Service Academies can be used to refer to all of the academies collectively. In popular use, however, this term is more often used for the academies of the four branches of the military: those of the Army, Navy and Air Force, under the Department of Defense, and that of the Coast Guard, under the Department of Homeland Security. These are the only four Academies whose students are on Active Duty in the Armed Forces of the United States from the day they enter the Academy, subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and eligible for all privileges and benefits of being members of an Armed Service.
The United States Coast Guard, and therefore the Coast Guard Academy, is a United States military service under the Department of Homeland Security but in time of war it can be places as a service in the Department of the Navy.
The Merchant Marine Academy is under the United States Maritime Administration, a part of the Department of Transportation. However, every student at the Merchant Marine Academy is appointed as a Midshipman, Merchant Marine Reserve, U.S. Navy Reserve, and has a requirement to serve eight (8) years in the military reserve, maintain a license as an officer in the merchant marine of the United States for at least six (6) years, and serve the foreign and domestic commerce and national defense of the United States for at least five (5) years. Graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy may also take their commission as an officer in the United States Navy, Untied States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, United States Army, United States Air Force, or the NOAA Commissioned Corps. If they choose the active duty option, USMMA graduates are obligated to a minimum service requirement of five (5) years.
- U.S. Military Academy at WestPoint, New York
- U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland
- U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado
- U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut
- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York
Students accepted receive full ride scholarships and living stipend. Competition is fierce to get into these schools. There is a minimum of five (5) years of service after graduation. Admissions criteria:
- High School Academic Performance
- SAT or ACT Scores
- Nonathletic Extracurricular Activities
- Leadership Positions
- Community Involvement
- Work Experience
- Nomination by State Senator/Representative
Students at four Service Academies (not including Merchant Marine Academy) incur a minimum five (5) year active duty commitment and if in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard have an additional three (3) year reserve commitment. Kings Point graduates also have an eight (8) year total obligation, but although voluntarily entered by some, active duty is not required. The United States Marine Corps, a service under the Department of the Navy, does not have an academy of its own but instead commissions officers from Annapolis and Kings Point. If an Air Force cadet receives a pilot slot, they incur a ten (10) year commitment. Midshipmen who go on to become Naval Aviators in the Navy and Marine Corps owe eight (8) years from the time of earning their wings (the end of flight training) and seven (7) for those who become Naval Flight Officers. However, this commitment is independent of commissioning source; it also applies for NROTC graduates and OCS graduates who go on to become Naval Aviators or Naval Flight Officers.
Applicants to all Service Academies, except the United States Coast Guard Academy, are required to obtain a nomination to the school. Nominations may be made by Senators, Congressmen, the President, and the Vice-President (The United States Merchant Marine Academy only accepts nominations from Senators and Congressmen). Applicants to the Coast Guard Academy compete in a direct nationwide competitive process that has no by-state quotas.
Eligibility requirements typically include the following: age (17-22), good moral character, physical and academically qualified, not married, between 5’4” and 6’6” tall and weight within the allowable limits in proportion to height. There are also visual requirements, which are stricter for the Air Force than other academies. A medical examination and physical aptitude test must be taken. The ACT or SAT is also required. Most students who enter the academies are “appointed” to them by their congressional representative. In order to enter, a student should contact his/her senators and/or representative in the spring of his/her junior year in high school or in the fall of his/her senior year. You may write to any or all of them, stating that you are interested in an appointment and asking for an application and any additional information available. Deadline is October 1st of your senior year.