The five U.S. military academies operate quite differently from other colleges and universities in the country, yet they provide excellent education.


One type of higher education institution that is often overlooked in the debate about the nation’s best universities is the United States military service, established with the general mission of training officers in the armed forces or other forms of national service. Academy.

There are five service academies, each doing an excellent job of educating students not only for initial, sometimes long-term service careers, but also for success in private employment. In addition to intensive practical experience, Academy graduates typically receive a world-class education in science and engineering, along with several other major options. Plus, it’s free.

Forbes excluded five U.S. military academies from this year’s list because there isn’t enough data to make a fair comparison with other universities. However, the academy’s excellent educational achievements are comparable to those of the country’s leading colleges and universities and deserve a closer look.


5 service academies

US Military Academy Founded in West Point, New York in 1802 by law signed by Thomas Jefferson. West Point currently enrolls approximately 4,500 military cadets, of whom approximately 24% are women and approximately one-third belong to a racial or ethnic minority group.

The Academy is considered the first engineering college in the United States. The current curriculum includes a wide range of majors, but all students are required to complete a core he curriculum that includes more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses than a typical college .

Graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army and serve on active duty for five years. If you choose to leave the Army after five years, you will have to serve three years in the reserves.

United States Naval Academy The Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland, was established as the Naval Academy in 1845 through the efforts of then-Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. The current enrollment is about 4,500 cadets, of whom 28% are women and 23% are considered part of minority groups.

The Naval Academy is smaller than most colleges but offers a wide variety of majors. Its academic programs focus on STEM fields “to meet the current and future advanced technical needs of the Navy.”

Graduates are typically commissioned as second lieutenants in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps with a minimum of five years of service.

United States Air Force Academy Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Established by an Act of Parliament in 1954, it has approximately 4,400 cadets, approximately 30% of whom are women and more than 30% are members of minority groups. Its list of majors and its general research curriculum are also heavily STEM-heavy.

All graduates must serve at least five years in active service and three years in the reserve, but those who have also completed pilot training are required to serve longer.

US Coast Guard Academy Founded in 1876 in New London, Connecticut. The first “campus” Dobbin; Moved to its current location in 1910.

It enrolls just under 1,100 cadets, of whom 38% are women and more than a third are members of minority groups. Nearly two-thirds of cadets major in her STEM field.graduates A five-year commitment to serve as a commissioned Coast Guard officer.

American Merchant Marine Academy Located in Kingspoint, New York, the university was founded in 1936 when Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act. Its permanent campus was dedicated in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Enrollment he has over 1,200 Naval Academy students, approximately 21% female and 21% minority students. .

The curriculum is STEM-intensive, and all majors focus on some aspect of maritime studies, including marine engineering, logistics, transportation, and shipyard management.

Its service obligations are the most extensive of the Academy. This includes working in the commercial or national defense of the maritime industry in one of several recognized occupations for at least five years after graduation. Maintain an officer’s license on a U.S. Merchant Marine for at least 6 years; and have served on a U.S. Merchant Marine or Armed Forces Reserve for at least 8 of his years.


Academic background and achievements

admission. Service academies are highly selective, with acceptance rates typically in the 8-20% range. In most of them, the applicant must be nominated by a member of Congress or, in some selected instances, by the Vice President or President. (The Coast Guard does not require a nomination.)

The profile of admitted students is very impressive in terms of standardized test scores, high school grades, extracurricular achievements and national recognition. They rival the numbers found at the nation’s best liberal arts colleges.

financial aid. Upon being admitted, all cadets and cadets receive a “full ride” of financial aid that covers all tuition, fees, room and board. Thus, they do not incur financial debt to cover the full cost of their undergraduate education, which sets them apart from students at almost every other college in America. However, instead of debt, they have a service obligation and therefore need some kind of repayment.

curriculum. Although academies have a very focused mission, they tend to offer the most traditional and broad curricula found anywhere, despite the large amount of STEM courses. With an emphasis on experiential education, the Academy can boast of offering one of the most well-rounded college experiences available.

result. All service academies perform exceptionally well on objective measures of educational and career achievement, including the factors Forbes uses to rank colleges and universities. for example,

  • Both have a retention rate of over 90%.
  • Graduation rates are also high: West Point 85%, Naval Academy 91%, Air Force Academy 82%, Coast Guard 84%, Merchant Marine 85%.

In terms of financial benefits, Salary data for Service Academy graduates shows that they are very good compared to other colleges and universities. Here are the median salaries for careers (6 years after graduation):

  • United States Naval Academy $90,800
  • United States Military Academy $88,700
  • Merchant Marine Academy $87,600
  • Air Force Academy $85,400
  • Coast Guard Academy $83,800

How do these salaries compare to the top 25 colleges on the Forbes 2022 list?

The median starting career salary for the Forbes top 25 is $77,980 at Johns Hopkins University. The highest salary is his $98,100 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The lowest is the University of California, Davis ($68,700). If universities were ranked based on starting salaries only, each academy would be in the top 15 of all institutions.

This profile is even more pronounced for median mid-career salaries (10 years after graduation). This period is particularly evident as it reflects the earnings of many academy graduates after they have finished active duty and entered the civilian workforce. Mid-career salaries for each academy are as follows:

  • United States Naval Academy $169,000
  • United States Military Academy $166,800
  • United States Air Force Academy $153,900
  • US Merchant Marine Academy $151,300
  • US Coast Guard Academy $140,900

How do these salaries compare to salaries for graduates on the Top 25 list? Again, the academy performs exceptionally well. The highest mid-career salary in the top 25 is again MIT ($173,70) and lowest is the University of Michigan ($134,800). The median mid-career salary for the top 25 is $148,800 at Columbia University.

Graduates from all academies, except the Coast Guard, have higher mid-career salaries than the top 25 medians, and the Coast Guard ranks 17th among the top 25 if rankings were based solely on median mid-career salaries. would have been

Gallery: Forbes America’s Top Colleges List: Top 25 Success Factories

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If you want to claim that the military school is one of America’s most elite, based on some of the standard results used to rate colleges, it would be hard to disagree. Receiving excellent students, educating them well for their mission, graduating a very high percentage of them on time and debt-free, providing them with a socially valuable and very well-compensated working life Prepare them for. They are some of the best institutions in American higher education.

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