The Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is a program began in 1819 that trains men and women to become reserve officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. ROTC students attend regular classes, but are also instructed in math, science and military courses that provide the knowledge needed in their work as commissioned officers. There are more than 1,300 ROTC colleges in the United States, divided into three programs: senior military colleges, military junior colleges and civilian colleges.

Senior Military College ROTC

There are nine senior military colleges (SMC) in the United States that offer ROTC programs. Military colleges exist solely to train men and women for careers in the armed forces, and ROTC is mandatory. By law, SMCs must be four-year institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, and require a minimum of two years ROTC training. The SMCs include the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina; Maine Maritime Academy in Castine; North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega; Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont; Texas A&M University in College Station; the State University of New York Maritime College in Throggs Neck; Virginia Military Institute in Lexington; Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets in Blacksburg and Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton.

Civilian College ROTC

Civilian colleges that offer ROTC programs are not run by the military, and ROTC training is voluntary. However, participating civilian colleges must offer four-year degrees. Among the more than 1,000 civilian colleges that feature ROTC programs are University of Central Florida, Boise State University, Boston University, Central Michigan University, Dillard University, Emory University, Howard University, Iowa State University, Loyola University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Wellesley College, University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Texas in Arlington.

Military Junior College ROTC

Five military junior colleges in the United States offer two-year degrees. Like the senior military colleges, the junior colleges train men and women for careers as commissioned officers in the armed forces, but allow them to complete their education in two years via the Early Commissioning Program (ECP). Students still have to finish their bachelor's degree before they can serve as active duty officers. The five military junior colleges that offer this program are the Georgia Military College in Milledgeville; Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama; New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell; Valley Forge Military Academy & College in Wayne, Pennsylvania and Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, Missouri.

ROTC Armed Forces Programs

The Army ROTC (AROTC), begun in 1916, is the largest commissioning program in the military, and has trained 500,000 officers. The AROTC offers 273 host programs with more than a 1,000 affiliated colleges and universities.

The Navy ROTC (NROTC) was founded in 1926, and incorporated the Marines in 1932. Women were allowed to participate in 1972, and in 1990 the NROTC began including applicants pursuing a degree in nursing to be commissioned as Navy Nurse Corps Cadets. NROTC programs are offered at 150 colleges and universities in the United States.

The Air Force Academy introduced its ROTC program (AFROTC) between 1920 and 1923, establishing units at Texas A&M University; University of Illinois; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of California, Berkeley; University of Washington; New York University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. AFROTC has programs in 144 colleges and universities around the country.