JROTC or Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps

JROTC or Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps
There are 17 military high schools in the United Schools. JROTC forms the backbone of the military training component at these schools. Here's what's involved.

The JROTC or Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps is an integral part of military high schools in the United States. While my daughters attended non-military boarding schools, my eldest daughter was enrolled in the ROTC program at MIT while she was at Harvard. I was very impressed at how the blend of military training and first-rate academics played out then and in her later life. Consequently, as I read the seventeen military schools' websites we have here on Boarding School Review, I couldn't help but notice how seamlessly these schools weave the JROTC program into their school life. JROTC is not an add-on or an extracurricular activity. I believe that when you blend and integrate the JROTC program's proven training and goals with a military school's rigorous college-preparatory academic curriculum, you aim to produce graduates who understand service to their country, know how to lead, and are confident in their own personal path forward.

Here is a look at JROTC and what it entails.

What is JROTC?

Congress established the JROTC or Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in 1916. Each branch of the services has its own distinctive JROTC program. However, they all have the altruistic-sounding mission "To Motivate Young People to be Better Citizens."

The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) is one of the largest character development and citizenship programs for youth in the world. Source: JROTC

Some people think that JROTC is a recruiting program for the military. But it is not. Indeed, most JROTC participants do not join the military after graduating from high school. Nor are they required to do so. On the other hand, the college-level ROTC programs do require their participants to sign up for a tour of duty after graduating from college. Simply put, the JROTC aims to develop leadership skills in its participants while ROTC prepares its members for the military.

This video offers a look at Culver Academy in Culver, Indiana.

The Branches of JROTC

The Air Force JROTC

There are approximately 870 AFJROTC units with more than 125,000 cadets in high schools across the United States and selected Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe, the Pacific, Puerto Rico, and Guam." Source: Air Force JROTC

The Air Force JROTC's comprehensive program seeks to develop academic skills, confidence, and leadership skills to equip young people to be the leaders 21st-century society needs them to be. Over 125,000 high-schoolers are active in the Air Force program in 870 schools worldwide. Worldwide? Yes, worldwide because the Department of Defense has DOD schools wherever there is a military base.

One unique feature of the Air Force JROTC program is its Summer Flying Academy. This 8-week-long program offers the ability to earn a Private Pilot Certification. At a time when airlines need pilots, this is a solid start to a lucrative, satisfying career.

The Navy JROTC

The NJROTC program was established by Public Law in 1964 which may be found in Title 10, U.S. Code, Chapter 102. Source: NJROTC

As noted, Congress established the Navy's version of JROTC almost 50 years after the Army's program. Like its Air Force and Army cousins, the Navy JROTC program emphasizes the development of its participants. The Navy's JROTC summer programs vary depending on the sponsoring high school. Typical summer programs or "camps" include a Sail Academy, Leadership Academy, and more.

This video offers a look at Valley Forge Military Academy.

The Marines JROTC

The effects of the Marine Corps JROTC program reach far beyond the classroom and into the community in developing character, leadership, and civic responsibility in tens of thousands of America's kids. Source: Marines JROTC

As I researched the three JROTC programs, I was struck by the unified approach they all take towards developing the leadership and academic skills of their young participants.

Who teaches JROTC programs?

You might think that active-duty military personnel teach JROTC courses. But that's not the case. Instructors are retired military officers for the most part. You can check out their credentials on the various school's websites.

Valuable supplemental programs

The military JROTC programs offer young people the opportunity to explore academic programs, become part of a team, and develop an awareness of what it means to be an American citizen. In addition, JROTC programs teach leadership skills and build confidence, all attributes that benefit young people in their adult lives.

JROTC, Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, is a program designed to encourage high school students to become better citizens. With an emphasis on leadership training and skills building, JROTC helps develop the “whole person” by including financial planning in the curriculum alongside wilderness survival. Source: New Mexico Military Institute

Pros and Cons


  • JROTC programs are unique. In other words, the JROTC program at one high school is different from the program in other schools. It all depends on the instructors, the students, and the school.
  • The program costs its participants nothing. Even uniforms are provided.
  • Participants have to be in good academic standing.


  • Corps members have to abide by appearance standards.
  • Physical training can be demanding.

Service academy nominations

Now, while the purpose of JROTC programs is to educate and develop young people as opposed to recruiting them for military service, young people who rise to the top of their school's JROTC program do have the opportunity to be nominated for the prestigious military academies. But unfortunately, nomination to the service academies is a complicated process with many more applicants competing for a limited number of places. Read more about it at Service Academy Nominations on the White House website.


JROTC programs offer valuable lessons in leadership and a host of other attributes for high school-age young people. This quote from a military school alumnus says it eloquently:

'I love Hargrave. It taught me all about life and some of my best years were at Hargrave. Don Haston — Alumni Source: Hargrave Military Academy

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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