This is a common question we hear when candidates contact us. Our answer is always– “it depends”–because the criteria for Army, Navy, Navy-Marine Corps Option, and Air Force ROTCs are different in a number of ways. This post will talk about each ROTC program and the most important elements to consider in order to determine your chances of success.


Is probably the “easiest” scholarship to win.

For academic year 2023-24 about 3000 applicants were awarded a scholarship. About 33% of those were 4-year scholarships and 67% were 3-year scholarships.

Army ROTC ranks applicants on a 1400 point scale using the following weights:

Area of ConsiderationPoints
College Board Scores250
Scholar, Athletics and Leadership200
Selection Board Score350
Civilian Background Experience Form (CBEF)250
Physical Fitness Test150
Total Points1400

There is not much variation between candidates in Scholar, Athletics and Leadership, the CBEF, or the Physical Fitness test.

Most important criteria for Army ROTC:

Score above 1200 SAT combined or above a 24 ACT composite. Army ROTC super scores the test so there is no penalty to retake the test.

Do well on the interview because it has points allotted to it and is also the most important part of the Selection Board Score.

Bottom Line: Score above 1200 on the SAT or 24 ACT and have a good interview and you should at a minimum win a 3-year Army ROTC Scholarship.

Air Force ROTC

A more difficult scholarship to win than the Army ROTC scholarship.

For the academic year 2023-2024, about 1000 applicants were awarded an Air Force scholarship. 60 applicants were awarded a Space Force scholarship.

Air Force ROTC ranks applicants on a 1000 point scale using the following weights:

Area of ConsiderationPoints
Unweighted GPA200
Physical Fitness Assessment50
Total Points1000

Most important criteria for Air Force ROTC:

The interview is by far the most important area to do well on for Air Force ROTC. You won’t win a scholarship if you have a bad interview.

Your goal for the SAT is to score above 1400 combined or above a 32 ACT composite. Air Force ROTC is best sitting and NOT superscored.

If you don’t designate a major in the following areas, it is unlikely you will receive a scholarship. 80% of all offers were in technical majors.

  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Astronautical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Meteorological/Atmospheric Science
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Operations Research
  • Physics

Bottom line:

Prepare extensively for the interview and work to score over 1400/32 composite best sitting. Designate a “highly desired” major.


This is a more difficult scholarship to obtain than the Army ROTC scholarship but not as hard as the Air Force Scholarship.

For the academic year 2023-2024 it is projected that about 1900 applicants will be awarded a scholarship.

The following is how Navy ROTC breaks out its scoring by percentages to select scholarship winners.

High School GPA and Class Rigor: 30%

SAT or ACT: 15%

Teacher Evaluations: 15%

Officer Interview: 10%

Extracurriculars and Athletics: 17%

Essays: 7%

Physical Fitness Test: 5%

Military Parents: 1%

Most important criteria for Navy ROTC:

Have a high GPA with excellent grades in math and science classes.

Designate either a Tier I or Tier II Academic Major. Approximately 85% of Navy Option Navy ROTC scholarships offers will be awarded to students interested in completing a Tier 1 or Tier 2 academic major

Tier I:

  • Aerospace
  • Aeronautical
  • Astronautical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Naval Architecture & Marine/Naval Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Systems Engineering

Tier II:

  • Agricultural/Biological Engineering & Bioengineering
  • Architectural Engineering/Architectural Engineering Technologies
  • Astrophysics Biochemistry
  • Biophysics & Molecular Biology
  • Biomathematics & Bioinformatics Biomedical/Medical Engineering
  • Biotechnology Cell/Cellular Biology & Anatomical Sciences
  • Ceramic Sciences & Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Science/Info. Tech.
  • Construction Engineering
  • Electronics & Comm. Engineering
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Engineering Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Science
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Microbiological Sciences and Immunology
  • Mining & Mineral Engineering Nuclear & Industrial Radiologic Technology
  • Oceanography
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Pharmacology & Toxicology
  • Physics
  • Physiology, Pathology & Related Sciences
  • Polymer/Plastics Engineering
  • Quantitative Economics
  • Statistics
  • Textile Sciences & Engineering

Navy ROTC- Marine Corps Option

A difficult scholarship obtain because there are so few of them and it is so personalized. However, that can be an advantage to those candidates who have the motivation (and time) to work towards this scholarship.

For the academic year 2022-2023, more than 2,500 high school senior applications for the scholarship were reviewed. About 336 applicants were awarded a scholarship.

Like Navy ROTC, the process is opaque and there is not a point total that they use. The Marine Corps awards scholarships by Recruiting District so it is important to have a good reputation and be known within your District. The following is a map of the districts:

You must be a solid performer with very good SAT/ACT Scores (goal is above 1300 SAT/27 ACT–the average SAT is 1240), with a good high school GPA. Navy ROTC-Marine Corps option is best sitting.

Most important criteria for Navy ROTC- Marine Corps Option:

Participate actively in physical fitness and other sessions with the local Marine Corps recruiting office in your area within your district. Be known, be seen.

Score above 265 on the Marine Corps Fitness Test. Retake it in order to score higher. For Male scholarship awardees, the average PFT score was 270. For Females, it was 262.

As you can see, there are different standards and criteria in order to win a scholarship. We have boiled this down to the bare essentials so you have an idea if you have a chance of winning a scholarship. We wish you the best of luck in your quest to become a military officer!

ROTC Scholarship Consulting has an unparalleled record in helping candidates win ROTC Scholarships. Please take a look at our services for more information. We also have books on ROTC Scholarships as well as West Point admissions on Amazon!

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LTC Robert Kirkland

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kirkland (USA, Ret.) is an expert on military admissions and leadership. He served for over 25 years in the United States Army, including stints as an instructor at West Point and as a commander of two Army ROTC programs. He has helped students win ROTC scholarships for 8 years.

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