The five United States Military Academies, also called Service Academies, are undergraduate colleges that provide education and training to develop future commissioned officers of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The five military academies are:
- U.S. Military Academy (USMA), or West Point at West Point, New York
- U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis, Maryland
- U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) at Colorado Springs, Colorado
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) at New London, Connecticut
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York
Each of the Service Academies provides a rigorous and comprehensive education to its students, offering undergraduate degrees in many areas of study while training them to become leaders and officers within their respective branches of the U.S. military.
In addition, cadets or midshipmen at these academies also receive extensive physical and leadership training and extracurricular activities and sports opportunities.
Most graduates are Congressional appointees.
If appointed, students will receive a full scholarship to attend the Service Academies, along with the opportunity to serve their country and develop into future leaders in the U.S. military.
How Military Academies Are Different Compared to Traditional Civilian Colleges
As a student at one of the five military service academies, you will experience a unique and challenging college experience that is quite different from what you might find at other colleges or universities.
Your education will focus on leadership and military training, preparing you for a career as an officer in one of the branches of the U.S. military. This means that your college experience will be steeped in military traditions, with a strong emphasis on discipline, honor, and teamwork.
You will also receive extensive physical training throughout your time at an academy, including rigorous exercise regimens and military drills. Additionally, you will have many opportunities for extracurricular activities and sports.
Civilian college, on the other hand, offers a more traditional college experience with a wider range of academic programs to choose from. While there are some military-affiliated colleges or ROTC programs, most do not offer the same focus on military training and leadership development as the service academies.
At civilian colleges, the emphasis will be on your academic studies rather than military training. You will also have more freedom and flexibility in your schedule and daily routine.
Ultimately, the military service academy experience is one that is designed to prepare you for a career as a military leader.
Whether you choose to pursue this path or decide to go down a different educational or career path after graduation, your time at an academy will be challenging and rewarding in its own unique way.
Life as a Cadet or Midshipman
Cadets and midshipmen at a Service Academy undergo a rigorous and demanding four-year program that prepares them for leadership roles in the military.
The academic program is tough, with classes often lasting 6-7 hours per day, and cadets/midshipmen also have to juggle their time between military training, sports, and extracurricular activities.
Life at a service academy is highly structured and disciplined, but also provides many opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Graduates of a Service Academy go on to serve as commissioned officers in the U.S. Armed Forces, where they lead and serve our country with distinction.
What happens after Military Academy graduation?
Graduates of the Service Academies receive a commission as an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces and are obligated to serve for a minimum of five years. Upon completing their service commitment, graduates are free to pursue careers in the military or civilian world.
Many service academy graduates go on to have successful careers in the military, serving our country with honor and distinction.
Others choose to leave the military after their service commitment is up and pursue civilian careers, often at high levels of leadership. In the civilian world, military academy graduates have gone on to become successful business leaders, politicians, and more.
Regardless of which path they choose, graduates of the U.S. military academies have received a top-notch education and training that has prepared them for success in whatever path they take.
Find the “Best Fit” Service Academy for You
The U.S. Service Academies are highly competitive, and only a small number of the most qualified candidates are selected each year.
If you’re interested in pursuing an education at a military academy, we encourage you to do your research (including the resources within this site) and learn more about what each institution and branch of service has to offer.
The former officers who created Gain Service Academy Admission are both Service Academy graduates, and remember the confusion and difficulty of the admissions process. The content within the site was designed to help you learn more about the process and what you can do to increase your chances of earning an appointment.
Whether you are interested in pursuing an education at one of the U.S. Service Academies or you are just beginning to research your options, we hope you find the information on this site helpful and informative.
Where to Start your Military Academy Research
If you are interested in attending a U.S. Service Academy and becoming a leader in our military, start by learning about each branch and what military service will look like, and then research the requirements of that Service Academy. Researching the various application requirements and deadlines for each academy will help make sure you meet and exceed requirements.
The United States Military Academy (West Point)
Located in West Point, NY, West Point, or USMA, is the oldest Military Academy in our country, having been established by Ulysses S. Grant in 1802 as an Army training facility. Today, West Point offers four years of intensive academic and leadership programs to cadets.
Cadets participate in a rigorous academic and leadership program, with classes typically consisting of 1000-1100 students each year.
The cadet corps at USMA is highly organized, with different class years divided into companies that are led by staff officers known as cadre members. These cadre members are responsible for the training and development of the cadets under their command.
After Graduating from West Point
After graduation, cadets will commission as second lieutenants in the Army and will serve on active duty for a minimum of five years.
What does an Army officer do?
An Army Second Lieutenant has many responsibilities from the start. Second Lieutenants must be able to motivate and train their subordinates, while also making quick and informed decisions in high-pressure situations. Army officers serve in a variety of leadership positions within the Army, leading soldiers in both combat and non-combat situations.
The responsibilities of a new Army officer as a second lieutenant vary depending on their chosen field of study and military occupational specialty (MOS). However, all Army officers are expected to lead by example, display military professionalism, and develop strong relationships with their subordinates.
Army officers must be committed to the service of the country and their fellow soldiers, and live by the military’s core values of integrity, honor, courage, and selfless service.
How to get into West Point.
