What is the purpose of the NROTC program?

Our purpose is to morally, mentally, and physically develop college students for leadership roles as commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.

Why do most students join the NROTC?

There are a variety of good reasons for joining, and each student has his/her own personal reasons. Students would tell you they joined for the sense of community and challenge, others for the tuition benefits. However, all Midshipmen would say they enjoy the professional development offered at NROTC units while also being able to have the college expierence.


What are the NROTC scholarship benefits?

The scholarship covers full tuition at the University of Colorado. In addition each scholarship student receives:

  • All educational fees
  • Uniforms
  • $375 towards books each semester
  • Monthly stipend of $250 for freshman, $300 for sophomore, $350 for junior, and $400 for senior midshipmen.
  • The NROTC pays for students' initial transportation from home to school and from school to summer cruise training.
Are there any benefits for the College Program (non-scholarship) students?

Yes. Students who enter the junior year in College Program (Advanced Standing) status will begin receiving a $350 per month tax-free subsistence allowance. In addition, during the entire four years, they are given use of the uniforms they need, and their naval science textbooks. They also receive pay during summer cruise between their junior and senior years.

Does the scholarship cover room and board expenses?

No. Those expenses must be borne by the individual families. Students who find that room and board payments represent a financial hardship should investigate Colorado's financial aid program. Many of our NROTC students, and most other Colorado students, receive some form of financial aid from the university, either in the form of grants, loans, or work-study jobs on campus.

Future Obligations

What is my active duty obligation after graduation?

Our Navy Option scholarship students are required to serve a minimum of five years of active military service upon graduation. Additional requirements may be required for specific job assignments. This obligation is accepted at the beginning of the sophomore year.

Marine Corps Option scholarship midshipmen will be required to serve at least four years on active duty.

Our College Program (Advanced Standing) students are obligated for three years of active duty after graduation. They accept the obligation at the beginning of their junior year.

Does that mean that there is no obligation incurred by incoming freshmen when they join the program?

Correct. Scholarship students have until September 1st of their Sophomore year to decide whether to remain in the program and incur the obligation of service. After this date, scholarship students who decide to voluntarily leave the program must reimburse the Department of the Navy for all tuition benefits received previously, including the Freshman year. Also, the current policy requires Active Enlisted Service for those scholarship students who disenroll from the program during their Senior year.

College Program (Basic Standing) students become obligated immediately after receiving either a 3-Year or 2-Year scholarship, or after earning College Program (Advanced Standing) status after their Sophomore Year.

If I join the NROTC program, what kind of military duties should I expect after graduation?

Most of our Navy option students, male and female, will graduate as Unrestricted Line Officers (URL). That means that they will be expected to go on to further training in aviation, submarines, conventional or nuclear powered surface ships, explosive ordance disposal, or Naval Special Warfare (NSW). For more information go to Unrestricted Line Officers.

We also have a NROTC Nurse Corps option leading to a commission in the Navy Nurse Corps. As a Nursing Student you would apply to and attend the University of Colorado Health Science Center or Regis University after two years at CU Boulder because CU Boulder does not have a nursing program. *It is important to note that the Nurse Corps' personnel requirements are currently primarily met through other commissioning programs other than NROTC. As such, it is very difficult to earn a Nurse Option scholarship through NROTC at this time.

In general, the NROTC program does not commission midshipmen as Restricted Line Officers or into the Staff Corps. Examples include but are not limited to: Naval Intelligence, Human Resources, Public Affairs, Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Civil Engineering Corps, or Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Those who choose (and are accepted for) the Marine Corps can go into aviation or a variety of ground officer assignments such as logistics, infantry, and armor. For more information go to the Marine Corps Career Tool.

Do scholarship and College Program (Advanced Standing) students receive identical assignments after graduation?

Yes. Assignments are made on the basis of the student's choices, qualifications, performance and needs of the Navy. Scholarship status is not a factor in the assignment process.

Will I get the choice of duty I want after graduation?

