Many college-bound students who are interested in entering into the ranks of the United States Armed Forces consider attending colleges that offer ROTC programs, otherwise know as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
This college-based program allows students to earn their degree while simultaneously receiving officer training.
But not everyone who is interested in ROTC is a United States citizen. Some international students have a goal of joining, as well. Is this even possible?
Here’s how the ROTC handles international students.
A Partial Qualification
ROTC is meant to provide the training you need to become a military officer after college. But the catch is that only US citizens can become officers in the military.
While this does mean that any dreams of serving the US as an officer may have to be put on hold until you’re a citizen, it doesn’t mean that all international students are excluded from joining ROTC.
In particular, you should be able to take part in the first two years of the four-year training program. This is open to freshmen and sophomores who want to get started on military training and are therefore interested in classes that focus on leadership, military drills and related skills.
Note that although you can join ROTC, you are not eligible to get a scholarship for the program if you’re an international student. This is because a scholarship obligates you to serve after college, and you can’t do that as a non-citizen.
Why You Can’t Complete the Full Program
Since you are a non-citizen, just as is the case with ROTC scholarships, you will not be able to complete the program in full since only US citizens can serve in the armed forces. If your immigration status does not change during your time in the program, you will have to drop out after the first two years.
That being said, if your immigration status does change before your junior year, you will be able to continue and complete the ROTC. After graduation, you will also then earn your place as an officer in the US Armed Forces.
Contact any schools in the US where you intend to apply and learn more about their specific ROTC program.
Consider Joining ROTC Anyway
Though you cannot go through all four years of ROTC, there are some good reasons for international students to join anyway. For example, if you’re interested in developing your leadership skills and becoming more disciplined, ROTC can help.
Even if you’re simply interested in learning about the latest technology and some practical applications of it – such as through the most advanced vehicles and weapons – joining ROTC may be a good idea.
Then of course there’s the fact that you might become a US citizen in the next couple of years if you get on the path toward it now. So even though you might be ineligible to complete the program now, that might change in a year or two, allowing you to reap the full benefits of ROTC despite being from another country.
Are you interested in joining ROTC in college? It definitely has some advantages for both citizens and international students alike, so be sure to talk to the head of the program at the college you’re enrolling in.