The United States Naval Academy (Annapolis)
The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) is located in Annapolis, MD, and was established in 1845 with the mission of preparing midshipmen for service as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.
As a midshipman at Annapolis, you will enroll in challenging academic programs and participate in a wide range of athletic and extracurricular activities.
After Graduating from the Naval Academy
After graduation, you will be commissioned as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps, ready to lead and serve your country through military service for at least five years.
What does a Naval officer do?
As a new ensign in the Navy, you will be responsible for leading and managing a team of sailors. Ensigns are typically assigned to division officer positions, where they oversee the daily operations of their division. In this role, you will be responsible for the training, welfare, and discipline of your sailors. Generally, Ensigns are called upon to lead small teams of sailors in various tasks and operations.
Some of the potential career paths available to ensigns include leadership positions within military departments such as intelligence, aviation, and logistics. With experience and further training, Ensigns can eventually rise to the rank of Captain or even Admiral, leading military operations and managing large-scale Naval units.
What does a Marine Corps officer do?
As a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, you will be responsible for leading and managing a team of marines. Second Lieutenants are typically assigned to platoon commander positions, where they oversee the daily operations of their platoon or company. Platoons are generally made up of 27 Marines, while Companies are 3+ platoons.
There are many different job opportunities available for Second Lieutenants in the Marine Corps, and they can expect to have a very rewarding and fulfilling career. You may choose to specialize in a particular career field, such as infantry, intelligence, logistics, or aviation.
How to get into the Naval Academy.
The United States Air Force Academy
Founded in 1954, the newest Military Academy is located near Colorado Springs, CO, USAFA offers opportunities for cadets to pursue rigorous academic, athletic, and leadership training programs. The Air Force Academy has a total enrollment of approximately 4,000 cadets.
The four-year program at the U.S. Air Force Academy is designed to help cadets develop into leaders and future military officers in the Air Force and Space Force. During their time at USAFA, students are expected to complete a challenging academic curriculum that includes courses in literature, foreign languages, physical science, engineering, and other subjects. In addition to their academic studies, cadets participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including intercollegiate sports, intramural sports, and leadership development programs.
After Graduating from the Air Force Academy
After graduation, you will be commissioned as an officer in the Air Force or Space Force as a Second Lieutenant. Officers are required to serve for a minimum of five years, but many serve longer due to longer minimum commitments incurred from flight school to train to become a pilot or other aircrew member.
What does an Air Force officer do?
Upon graduation, Air Force Academy cadets commission as Second Lieutenants. As junior officers, they are responsible for leading Airmen. About half of the graduating class attends flight school to become a pilot or navigator. There are dozens of other Air Force careers available to officers with everything from Finance officers to Civil Engineers.
The Air Force is responsible for the safety of our nation and its interests around the world. Whether you are flying missions in support of military operations, conducting humanitarian relief efforts, or providing support to our allies and partners, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others. With your skills, training, and dedication, you can help ensure that our military is ready for any challenge.
What does a Space Force officer do?
Space Force officers are responsible for leading Guardians, the men and women of the Space Force, in their mission to protect our country’s interests in space. They provide support to military operations, conduct research and develop new technologies, and work with allies and partners to ensure the safety of our nation’s assets in space.
With your skills, training, and dedication, you will play a vital role in ensuring that the Space Force is prepared to meet the challenges of the future.
How to get into the Air Force Academy.
The United States Coast Guard Academy
Located in New London, CT, the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) was founded in 1876.
As a cadet at Coast Guard Academy, you will receive unique academic, leadership, and athletic training that will prepare you for a career as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard Academy offers a rigorous academic program focused on marine and environmental science, marine engineering, naval architecture, management, law and policy, oceanography, maritime security, marine safety and engineering, leadership, navigation training and seamanship.
After Graduating from the Coast Guard Academy
After graduation, you will serve your country as a Coast Guard officer, leading men and women in service to our nation for a minimum of five years. About 85% of graduates choose to serve longer than the five-year commitment.
What does a Coast Guard officer do?
Upon graduation, Coast Guard Academy cadets commission as Ensigns. As junior officers, they are responsible for the safety and security of those under their command. They typically serve as Deck Watch Officers, Navigators, or Operations Officers. Life as a junior officer is demanding, but also rewarding as you get to lead and serve those who protect our country.
The Coast Guard is responsible for the safety and security of our maritime borders. Whether you are protecting our coasts from environmental threats or working to keep our waterways safe, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others.
How to get into the Coast Guard Academy.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point)
Located in Kings Point, NY, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) is another Service Academy, founded in 1943 to prepare merchant marine officers for military service during World War II. The Merchant Marine Academy is smaller than other Academies, with a total of 1000 midshipmen across all four years.
Midshipmen train not only in the classroom but also on the water, as they spend a significant amount of time each year training on U.S. merchant marine vessels.
USMMA offers programs in marine transportation, marine engineering, maritime business and logistics, and more.
After Graduating from the Merchant Marine Academy
After graduation, you will either commission into Active Duty in one of the branches of service of your choosing or commission into the Navy Reserves and serve as a Mariner.
What does a Mariner do?
A Mariner is responsible for the operation of the vessel, including its navigation, cargo handling, and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Merchant Mariners also play an important role in the military’s ability to transport goods and supplies during wartime.
How to get into the Merchant Marine Academy.