At the beginning of the senior year, fall semester, our Navy option students state their duty preferences, and many will get their first choice of duty. There are some prerequisites, such as being physically qualified for aviation, and having the right college major and GPA for nuclear powered ships and submarines. Here at Colorado, we are VERY proud of our success rate in getting our midshipmen their FIRST choice of assignment. Ultimately, the service assignment is dependent upon the needs of the Navy; students should always be prepared to serve in any capacity required instead of focuing on their own self-interests.

Marine Option students receive their duty assignments after successfully completing The Basic School (TBS) post-graduation. 

Can I be guaranteed flight school after graduation?

The Navy does not give such a guarantee. However, experience has shown that a solid academic performance at Colorado, and high scores on the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB), plus being physically qualified for aviation, will give a Midshipman an excellent chance of getting aviation. The Marine Corps does offer flight guarantees prior to attending The Basic School (TBS), which can be granted by meeting the requirements any time up to 90 days before graduation.

What about graduate school? Is there any way to go directly to graduate school, and to serve the obligated military service after graduate school?

That is a possibility, but highly unlikely. A few top students are selected each year to go on to graduate school, but the vast majority of Midshipmen are expected to enter the military after graduation. Keep in mind, though, that the Navy and Marine Corps have their own Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and you will be eligible for assignment there after your first three or four years of active duty. This will enable you to obtain a graduate degree in one of the offered courses of study while receiving full pay.

Is medical school in that same category? Can I go from the NROTC program directly into medical school, and then serve my obligated time as a Navy doctor?

It is possible but the current quota for NROTC midshipmen attending Medical School is 0 and will be for the foreseeable future.

NROTC Coursework and Curriculum

What are the specific courses that I must take if I join the NROTC program?

Navy Option:

  • Calculus I & II
  • Physics  I & II (calc-based)
  • 2 writing intensive English courses
  • 1 American Military History OR National Security Policy course
  • 1 Cultural Studies course 
  • 8 Naval Science courses (one per semester)
  • Note: AP credits can fulfill some of these requirements. However, at least one Calculus and one Physics course must be taken in the collegiate environment.

​Marine Option:

  • 2 writing intensive English courses
  • 1 American Military History OR National Security Policy course
  • 6 Naval Science courses
What types of academic support does the NROTC unit provide?

The NROTC Unit provides professional tutoring in calculus and physics at no cost to the student. Additionally, we require all incoming freshman and anyone struggling to participate in weekly study hours. Each Midshipman is also assigned to a class advisor. The class advisor is an active duty Lieutenant who also provides advice about school and NROTC while keeping the big picture in mind. The advisor will ensure each Midshipman is on track to complete degree and program requirements.

How does the Marine training differ from Navy training?

In most respects, it is the same. Marine option students are not required to take calculus and physics courses. Marine option students take different Naval Science courses in their junior and senior years, and in the summer after their junior year they take part in the Officer Candidate School (OCS) training program "BULLDOG" at Quantico, Virginia. Our Marine Officer Instructor guides them in their development, and upon graduation they are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Summer Training

What will I do on summer training cruises?

There are three different cruises for scholarship students. Third Class cruises take place after freshman year, Second Class after sophomore year, and First Class after junior year. College Program students participate in First Class cruise only. Nurse Corps students take two cruises, one aboard ship after freshman year, and one at a Naval Hospital after junior year.


  • Third Class - Gives students the chance to learn about the four basic "line officer" specialties. The students spend one week at each of four locations to receive indoctrination in aviation, submarine, surface ships, and Marine Corps amphibious operations.
  • Second Class - Aboard either a surface ship or submarine (student's choice) and is geared toward experiencing the Navy from an enlisted viewpoint.
  • First Class -  Provides junior officer training aboard ships, submarines, shore based aviation squadrons OR a chance to try out for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) or Naval Special Warfare (NSW) communities.


  • Third Class - Gives students the chance to learn about the four basic "line officer" specialties. The students spend one week at each of four locations to receive indoctrination in aviation, submarine, surface ships, and Marine Corps amphibious operations.
  • Second Class - Mountain Warfare Training Center near Bridgeport, CA.
  • First Class - 6 week Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA.


I need to work during the summer. May I?

