The United States Air Force Academy is the undergraduate institution for commissioned officers entering the U.S. Air Force. Its campus is located 8 miles north of Colorado Springs – and 30 miles from Denver – in El Paso County, Colorado. The program at the Air Force Academy is guided by the core values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do,” and based on four “pillars of excellence”: military training, academics, athletics, and character development. Each component of the program is intended to give cadets the skills and knowledge that they will need for success as officers.
In addition to a rigorous military training regimen, cadets also take a broad academic course load with an extensive core curriculum in engineering, humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, military studies and physical education. US Air Force Academy cadets may choose among 32 academic majors and enjoy a student/faculty ratio of 7 to 1. All cadets participate in either intercollegiate or intramural athletics – and take a thorough character development and leadership curriculum. The US Air Force Academy is the youngest of the five U.S. service academies, having graduated its first class in 1959. Graduates of the Academy’s four-year program receive a Bachelor of Science degree, and most are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force.
While at the US Air Force Academy, cadets obtain a solid background in all phases of aviation. All male and female cadets who meet the physical qualifications are considered for flying training and may be selected to fill available openings. Undergraduate Flying Training (conducted after graduation) prepares qualified graduates for flying careers in airlift, bomber, fighter, multirole, special operations, or transport aircraft.
Candidates for admission are judged on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, athletics and character. To gain admission, US Air Force Academy candidates must also pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination, and secure a nomination – which usually comes from the member of Congress in the candidate’s home district. Tuition, books, room and board are all paid for by the U.S. Government.