Academics

The U.S. Air Force Academy is recognized as one of the nation's finest four-year institutions of higher learning and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, the Committee on Professional Training and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The academic curriculum provides cadets with a solid foundation appropriate to an Air Force career and the activities of a responsible American citizen. The Academy offers 32 academic majors in technical fields such as astronautical engineering and aeronautical engineering, computer science, space operations and system engineering management. In addition, the school offers non-techincal degrees in fields such as political science, social sciences, English, history and humanities. Minors in foreign language and philosophy are also offered. All cadets may pursue the major and minor of their choice. All cadets must have a major and may choose their courses from more than 500 offered each year.

The core curriculum consists of 48 semester hours in the engineering and basic sciences, 43 semester hours in humanities and social sciences, and five semester hours of physical education courses.

Cadets are awarded letter grades that denote the character of their academic work and are assigned grade points on a four-point scale. To graduate from the Academy, cadets must achieve a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00 overall, a core GPA of 2.0 and a cumulative GPA of 2.0 in their major. Those who excel academically (3.0 GPA or higher) are placed on the Dean's List for that semester.

The total academic curriculum is designed to develop future Air Force officers whose minds are innovative, analytical, and resourceful. The excellent education that Academy graduates receive reflects in the number of prestigious postgraduate scholarships and fellowships they have been awarded. Since the Academy's founding, cadets have won more than 2,284 of these prestigious awards, including 33 Rhodes and 8 Marshall Scholarships.

To foster better communication between cadets and students from other institutions, the Academy hosts numerous conferences. Throughout the academic year, cadets may also attend presentations by distinguished political, academic, business, media, cultural, and military leaders. These include events such as the Ira C. Eaker Lecture on National Defense Policy, the Harmon Memorial Lecture and the Reich Lecture Series. Guest speakers for individual classes are sponsored by the Faculty Speakers Program.

Each summer, through the Cadet Summer Research Program, approximately 190 selected cadets spend five weeks at various Air Force, Department of Defense, and other research facilities around the world. Participants apply knowledge from the classroom to military research topics such as development of the airborne laser research and UAV development and testing. Besides participating in the Cadet Summer Research Program, cadets often work with faculty in research and consulting for Air Force agencies during the academic year. In addition, the faculty may spend their summer working in technical and policy areas throughout the Department of Defense. Faculty members also conduct seminars and workshops for other Air Force and DoD agencies.

To further motivate academic excellence, the Academy has a graduate school program that annually allows approximately 20 selected cadets to attend advanced degree programs immediately after graduation. This program prepares graduates for a possible future assignment back to the faculty. Additionally, the National Competitive Scholarship Program allows approximately 20 cadets to attend prestigious international and national graduate schools for advanced educational opportunities. Also, based on the needs of the Air Force, a limited number of graduating cadets are allowed to attend medical school.

The Academy's faculty comprises approximately 560 professors and instructors under the direction of the dean of faculty. Air Force officers provide most of the instruction, complemented by sister service officers, foreign officers, permanent civilian faculty, visiting professors from civilian institutions and representatives from several federal government agencies.

The Academy has reached an approximate steady state of 75 percent military and 25 percent civilian faculty members. Approximately 57 percent of the faculty possesses a doctorate or terminal degree. There are approximately 20 authorized permanent professors including the dean of faculty, who serves in the grade of brigadier general.

(Current as of April 2009)