The summer cruises are part of our curriculum and are a required part of the program. However, we will allow you to state your preference for when you would like to take the cruise. The cruises are only four to six weeks long, so you should still be able to work for part of the summer. Also, the Midshipmen are paid about $550 per month during the duration of the cruise.

Where do we go during summer cruise, and who pays for our transportation?

Our students travel all over the world on cruises. The Navy pays for travel expenses from school or your home to the cruise site and your return to home each summer. Our juniors have many options available to them.

Training and Campus LIfe

You mentioned that you have women in the NROTC program; how does their training differ from that of the men?

It is nearly identical. The physical fitness standards are a little different for women, but other than that the women train the same as the men.

Do NROTC graduates have the same opportunities as Naval Academy graduates when it comes time for duty assignments after graduation?

Yes. NROTC and Academy graduates have identical opportunities to go into the fields of their choice. When it comes time to state duty preferences and to be selected for duty assignments, students with higher academic and aptitude rankings, regardless of where they go to school, will be most likely to receive their first choice of assignments.

Do NROTC Midshipmen wear uniforms to classes every day like they do at the Naval Academy?

No. NROTC Midshipmen are only required to wear the uniform on Thursday for classes and Leadership Lab. Lab, otherwise known as drill, may consist of military formation, classroom sessions, general briefings, tactical scenarios, guest speakers or physical fitness training.

Are NROTC Midshipmen housed together on campus?

Here at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU), the Housing and ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) departments are partnering to provide students enrolled/involved in the Army, Air Force, and Navy/Marine Corps ROTC programs with the ability to live with another ROTC student as roommates in the Residence Halls on the CU campus. The purpose of this program is to make living in the Residence Halls more convenient, inclusive, and comfortable for Resident Cadets. Interested? It's easy to sign up. When filling out the required CU Residence Hall application simply answer "yes" to the question in the questionnaire section regarding ROTC Cadets. Be advised that requests to be housed with an ROTC roommate will be on a space available basis depending on when the request is made. If you have questions regarding this program please do not hesitate to call our representatives in the CU Housing and ROTC departments.

Applications and Requirements

How do I apply for an NROTC national scholarship?

Start the process at the beginning of summer before your high school senior year. The Navy Recruiting Command and Headquarters, Marine Corps accept and process all NROTC scholarship applications. Go to to start the application process. The Navy Recruiting Command or Headquarters, Marine Corps will notify you of the results of the scholarship selection board.

If you do not receive a national scholarship, you can apply to join as a non-scholarship College Program (Basic Standing) student. As a College Program (Basic Standing) student, you can apply for a three-year scholarship when you have three years of college remaining and a two-year scholarship when you have two years of college remaining. The staff at the NROTC will assist you in preparing the application. If you receive a scholarship and accept it, you incur the same obligation as a national scholarship recipient.

What are the basic qualifications to join the NROTC program?
Will my scholarship selection be held up if I have trouble passing the medical exam?

The scholarship selection process is completely independent of the medical examination. Scholarship selection is based on academic performance, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated leadership potential. You can be selected as a scholarship nominee even before you take the medical exam; but, of course, it cannot be awarded to you until you have passed the medical exam. The importance of completing and passing the medical exam cannot be over-emphasized. It is up to you to do all you can to complete the medical exam in a timely fashion. If follow-on exams or inputs from your local doctor are required, then you must ensure you meet these requirements. If you are not yet medically qualified by DODMERB when you arrive to school, we CANNOT activate your scholarship.

If I am notified that some physical problem will disqualify me from scholarship eligibility, is there anything I can do?

That depends on the nature of the problem. Some problems, such as minor eye corrections, can be waived. Some problems, such as having had certain childhood diseases, or a family history of diabetes, can cloud your medical record to the point that additional medical evidence may be required to substantiate your qualification. Unless you are told that your condition is absolutely disqualifying, you should do all that you can to obtain medical certification. Letters from family doctors or your local specialists can help to show that your condition should not be disqualifying. When in doubt, ask for a medical waiver.

In addition to the medical exam, is there a physical fitness exam required for scholarship selection?



