Top ROTC colleges offer outstanding academic and military training from schools with proud and distinguished ROTC histories. The top colleges host a full slate of Army, Navy, and Air Force units, but the service branches did not provide program rankings and no ranking organization ranked ROTC programs. Instead, the best ROTC schools demonstrated very high 2012 freshman retention and graduation rates, with top 2014 rankings by U.S. News and World Report for national universities, and worldwide rankings by Ranking Web of Universities, or Webometrics. ROTC units at these schools offer a wide range of opportunities.

Duke University

ROTC cadets learning battlefield tactics
ROTC cadets learning battlefield tactics

Duke University of Durham, N.C., ranked seventh according U.S. News and 25th by Webometrics, with a 97 percent retention rate and a 95 percent graduation rate. The Army ROTC, based at nearby North Carolina Central University, offers regular military programs and a nursing ROTC program. The Naval unit, hosted by Duke, dates to 1941, preparing midshipmen for careers in the Navy or the Marine Corps, with seven admirals and a Marine Corps general as alumni. Duke is also home to the Air Force Duke Blue Devils. The detachment has a 97 percent pilot selection rate, with an outstanding “Distinguished Graduate” rate, the best of Air Force ROTC graduates, nationwide.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Air Force ROTC cadets march in field
Air Force ROTC cadets march in field

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge hosts all ROTC programs, ranking seventh by U.S. News, and second by Webometrics, with a 97 percent retention rate and a 93 percent graduation rate. The combined ROTC programs have more than 12,000 officers and 150 generals and admirals as alumni. The Army ROTC program has a proud tradition, dating to 1865, with regular ROTC training and a nursing program. The Old Ironsides Battalion Naval unit offers Navy midshipmen training, and, as in all Naval ROTC units, the option of training for the Marine Corps. The Air Force Doolittle Raiders Detachment, named in honor of alumnus James H. Doolittle, offers a number of opportunities, such as visiting Air Force bases around the country and participating in the local Civil Air Patrol.

University of Notre Dame

ROTC cadets march in parade
ROTC cadets march in parade

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana, host to all ROTC programs, has a 98 percent retention and a 95 percent graduation rate and is ranked 18th, according to U.S. News. It falls in the top 1 percent, according to Webometrics. The Navy ROTC program offers a number of programs, such as the Trident Naval Society. The Army Fightin' Irish Battalion program, with an Army history dating to Civil War days, offers Army ROTC-wide programs, such as the Pershing Rifles, a precision drill team. The Air Force ROTC program, dating to the service inception in 1947, offers many outside opportunities, such as the Arnold Air Society.

University of California at Berkeley

ROTC cadet salutes during ceremony at the USS Oklahoma Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
ROTC cadet salutes during ceremony at the USS Oklahoma Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The University of California at Berkeley, host to all ROTC programs, is ranked 20th by U.S. News and sixth by Webometrics, with a 97 percent retention and a 91 percent graduation rate. The Air Force detachment offers a wide range of activities, such as base visits and language immersion trips to foreign countries. The Naval ROTC is one of the oldest units in the country, formerly commanded by Admiral Chester Nimitz. In addition to many other opportunities, the university is host to the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Lectureship in National Security Affairs, which brings expert lecturers in the field to Berkeley. The Army ROTC unit offers several field training experiences, from a unit that includes generals, and a former secretary of defense as distinguished alumni.