How to Win an Air Force ROTC Scholarship

How to Win an Air Force ROTC Scholarship

LTC Robert Kirkland

7 minute read

Last Updated on October 18, 2023

There is a lot of information on ROTC scholarships on online forums and various websites, and our goal is to ensure you focus on the right areas for Air Force ROTC and Space Force ROTC. Understanding the board process will help you apply effort to the areas that matter most in your application.

Here is an overview of the major sections in this guide:

  • Part 1: Types of Air Force and Space Force ROTC Scholarships
    • Type 1
    • Highly Desirable Majors
  • Part 2: How the Air Force and Space Force rank ROTC Applicants and Select Candidates
    • Interview
    • Academics (GPA/Test Scores)
    • Fitness
  • Part 3: Medical Qualification and Starting the Process

Our goal is to provide you with insider tips on how to win an Air Force ROTC or Space Force ROTC scholarship. We’ll cover a few basics on the types of ROTC scholarships below, but we assume that you have a basic understanding of the Air Force/Space Force ROTC program. We recommend learning more about the Air Force ROTC program from their official website.

Over 1,100 colleges and universities across the U.S. have Air Force ROTC programs, developing leaders of tomorrow by preparing students to become officers in the Air Force.

If your goal is to commission into the U.S. Air Force or Space Force, earning a scholarship and a degree through the ROTC program is a fantastic opportunity.

You can read the official 2024-2025 Air Force ROTC scholarship applicant guide here.

Types of Air Force and Space Force ROTC Scholarships

Below are the benefits of the different types of Air Force ROTC and Space Force Scholarships. We’ve only given a brief overview, you can find more details at afrotc.com. If selected, you will also receive a monthly stipend and an annual allowance for books and supplies.

Type 1

Full tuition paid to public or private colleges or universities for four years.

Service Obligation

The baseline service obligation is four years on active duty. If you get selected to become a pilot that commitment will go up significantly as the current service commitment is 10 years from the date you graduate from pilot training, which typically lasts about a year.

Air Force ROTC Highly Desirable Majors

Students pursuing a technical major or foreign language major in the following categories will receive preference in the selection process, with 80% of the scholarships dedicated to students pursuing these degrees. We’ve seen this hold true in the last few AFROTC boards.

These majors are all listed on the Air Force ROTC website as well.

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
  • Meteorology/Atmospheric Sciences
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Operations Research
  • Physics

Foreign Language Majors

  • Arabic
  • Chinese, Mandarin
  • French
  • Japanese
  • Persian Farsi
  • Russian
  • Ukrainian

Space Force ROTC Highly Desirable Majors

  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Analysis And Functional Analysis
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Astronautical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Earth Sciences Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Embedded Software
  • Engineering
  • Engineering General
  • Engineering Physics
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Mat Science & Engineering, Structure Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metallurgical
  • Number Theory
  • Numerical Methods And Computing
  • Operations-Research
  • Physics
  • Probability
  • Software Design System
  • Software Engineering
  • Statistics

What Matters to the Air Force ROTC and Space Force ROTC Scholarship Selection Board?

Some areas of your application are more important than others. Air Force ROTC and Space Force ROTC rank scholarship applicants out of 1000 points.

The Air Force and Space Force ROTC Interview

The interview is the most important part of the process, as it makes up 45% of your overall score. Due to the high emphasis placed on the interview, we recommend preparing for your Air Force ROTC interview as much as possible.

The interview is typically conducted at the detachment level, usually performed by a Captain (O-3). You are responsible for arranging an interview with the nearest Air Force ROTC unit in order to be considered.

The interview is scored in seven areas:

  • Character/Core Values – Do you embrace the Air Force values?
  • Self-Confidence – How do you hold yourself? Aim for high energy optimism.
  • Human Relations – Can you influence others to get things done?
  • Planning and Organizing – How driven are you to accomplish tasks and develop plans to do so?
  • Communicative Skills – How are your verbal delivery skills and listening skills?
  • Leadership – How have you worked with others to get things done?
  • Motivation Toward Air Force – Will you fit into the Air Force?

About a third of the interview score is also based on the interviewer’s recommendation of the applicant in addition to these seven areas. Striving to receive full points in this areas looks like:

“Would love to have this applicant at a detachment; competitive for top tier. An exceptional candidate; outstanding in most or all dimensions. Definitely Offer Scholarship.”