Link - Applicant Fitness Assessment (AFA)


Link - Physical Fitness Test (PFT)


What are my chances of receiving a national scholarship?

Each year, approximately 4500 students complete the application requirements for an NROTC national scholarship. In FY 2014, about 1200 total scholarships were awarded. Many of those NROTC applicants apply for other scholarships, too. When the time comes to award the scholarships, a significant number of students will decline the NROTC offer because they have received similar offers from the other ROTCs, or from service academies, or from universities. In the past, the Navy has built-in a buffer to account for students who decline the offer, and also to account for students who accept the scholarship but attrite from the program sometime in college. Now, we will see less national scholarships awarded yearly and the buffer will be replaced by College Program (Basic Standing) students who have exhibited superior performance and earned a three or two year scholarship. This means chances will increase for College Program students in the future but it may be more difficult to earn a national scholarship straight from high school.

How are the scholarships awarded?

The scholarship selection board meets bi-weekly from October through March of each year in Pensacola, Florida. This board is made up of different groups of NROTC Unit Commanding Officers (Navy Captains). Because of the rolling nature of the board, you could be awarded a scholarship anytime from November through April. If you are ever in doubt as to the status of your scholarship application package, feel free to call 1-800-NAV-ROTC and ask or visit the following web site:

What does the average scholarship candidate's profile look like?

Navy Scholarship Profile (Note: The Marine Scholarship is virtually the same except % Tech Major)

  • Average SAT: 1369
  • Math SAT: 682
  • Verbal SAT: 687
  • % Military Dependant: 37%
  • % JROTC: 22%
  • % Top 10th percentile rank in class: 59%
  • % Top 20th percentile rank in class: 78%
  • GPA (unweighted): 3.81
  • % Tech Major: 89%
If I missed the January 31st deadline for the scholarship application, is there any way that I can still obtain an NROTC scholarship?

Yes, but not a national scholarship. Students can become eligible for the award of either a three-year or two-year scholarship by joining their NROTC Unit in the non-scholarship College Program (Basic Standing) status.

In general, if you are a Navy option the best method to earn a scholarship is to:

  1. Major in a technical field
  2. Earn better than a 3.5 cumulative GPA. Non-technical majors should aim for a 3.7 or above cumulative GPA.
  3. Complete Calculus and Physics requirements (2 courses of each) prior to end of sophomore year.

As a Marine

  1. At least a 3.5 GPA in a technical major, 3.7 GPA in a non-technical major.
  2. Physical Fitness Test score of at least 280.
What does the term "board eligible" mean?

When you initially apply for the NROTC scholarship, you must release your SAT or ACT scores to the scholarship board. When your scores are received, and they are high enough to qualify you for the NROTC program, you become "board eligible". At that point, your recruiter will schedule you for your officer interview, fitness test, and anything else that needs to be completed. In order to have your record appear before the scholarship selection board, you must complete all aspects of the application procedure, with the exception of the physical exam, which can be done later. It is up to you to ensure that all of this is completed in time for the selection board. At the latest, you should complete the paperwork portion of the application by mid-January.

How much of my time at school will be tied up in NROTC activities?

As much as you want, but at least ten hours a week. Your Naval Science courses meet three hours per week and replace other electives, so those courses should not be thought of as extra requirements. In addition, there is a two-hour leadership lab period each week, and you may be asked to devote about three nights per month in required activities. There are a number of NROTC extra curricular activities available to you if you are interested in them. We sponsor formal and informal dinners, parties, picnics, and other get-togethers, and we participate in Colorado's intramural athletics with a variety of NROTC teams. Almost all of these activities are purely voluntary.

If I join the NROTC program, am I in the military, or am I still a civilian?

NROTC Midshipmen are given the same status as "inactive reservists." You will get a "reserve" military ID card, but you will be a civilian during all but the summer training cruise periods of your curriculum. The summer training is performed in an active duty "reserve" status.

How are tuition payments and book purchases handled for scholarship students?

The NROTC Unit will pay your tuition and fees directly to the university. Incoming freshman are required to pay an university confirmation deposit and a housing deposit before school starts. You must pay these deposits. The Navy will provide a basic book stipend of $375, independent of the amount you actually spend on books.

