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What is the United States Military Academy?
The United States Military Academy, founded on March 16, 1802, is a college that educates, trains and inspires the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country. Each graduate has the essential attributes for professional growth throughout a career as a U.S. Army officer. West Point graduates earn Bachelor of Science degrees and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Army.
Where is West Point located?
West Point is located approximately 50 miles north of New York City in the picturesque Hudson Valley. There are 16,000 acres of land, a portion of which played an instrumental role during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington considered West Point one of the most important positions on the continent. The high ground above a narrow "S" curve in the Hudson River enabled the Continental Army to control river traffic. The British could have split the colonies in two if they had gained control of this land.
Why is there a military academy?
Following the Revolutionary War, our nation recognized the need to have Americans, with a strong sense of democratic values, trained in the technical arts of war and in engineering. As our nation has grown and matured, the need to inspire and train young Americans to serve as Army officers has endured. West Point's treasured motto "Duty, Honor, Country" embodies these ideals.
How does West Point fulfill its mission?
West Point carries out its mission of developing future leaders through three integrated and complementary programs: academic, military and physical development. Each of these programs is rooted in the principles of ethical-moral development. Every cadet is a leader. From selection based on demonstrated potential through four years as a cadet, leadership development is a total process of preparing young people for their career roles as Army officers.
Who attends West Point?
Men and women who are 17 but not yet 23 years old on July 1 of the year admitted may attend the academy. Cadets come from every state and territory of our country. The Corps of Cadets numbers approximately 4,000. You must meet certain basic requirements specified by public law. You must be a U.S. citizen at the time of enrollment, be unmarried, and not be pregnant or have an obligation to provide support to a dependent. You must receive a nomination from an authorized source to be considered for an appointment. You will be evaluated in the areas of academics, leadership potential and physical aptitude.
What is the Cadet Honor Code all about?
Cadets learn about and prepare for the ethical demands of officership by living under the dictates of an Honor Code. The code states: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." Its purpose is to foster a commitment to moral-ethical excellence and an insight into the more comprehensive military professional ethic. The exact origin of the Honor Code is unclear, but it may have evolved from the code of chivalry embraced by the officer corps when the military academy was established. Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, the “Father of the Military Academy,” and General Douglas MacArthur helped make the code an essential vehicle for the development of character. The Honor Code demands and expects all members of the Corps of Cadets to conduct themselves with absolute integrity, both in word and deed. Cadets accept this obligation freely and with great pride.
Why should I consider West Point?
You should consider West Point as a college option if you wish to serve your country as an officer and leader in the U.S. Army. If you do, you will share a strong sense of purpose, pride and satisfaction that comes from meaningful service to others.
How long must I serve in the Army?
You must serve at least five years of active duty and three years in a Reserve Component, a total of eight years, after you graduate. The active duty obligation is the nation's return on a West Point graduate's fully funded, four-year college education that is valued in excess of $225,000.
What is the West Point Mission?
The West Point mission is “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.”
Where do I find the West Point catalog?
You can download our free catalog by visiting our main home page by clicking here.
What is the academic program like?
West Point advocates developing the "whole person" by providing a dynamic and integrated curriculum that balances the physical sciences and engineering with the humanities and social sciences. Graduates should be able to respond effectively to a changing technological, social, political, and economic world. The academy instills in cadets creativity, moral awareness, and a commitment to progressive and continuing educational growth.
Currently 42 majors are offered to cadets so they may pursue academic majors in disciplines of their choice. The two components of the academic program are a broad, general core program that is prescribed and an elective program that is individually selected. West Point is accredited by The Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (215) 662-5606. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Six engineering programs – Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Environmental Engineering and Engineering Management – are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Additionally the Computer Science Accreditation Commission (CSAC) of the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board accredits the Computer Science major.
Can I validate courses / do my AP scores count?
Cadets may validate courses, but there are a variety of factors that play in these decisions. The latest information about this question can be found on the Dean's Validation and Advanced Placement page.
What is the academic course load like?
The core curriculum is the foundation of the academic program and provides a foundation in mathematics, basic sciences, engineering sciences, information technology, humanities, behavioral sciences and social sciences. This core curriculum, ranging in size from 26 to 30 courses depending on the major, represents the essential broad base of knowledge necessary for success as a commissioned officer, while also supporting each cadet’s choice of academic specialization. It is, in effect, the "professional major" for every cadet, since it prepares each graduate for a career as a commissioned officer in the Army.
What is the student-faculty ratio?
The student-faculty ratio at West Point is approximately 8 to 1. You not only know your professor or instructor, but also have the opportunity to request additional instruction when needed. Classes are small, typically numbering 12 to 18 cadets. West Point's long tradition of daily discussion and frequent grading remains unchanged. Army officers and civilian professors enhance your understanding of an academic concentration. The predominantly military faculty also helps in your professional military development.
How would you describe the faculty?
About 75 percent of the West Point faculty are military personnel who have completed graduate work at the most respected universities in the nation. All faculty members have their master's degrees and more than 30 percent have doctoral qualifications.
How strong are the library and its research collection?
More than 10 reference librarians provide enthusiastic research assistance in a brand-new, $65-million library in Jefferson Hall. Subject specialists work closely with faculty to help cadets prepare for research projects. The West Point collection boasts 460,000 print volumes plus subscriptions to more than 60,000 print and online journals. We share a catalog with 14 academic institutions in New York, including Vassar and Colgate; cadets borrow freely from this virtual collection of over 3 million items. Our Interlibrary Loan Office tracks down other items for cadets and faculty from hundreds of academic libraries in the United States and Europe.
How is the personal computer used in academics?
Cadets and faculty at West Point enjoy the benefits of a first-class information technology environment. With a personal computer at every desk and everyone connected to a large array of powerful academic computing services and with unlimited access to the Internet, West Point has an electronic environment in which every course offered has integrated computer use. This "computer thread" allows cadets to make full use of their personal computers in the place where most learning occurs – the barracks.
Are there any other special academic programs?
West Point has established Centers of Excellence that enhance the quality of the academic program. These centers make full use of professional expertise and technical resources to enrich cadet education. The centers help enhance cadet academic performance, improve faculty teaching, promote faculty and cadet research and provide outreach and support to the U.S. Army. Cadets and faculty conduct research in conjunction with the academic departments through such centers as the Center for Environmental and Geographic Sciences, the Operations Research Center, the Photonics Research Center, the Office of Artificial Intelligence Analysis and Evaluation, and the Information Technology Center, as well as others.
What is cadet life like?
Life at the United States Military Academy is BUSY! Many say cadets are the busiest college students in the country. Classes and study, physical education or athletics, military duties and recreation fill many hours of the day.
Do cadets have time for fun?
Cadets are busy, but there is still time for fun and relaxation. Competitive sports provide one outlet. The description that "every cadet is an athlete" is quite accurate. There is an intercollegiate program with 24 sports. There are numerous competitive club teams, such as rugby, crew and sailing. There is an active intramural sport program all year long with cadet companies competing against other cadet companies. The Cadet Activities Office coordinates more than 100 extracurricular activities. Among those are the Cadet Fine Arts Forum, the Cadet Glee Club, and the Cadet Drill Team. You can be a disk jockey at the cadet radio station or learn to fly.
Are cadets allowed to have cars?
Seniors and juniors (after Spring Break) are permitted to maintain cars at West Point. Others may drive on post, but only under special circumstances. Transportation for group outings is arranged by the academy.
How much vacation and free time is there?