We also recommend preparing questions to ask in advance. This will give you the opportunity to end the interview on a high note.

Additional Interview Preparation Guidance

Get unique tips for how to ace your video interview, especially important with COVID.


To even be eligible, you must achieve a certain GPA and test scores. By the time you finish your junior year you must have obtained a 3.0 GPA. Your SAT score must be at least a 1240, or your ACT composite at least 26. These are the minimums, however, it is highly unlikely you will receive a scholarship just meeting these requirements.


Your GPA is worth 20% of your overall score. The average high school GPA of Air Force ROTC scholarship winners is about 3.8.

SAT/ACT Scores

Your SAT/ACT scores are worth 30% of your overall score. We recommend re-testing to meet the averages for recent selection statistics. Air Force ROTC does not super score the test. Strive for over a 1400 the SAT and 32 on the ACT to meet the recent increased competitiveness of the scholarship.

Read this post to learn more about SAT and ACT score requirements for the different ROTC scholarships.

Physical Fitness Assessment

The Air Force ROTC Scholarship Fitness Assessment is a 1 minute timed event for both pushups and sit-ups and a 1.5 mile run.

The test is scored out of a possible 80 points. The 1.5 mile run is worth 75% of the test, with pushups and sit-ups both worth 12.5% each. Emphasis is definitely placed on the run! Below are the minimums and maximums for each event:

  • Run
    • 13:37-9:12 for males
    • 16:23-10:23 for females
  • Push ups
    • 33-67 for males
    • 18-47 for females
  • Sit-ups
    • 42-58 for males
    • 38-54 for females

If you are looking for one thing to improve, focus on the run as it makes up such a large percentage of the score. While a factor in the board, keep in mind the fitness assessment is only worth 5% of the total scholarship selection process.

Medical Qualification

Medical qualification doesn’t come until after you receive a scholarship offer. You must be medically qualified by December of your freshman year in order to keep your four-year scholarship. You can find out more information about the DoDMERB process at their website.

We recommend scheduling exams as soon as possible in order to keep the process moving along, as it may take some time to get additional testing completed if needed.

Here are some common medical disqualifiers:

  • Asthma (after 13th birthday)
  • Mental health
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Orthodontics
  • Orthopedics

These are taken from a DOD Instruction 6130.03. You can receive waivers for certain conditions, but this takes additional time so we recommend starting the process as soon as you receive the instructions from DoDMERB. The biggest takeaway with waivers is that your condition must not prevent you from being able to deploy to a combat location.

As a general rule, make it your goal to become medically qualified before you show up to campus in the fall.

Air Force ROTC Scholarship Deadline

Keep track of all the board dates and deadlines so you stay on track with the application process.

First AFROTC Scholarship Board Cut-Off: October 20, 2023
When you’ll find out: November 10, 2023

Second AFROTC Scholarship Board Cut-off: 23 February, 2024
When you’ll find out: March 15, 2024

The Air Force ROTC scholarship application deadline for high school seniors graduating in 2024 is:

  • October 20, 2023 – Deadline to compete for first AFROTC Scholarship board
  • December 31, 2023 – Deadline to initiate an Air Force ROTC scholarship application
  • January 11, 2024 – Deadline to complete all requirements for the application
  • May 31, 2024 – Deadline to accept for decline AFROTC scholarship offers

You can get a full list of board dates and deadlines here.

Air Force ROTC Scholarship Resources


Learn more about Air Force ROTC scholarships

The Air Force ROTC Interview

Scholarship Application Deadlines

Choosing the right ROTC program

Getting Medically Qualified

Essay Examples

The Fitness Test


Provides in-depth techniques on how to secure an Air Force ROTC scholarship

Buy the eBook

Online Course

How to win a Air Force ROTC scholarship book cover

Step-by-step guidance through the entire Air Force ROTC scholarship application process – increase your chances of earning a scholarship!

Enroll Now

Read More on Air Force ROTC Admissions

Article Contents

Never Miss an ROTC Scholarship Deadline

Subscribe to get instant access to all the important Class of 2028 deadlines

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.

Related Posts

Go to Top