Aside from your major course of study at the United States Air Force Academy, there are many additional opportunities to enrich your education and life beyond academics. These programs provide opportunities to develop leadership, build character and broaden development of the “whole person” to succeed as an officer in the United States Air Force. Opportunities include:
- Academic Support and Recognition Programs
- Exchange Programs
- Research Programs
- Graduate Opportunities
- Professional Club Programs
The Academy offers several programs that give cadets academic support, extension and recognition. Cadets may deepen and broaden their educational trajectory by participating in one of the following programs.
Student Academic Affairs
The Student Academic Services Center offers programs and services designed to enhance the academic success of every cadet. Cadets can get help with time management, reading strategies, general study skills, writing an academic paper, or seek information on how best to prepare for graduate school. Formal courses, group seminars, and individual help are offered to assist cadets to reach their academic and life goals. Services available to students include: a Writing Center, a Strategy for Academy Success program, a Quantitative Reasoning/Evening Tutoring Center (for extra help in chemistry, math, mechanical engineering, and physics), and the Reading Enhancement course. Information on graduate scholarship opportunities is also available.
This program is designed to help curious young cadets determine a major course of study. For one special evening once each semester, The dean harnesses the collective energies of a unique group of educators and upper-class cadets to provide a one-stop opportunity for undeclared cadets to learn about the more than 30 disciplinary academic majors, four divisional majors and two minors available at USAFA. This group of military and civilian professionals from varied educational backgrounds and career fields unite as one military community with a common purpose: to share with cadets their collective knowledge and inspiration gleaned from years of academia and military experiences. Cadets also use this opportunity to learn about self-improvement through the services of Student Academic Affairs (such as study skills, graduate school programs and the reading and writing center).
Academy Scholars Program
The Academy Scholars Program helps competitively-selected cadets reach their full potential by offering a challenging path through the curriculum, thereby providing the Air Force and our nation with a pool of intellectually inspired and well-rounded leaders. The curriculum initially consists of special core course sections (core substitutes) that deepen the scholars’ intellectual development, primarily in the liberal arts. The pedagogical principle of this enrichment program involves forming small learning communities (a cohort of cadets enrolled in the same sections) to provide close interaction among the same students over a four-year period, in courses pursuing a coherent theme — the development of the Western intellectual tradition.
With an academic load which includes 18-22 hours, plus Physical Education, earning a 4.0 GPA at USAFA is a significant accomplishment, even for an intensely motivated cadet. Every semester, the Dean of the Faculty honors those cadets who earn a straight As in all their classes with the title of Deans ACE. These individuals have their names engraved on a plaque which hangs prominently in Fairchild Hall.
The Air Force Academy offers several programs that give cadets the opportunity to see more of the world and learn from the experience. We send students to countries across the globe and unique interservice experiences right here in America. Cadets may experience the traditions and cultures of foreign countries by participating in one of the following programs.
For the duration of the fall semester, a small selection of second-class cadets exchange places with counterparts from West Point, Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy. The exchange provides a better understanding of the other services and develops uniformity among programs at all the service academies.
Cadet Semester Exchange Abroad Program (CSEAP)
Each fall semester, interested Academy cadets have the opportunity to attend international military academies in Germany, France, Chile, Spain, Canada and Japan for the entire semester.
Cadet Semester Study Abroad Program (CSSAP)
Interested and selected cadets studying any of the eight languages currently offered at the Academy may experience a semester-long study abroad program at foreign civilian universities. Current programs exist at civilian universities in China, Georgia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, and Portugal.. We continue to explore opportunities in other countries to grow this study abroad program.
Foreign Academy Visits
Air Force Academy cadets, faculty and staff are given the opportunity to travel to international academies on short-duration exchange visits. Most trips occur during spring break, but some are scheduled during summer periods. Typically each Academy delegation consists of four cadets and one faculty escort. The trips normally last seven to 10 days and provides cultural immersion and familiarization with foreign militaries. In recent years, we visited more than 40 different countries:
|Camaroon||Dr Craig A. Foster, Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, led four cadets on a cultural immersion to South Africa where they shared and participated in the ceremony that commemorated the passing of a local tribal chief, and met with several schools where they discussed differences in educational systems.|
|Macedonia||Colonel Neal Rappaport, Economy and Geography Department Head and four cadets were immersed in the cultural melting pot of the Balkans. Cadets had a mixture of cultural immersion, relationship building, and military training that helped sustain ties between the Air Force and the Army of the Republic of Macedonia.|
|Peru||Lt Col John Martin, Professor of Management, led four cadets on an immersion to Peru to experience the culture, understand how the varied geography has influenced the Peruvian people, and gain an understanding of Peruvian military history back to the Incan empire.|
|Morocco||Dr Elias Bensalem, Associate Professor of Arabic, led four cadets on an immersion to help cadets develop cultural competency by exposing them to cultural practices widely adopted by Arabs in North Africa and in other parts of the Arab World.|
Summer Language Immersion
Each summer more than 200 Academy cadets and select Academy faculty escorts participate in four- or six-week language immersion programs in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Cadets participating in this program must give up part of their summer leave. Partner countries include: Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Portugal, Morocco, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Germany, France, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, China and Japan, just to name a few.
