Purdue University Home Page

Jump to featured news.
Jump to other news and events.
Purdue University

Purdue University Air Force ROTC

A Department within the Division of Student Affairs


Recruiting Flight Commander


If my child joins Air Force ROTC, does that mean they are joining the military?

No. If your child got a 4-year scholarship from high school, then the first year of college is paid for and they can quit at the end of their freshman year with no obligation. If they got a 3-year scholarship from high school or college then they are not committed to the Air Force until they accept their scholarship (usually in the fall of their sophomore year). If they didn’t get any scholarship, then they are not committed to joining the Air Force until they start their junior year of college.

With Air Force ROTC, we provide them with lots of opportunities to see what the Air Force is about before signing up. And while they are waiting, they are getting college out of the way and having a lot of fun.

What is the difference between Junior ROTC in high school and ROTC in college?

The mission of the high school Junior ROTC program is to build better citizens for America. The mission of the college ROTC program is to produce leaders for the Air Force. If your child is interested in starting an Air Force Junior ROTC program at their high school, visit http://www.au.af.mil/au/holmcenter/AFJROTC/ApplyforUnit.asp.

Does my child have to be in Junior ROTC in high school to be eligible for ROTC in college?

No. In fact, the majority of students enrolled in college ROTC have never been involved in the Junior ROTC program.

Does my child have to join Air Force ROTC as a freshman?

No. Any student (graduate or undergraduate) with more than two years remaining should be eligible for our program. So, if they’re a second-semester freshman, a sophomore, or have at least two years remaining in your graduate studies, they can join.

Can my child enroll if they didn’t take Air Force ROTC as a freshman?

Yes. They can enroll in Aerospace Studies 101 and Aerospace Studies 201 (their university may have a different name) and be what we call dual enrolled. They can also elect not to take freshman ROTC, however, they must attend an extended field training unit during the summer of their second year if they take this option.

Can my child attend Air Force ROTC without a scholarship?

Yes, they can. Many of our students do not start with a scholarship, but earn one eventually. Still, at any given time, about 80% of our students receive financial assistance.

My child didn’t receive an Air Force ROTC scholarship before they started college; are there scholarship opportunities while they are in college?

Yes. Depending on how many years they have left in college, they may qualify for a two- or three-year scholarship. For more details on scholarship opportunities, please visit our Air Force ROTC Scholarships >> section.

Is preference shown toward scholarship cadets?

Definitely not! The fact that a cadet may have an Air Force ROTC scholarship has no bearing on an Air Force career. Nor does it make any difference while in the Air Force ROTC program.

Are there any restrictions as to what students select as their academic major?

None at all. In fact, we encourage cadets to take a curriculum they are interested in and in which they have the capability to do well. Our main academic concern is that they maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) above 2.5 and attain their degree in the time period planned. The GPA requirements are different if they are applying for a scholarship and once they are on scholarship. Check our Scholarships section >> for those specific requirements.

Can my child pursue graduate education after they are commissioned?

The Air Force is education-oriented and financially supports graduate studies. They can apply for the Air Force Institute of Technology to earn an advanced degree on full scholarship. Additionally, most bases have graduate college programs, and they may apply for the tuition assistance program that pays 100 percent of the tuition cost.

How often can someone take the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT)?

The test is given several times during the fall and spring and can be taken a maximum of two times with at least 6 months between tests.

If my child takes Air Force ROTC classes, are they committed to military or government service once they join?

There is no service commitment for students who take our classes with no intention of becoming an Air Force officer. For these types of students, it’s only another class. If they are interested in becoming an officer, there is NO service commitment during the first two years of the Air Force ROTC program (the General Military Course) unless they have an Air Force ROTC scholarship. If they decide to stay and join the Professional Officer Course (POC; the last two years of the program), they’ll sign an allocation contract with the Air Force and then incur a service obligation. For Air Force ROTC scholarship students, they’re obligated once they’ve activated the scholarship and have entered their sophomore year.

What are the other Air Force commissioning opportunities?

Other commissioning opportunities exist through the United States Air Force Academy. Click here >> for the Air Force Academy’s site.

Commissioning opportunities for college graduates also exist through Officer Training School, an intense 12-week program at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Commissioned Officer Training is a 4-week program designed for professionals who have received a direct commissioned appointment as a lawyer, chaplain or into a corps of the medical service.

And Reserve Commissioned Officer Training is an intensive 13-day program designed for hard-to-recruit Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard medical service officers.

Click here >> for more information on these programs.

If a cadet encounters academic or personal problems, where can they turn for help?

First, they should try their Air Force ROTC detachment instructor. While the instructor may not have a psychology degree, he or she does have experience in counseling and can direct them to the proper resources. Air Force ROTC instructors try to develop a strong professional rapport with each cadet. Each university also offers various resource offices for their students and many services are free as part of the student fees.

Is the Four-Year Program more advantageous for students?

Yes, for the following reasons:

  • It gives them more time to participate in Air Force ROTC without obligation, to gain experience and to decide whether they want to apply for the advanced program, the POC.
  • They will have the opportunity to apply for scholarships if eligible.
  • They can retake the Air Force Officer Qualification (AFOQT) test to improve their scores.

Will my child receive any ROTC credit for Civil Air Patrol (CAP)?

The unit commander can give credit for part of the GMC to cadets who receive the Spaatz, Earhart, and Mitchell Awards during any academic term of the GMC.


