How to Apply to a U.S. Military Academy
The United States Military academies, also known as U.S. service academies and military service schools, have the most stringent admission standards in the nation. Many high schoolers flock to the opportunity to attend a U.S. military academy because of fully paid tuition, room and board, medical care, access to a high-quality education and job after graduation, but competition is fierce and space is limited.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 41,989 people applied to the five military academies for the class of 2023. However, once admitted into a military academy, students find their way in a membership called the corps of cadets and earn their place at an institution that has produced some of the nation’s top military leaders.
If you’re up for the challenge of attending a military academy, Empire Resume will walk you through the rigorous admission process, step-by-step. Today, we’ll discuss:
- The five military academies
- Military academy eligibility requirements
- The military academy application process
- When will I know if I’ve been accepted to a military academy?
- Is a military academy right for me?
Now, let’s show you the schools you have to choose from.
The Five Military Academies
In no particular order, the five U.S. service academies are:
- U.S Military Academy (USMA). USMA, the academy for the U.S. Army, is located in West Point, New York. Historically, it is the oldest of the service academies. With an acceptance rate of 10%, students can pursue majors from engineering to business administration and achieve a bachelor’s degree. After graduation, students become commissioned as an officer in the Army, specifically a Second Lieutenant.
- U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). USNA, the academy for the Navy, is located in Annapolis, Maryland. With an acceptance rate of 8%, this academy is known for its educational focus on science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM for short. After graduation, students earn a bachelor’s degree and become commissioned as an officer in the Navy as an Ensign or Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
- U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). USAFA, the academy for the Air Force, is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Historically, it is the youngest of the academies. Although it has the highest acceptance rate of all the service academies, at 19.1%, it also has the highest admissions bar. Students can pursue undergraduate degrees whether their interested in being an Air Force pilot or computer programmer. Upon graduation, students earn their place as a commissioned officer in the Air Force, specifically a Second Lieutenant.
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). USMMA, also known as King’s Point, is the academy for the Coast Guard. This academy is located in King’s Point, New York, and centers its education around marine engineering, maritime law, and other subjects related to civilian sea transport. After graduation, students earn a U.S. Coast Guard license and can serve as an officer in any reserve component or on active duty in one of the Armed Forces.
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). USCGA, the academy for the Coast Guard, is located in New London, Connecticut. With an acceptance rate of roughly 19%, this academy offers nine academic majors ranging from civil engineering to government. Every graduate is commissioned as an Ensign, an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Military Academy Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible to apply for one of the five U.S. military academies, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 17 years old, but less than 23 by July 1 of the admission year.
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be unmarried with no dependents
- Not pregnant
In addition to the eligibility requirements, aspiring academy cadets must adhere to military tattoo policies and ensure they are physically fit.
Physical fitness is a requirement to enter military service. So, during the admissions process, prospective cadets will be given the Candidate Fitness Assessment or CFA. The CFA consists of six physical and motor fitness events designed to measure muscular strength, endurance, cardio-respiratory endurance, power, balance, and agility.
Prospective candidates must also pass a Department of Defense Military Examination Review Board (DoDMERB) physical examination.
Here’s a quick tip: Take your medical exam as soon as possible as it can take several months to get qualified. If you haven’t been scheduled for the DoDMERB by the fall of your high school senior year, contact your regional admissions officer.
On the academic side, virtually all cadets are scholars and well-rounded individuals from the top 25% of their high school class. Academies expect for transcripts, and college entrance exam scores from the SAT and ACT to be top notch.
The minimum SAT scores for the academies are 500 verbal and 500 math. The average SAT scores at the academies are 540-620 verbal and 630-710 math. The minimum ACT scores for the academies are 21 English, 19 Social Studies, 24 Mathematics, and 24 Natural Science. The average ACT scores are 23-27 English; 24-29 Social Studies; 27-32 Mathematics; 28-32 Natural Science (minimum and average scores are slightly higher for the Naval Academy).
The Military Academy Application Process
Before we explain how the application process works, we’ve included links to help you apply to your chosen military academy:
- Apply to the U.S. Military Academy
- Apply to the Air Force Academy
- Apply to the Naval Academy
- Apply to the Merchant Marine Academy
- Apply to the Coast Guard Academy
Here’s how to claim one of the limited spots at one of the service academies:
Create an Applicant Profile
First, create a candidate or applicant profile through the school’s website. Opening a profile is the only way to initiate the application process. Make sure you adhere the application deadlines and submit any questionnaires and other information well in advance.
Seek a Congressional Nomination
As soon as you have confirmed your eligibility, the next step is to obtain a congressional nomination from your local congressman or congresswoman, your two state senators, or the Vice President of the United States. To apply for a congressional nomination, contact your local congressional representative and both of your senators’ offices for information on their application process.
The Vice President can nominate candidates without geographical restriction within the United States. The Vice President is authorized to nominate individuals to the United States Military, Naval, and Air Force academies but cannot nominate to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and does not nominate to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
To apply for a nomination from the Vice President, you can find information on the White House’s service academies nomination webpage.
Any candidate that does not provide the academy with notice of nomination by the respective deadline may be disqualified.
Service-connected nominations are also available for the following:
- Sons and Daughters of “career military personnel” (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard)
- Active duty, Reserve and National Guardsmen
- Children of Deceased/Disabled Vets, POW, MIA
- Children of Medal of Honor Recipient
- Applicants in Junior and Senior ROTC programs
Be sure to check the respective academy for service-connected nomination options. Keep in mind, it is not necessary to seek a nomination to the Coast Guard Academy, as the USCGA accepts candidates based on their own testing criteria.
Letters of Recommendation
Potential academy cadets are required to have a minimum of three letters of recommendations. Some of the people you may request a letter of recommendation from include:
- Scout Leaders
When Will I Know if I’ve Been Accepted by a Military Academy?
Academies will begin to notify candidates of their admission status in February. All offers of appointment are generally sent out by May.
Is a Military Academy Right for Me?
The military academies are among the best institutions in the country. Only you know whether attending one of them is right for you. But if you have the character, grit, and determination, you have a fair shot. Empire Resume will be here with you every step of the way in your military career.
Be sure to bookmark Empire Resume’s military blog for more insight, so you’ll know what to expect as you go through your military career. We’re always here to help with your career planning needs and deliver results, guaranteed!
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Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.