It is about learning. It is about new horizons. It is about answering old questions and asking new ones. It is a partnership of 18 research centers and two institutes, of cadets and faculty, working together for the benefit of tomorrow’s Air Force.
The results can be seen across the spectrum of academic life at USAFA and extend beyond into national and Air Force policies and practices. The contributions being made in a single day every day are innumerable. Recently, USAFA cadets became the first undergraduates to design, fabricate, test and launch a rocket into space, reaching a record-setting altitude of 354,000 feet. Cadets are participating in energy research to help meet the Air Force Academy’s goal of being net-zero in energy usage. They are learning to operate and conduct research with unmanned aerial systems.
Whether cadets are debating space defense policy or researching national security issues, developing new and better methods to preserve and extend the mission capabilities of the Air Force or creating new ways to protect Department of Defense and Air Force computer systems from cyber-terrorism, you can be sure they’ll keep pushing the envelope, thanks to committed faculty and professional researchers. It is this commitment to excellence that guides research at USAFA helping to build future officers – leaders of character who will look at the unknown without fear, who will see the possibilities and who will continue the search for new answers.
Cadets may wish to attend graduate school or pursue careers in the biomedical, legal or other professions after graduating from the Academy. Cadets may compete for the following programs:
National Competitive Scholarship Program
Cadets may compete with students from other universities for scholarships and fellowships to study advanced degrees in the U.S. and overseas. Among the major scholarships available to cadets are the following: Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Gate Scholarship, Fulbright Scholarship, Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship, National Science Foundation Fellowship, John Start Draper Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rice University, Harvard University Scholarship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, East-West Center Fellowship at the University of Hawaii, Program Research and Education in Space Technology (PREST) Fellowship at George Washington University, University of Washington Engineering Fellowship, the University of Maryland Scholarship and the Pardee RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, CA. Scholarship/Fellowship recipients will incur an additional active-duty service commitment.
Graduate School Program
This program allows selected graduates of the Air Force Academy to attend a 12-month masters degree program immediately following graduation. Candidates for this program must be willing to return to the Academy as academic instructors after gaining Air Force experience. Graduates incur an additional active-duty service commitment.
Select cadets may be allowed to enter several health-related professions after graduation. Cadets may compete for scholarships to medical, dental, nursing or physical therapy programs. The Academy can send up to 3% of graduates per year to health profession degree and training programs. Graduates attending medical schools are funded through the Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). HPSP recipients incur an additional Air Force commitment.
Graduates who have completed two years of active-duty may apply for the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP). In recent years, the number of slots have been between six and eight. Those selected by the Judge Advocate General (JAG) enter law school. Eligibility for FLEP ends after the sixth year of active-duty service. The Academy has the authority to select one USAFA graduate a year to send to law school immediately following graduation in an excess leave status. Eligible candidates include legal studies majors or mock trial team members with competitive grade point averages. While in law school, participants will be in an unpaid excess leave status and will not receive government funding for law school. Upon successful completion of law school and passage of a state bar, that USAFA graduate will become a member of the USAF JAG Corps.
Professional Club Programs
Develop your talents and interests by participating in one of the many professional clubs hosted by the Academy. Assisted by advisors from the faculty and staff, many cadets volunteer to organize and administer various groups. As long as you maintain a 2.0 GPA, you’ll be limited only by the time you have to participate. Following is a list of our professional clubs:
- AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics)
- Astronomy and Physics
- Biology (Tri-Beta Honor Society)
- Civil Engineering
- IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)
- International Club
- Mock Trial
- National Space Society, Student Chapter
- Omega Rho Honor Society
- Sigma Gamma Tau (Aero Engineering Honor Society)
- Tau Beta Fi (Engineering Honor Society)
- Tri Beta
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