Last Updated on October 5, 2022

Differences in Selection Between Navy ROTC and the Marine Corps Option

The scholarship selection requirements for a Navy ROTC and Navy ROTC Marine Corps option vary greatly. The Navy Option puts a premium on high SAT Math Scores (700 or over) and selection of a Tier I or Tier II major.

On the other hand, the Marine Corps weighs about 30% of their selection on the Marine Corps Fitness Test–an arduous physical challenge that includes pull-ups to exhaustion, two minutes of curl-ups and a three-mile run. While considering the SAT, the Marine Corps does not weigh it nearly as heavily. Additionally, the Marine Corps allows the candidate to choose any major and does not emphasize technical majors.

Why It’s Difficult to Qualify for Both Navy and Marine Corps Option ROTC Scholarships

The differing emphasis of the Navy and Marine Corps leave many candidates at a disadvantage when competing for these scholarships. For example, a Marine Corps option applicant who is in average physical condition probably has no chance of the Marine Corps scholarship. However, he or she, if they have a good SAT math score and list a technical major, may have a good chance at a Navy scholarship.

Conversely, the Navy ROTC applicant who is in excellent physical shape but does not have a good math SAT score will likely not be selected for a Navy ROTC scholarship.

Tip: Apply for the Naval ROTC program in which you best meet requirements and switch after a year

For applicants who fall in these categories, they should consider applying for the Naval ROTC scholarship which best suits their strengths, obtain the scholarship, and then ask to move from Navy to Marine Corps, or visa-versa, after a year in the program. This is known as a “side load.”

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Moving from the Navy to Marine Corps option ROTC program is easier

The process is easier for those who want to move from Navy to Marine Corps option as the academic major requirements are not as much of a hurdle. Interestingly, once a Navy ROTC midshipman gets sideloaded to the Marine Corps, he or she can change majors to a non-technical major as the Marine Corps does not put emphasis on technical majors.

For those Marine Corps option candidates who wish to transition to the Navy, the best route is to do a Tier I or Tier II major in the first year as a Marine Corps option student and then ask for the side load at the end of the first year.

Overall, many Naval ROTC scholarship applicants in high school do not realize they can move between the Navy and Marine Corps once in the Naval ROTC program. By understanding the criteria that both the Navy and Marine Corps use for the Naval ROTC scholarship and playing to their strengths (either academic or athletic), they can ultimately serve in the branch of their choice.

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