Graduate Options?

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by futurecadet, Dec 10, 2011.

  1. futurecadet

    futurecadet Member

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    After spending the morning on the Academy Admissions page reading basically everything on the site (for at least the third time :), I still have a few questions concerning the graduate program. The Admissions site says Academy graduates can compete for scholarships and fellowships at other universities and attend these universities for an added time commitment and the responsibility of returning to the Academy as instructors.

    1. (May be obvious) but is graduate school paid for by the military?
    2. How common is it for Academy graduates to go on and get their graduate degree at civilian universities before spending their active duty time?
    3. While pursuing a graduate program at a university, would the student be on active duty or is it more like a sabbatical from the military?
    4. How often are servicemen who choose to pursue a graduate program actually called back to the Academy as instructors?
    5. Are there any military obligations while studying for a graduate degree at a civilian university (such as a regular check-in, AFROTC participation, etc.)?
    6. For someone looking to make a career in the military, does is taking the time to get a graduate degree a help or a hindrance?

    Thanks
     
  2. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Ok, there are a couple different programs within the "Graduate scholarship" section. There are things like Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, AFIT scholarships, and USAFA departmental scholarships. Each is a little bit different.You would go to a civilian school and study, while still being paid and earning time in service. Usually, there are 40-80(ish) graduate scholarships awarded per graduating class.

    The national/international scholarships are paid for external to the AF.

    AFIT scholarships are generally to the AF Institute of Technology, which is not a civilian school. I'll let Eagle talk about that.

    Departmental scholarships are the ones where a specific USAFA department (Physics, History, etc) will send you to a civilian school to get your degree in that area, then return to teach at USAFA.

    As far as whether it is better for your career, it really depends on what you want to do. If your career goals require being recognized as really good in your career field as a captain (getting into Weapons School), then it could be a negative factor for that. This is due to the fact that you would be a couple years behind in job experience compared to people of similar rank. On the other hand, having a graduate degree when you show up for your first operational assignment can help in other ways. Basically, if you want to be promoted past Capt/Maj, you will need at least a masters degree. While others will be doing masters courses on their own time, you will already have yours done.
     
  3. goldenlion

    goldenlion Member

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    I went to Florida State immediately after USAFA for grad school. While there, I had to wear my uniform once a week, and attend ROTC meeting once per month. That's it!

    Even though I was obligated to go back to USAFA to teach, I never did because my career field wouldn't release me due to manning. I have no idea how many other people this may have happened to. Having a degree did help with promotions.

    I knew quite a few people who were able to go to grad school and then immediately to pilot training. One of them became a test pilot quite quickly, so the degree helped him immensely.
     
  4. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    I'll go question by question, then add my input at the end. I am currently in a post-USAFA grad program in California.

    AFIT sponsored programs are (mostly). In order to be allowed to attend a civilian institution, we must receive scholarships. These are generally set-up between USAFA and the schools (RE: Kennedy School of gov't, UofMaryland, MIT Lincoln/Draper Labs, RAND). AFIT in-house is obviously military funded.
    In total, about 10% (~100) will go to grad/med school. I can't say the proportion exactly, but I would guess 50-75% go to a civilian program. Eagle may be able to clarify this one better.
    All of us are active duty. AFIT students AT AFIT wear their uniform to class. Civilians programs do not. I wear my uniform once a year in my program when our commander visits for his yearly brief. I receive full salary, BAS, and BAH (THANK GOD) while in school.
    This is usually a stipulation in the program as eagle will explain. Most civilian programs do not require this. Mine does not.
    For civilian programs there are none really. I have a meeting once a year with the local AFROTC commander as we're attached to UCLA's det. Have to take leave to go outside the local area for longer than 72 hours though.
    Raimius hit the major reason given. Bullet and Pima would even disagree with that based on their experience.


    So, I received the superintendent's RAND scholarship to study for my PhD at the RAND Corporation. http://www.prgs.edu/ I am in the longest post-USAFA grad program. It is a three year assignment and I graduate in Oct 2013 with a PhD in policy analysis (public policy) and my PhD will be in military healthcare (my choice). I was a biochemistry undergrad at USAFA. I go to school in flip flops, shorts, jeans, etc. It is located in Santa Monica, CA and I live south of it. Spend my weekends in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc. :) It's a tough life! :yllol: The material is TOUGH, but it's a great program, I'm having a blast, and I get my civilian college life for three years hehe.

    USAFA will notify cadets who are qualified for scholarships junior year. You will be given the option and the Grad studies department will guide you through the process. The commitment is 2 additional years per year of school concurrent with USAFA. Example: Mine is three years. That means I have six years after RAND. Since USAFA is 5 years, and I'm fulfilling that now, the commitments are CONCURRENT, not additive. So, my total added commitment is 4 years longer. Puts me at 9 years after graduating. If this is still confusing, I can clarify if needed.

