Private Millitary Colleges and the Army

When one graduates from VMI, The Citadel, or other military college and joins the army, does one automatically become an officer? Or does one go through boot camp like every other recruit and then to OCS? What is the exact process of becoming an officer in the army after a private military education?

For any non-service academy (west point, etc) college, if you go thru the equivalent of ROTC you can become an officer when you graduate.

Not sure but I think it is possible to attend these military colleges without the “ROTC track”. The old “needs of the army” criteria is what determines if these people get an active duty assignment or if they have to go to the reserves or national guard.

There are lots of special cases and exceptions and I’m sure someone will be along soon to list them.

Those who enter active duty from those programs go to an office basic course in the branch (infantry, artillery, etc.) they are entering but this is nothing like OCS or normal enlisted basic training.

Also, you don’t join the army as an officer, you are commissioned as an officer and your aren’t discharged you either resign or have your commision revoked.

There are six “senior military colleges” outside of the service academy system. Those are the Citadel, VMI, Texas A&M, Norwich, North Georgia College, and Virginia Polytechnic. All of their cadet programs are ROTC, with some additional training thrown in. Cadets may take a commission upon graduation but are not required to, unlike the ROTC programs at other schools, where the military is providing a scholarship.

From a distance of 30 years, things could have changed, but most people in ROTC were not on scholarship. Only the scholarship had to go on active duty

Going to a fancy military college really has nothing to do with it… the key is enrolling in ROTC, which is optional. Without that, the cadet will basically become an expert in shining shoes and marching around, but in fact have no real affiliation with the armed forces. On the other hand, cadets who do opt into ROTC will get honest-to-goodness US military officer training. The culmination of this training is a 6-week evaluation course in an environment similar to OCS, where their military leadership skills are observed and rated.

After summer camp, the senior years is spent in a sort of application process, and in early spring they will be informed of the nature of their commission, whether active, reserve, or regular army, and the branch of service. After graduation, their career track is exactly like everyone else’s. They will accept their commission, attend officer basic course, and then receive orders for their first duty station.

You can be in ROTC in universities without having a military scholarship. I had a full academic scholarship at Tulane and was in Air Force ROTC for a while just because I wanted to check it out as an option. Any student without military support was free to join for two years without any obligation. They start the commissioning process your junior year so you have to make a commitment then but you can just walk away before that if the military isn’t funding your schooling.

I liked ROTC just fine but I just didn’t want to commit at that point in my life because I found other options so I left but I sometimes wish I didn’t. Completing an ROTC program at a regular college or university gets you to the same starting point as a commissioned officer as going to a military academy or one of the hard-core military colleges. The main difference is that the students that choose the academies or specialized military schools usually have a strong interest in a military career and want to be in that atmosphere starting as young as possible but you can become a General from State U as well.

There are also the State and Federal Maritime Academys which also have the Naval Science option. I had a class mate get sworn in to the Coast Guard as an Ensign on graduation day.

Today I think it is after the third class year that you have to chose the option. When I was a Midshipman I applied for the commission when I entered the Academy and the Navy sat on it for 3 years. In the last trimester after an interview with the Naval science officers a commission was granted or turned down.

I think one of the major differences between these six schools and the garden-variety ROTC program is that at these six, the Corps of Cadets is a full-time thing, meaning that those guys live in barracks, wake up at 5 am, run in formation, have the whitewall haircuts, wear uniforms to class, etc… Some require all students to be cadets (VMI, Citadel, Norwich for sure), and others used to, but now have optional Corps of Cadets. (Texas A&M, Virginia Tech) I don’t know much about North Georgia College.

Your average garden-variety non-Senior Military College ROTC program doesn’t require you to live as if you were in the military, so that’s a big difference.

At A&M at least, the first 2 years, are just ROTC, with no commitment. During a cadet’s junior year, they can choose to “go contract”, which means they sign a ROTC contract with the expectation of some sort of commission on completion, be that National Guard, Regular Army or Reserve. If they choose not to, they can remain in the Corps of Cadets and go what’s called “Drill & Ceremonies”, which means they’re still in the Corps of Cadets, still subject to the rules and regs, but not committed to being in the military after graduation. If you know what to look for, you can identify these guys pretty easily based on their uniform insignia.

Not Norwich. From wikipedia:

From ROTC at VMI:

From Military ROTC programs at the Citadel: