Air Force ROTC


Air Force ROTC at SUNY Cortland is a college program offered through Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. It prepares you to become an Air Force officer while earning a college degree. And it gives you the opportunity to get the tuition money you need. But more than that — it’s a challenge, a head start on a lifetime of success within the Air Force and in everything you choose to do.

In Air Force ROTC, you’ll make the most of your college experience. You’ll hone your time-management skills, analytical skills and physical fitness. It won’t be easy. But if you’re up to the challenge, the rewards will last a lifetime. Please feel free to contact us at 607-255-4004 or if you have any questions. You can also visit and for further information.

Service Commitment

After completing all Air Force ROTC and academic degree requirements, contracted cadets — cadets in the Professional Officer Course (POC) and scholarship cadets — accept a commission as second lieutenants in the Air Force, appointed by the president of the United States.

The length of your initial service commitment depends on your career. Most cadets make a four-year, active-duty service commitment. Pilots make a 10-year, active-duty service commitment and both Combat System Officers and Air Battle Managers make a six-year service commitment.

Nursing graduates accept a commission in the Air Force Nurse Corps and serve four years on active duty after completing their licensing examination.

Do you have what it takes?

It takes something unique to succeed in Air Force ROTC. It takes dedication. Drive. Discipline. Air Force ROTC's program is structured to foster the work ethic and principles that will help students not only succeed in school but also prepare them for life as exceptional citizens and members of the U.S. Air Force.

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about ROTC requirements and what it takes to succeed in the Air Force ROTC.

Air Force ROTC is a program structured like a college course that focuses on developing leaders. ROTC courses are considered electives for which you’ll receive academic credit.

You will be taught by world-class military faculty supplemented with distinguished speakers who bring policy and history to life through firsthand experience. Each instructor is an active duty Air Force officer and is usually accorded the academic rank of assistant professor. The unit commander has an academic rank of full professor.

Since the goal of the program is to help students earn placement as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, you will need to meet certain requirements along the way to help you ensure future success in the U.S. Air Force.

Three- and Four-Year Program Details

To become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, you must complete the three- or four-year Air Force ROTC program. Therefore, it’s a good idea to enroll in Air Force ROTC at the same time you enroll in your first college courses.

As you progress, you’ll move from the General Military Course (GMC) in your freshman and sophomore years to the Professional Officer Course (POC) in your junior and senior years.

General Military Course

The first section of Air Force ROTC, the General Military Course, is a two-year program offered to freshmen and sophomores who meet the minimum requirements. It consists of one hour of classroom work and one to two hours of Leadership Laboratory each week. The General Military Course is designed to improve communication skills and provide a window into military life. It’s an opportunity for students to try out the program with no obligation (for those not on an ROTC scholarship).

The General Military Course (GMC)

There are a few minimum requirements for the General Military Course. Every freshman and sophomore must be:

  • Enrolled in an accredited college that hosts or has a crosstown agreement with an Air Force ROTC detachment.
  • A United States citizen (if on scholarship).
  • In good physical condition.
  • Of good moral character.
  • 14 years or older (17 years old to receive a scholarship).
  • Committed to attending both the aerospace studies class and Leadership Lab each semester.

The following conditions may preclude Air Force ROTC membership but will not keep a student from enrolling in an aerospace studies class:

  • Conscientious objectors—one who has or had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war, in any form, or to the bearing of arms because of religious training or belief, which includes solely moral or ethical beliefs
  • Present or former commissioned officers of the Armed Forces
  • Officers of the Health Services and Mental Health Administration and members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Those medically diagnosed with asthma or who have been prescribed Ritalin or any other medication for ADD and/or ADHD at any point in their life may be precluded from military service, but this may be waived, depending on diagnosis and treatment
  • Individuals on active duty with any military service — enlisted/warrant officers of Reserve or National Guard, unless conditionally released
  • Non-immigrant students from nations not approved by the Department of State
  • Students who do not or cannot meet required standards of weight, appearance, decorum, discipline and military performance
  • Individuals who have dropped out of a previous officer training program (Officer Training School, United States Air Force Academy, etc.). This may be waived, depending on individual circumstances.

Professional Officer Course

After completing General Military Course requirements, if students wish to be considered for entry into the last two years of the program, the Professional Officer Course, they must meet certain requirements. This system uses qualitative factors, such as GPA, unit commander evaluation and aptitude test scores to determine if a candidate has officer potential. After selection, before entering the Professional Officer Course, students must successfully complete a 24-day summer field-training exercise at Maxwell AFB, Ala. Once enrolled in POC, they'll attend class three hours a week and participate in a one- to two-hour weekly Leadership Laboratory.

The Professional Officer Course is offered to juniors and seniors who have already committed to a four-year post-graduation service commitment with the Air Force. They must meet all the GMC (General Military Course) membership requirements and:

  • Be a United States citizen.
  • Be of legal age as required by the state in which they will be attending ROTC or 17 years old with parent or guardian consent.
  • Be in good academic standing.
  • Have three academic years remaining in a four-year degree program.
  • Meet the following age requirements:
    • Rated (Pilot, Combat Systems Officer, Air Battle Manager and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot) — commissioned before reaching the age of 29
    • Scholarship applicants — be younger than 31 years old as of December 31 of the year they will be commissioned
    • Tech, nontech and nonrated — commissioned by age 30 (waiverable up to age 35)
  • Be physically qualified:
    • Meet Air Force height and weight standards
    • Pass the Air Force Physical Fitness Test (PFT), an exam composed of three events: push-ups, crunches and a 1.5-mile run. The test is used to ensure cadets maintain an acceptable level of fitness.
  • Have a military certified/qualified physical.
  • Pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test (AFOQT), a standardized aptitude test (similar to the SAT and ACT) used to select applicants for officer commissioning programs or specific training programs.
  • Complete a field training course (a 24-day encampment in which cadets receive officership training).
  • Be selected by a board of Air Force officers.

Contact Us

113 Barton Hall
Cornell University

Phone: 607-255-4004