All cadets receive Christmas, spring, and summer leave, along with the four-day Thanksgiving Break. Christmas leave is normally two weeks in length following the completion of first semester final examinations. Spring leave is about 10 days, including the weekends. Summer leave is about 3 or 4 weeks, depending upon the cadet's military leadership training assignment.

When academics begin, “first class” cadets (seniors) get twice as many weekend leaves as “second class” cadets (juniors). A “plebe” (freshman) will have only a few weekend passes. Plebes also may leave West Point for extracurricular or cultural trips and athletic trips. There is also the traditional Plebe-Parent Weekend scheduled each spring.

Do new cadets have free time during Cadet Basic Training?
During Cadet Basic Training, new cadets do not have privilege periods because of the requirements of the intensive military training activities. There is a day set aside for a military family visitation, allowing new cadets a short time of relaxation. New cadets are also given time to call home on the weekend.
What is military life like at West Point?
The transition from civilian life to a military environment is challenging. You learn military courtesies and standards, and you learn to live by those standards every day. You learn how to properly wear the various cadet uniforms. You practice drill and ceremony, and you learn how to prepare for inspections. It’s not always easy, but it serves a purpose by building a solid foundation of leadership.
What is the Cadet Leader Development System like?
The Cadet Leader Development System is a demanding but professional four-year program to develop leaders of character. In order to be a successful leader, you first must learn to follow. During your first year at West Point you do just that.

The Leader Development Program prescribes the relationship between you as a plebe and upper class cadets. As a plebe, you must be able to recall an accumulation of information with precision. You may receive constructive criticism at times during Cadet Basic Training, but upperclass cadets will not treat you in a demeaning manner. You will also carry out specific tasks in your company during your plebe year.
During each succeeding year at West Point, you receive progressive leadership responsibilities, using those cadet experiences to hone your leadership skills. You learn how to be a team leader during the second year at West Point, guiding two or three cadets in your company. In your third year, leadership responsibilities are expanded, helping you learn more about senior noncommissioned officer duties in the U.S. Army. This prepares you for cadet officer responsibility during your senior year. You learn what it takes to lead larger groups. It also prepares you for platoon leadership responsibilities as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
What are cadet rooms like?
Cadet barracks are modern, well-lit, and comfortable. There are two or three cadets in each room with space for desks, closets, and beds. Each cadet is required to purchase a personal computer for academic courses and projects. There are some space restrictions that may limit the number of printers in each room. The cadet barracks also feature recreational rooms, lounges and study rooms.
Where do the cadets eat their meals?
All cadets dine together in the Cadet Mess Hall in Washington Hall. Meals are planned to meet the nutritional needs of your busy daily schedule. The food is high quality and is served family style.
How much pay does a cadet receive?
A first-year cadet earns more than $900 a month, and the amount increases each year.. A portion of that cadet pay is deposited into a personal checking account. Another portion of cadet pay is deposited to a "Cadet Account" that is used to help a cadet pay for expenses such as uniforms, books, a computer, activity fees, etc. Each cadet pays a standard amount for laundry, dry cleaning, haircuts, tailoring services and shoe repair. A cadet's gross salary is subject to federal and state withholding taxes and Social Security deductions.
What is the athletic program like?
The athletic program at West Point is respected throughout the nation. It includes 24 intercollegiate teams for men and women. There is also a competitive club sports program and an intramural in which cadet companies establish competitive rivalries. Army football teams attract national interest by playing teams in Conference USA such as Tulane, Cincinnati, Louisville and Southern Mississippi. There are also the traditional encounters against Air Force and Navy. Army basketball, wrestling, hockey, track, baseball, soccer and lacrosse have gained their share of regional and national recognition.
In what intercollegiate sports does West Point field teams?
West Point participates in the following intercollegiate sports:

Men's Sports
Cross Country
Sprint Football
Track & Field (Indoor)
Track & Field (Outdoor)

Women's Sports
Cross Country
Track & Field (Indoor)
Track & Field (Outdoor)

** Men and women compete together on the rifle team.
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