’s an intense experience akin to that found at the nation’s service academies, requiring much more than donning a uniform once a week and attending military lessons.

Not everyone will enjoy their time at SMC. Cadets must report to school for a mini-boot camp a week before the semester begins. Uniforms are worn and heads are shaved. Cadets must learn how to march in formation, use a weapon, maintain their uniforms, and keep their dormitories clean. Things don’t get much better for the freshman after their first “Hell Week.” They are led by a “cadere” of upperclassmen who follow the newcomers about, shouting in their faces, checking to see whether they are obeying the rules, quizzing them on the cadet code and school traditions, and forcing them to perform push-ups whenever the whim strikes. Most universities have numerous emotionally and physically demanding stages that new cadets must complete throughout their freshman year in order to acquire increased privileges and respect. Scrubs are completely accepted into the Corps’ ranks at the conclusion of their first year provided they pass specific physical exams and rites of passage.

For four years, the life of a cadet is regimented, organized, and hard. A predetermined wake-up and lights-out hour, as well as required study hall and daily physical fitness training and drills, are all enforced. On campus, cadets are obliged to wear their uniform at all times. They share quarters with other cadets that are regularly inspected for cleanliness. Cadets are often obliged to eat at set times and march to and from the mess hall. Every day and on certain weekends, there is free time available, while some weekends are reserved for military training.

SMC students are formed and molded into men of dignity, discipline, and integrity in exchange for giving up the freedom of a typical education. Cadets can focus on their academics and developing into the sort of men they want to be without the distractions seen at other institutions. Senior Military Colleges are just as concerned with developing a man’s character as they are with improving his intellect. Being a member of the Corps of Cadets offers unrivaled leadership training. There are few other opportunities for a young man to get practical experience in ethically leading his followers. Cadets are a tight-knit group of brothers who learn the importance of collaboration, communication, initiative, and tradition rapidly. Individual cadets develop self-assurance and self-reliance. Integrity, honor, personal responsibility, and persistence become embodied in them. They leave college as much better guys than when they arrived. You also get to wear a really snazzy uniform.

In the United States, there are six Senior Military Colleges. While they have a lot in common, each program has its own personality and traditions. A short summary of each of these colleges follows.


Note: While most SMCs’ tuition looks to be pricey, bear in mind that numerous scholarships and grants are available to cadets, particularly those who aspire to pursue a military commission.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public research university in Virginia.

Corps of cadets in marching.

Blacksburg, Virginia is the location of this event.

1872 was the year it was founded.

Total number of undergraduate students/cadet corps: 25,000/700

Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC Branches

Tuition: $6,332 (in-state), $18,789 (out-of-state) (out-of-state)

Core of cadets ready for marching.

The Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech is a huge public institution with 25,000 civilian students, similar only to the program at Texas A&M. Students not only get the chance to make friends with thousands of civilians, but they also get to rub shoulders with members of all branches of the military; cadets from the Army, Navy, and Air Force share dormitories. Cadets live a military lifestyle while simultaneously having the freedom to participate in any of the organizations, fraternities, or sports teams that civilian students enjoy. Cadets also get free access to all home football games. Students are not required to join the ROTC and may instead choose for the “Civilian Track,” in which they will solely engage in the Corps.

North Georgia College and State University is a public university in North Georgia (The Military College of Georgia)

Cannon placed in front of georgia college.

Dahlonega, Georgia is a town in the state of Georgia.

1873 was the year it was founded.

Total number of undergraduate students/cadet corps: 5,000/650

Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC Branches

Tuition is $12,600 for freshmen and $10,600 for sophomore, junior, and senior years. (cadets from out of state pay in-state tuition)

The Military Institution of Georgia is a tiny liberal arts college located in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains that is attended by both civilian students and those who join the Corps of Cadets. Cadets are trained in military life and reside in coed barracks, but they are also free to participate in conventional campus activities such as clubs, intramural sports, and fraternities. Cadets attend regular classrooms alongside regular students, with class numbers maintained minimal. NGCSU is the most economical of the Senior Military Colleges, with various incentives available to help students pay for their education. Cadets complete the program with a leadership minor in addition to their chosen major.

Norwich University is a university in Norwich, England.

Cadets marching in front of norwich university.

Northfield, Vermont is the location of this event.

Founded in 1819

Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force are the four branches of the military.

Total number of undergraduate students/corps of cadets: 2,000/1,200

$24,722 in tuition

Cadets marching in ground.

Norwich University is the country’s oldest (and currently sole) private military college, as well as the origin of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Cadets must enroll in ROTC for the four years of their collegiate education. Norwich cadets reside in separate dorms but attend courses and participate in extracurricular activities with regular students on campus. Freshmen enter on campus as “rooks” and must complete many rounds of instruction before being designated as “cadets.” Cadets have the option of joining one of the Corps’ special units. At sporting events and other occasions, the Independent Artillery Battery discharges cannons from the Civil War period. The Cavalry unit that trains cadets how to ride horses. The Mountain and Cold Weather Company uses the rough Vermont nature to teach cadets skills including skiing, snowshoeing, wilderness survival, basic and advanced first aid, climbing and mountaineering, as well as the fundamentals of cold weather combat and survival.




