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Inside the Citadel: A Closer Look at The Military College of South Carolina

Cadets marching on the parade field of a military college.
Padgett-Thomas Barracks and the parade grounds

One of the six senior #military colleges* in the U.S., the focus of The Citadel, established in 1842, is to develop students academically, physically, and morally. All 2300 undergraduate students at “The Military College of South Carolina” are part of the Corps of Cadets and are immersed in a military environment. Another 1000 students attend the graduate school. The core values of this co-ed state-supported #public college are honor, duty, and respect. 

* A senior military college is one that offers ROTC under 10 U.S. Code section 2111a.

A military cadet walks in front of academic buildings on a military college campus.
LeTellier, Grimsley, Thompson, and Jenkins Halls (home of the physics, engineering, math, & computer science departments, as well as all branches of ROTC)


The 300-acre campus is located in a residential area of Charleston, #SouthCarolina, on the bank of the Ashley River and adjacent to one of the largest parks in the city. Romanesque buildings surround a grassy parade deck in the central part of the campus. Charleston International Airport and the nearest Amtrak station are ten and seven miles away, respectively.

A college classroom with desks, tables, projectors, and a dry-erase board. Everything is grey or white.
A classroom in Bond Hall


The Citadel offers cadets 30 majors and 50 minors in one of six schools: 

  • Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business

  • School of Engineering (with ABET-accredited majors in civil, computer, construction, electrical, and mechanical #engineering)

  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences

  • Swain Family School of Science and Mathematics (including a B.S. in #nursing)

  • Zucker Family School of #Education

  • Department of Leadership Studies

#Business is the most popular major, followed by Intelligence and Security Studies, Mechanical Engineering, and Criminal Justice. Interesting programs include majors in Cyber Operations and Sports Management and minors in Climate Resiliency and Environmental Sustainability Studies, Southern Studies, and Sport Coaching.

In addition to the general education requirements and courses for their major, undergraduate students also take classes in #leadership, physical education, and #ROTC (Army, Air Force, and Navy/Marine). All first- and second-year students must take a Basic ROTC class each semester. During their third and fourth years, each semester, those who pursue a commission must take Advanced ROTC classes, while those who don’t must enroll in courses designated as “ROTC fulfillment.”

The student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1, and over 90% of classes have fewer than 30 students. Selective academic programs include the Citadel #HonorsProgram (which focuses on intellectual discourse), the 1842 Scholars Program (which focuses on leadership), and the Distinguished Scholars Program (which prepares upperclassmen for educational opportunities after graduation). The Citadel Success Institute is an optional summer program for incoming students to help with the transition to college and the Charleston area.

The courtyard of military barracks at a military college with the words honor, duty, and respect engraved in a wall in the entry way.
Padgett-Thomas Barracks, home to Second Battalion

Student Life

All undergraduate students wear military uniforms daily and live in barracks with members of their company, with whom they work out two mornings a week. Cadets must meet specific standards for physical fitness, dress, and behavior. About half are from South Carolina, and only 15% are female.

The Citadel offers eight men's and six women's #NCAADivisionI sports teams, as well as various clubs (including sailing) and intramural sports. Musicians can audition for the 100-member Regimental Band and Pipes that performs throughout the state and beyond. There are numerous clubs, organizations, and religious ministries to choose from.

Cadets are only authorized to leave campus during certain times and must be in uniform within a ten-mile radius of campus, which includes downtown Charleston and ocean beaches, where students can try to find relief from the hot and humid summers. Out-of-state students are matched with sponsor families that give them a local place to call home.

College students play basketball inside a large indoor arena on the campus of The Citadel..
The 6,000 seat arena in McAlister Field House


Costs for cadets during the 2023-24 academic year are as follows:

  • Tuition for South Carolina residents: $13,140

  • Tuition for out-of-state students: $37,940

  • Leadership lab fees: $1208 for freshmen and $1040 for upper-class students

  • Room and board: $9,791

  • Quartermaster Fee (covers uniform, books, and supplies): $9,741 for freshmen and $3123 for upper-class students 

The Citadel meets around 70% of cadets' financial need as determined by the FAFSA. 65% of students graduate in four years.

All first-year students are automatically considered for most merit #scholarships, and around 70% of freshmen receive one. Full academic scholarships and scholarships for students in the honors and the 1842 Scholars programs require an additional application and are competitive. Athletic scholarships are also awarded.

Nearly one-third of students earn commissions and receive ROTC scholarships from the Army, Air Force, Space Force, Navy, or Marines. These scholarships cover tuition or room and board as well as a monthly subsistence allowance and textbook allowance (these vary by service). Four-year ROTC scholarship recipients might also receive the National Service Scholarship, which covers the cost of room and up to the cost of board, while three-year scholarship winners might receive the Service to Country Scholarship, which covers up to the full first-year cost of tuition. ROTC scholarship recipients with an SAT score of at least 1200 (or 27 ACT) and a minimum high school GPA of 3.2 are eligible for the Armed Forces Scholarship Program and can receive $3500 each year they receive an ROTC scholarship.

docked sailboats
Swain Boating Center on the Ashley River

Service obligation

Graduates are not required to be commissioned into any of the branches of the military, though around 33% of them do. The Citadel is one of the largest producers of U.S. military officers. Students on an ROTC scholarship have a service obligation that varies by branch. Non-scholarship cadets who pursued commissioning will have a shorter obligation (the duration varies depending on the branch).

Administrative building on the campus of a military college.
Bond Hall, home to administrative offices including admissions


To be eligible for admission to The Citadel, students must:

  • Be between the ages of 17 and 23 on the day of matriculation (mid-to-late August)

  • Not be married nor be responsible for a child

  • Not have a criminal record

  • Pass a medical test before the first day of school

  • Meet the U.S. Army standard for height and weight (with exceptions)

Prospective applicants apply to The Citadel via its own application or the #CommonApp. Neither SAT/ACT results ( #TestOptional), essays, nor teacher recommendations are required. 98% of applicants are admitted, the average high school GPA is 3.7, and admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. The deadline for full scholarship consideration is March 1. Admitted students must be prepared to pass a fitness test early in the fall semester. Interested students might want to attend the “Inside the Gates” overnight program to help determine if The Citadel is a good fit for them.

A church on the campus of a military college.
Summerall Chapel

I took all the photos on this page during a visit on a beautiful day in February 2024.


Have you visited or attended The Citadel? If so, leave a comment and share your experience.


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