Department of Military Science & Leadership

Information For Parents

Common Questions:


My Son / Daughter is taking an ROTC course at Cal Poly does that mean he/she is in the Army?

No, any student can participate in ROTC and take Military Science courses without joining the Army.  The final two years of ROTC (typically junior and senior year) is when a student must commit to serving in the Army after graduation. As we like to say here at Cal Poly "your first two years are free" meaning students that want to learn about what the Army is about can sign up for ROTC classes and participate in training to see if the Army is something that they may like.  This is a very unique opportunity to try out Army training before committing to serving in the Army.

How long is the commitment of Army service after graduation?

If a Cadet contracted into the Army without a Scholarship, the commitment is either 3 years of Active Duty service as an Officer or 4 years in the National Guard or Army Reserve (serving one weekend a month and two weeks per year- approximately 37 days of service per year).
If a Cadet contracted into the Army with a Scholarship, the commitment is either 4 years of Active Duty service as an Officer or 8 years in the National Guard or Army Reserve (serving one weekend a month and two weeks per year- approximately 37 days of service per year)

If my Son/Daughter receives a Commission in the Army doesn't that mean they will be on the "front lines" in Afghanistan?

No, what you typically see on television is typically only what Infantry units are doing in Afghanistan.  Your Son/Daughter has 16 career fields to choose from initially and after their first six years of service additional specialized career fields are available if they want to specialize in a particular area. The basic branches available upon graduation are:

Combat Arms: Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Engineer, Air Defense Artillery, Aviation
Combat Support: Signal Corps, Military Police, Chemical Corps, Military Intelligence
Combat Service Support: Medical Service, Adjutant General, Ordinance Corps, Transportation Corps, Quartermaster, Finance Corps

Additional Specialty Branches (after initial service in the first 16 Branches): Civil Affairs, Special Forces, Psychological Operations, Space Operations, Foreign Area Officer, Force Management, Comptroller, Strategic Intelligence, Strategic Planning, Nuclear Operations, Human Resources,  Acquisition, Computer Simulations,  Logistics, Public Affairs, Professor West Point

Once my Son/Daughter receives a Commission, does he/she have to get out of the Army to get a master's degree or PhD?

No, the Army supports a continuous learning and training environment for Soldiers and Officers.  Officers continually return to education and training after each level of promotion.  Some of this training even counts towards earning a master's degree, or in some jobs they are sent back to masters or PhD degree programs at no cost to the officer. Also, if the Officer leaves the Army after his/her initial service they are qualified to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill that will not only help pay for an advanced degree, they can also give their earned GI Bill benefits to their spouse or children.

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