Courses of Study 2013-2014 
    Jun 10, 2023  
Courses of Study 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Aerospace Studies

Department of Aerospace Studies:

Lieutenant Colonel William Sitzabee, United States Air Force, Ph.D., Professor of Aerospace Studies and Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 520

First Lieutenant Andrew Volkening, United States Air Force, Visiting Lecturer of Aerospace Studies and Operations Flight Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 520

Lieutenant Colonel Ryan O’Dowd, United States Air Force, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies and Operations Officer, Air Force ROTC Detachment 520

The objective of the Air Force Officer Education Program at Cornell is to prepare men and women for positions as officers in the United States Air Force. The program is designed to teach students about the mission and organization of the Air Force, the historical development of airpower, leadership, and management. Students study national security policy and the role of the military in a democratic society. This program includes specific courses in aerospace studies and practical leadership laboratories. Additionally, the Department of Aerospace Studies seeks to inform and engage noncadet students about the U.S. military, in general, and the USAF, in particular.

Requirements for Enrollment:

The Air Force Officer Education Program is open to any qualified undergraduate or graduate student enrolled in any major field of study. Though the program is designed to prepare future Air Force officers, academic courses in the Department of Aerospace Studies are open to all students at Cornell without incurring any military obligation. An applicant must be a United States citizen to become a commissioned officer. Non-citizens may enroll and will receive certificates acknowledging completion of the course but cannot receive a commission. U.S. permanent residents who are naturalized by their date of graduation may receive a commission.

All applicants receive physical examinations at no cost and must meet certain physical requirements to be accepted. Students who are interested in qualifying for flying categories (pilot, navigator, or air battle manager) must meet more stringent physical requirements. In addition, students enrolled in the commissioning program must meet specified physical fitness requirements each semester.

Four-Year Commissioning Program:

The Four-Year Program is open to all qualified freshmen. Sophomores may also enter a condensed version of the four-year program with the approval of the department head. Many students join the program after the first semester of their freshman year. If interested, contact the department for details.

Veterans of the U.S. armed forces, students entering Cornell from military schools, or high school students with documented Junior ROTC or Civil Air Patrol involvement may receive advanced academic standing, subject to approval by the Professor of Aerospace Studies.

The Four-Year Program consists of a two-year General Military Course (GMC) program of study followed by a two-year Professional Officer Course (POC) program of study. For four-year scholarship cadets, the first year of the GMC carries no military commitment, and students may withdraw at any time. Entry into the POC does carry a military commitment. For non-scholarship cadets, both years of the GMC carry no military commitment, and students may withdraw at any time.

General Military Course:

Students in General Military Courses (GMC) take a 1-credit Aerospace Studies course each semester. During the freshman year, the student examines the organization and mission of the United States Air Force and the environment of the Air Force officer. In the sophomore year, the student studies the history and development of American airpower. In both years, officership and professionalism within the United States Air Force are emphasized.

Students also spend two hours a week in a leadership laboratory. Leadership laboratories provide cadets with an opportunity to put into practice the skills they have learned in their aerospace studies classes. These laboratories focus on the development of officer qualities through activities such as drill and ceremonies, group leadership problems, confidence-building exercises, and guest lecturers. Students who intend to continue on into the Professional Officer Course and pursue a commission will participate in summer field training for four weeks between their sophomore and junior years; some students may complete field training between their junior and senior years.

Professional Officer Course:

The Professional Officer Courses (POC) provide a two-year advanced program of instruction. Each cadet accepted into the POC must sign an agreement to complete the program and accept, if offered, a commission in the United States Air Force upon graduation. Completing the GMC program of study is not required for POC entry. Many students join the program after their freshman year. Contact the Department of Aerospace Studies for details.

Classroom study in the POC is a 3-credit course each semester. In the junior year, cadets study Air Force leadership and management at the junior officer level. During the senior year, cadets study the elements of national security and the military’s role in American society. Leadership laboratory requires two hours a week in the junior and senior years. In leadership laboratory, cadets are exposed to advanced leadership experiences and apply principles of leadership learned in the classroom.


The Air Force offers three- and four-year scholarships to high school seniors and one-, two-, and three-year scholarships to college students. Four-year scholarships are offered on a competitive basis to high school seniors. Scholarship information can be obtained from a high school guidance counselor, from Air Force ROTC officers at Cornell (AFROTC phone number is (607) 255-4004), from a local Air Force recruiter, via the web at, or from the Air Force ROTC scholarship section, Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6106, (334) 953-2869. The deadline for submitting a four-year scholarship application is December 1 of the year preceding the academic year in which a student wants to enter the program. Students should apply early.

Scholarships for two and three years. All selections are based on the student’s major, physical fitness, qualifying physical, the student’s overall grade point average, and the recommendation of the Professor of Aerospace Studies. Scholarships include amounts ranging from $3,000 per academic year to full tuition and fees. There is a monthly $300–$500 nontaxable allowance during the school year. A $900 per year textbook allowance is included in every scholarship. Scholarships do not include the cost of room and board. All AFROTC scholarships are merit-based, not need-based.


All cadets in the advanced program—whether they are on scholarship or not—receive a $450–$500-a-month, non-taxable subsistence allowance during the academic year. During the four-week summer field training (see below), each cadet receives a training pay allowance plus an allowance for travel to and from the field site. Textbooks and supplies required for Department of Aerospace Studies courses are provided.

All cadets are eligible to participate in AFROTC-sponsored field trips made to Air Force bases throughout the country as well as voluntary summer programs for professional development. Scholarship and POC cadets are entitled to space-available travel on Air Force aircraft flying within the continental United States.

Field Training:

Two types of field training are available: a four-week course for cadets in the Four-Year Program and a five-week course for Two-Year Program applicants.

Field training is designed to stimulate the development of military leadership skills through meaningful experiences. The curriculum consists of aircraft, aircrew, and survival orientation; junior officer training; physical training; small arms training; team building and leadership training. Cadets are evaluated for their officer potential at field training.

Cadets may also volunteer for one of many Advanced Training Programs. These programs can include but are not limited to the Air Force Academy Free-Fall Parachute Training, Technical Research and Development Internships, the Academy Soaring Program, Special Operations Training, and language and cultural immersion programs.

Commissioning Obligations:

All students who successfully complete the AFROTC advanced program must be awarded a baccalaureate degree before receiving their commission. They then enter the Air Force as second lieutenants.

Second lieutenants commissioned in non-flying categories are required to serve on active duty for four years. Pilots are required to serve on active duty for 10 years after completing flying training. Navigators and Air Battle Managers each serve six years after completing training.

Air Force Careers:

The Air Force assigns new officers to a career field based on mission requirements, educational background, and officers’ preferences. Students in the engineering-scientific category may be assigned to practice in their specialty in research and development, communications, electronics, aeronautics, astronautics, the biological sciences, computer design and maintenance, meteorology, space, or other engineering and scientific fields. Graduates in the non-technical category can anticipate assignments in manpower management, information management, logistics, law enforcement and investigation, intelligence, personnel, public affairs, transportation, accounting and finance, and other career fields. Specializations for language and cultural studies majors are also available.

Any undergraduate major is suitable for those who are qualified and interested in entering the space and missile career fields or in becoming pilots, navigators, or air battle managers. After completion of flying training, personnel are assigned to a specific type of aircraft.