How to Join

How to Join

Joining AFROTC involves being admitted to a university with an AFROTC detachment, or a cross-town agreement with one, and then contacting the detachment for more information on how to apply. You can lookup the different detachments here.

The process will vary some for each detachment. Some may have a screening process before they let you join, some may have a big processing day where every applicant comes in at the same time for briefings and paperwork, some may handle them on a one-on-one basis. AFROTC detachments vary in size from about 20 cadets in a detachment all the way up to over 400 or so in the largest detachments.

Every detachment will have a website and contact information, so email them and ask what the process is to join their detachment.

Which detachment should you join?

All AFROTC detachments follow the same policies, teach the same lessons, and end with the same result, you commissioning as a 2d Lieutenant in the USAF or USSF. The important competitive factors like PSP, Field Training, and job selection are all done at the national level, so there aren't really 'easier' or 'harder' detachments.

My advice is to join a detachment that is in an area you'd like live in, or supports a school that you'd like to go to, or a school you can afford if not on scholarship.

Large Dets


  • Usually more resources due to a larger presence on campus and more students to do fundraising, etc.
  • More people to lead means you'll have a more realistic representation of what an actual military organization looks like. For instance there could be multiple Groups within the Cadet Wing, multiple squadrons within each group, and specialized jobs due to the abundance of manpower. Being in some of these leadership roles may mean you are overseeing and leading hundreds of people. You also see how the chain of command works and why it's important.
  • More extra activities. Larger detachments will usually have an Arnold Air Society organization, Silver Wings, specialized clubs to train for special tactics, etc.
  • Large alumni network. Some large detachments have alumni programs where cadets can go visit an alumni and see what active duty is like for a few days.
  • Mathematically, being in the top of your class at a large detachment is more advantageous than being at the top of your class at a small detachment.
  • In general, you'll likely be a more varied group of people and can find broader interests and backgrounds to connect with and more diverse opinions to solve problems with.


  • You may blend into the group, as your cadre can't realistically get to know every cadet closely. This may mean that your ranking relies more on your numbers rather than your leadership ability, unless you stand out in a good or bad way.

Small Dets


  • You can have a much closer relationship with your cadre and commander, as there would be a small number of people in your class.
  • Mathematically it's advantageous to be in the bottom third of your class at a small detachment than at a large detachment. You don't want to settle for the bottom of course, but if you end up there, it won't hurt your overall scores as much at a small detachment.
  • Due to only having dozens of cadets in the program rather than hundreds, you will likely get to know everyone better and may develop close mentoring relationships easier than at a large detachment.


  • A certain amount of work has to get done in any AFROTC detachment, regardless of how many people are in it, so if you have a small detachment, it may mean that you have multiple jobs and do more work to cover everything, whereas a larger detachment has a lot of people that can specialize in smaller areas (though they have to do so at a larger scale)
  • You can't hide in a small det. If you're struggling to improve, cadre and the other cadets are going to see it every training day.
  • Things like Field Training Preparation to get you ready to go to Field Training may feel less valuable in a small det. If you're one of five people going to Field Training, you don't even have enough people to properly march a flight or lead a small team, whereas a cadet at a large detachment may already have experience marching a flight of 25 people or leading a larger team.
  • Cadre at a smaller detachment may only be a Lieutenant Colonel and one or two Captains. With a smaller number of cadets, they will be less experienced and potentially less informed about some of the smaller opportunities in AFROTC, as compared to a larger detachment with a dozen cadre members. I don't say that to bash cadre at a smaller detachment, I've just experienced it multiple times where cadre at smaller detachments had no idea about some AFROTC policies and opportunities because they didn't have enough people to look into things.

Medium Dets

Medium dets obviously fall in between these two extremes, with varying levels of pros/cons.

Entry Requirements

In order to enter AFROTC, prospective cadets will need the following:

  • Be admitted to a university that has an AFROTC detachment, or a university that has a cross-town agreement with a detachment. Check with the College Locator.
  • Be a full-time student, able to maintain full-time status for at least three years. This can be for a first or second bachelor’s degree, or graduate degree, as long as the cadet is considered full-time by the university they are enrolled in. If the university does not define full-time status, then AFROTC defaults to considering 12 semester hours per semester for undergraduate and 9 semester hours for graduate courses as full-time. Note that the last semester a cadet is in the program does NOT have to be full-time.
  • Cadets must be at least 14 to enter the program, with parental or guardian consent. However, cadets must be at least 17 with parental consent in order to activate a scholarship, or contract with AFROTC in the later parts of the program. Cadets 18 and older do not require parental consent. The maximum age to commission as an officer in most jobs is 39. For most rated (flying) jobs such as Pilot, Combat Systems Officer, Air Battle Manager, the maximum age to enter pilot training is 33. Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilots may enter training up to 39.
  • Enroll and participate in Aerospace Science (AS) class, Leadership Laboratory (LLAB) and Physical Training (PT). These are regular classes in the university catalog that award college credit and are taught by AFROTC cadre. The exact codes and credit hours for each class will vary for each university. Please contact the detachment you’re interested in attending for details on which classes you need to take.
  • Fill out an application in the AFROTC WINGS system. Please wait for instructions from your detachment before filling out this information.
  • Provide original birth certificate or proof of naturalization or US passport to certify US Citizenship.
  • Provide original signed social security card.
  • Complete a “Sports Physical” with the university clinic or your own family doctor, or have a cleared DoDMERB or MEPS physical certification. The sports physical is a basic medical exam to make sure the applicant doesn’t have any major injuries or medical conditions that would prevent them from exercising as part of the AFROTC program.

    Note, this exam is only good for 30 days, so don't do it too far in advance of the start of the school year

  • Provide an academic degree plan showing that the cadet has a plan to graduate on time.
  • Have a clean criminal record, or obtain waivers necessary to enter the program.
  • Complete other paperwork and forms as directed by the hosting AFROTC Detachment.

Chances of Entry

Most detachments will allow anyone meeting the above requirements to join the detachment as an applicant, pursuing cadet, or cadet.

Some detachments will have a filtering process before allowing someone to join, and those details will be up to the commander of that AFROTC detachment. They may have an interview process, or an ‘eyeball check’ of an applicant’s fitness or height/weight ratio, standardized test scores, or high school GPA, etc.

Please note that entry into the AFROTC program does not guarantee a commission as an officer at the end! The ‘competitive’ part of AFROTC comes normally in the sophomore year, when cadets will compete for an Enrollment Allocation to attend Field Training through a process called the POC Selection Process (PSP). Learn more about the POC Selection Process.