What will happen if I decided not to continue in the NROTC program after I have started the sophomore year and incurred an obligation for active duty?

There are several reasons and circumstances for leaving the NROTC program. There is no obligation at all if you quit before September 1st of your sophomore year. If, after the start of the after that date, you decide to quit, you will either have to pay back tuition expended, or go on active military service in enlisted status immediately if you drop out of college, or upon graduation if you stay in college. If a medical problem develops that would preclude you from commissioning, then the obligation could be erased. If you drop from the program because of your own misconduct or inaptitude, you could be required to reimburse the Navy for your tuition and book expenditures at the discretion of the Secretary of the Navy.

Could I avoid the obligated service if I simply repay the Navy for my tuition and book expenditures?

The Secretary of the Navy reserves final determination for either recoupment or active military service if you are disenrolled for any reason. However, the current trend is recoupment if you drop prior to your senior year. If you voluntarily drop during your Senior year, the policy is active enlisted service.

University Selections

If I am given an NROTC scholarship, does that guarantee that I will be admitted to Colorado?

No. The scholarship selection process is TOTALLY INDEPENDENT of the Colorado admission process. You must seek admission to Colorado or some other NROTC host university. Remember that the NROTC scholarship cannot be awarded to you until you have been accepted for admission at an NROTC host school. It is a good idea for NROTC scholarship applicants to apply to 5 NROTC host schools to ensure acceptance to at least one NROTC host school.

Are NROTC scholarship recipients given any preferential treatment in the Colorado admission process?

No. The same personal characteristics and academic credentials are considered in scholarship selection and in Colorado admission. Selection for a scholarship is a good indication that you may be selected for admission; but it is neither guaranteed nor implied. The NROTC scholarship committee might place more emphasis on leadership potential as evidenced in extra curricular athletics or school government activities. The university might place more emphasis on academic achievement.

Should I wait for the results of the NROTC scholarship selection before I apply for admission to Colorado?

Absolutely not! In most cases, you will not be able to wait. The deadline for admission application to Colorado is early in the spring. Unless you are fortunate enough to be selected for an early scholarship, you may not know your NROTC scholarship status until after Colorado's deadline. So, you will likely have to apply for admission before you know of your scholarship selection and may even have to confirm enrollment with a deposit - small investments that could pay big dividends later.

Can you offer any hints regarding what the scholarship selection board looks for in making its selections?

Yes. The NROTC scholarship selection board will consider the "whole person," including College Board scores, grades, class standing, athletics, participation in extra curricular activities, recommendations, interview results, and perceived potential. We are looking for the future leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps. We want well rounded students who are intelligent enough to excel in academics, athletic enough to meet the physical challenges of military service, and who are personable and dynamic enough to assume roles as military leaders. It is not enough to be only bright, or only athletic, or only personable. It takes a combination of the three qualities to be a successful Naval Officer. Officer candidates must also be of high moral character. Students with criminal records or who have gone beyond experimentation with illegal drugs are not likely officer candidates. Take care in selecting those who will provide written recommendations for you. If a candidate is depicted as being an average run-of-the-mill student, it will detract from the board's assessment of the individual. The application interview with a local active duty officer is also vitally important. Look sharp and present yourself well. College Board scores can be a positive factor for the student, but only insofar as they are supported by actual academic achievement. A student with high SAT or ACT scores, but mediocre grades and class standing, is less desirable than a student with moderate scores and high grades and standing. One is coasting and the other is a hard working achiever.

As an NROTC scholarship student, can I attend the university of my choice?

Yes, providing that the University has an NROTC Unit or that it has an agreement with a Unit at a nearby university for you to attend in a "cross-enrolled" status. In the NROTC scholarship application process, you will be asked your university preference. After you receive a scholarship, your admission status at your first choice school will be monitored by that NROTC Unit. If you are denied admission to your first-choice school, or if your choices change due to personal preference, you must notify the Naval Education and Training Command of your new desires. Occasionally, an NROTC Unit's freshmen class may fill. When this happens, scholarship nominees, who had wanted to attend that school, may be asked to attend their second-choice school if they have been admitted there. This is not a common occurrence. MAKE SURE THE CHIEF OF NAVAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING KNOWS WHAT YOUR CURRENT FIRST CHOICE SCHOOL IS, SINCE IT MAY CHANGE THROUGHOUT YOUR SENIOR YEAR.