Texas A&M

Corps of cadets in football field.

College Station, Texas is the location of this event.

1876 was the year it was founded.

Total number of undergraduate students/corps of cadets: 45,380/2,000

Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps ROTC Branches

In-state tuition is $7,844; out-of-state tuition is $22,274. (includes fees)

Outside of the service academies, Texas A&M boasts of having more uniformed students and producing more military officers than any other institution in the United States. All cadets must complete two years of ROTC courses during their first two years; those who want to get a commission stay in ROTC, while those who don’t stay in the Corps continue their leadership training as Drill and Ceremonies cadets. Aggie cadets have their own living and eating facilities, but they share classrooms and student clubs with conventional students.

A&M was a military institution for the first 100 years of its existence, and many of the school’s most cherished traditions, like as the University’s Bonfire, scream practice, Aggie Muster, and Silver Taps, were founded by cadets and are currently carried on by them. The others are Drill and Ceremonies Cadets, with just about a third opting to be commissioned. Special units, such as the Calvary Unit, and groups that prepare cadets to become Navy Seals and Army Rangers, are also part of the Corps. The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, the world’s biggest precise military marching band, is the most well-known special unit, noted for its stunning halftime displays. And, whether or not they are members of the band, all Corps cadets get to march onto Kyle Field before home football games.

Cadets senior boots.

The Senior honor of wearing the “Senior Boots,” special leather riding boots that may cost a cadet about $1000, is one of the most valued traditions. Seniors may cry, “I need a fish!” to call a freshmen to assist them in removing the boots.

The Citadel is a fortification in the city of

Padgett thomas portrait.

Charleston, South Carolina

1842 was the year it was founded.

Total number of undergraduate students/corps of cadets: 2,000/1,900

Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force are the ROTC branches.

In-state tuition is $16,420; out-of-state tuition is $28,920.00. (including fees and room and board)

Unlike at other SMCs, where the Corps of Cadets is a tiny fraction of the student population, the Corps of Cadets is the whole student body at the Citadel. Evening sessions are offered to traditional students, however cadets do not share classes with them, and only cadets reside on campus. Cadets are required to complete four semesters of ROTC instruction.

The Citadel, dubbed the “West Point of the South,” takes pride in its illustrious past, severe discipline, and superior reputation. The Citadel is still a male-dominated college, having just welcomed women in 1996 because to a court injunction. Only 6% of cadets are female. The institution also puts a high value on honor; barrack doors were only fitted with locks in 2007.

While “hazing” is technically against the regulations of the Citadel (and other military academies), upperclassmen cadets are known for the brutal ceremonies of initiation they subject the knobs (freshmen with shaved heads).

Cadets wearing gold ring in finger.

During the senior year, the cadet gets a massive 10 carat gold Citadel ring as a prize for overcoming this trial by fire. Earning the opportunity to wear this “Band of Gold” is a tremendous honor.



Virginia Military Institute

Virginia military institute barracks.

Lexington, Virginia is the location of this event.

1839 was the year it was founded.

Number of Undergraduate Students/Corps of Cadets: n/a/1300

Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are the four ROTC branches.

Tuition: $5,262 (in-state), $22,160 (out-of-state) (out-of-state)

Corp of cadets standing in virginia military institute.

Virginia Military Institute has a long and illustrious history, and it is the country’s oldest state-supported military institution. Because many of the cadets reside in “The Old Barracks,” a National Historic Landmark constructed in 1848, they get a personal look at history. VMI prides itself on history and continuity, and it was the last military college to accept women, which it did in 1997 after a court order. Female students make up just around 6% of cadets now, similar to the Citadel.

Even by military college standards, VMI has a reputation for hard academics and a Spartan-like environment. The freshman initiation process, known as the Ratline, is very difficult. “Rats” have to consume their meals while standing still, do endless push-ups, and go for morning and night runs. Rats are welcomed into the VMI community as fourth-year students after a rigorous test of their fitness and teamwork ability at a ceremony known as Breakout, which takes place during the second trimester.

VMI cadets value the virtue of honor and adhere to the military schools’ final “single sanction” honor code. Any student who is found guilty of even one instance of lying, stealing, or cheating is dismissed from school in a “drumming out” ceremony.



The “senior military colleges vs rotc” is a debate that has been ongoing for many years. The senior military colleges are often seen as the best option by people looking to attend college and get an education.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between senior military colleges and military academies?

A: There is no difference between these two terms. Military academies are a subset of senior military colleges, and both have the same primary goal – to train soldiers in the art of war and prepare them for combat. They differ in that academies usually specialize on certain areas or aspects related primarily to physical training while senior military colleges focus mainly on academics such as leadership, strategy, and tactics

How do you get into senior military college?

A: I am not an expert on this subject and cannot answer your question.

What is the purpose of a senior military college?

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