What Is the Air Force Academy?

The U.S. Air Force Academy is a public institution that provides college education and military training to selected young adults who, in return, commit to active military duty as commissioned officers. If you want to earn a college degree, enjoy working in a team environment and desire to serve your country, read on to learn about the U.S. Air Force Academy. Schools offering Aviation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Admission into the Air Force Academy

If you're interested in attending the Air Force Academy, you'll need to comply with detailed admission requirements that include age and citizenship standards, a nomination to the academy, demonstrated leadership experience and physical readiness. Admission to the academy is highly competitive. The Air Force Academy, located near Colorado Springs, Colo., was listed 29th among the nation's liberal arts colleges for 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report.

If you're nominated and accepted into the academy, you'll receive benefits that include full paid tuition, room and board, free medical care and a monthly stipend. You'll also be eligible to receive interest-free loans for emergency situations, and you may participate in a low-cost life insurance program sponsored by the government.

Important Facts About the Air Force Academy

Possible Careers Engineering Technician, Public Affairs Officer, Air Battle Manager
Concentrations Propulsion, Aircraft Design, Aero-thermodynamics
On-the-Job Training Available every day
Online Availability Offered through the Air Force Virtual Education Center

Mechanical Engineering Technicians Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians
Median Salary (2018) $56,250 $64,330
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 5% 2%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Admission Qualifications

To be eligible to enter the academy, you must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 17 and 23. You must be single with no dependents. Also, you must meet the physical requirements and academic standards. Leadership experience, such as serving as a student government officer, a member of the National Honor Society, a team captain or president of a high school club is required as well. You need to be of good moral character and take an Oath of Allegiance, affirming your signed agreement to serve your country.


Gaining a nomination to the academy is a lengthy process. You may request a nomination from your district's U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator or an at-large nomination from the Vice President of the United States. If you're a child of a parent who is missing in action as a member of the U.S. military or as a government employee, or if you're the child of a Medal of Honor recipient, you may apply for a presidential nomination. If you attend a military honors school designated by the U.S. Army or U.S. Navy, you may request a nomination from your school.

Air Force Academy Curriculum

The academy offers a Bachelor of Science in 27 majors. You can choose from majors such as aeronautical and astronautical engineering, computer science, foreign language, physics, mathematics, law, economics, and English. You'll find academy class sizes are small, with seven 55-minute classes each weekday.

You'll undertake Basic Cadet Training (BCT) during your first five weeks at the academy; this will aid in your transition to military service, which includes wearing a uniform and understanding military protocol and conduct. As a cadet, you'll participate in mandatory intramural team activities after classes. On Saturday mornings, you'll participate in military training that may include drills, parade marching, and other instruction.

Military Service Obligation

Upon graduation from the Air Force Academy, you'll be offered an appointment as a commissioned officer in the Air Force to fulfill your military service obligation. You must serve at least five years of active duty to complete your obligation. If you decide to become a pilot, your flight training program will determine how much longer your military service will be extended.

During the first two years as a cadet, you may resign from the academy without any commitment to serve active military duty. If you're a 3rd-year or 4th-year cadet who leaves the academy, you'll be obligated to serve on active duty as an enlisted airman.


You can select from a variety of Air Force careers upon graduation from the academy. A little more than half of the academy graduates decide on a flight career, which may include working as a navigator or a fighter pilot. You can also choose space operations, which may include building rockets and satellites for Air Force missions.

Another option you may consider is space and missile operations, which focuses on the use of space to defend the United States. Work in this field may include space-object tracking, missile warning systems, and launch pad operations.

If you're interested in an engineering career, you could become a space engineer and help research, test and review space technology, and aerospace avionics. Or, you could become a space aggressor, working and testing the country's defense systems located in space. You could also choose Air Force careers in healthcare or law.

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