Can I join the Unit and attend school elsewhere?

Yes. You may join our Unit as a "cross-enrolled" student if you would like to attend the University of Colorado at Denver, but the unit discourages attending CU Denver. As a "cross-enrolled" student, you will attend CU Denver as a full time student and come to the CU Boulder campus to attend Naval Science classes. Be sure to take the commute into consideration. Denver is at least a 45-minute commute from Boulder. You will be required to be in Boulder at least four times a week for Naval Science classes, leadership lab, and physical training.

If I want to change my first-choice school, who do I tell?

Tell your local scholarship coordinator or call 1-800-NAV-ROTC and speak with a Candidate Guidance Officer.

I am trying to decide which university to attend. Are there any differences among the various NROTC Units?

The naval science curriculum at each school is identical. If there are any apparent differences among NROTC Units, they are due to the customs and traditions of the Units, and the personalities of the Unit Staffs, and even the Midshipmen in those Units. Good advice would be to choose your university on the basis of its overall reputation in the major of your choice. Look at the reputation of the graduates of the school. You should narrow your choices down to a few, and then visit those campuses (and their NROTC Units) to help you make the final decision.

Midshipmen and CU

Who teaches the Naval Science courses?

The NROTC staff is composed of active duty Navy and Marine Corps officers and enlisted personnel. The Naval Science courses are taught by the staff officers. These same officers will double as your NROTC class advisors, providing guidance and assistance, as necessary, in your academic and military pursuits.

If I start out as a Marine Option student, can I switch to be a Navy Option student, or vice versa?

You can change from one option to the other, but it is not automatic. You must request the change, and both Navy and Marine Corps officials must approve it. Keep in mind that Navy option and Marine option students have different program requirements that may affect your ability to switch.

Is there an orientation for new NROTC students?

Yes. Every year the Colorado NROTC unit hosts a New Student Orientation (NSO) program. Orientation will be held two weeks before the start of classes.  It lasts six days, and is at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. The majority of expense of orientation is borne by the Navy. At Orientation, freshmen are introduced to military discipline and are fitted for their uniforms. They learn about skills to better prepare them academically for the university and undergo a variety of activities to become members of the Midshipman Battalion. They receive physical fitness training and tests, swimming tests, marching instruction and classroom instruction.

Is the freshmen orientation like a boot camp?

No. The orientation is run by the upperclass midshipmen and supervised by the NROTC Unit staff. We stress the need for discipline and teamwork, and some people have to adjust their attitude a bit.  Although it is not like military boot camp, it is physically and mentally demanding. You will be introduced to lessons in military culture and skills like discipline, most students find orientation to be very rewarding. It is also an excellent opportunity to get to know your freshmen classmates before school starts.

Can you describe how a Midshipman fits into the university?

An NROTC Midshipman is a civilian, pursuing his or her own academic degree in a normal university environment, in the same manner as a non-Midshipman would. The only difference is that Midshipman takes a series of Naval Science courses, and he/she wears a uniform to class once a week. Midshipmen are free to join fraternities or sororities, and enjoy all aspects of campus life. Our offices and classrooms are just like all other offices and classrooms on campus. You will blend in with and participate in the campus activities of your choice. When you graduate, you will serve with pride as a Navy or Marine Corps officer.

I have no experience with the military; how do I know if I will fit in?

You do not know, and neither did any of us who are in the military now. You have to join the program and experience it for yourself. That's why the first year is without obligation. We are looking for intelligent and physically fit men and women of high moral character who can be trained to assume positions of leadership and great responsibility in the Navy and Marine Corps. If you fit that description, and if you prefer to be a leader rather than a follower, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

How can I contact the unit?

Please see the 'Contact' page, located here.