Military Academies

There are several different types of educational institution referred to as “military academies.” Read this article to understand the differences between them and understand what they offer their students as educational institutions with a special focus.

What Are the Different Meanings of Military Academy?

A military academy can be the name of several different types of educational institution, so let’s begin by clarifying the distinctions between the different kinds.

• First and foremost, the term military academy refers to the Federal service academies at which entrants into the United States Armed Forces are trained to become officers. There are five academies for the Armed forces:

Army—U.S. Military Academy (USMA) West Point, NY

Navy, Marines—U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Annapolis, MD

Air Force—U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Colorado Springs, CO

Coast Guard—U.S. Coast Guard Academy  (USCGA) New London, CT 

Coast Guard, Navy, Merchant Marines—U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Kings Point, NY

Students at one of the military academies earn a B.S. degree and incur a 5-year obligation for active duty. In all except the Coast Guard Academy, nomination by an authorized nominator (often a U.S. Senator or Representative) is required to be considered for entrance.

• Second, there are higher education military academies, not run by the Federal government or the armed forces. Often enrolling both cadets and traditional students, these military academies focus on a college preparatory curriculum and leadership training in an atmosphere of military discipline, with some students, but not all, going on to a commission in a branch of the armed forces.

• Third, there are secondary schools that are known as military academies or military prep schools. These schools have a joint focus on high caliber academics and leadership training, often with a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) branch, or former members of the armed forces on staff. Outside of JROTC membership, which may be required where it is offered, the school may offer a greater or lesser emphasis on military discipline and a greater or lesser similarity to military hierarchy as part of its culture. 

This type of military academy may also have a religious affiliation that adds to the cultural milieu. What it is not likely to have is any ability to accommodate students with disabilities or other learning issues, much less, students with discipline problems—whether self-discipline or otherwise, students with a tendency towards teen violence, who use illegal substances, or who defy authority. With an emphasis on training leaders, military academies are not equipped to deal with students facing these issues.

This type of military academy may be coeducation or all boys. While most are private schools, there are also some public school military academies, and the public school military academies are day schools, rather than boarding schools. Most accept students in grades 9 through 12, but some accept students in younger grades, with one accepting students as early as 5th grade. A number of these academies offer a summer experience, some focused on academics to give students continuity between years, some focused on physical activity and sports, and some meant as a way to introduce prospective students to the school.