What is the commitment to the Air Force upon graduation?

Most officers have a four-year commitment. For pilots, it’s ten years after pilot training, and six years for combat systems officers after training. Air Battle Managers have a six-year commitment. See the Service Commitment section >>.

When will cadets know what job they will be doing for the Air Force as an officer?

They will compete in a selection process much like the one of an enrollment allocation as an officer candidate. The factors to be used will include their Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT) scores, their camp performance rating, their Grade Point Average (GPA), their academic major, their Physical Fitness Test (PFT) score, and the Detachment Commander’s rating. They will know their specific Air Force job category approximately six months before they’re commissioned.

Do all cadets have to become a pilot or combat systems officer?

No. The vast majority of Air Force jobs do not involve flying at all. In the civilian world there are thousands of jobs and careers - doctors, lawyers, law enforcement, engineers, financial careers, food-service management - the list is endless. For almost every civilian out in the work force, there is an Air Force officer counterpart performing a similar job. For more information about the many careers available, check out our Careers section >>.

When do cadets actually receive their commission as an Air Force officer?

Cadets normally get commissioned in a special ceremony the same day they graduate. They can expect to enter active duty about 30 days after graduation.

Will my child go on active duty in the Air Force immediately following graduation and commissioning?

Not necessarily. They may request an educational delay if they desire to attend graduate school at their own expense before going on active duty. If approved, the Air Force will postpone their active-duty tour. Delays are routinely provided if they select to attend dental or medical school. Scholarships also exist for students accepted to medical school.

Can my child continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level?

Yes. The Air Force offers several opportunities to do so. In many cases they can request an educational delay. This delay between the time of commissioning and reporting for active duty will be of sufficient length to allow them to fulfill the requirements for a professional or master’s degree. They will assume all financial obligations. There are also Air Force Institute of Technology programs where the Air Force pays for their graduate school education. These programs are explained in detail in Air Force ROTC.

My child doesn’t have 20/20 vision. Can they still fly?

It depends. Check out the Flying Requirements >> for more information.

Is a major in Aeronautical Science required to become a pilot or combat systems officer?

No. Academic major plays a minor role in pilot and combat systems officer selection. Cadets can major in any degree program and compete to receive a pilot or combat systems officer slot in Air Force ROTC. They can even be on an Air Force ROTC scholarship in an engineering or science major and compete on an equal basis for a flying position.

What are the age limits for a cadet to compete for a pilot or combat systems officer position?

To compete for the pilot or combat systems officer categories, a cadet must be able to complete their bachelor’s degree and be commissioned through Air Force ROTC before they are 29 years old.

Will my child behind my fellow nonmilitary graduates after they complete their service obligation and decide to get out?

No. In fact, many companies prefer to hire former officers over new college graduates (even those with master's degrees). Their Air Force experience, the management skills they've gained on active duty and their active-duty educational benefits can give them the competitive edge they need.

How do Air Force ROTC graduates compare with Air Force Academy and Officer Training School graduates?

The Academy, ROTC and Officer Training School all produce qualified Air Force officers. The Air Force achieves better diversity and talent by getting officers from more than one commissioning source. Once on active duty, the most important factor in promotion is job performance.

Will my child have to cut his/her hair?

Hair must be kept in accordance with Air Force guidelines when in uniform.

Do cadets have to wear a uniform to class every day?

No. Cadets are only required to wear their uniform to their Air Force ROTC classes and on Leadership Lab day once a week. Occasionally, during special events, they may be required to wear their uniform.

How much time will my child have to spend with Air Force ROTC each week?

The only required time is during your Air Force ROTC classes, Leadership Lab, and physical fitness training. (This equates to approximately six hours per week for freshmen and sophomores; eight hours per week for juniors and seniors.)

How are new cadets treated?

Very well. Many detachments assign cadet “sponsors” to new students. They can help students find classes, get textbooks, learn to wear the uniform correctly, meet other cadets and learn basic customs and courtesies. It is also the responsibility of the cadet’s flight commander to help new cadets fit into the program. Many detachments also have tutoring programs and other forms of assistance. Hazing is not permitted! You’ll find the cadet staff and detachment staff are concerned about your child’s well-being and progress.

How much marching and drilling will cadets have to do?

Not as much as you may think. Marching/drill is sometimes practiced during squadron time at Leadership Laboratory. There are no mandatory drill sessions outside of LLAB.

When will cadets receive their Air Force ROTC uniform?

Within the first couple of class periods, we will issue cadets a complete uniform and tell them how to arrange for having alterations completed (at no cost to them). However, they are responsible for keeping the uniform clean and presentable.

Will my child be expected to participate in any extracurricular activities?

Their first and foremost concern is attending classes and maintaining good grades. After this, they will certainly want to examine some of the various activities sponsored by both their university and Air Force ROTC. There’s something in our program of interest to everyone.

Can my child participate in intercollegiate athletics while a member of the Air Force ROTC program?

Yes. Generally, extracurricular campus activities and Air Force ROTC are perfectly compatible - as long as they do not overload with extracurricular activities. A serious physical injury while participating in intercollegiate or intramural athletic activities may cause them to be disenrolled from Air Force ROTC because of a change in their physical profile.

Where can my child attend Air Force ROTC?

Air Force ROTC is offered at over 1000 institutions throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.