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What Major Should You Study at the Air Force Academy?

At the Air Force Academy, cadets (read: students) must select their academic majors by the end of sophomore year. In the months and years leading up to the Registrar's final deadline, the school hosts events to help undecided students. One such event is called Major's Night.

At Major's Night, faculty members from each department host presentations to both freshmen and first-semester sophomores in an effort to persuade them to join their ranks. As one may expect, funding is positively correlated to the amount of cadets enrolled in a specific academic discipline. So, more cadets = more money.

This positive correlation creates an adverse incentive for cadets. Here's how. Instead of validating fears or concerns about a faculty member's department, which would help undecided cadets find the most suitable academic major for themselves, the faculty members are more likely to assuage fears. Particularly if the faculty member's department struggles with enrollment year-over-year.

Of course, this isn't to say that faculty members prey upon undecided students. Nor should this observation cause undecided cadets to stay away from smaller academic departments. This is simply my anecdotal observation and encourage all cadets (future or current) to "Do Your Own Research" because I want everyone to realize academic success.

Academic Majors Impact The Jobs You Get

While many cadets are satisfied with their choices, the majority are unaware that the academic major they select correlates to Air Force Speciality Codes. So, if you are a cadet who cares more about a specific job after graduation than you care about what you study, then choose wisely!

Quick Definitions:

  • Air Force Speciality Code = Air Force acronym for Job

  • Rated = Flying Job (pilots, navigators, air battle managers, remote pilots)

  • Non-Rated = Non-Flying Job (anything that supports the flying community)

    • Literally, any Air Force Specialty Code that is not in the Rated category

Useful Links:

  • To review educational requirements for AFSCs, read Appendix A here!

    • Anything and everything about the Academy's academics, read here!

  • To review a list of Continental US bases, read here!

    • If you're not sure what base belongs to which command, read here!

What Academic Majors are Offered?

Although some ambitious cadets seek more than one major or multiple minors, the better alternative is to pick one major and do well. It is better to have a high GPA in one major than a bad GPA in a dual major program with minors. This advice especially holds if you want to pursue graduate studies at a top-tier program.

If you have the time, then consider a minor but only do it for yourself. Pursuing a minor does not convey domain expertise, and, to be frank, neither does a B.A. or B.S. degree. But, again, if it is your dream to pursue one, then you should do so -- otherwise, avoid them and take advantage of other offerings unique to the Air Force Academy, like the Airmanship Programs.

What are the easiest and hardest majors?

Although this information is anecdotal, when I studied at the Air Force Academy from 2014 to 2018, the easiest majors were:

  • Foreign Area Studies

  • Military & Strategic Studies

  • Geospatial Sciences

Three especially difficult majors were:

  • Computer Science

  • Astronautical Engineering

  • Physics

How are academic departments organized and what are the majors?

The Air Force Academy is divided into four academic divisions, and under each division are a slew of majors. Further, some majors are more interdisciplinary than others, like Operations Research, and cannot be categorized as easily.

Four Academic Divisions:


Parting thoughts and a few questions to consider

Your academic experience at the Air Force Academy is contingent upon how you want to spend your life.

Questions worth answering:

  • Do you want to go to graduate school immediately after commissioning?

  • Would you rather gain operational experience first?

  • How long do you plan on staying in the Air Force?

  • Is there an academic discipline that speaks to you?

Consider your goals and what is a "well-lived" life. Good luck with your journey!

//Last Updated: 31 Oct 2021//


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