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Air Force Academy United States 2024

The Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the newest of the five surface academies, having graduated its first class in 1959. 

Those who attend the Air Force Academy are known as cadets and go through a four-year course of study to earn a Bachelor of Science in one of the 32 majors that are offered. 

It’s important to note here that the curricula offered definitely cater to those who’d be interested in STEM. 

Throughout their time there, cadets will receive military training to prepare them to serve as second lieutenants in the US Air Force or Space Force. 

From their first year to their fourth year, cadets are known as fourth-class, third-class, second-class, and first-class cadets, respectively. 

Much like all the other service academies, cadets receive the majority of their military instruction and experience throughout their summers, with the most arduous being their first summer before the freshman year or dual year begins. 

Air Force Academy Basic Cadet Training

The boot camp that cadets go through at the beginning of their time at the academy is known as basic cadet training, often referred to as basic cadets or BCT. Basic Cadet Training is a six-week program that is split into two parts: the first BCT and the second BCT. Basic Cadet Training is designed to transform civilians into Air Force Academy cadets.

  • First BCT: At your first basic cadet training, your experience will be like drinking from a fire hose.
    • You will learn all the customs and courtesy of the military, undergo room inspections, drill, and go through various physical evolutions.
  • Second BCT: At the second basic cadet training, this is where you will expand on what was previously learned.
    • Candidates will head to what is known as Jack’s Valley, a 3,300-acre training complex used for military field training, where they will push their physical limits while building self-confidence and teamwork skills through small unit tactics, firearms training and going through an obstacle course and assault course. 

Once you make it through BCT, you’re formally a part of the cadet wing, but you’re nowhere near close to being accepted by the upperclassmen.

Once you go through the rigors of the first year, it all culminates in the springtime in what is known as recognition. 

This is a big deal for the Doulas, as they are now informally accepted into the cadet wing and have proven themselves to the upperclassmen.

Beyond the First Year: Summer Programs and Training

From there on out, your summers at the Air Force Academy will typically be split up into periods of three weeks, where each will be dedicated to military training, research, academics, or vacation.

Second Year (ESET)

During the second year, training will begin with ESET, which stands for Expeditionary Survival and Evasion Training. 

Here, cadets learn how to set up modular facilities and contingency utilities, passive defense, force protection, secure individual and team movement, and survival and evasion skills. 

Cadets will also learn more about the basics of military communication and the profession of arms. 

Third Year 

During their third year, cadets have a few things they get to do. There’s Operation Air Force, which is a three-week program that provides an opportunity for each cadet to visit and work at an operational Air Force base and see the day-to-day of different jobs like special warfare, pilots, and a whole lot more. 

They will also get to do an airmanship program, such as soaring, jumping, or on-man aerial systems programs. They will also participate as instructors or leaders of a summer program for the underclassmen.

Fourth Year

Lastly, during the fourth year, cadets take the reins of command as cadet wing leaders, holding positions of responsibility within basic cadet training, ESET, and other underclass summer training programs. 

They serve as cadet officers throughout the academic year and develop organizational leadership competencies.

Air Force Academy Career Paths and Opportunities

While over half of graduates pursue flight training, there is a multitude of job opportunities for those in the Air Force and Space Force once they graduate and are commissioned. 

From space operations to air traffic control to Air Force special warfare, there’s no shortage of cool jobs out there.

And this may come as a surprise, but you even have the opportunity to commission as a Marine Corps officer out of the Air Force Academy through what is known as the Bulldog Program. 

Just keep in mind that you have your work cut out for you, and only a handful of graduates can do this. 

All in all, the job selection process at the Air Force Academy is based on four criteria: the needs of the Air Force, cadet qualification, cadet preferences, and the board rankings. 

After you graduate, you get a pretty sweet gig with 60 days of paid leave where you can do whatever you want before you start your work as a second lieutenant in the Air Force or Space Force. 

For those wondering how the process goes to either commission in the Air Force or Space Force, that will be dependent on how many slots are available, your interests, and participating in their summer programs like the Azimuth Guardianship program and Ops Space Force. 

The job selection process at the Air Force Academy is based on four criteria:

  1. The needs of the Air Force
  2. Cadet qualification
  3. Cadet preferences
  4. The board rankings


Commitment to the Space Force

As of right now, if you desire to join the Space Force, it’s there if you want it, but that can always be subject to change. Once you commit to the Space Force, though, that’s it. 

Just keep in mind that the Space Force is the newest branch of the US military, so there’s lots of room for changes and methods since it’s only been integrated into the academy for a few years at this point. 

We’ll wrap up this section with the basic requirements to get into the Air Force Academy, which are as below 

Air Force Academy Admission Requirements

  • US citizen
  • At least 17 but not older than 23 years of age by July first of the year of entry
  • Unmarried with no dependents
  • Of good moral character
  • Meet high leadership, academic, physical, and medical standards

With the Air Force Academy covered, let’s move on to the Coast Guard Academy.

George N.