Although the security field is among the fastest growing since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, competition for certain leadership positions can be fierce and college tuition can be mighty expensive. Therefore, it is an excellent idea for security majors to supplement their learning and experience by joining a Reserve Officers’ Training (ROTC) program. Since the military and security field often go hand and hand, listing one of the top ROTC colleges on a résumé will certainly spark interest during the job search process. In addition, most ROTC programs offer tremendous scholarships that can help lessen the financial burden of a great education. The following are the best ROTC programs that provide high-quality military experience to students pursuing a security degree.
1. Northeastern University
Situated in the large metropolitan area of Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University has been ranked as the 49th best college by U.S. News and World Report. Northeastern University is also often recognized for its commitment to and leadership in security research and other efforts for national defense. Partnered with the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the leading homeland security educator in the nation, enrolled students in the Department of Homeland Security are offered two concentrations in either emergency response or risk management. Even better, the Liberty Battalion Army ROTC program serving Northeastern University and surrounding Boston universities is among the top such programs in the county and recognized for the highest LDAC scores. With an exceptional ranking, security program, and ROTC program, it is no surprise that Northeastern takes the crown.
2. Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University has been a top-tier innovative global research university throughout its long-lasting 113-year history in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently ranked as the 23rd best college in the nation, it is a highly selective school with an acceptance rate of just 27.8 percent. Carnegie Mellon offers accepted students some of the best information security management and information security technology degrees in the nation. Students gain all of the necessary strategic thinking, cyber forensics, and security threat analysis skills to assume leadership positions in the thriving information security field. The Carnegie Mellon Naval ROTC Steel City Unit program is also the single largest commissioning source that produces officers for both the Navy and Marine Corps.
3. University of Maryland
Located in the heart of our nation’s capital Washington, D.C., the University of Maryland is ranked as the 62nd best college in the United States. Besides being known for its world-class education, it is also recognized for its Army ROTC program, which has recently been granted the MacArthur Award for outstanding cadet performance. In fact, 18.3 percent of cadets from this program have placed in the Top 5 since 2005 and 33 percent receive a rating of excellent. Many of the cadets in the University of Maryland ROTC program study abroad and increase their cultural understanding in countries like Panama, China, Spain, and Morocco. While enrolled in the ROTC program, students can earn credits towards one of the top bachelor’s and master’s degrees in cyber security or homeland security.
4. University of Colorado – Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder campus, ranked as the 86th best national college, is nestled in the majestic Rocky Mountains. Home to one of the most respected ROTC programs in the country, the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Golden Buffalo Battalion attracts some of the top scholar athletes to become future leaders of the United States. At the CU-Boulder, students can become involved in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or the Marine Corp ROTC programs. While earning valuable experience and credits in the ROTC, students are enabled to work on an undergraduate or graduate degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in emergency management, homeland security, or security intelligence. Here students will learn a broad range of policy management skills for analysis of natural disasters, technological hazards, and terrorism attacks.
5. Florida State University
Positioned in the downtown center of the capital of the Sunshine State in Tallahassee, Florida State University is a public institution that is currently ranked the 91st best college in the nation. Among the more than 550 student organizations offered on campus, Florida State is home to both Army and Air Force ROTC programs. Through a competitive selection process, ROTC scholarships at FSU can be used to reimburse costs for tuition, room and board, or books. Members of the ROTC programs participate in leadership laboratories and physical training to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Credits obtained from the program courses can be used towards a degree from the prominent Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program. Students seeking either undergraduate or graduate degrees will expand knowledge of risk communication, public health, terrorism, and security management.
6. George Mason University
As the largest public university in Virginia within close proximity of Washington, D.C., George Mason University is recognized for its academic excellence by being ranked the 141st best college in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Students who earn a degree at George Mason receive the highest starting salaries and median annual wages of all Virginia four-year degree institutions. Deemed a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency, George Mason offers high caliber cyber security and security management degree programs. Students that are able to pass the physical fitness test and maintain a 2.5 GPA are also given access to the university’s Patriot Battalion Army ROTC program to receive significant experience and tuition assistance.
7. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University, situated in the rural setting of Richmond, is ranked the 55th best college in the South. As part of the prominent EKU Justice and Safety Department, students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in homeland security for broad understanding of critical infrastructure protection, intelligence analysis, and disaster response. Graduates from the homeland security degree program often go on to work in military service, border patrol, private security, the DEA, FBI, or Secret Service. In order to further their learning, students are encouraged to join the Eastern Kentucky University ROTC program. Since its establishment in 1940, the ROTC program has been renowned for leadership excellence and produced over 2,050 Second Lieutenants for duty in the Army.
8. Coastal Carolina University
Situated about 10 miles west of the popular Myrtle Beach resort in suburban Conway, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University is a recognized public institution that is ranked the 62nd best college in the South. Students who major in Intelligence and National Security Studies are given extensive knowledge about both domestic and foreign security policy. Students take courses in national security strategy, homeland security, intelligence operations, diplomacy, terrorism, and public administration. Internships are a vital part of the program, giving students experience working with the Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency. CCU also hosts an Army ROTC program, where students can gain credits towards their diploma and scholarships with a monthly allowance.
9. Marian University
Marian University, a private liberal arts college on a large 80-acre campus in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, stands proudly as the 86th best university in the Midwest. With a close-knit school community of just 1,798 students, Marian offers a tremendous bachelor’s program in homeland security. Following a curriculum designed by the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium Association, students are prepared to solve security management issues, develop strategic plans, and address international terrorism issues. Although Marian University is not home to its own ROTC program, it is partnered with the nearby University of Wisconsin Oshkosh for the Fox Valley Army ROTC Battalion. With the outstanding experience, students are able to become part-time or full-time commissioned officers in the U.S. Army.
Overall, all of the mentioned colleges and universities present students an excellent opportunity to start a successful career in a range of security careers, with the added experience of a ROTC program to further student learning. These are the best of the best ROTC colleges in terms of national ranking, success rate of graduates, job placement, student services, and ROTC program availability on campus for tuition assistance and credit transfers. As threats of terrorism and cyber security breaches continue to grow, there will be increased need for highly qualified security experts to protect our nation’s assets at on the home front and overseas. Consider these top ROTC programs for security majors to jumpstart your career for success in the thriving industry of security.
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