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Military Service Academy

A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps of the Army, the Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard or provides education in a service environment.
The term “Service academies” can be used to refer to all of the academies collectively. In popular use, however, this term is more often used for the academies of the four branches of the military: those of the Army, Navy, and Air Force (under the Department of Defense); and that of the Coast Guard (under the Department of Homeland Security). These are the only four Academies whose students are on Active Duty in the Armed Forces of the United States from the day they enter the Academy, subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and eligible for all privileges and benefits of being members of an Armed Service.

Graduates from national academies are typically commissioned as officers in the country's military. The new officers usually have an obligation to serve for a certain number of years. In some countries (e.g. Britain) all military officers train at the appropriate academy, whereas in others (e.g. the United States) only a percentage do and the service academies are seen as institutions which supply service-specific officers within the forces (about 15 percent of US military officers).

Congressional nominations

Applicants to all Service academies, except the United States Coast Guard Academy, are required to obtain a nomination to the school. Nominations may be made by Senators, Representatives, the President, and the Vice President (The United States Merchant Marine Academy only accepts nominations from Senators and Congressmen). Applicants to the Coast Guard Academy compete in a direct nationwide competitive process that has no by-state quotas.


With the exception of the US Coast Guard Academy, all US Service Academies require a nomination before an Appointment is offered, by law. The admissions process to the US Service Academies is an extensive and very competitive process. The US Military Academy at West Point, the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs all require an applicant to submit an on-line file and proceed through pre-candidate qualification before an application is provided. All three schools have an extremely competitive application process and are ranked annually by US News and World Report and as one of the most selective colleges and universities in America. The average acceptance rate is between 11-15% for each of the three schools.

Links to specific US miliatry academies in this module:

Links to more information:

All Academy Entrance Scores Fact Sheet

US Service Academy Nomination factsheet 


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