    Eagle can answer more about department-sponsored scholarships.
     
  5. eagle36

    eagle36 USAFA Alumnus

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    Glad I came across this since y'all are throwing my name out to help ;)

    To supplement what they've said, I can speak to AFIT scholarships and the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) Scholarship, since that's why I'm here at AFIT now. For us, we are treated like normal active duty where our job is to attend class and get a degree. We wear the uniform every day, receive our normal pay, attend briefings, etc. The only difference is that classes, homework, projects, and our thesis is our primary responsibility.

    Now, to get to AFIT there are two routes. One is through your AFSC (job). Certain jobs (like some engineers, analysts, etc) like their people to have higher degrees before they work. A friend of mine is here also getting his OR degree because he's a 61SA (Scientific Analyst) and his career field wanted him to get the degree. He'll graduate and has no extra commitment (since the USAFA commitment and the one for AFIT run concurrently). He has no expectation to return to teach. The other is the GSP. This is a program sponsored by USAFA where they send students to AFIT with the expectation that they return to teach at somepoint. While they don't get final say (you must want to go and your career field must be willing to release you for a tour), you're intending to return. So the "extra commitment" for that is that you want to teach in the future. the nice thing about the GSP is that your career field doesn't matter. Most people who compete for this scholarship are pilots because it's a rare chance to be a pilot and have a full-time in residence graduate program.

    While it varies from year-to-year, most people with AFIT scholarships are at AFIT. The only people who aren't (normally) are people whose area of study is not included at AFIT. They can sometimes then study at a civilian school. For 2010, none of the GSPs were allowed to go to schools other than AFIT, while I know some 2011ers who did. However, most people at civilian schools are there on other scholarships, like Draper Fellowship, etc.

    The scholarship covers all tuition per se. "Room and board" comes from your BAH like every other officer, and you still must pay for books.

    As for the benefit vs hurt, I would tend to say in general it helps more than hurts. While there are positives and negatives to both sides, everyone i've talked to (flyers, professors, new and old) has told me how lucky i am to be doing this right now. Yes, I am about a year behind where I would have been (my original UPT class graduates in a couple months). However, that doesn't preclude me from still excelling as a flyer. Some fellow 2010 grads are training in Pensacola and won't have graduated by the time I start. Others will be FAIPed (First Assignment Instructor Pilot), delaying time until they reach an active unit. While it may be more difficult because I won't have as much experience flying, I will also be able to concentrate more on flying once I receive my wings because they'll be dealing with taking night classes to try to earn a degree.

    In the end, it comes down to what you want. I am VERY sick of school and am not getting as much out of classes as some captains who have been away longer, but the first several quarters were also much easier for me. I'm excited to go back to USAFA and teach at somepoint. I know I rambled a lot, but if you have more questions about it, either write them here (and I'll try to check back) or send me a PM.
     
  6. shoots1994

    shoots1994 Member

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    Is it possible for someone to go to USAFA, go to med school (on a scholarship) and get an MD, and then come back to the AF as a healthcare professional? If the longest post-grad program is three years, I don't understand how that would work because I was under the impression that it took at least four to earn an MD. I'd like to be a critical care physician or surgeon in the AF--is that even possible?
     
  7. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    We distinguish medicine separately from "Graduate studies" when we talk. USAFA sends 10-20 people a year to med school and up to three a year to nursing school. There are two options for med school (I speak from doing the process, I decided to opt out of med school and do grad school instead in the end).

    Military only route: USUHS is the military medical school in Bethesda. Students are paid as active duty members while staying as an O-1 for all four years. They receive a military residency IIRC (kp can clarify on this program). For USAFA grads, they do not begin paying back the commitment until they are in residency. (I think) I'm a little fuzzy, so kp could probably give the most accurate details. As I remember it, your total commitment is put on hold and USUHS adds 7 years to it. So after you start residency you have 13 years from that point. Again, I'd like kp to clarify this.

    Civilian route (most of my friends are doing this): You receive the HPSP scholarship and attend any civilian school you're accepted to for all four years. Tacks on 5 years of commitment beginning in your first military assignment - I believe a civilian residency doesn't count towards it. The stipend is $2000 a month for all people regardless of location.

    Your desires are possible in the AF, but realize that your choice may not be given to you as it is based on needs of the AF.

    Essentially, you have two options: HPSP and USUHS. They differ in pay, commitment, and lifestyle. But yes, medical school is an option. USAFA typically doesn't fill their allowed medical slots as not enough are qualified each year to fill them (courses, GPA, MCAT scores, etc.).

    kp, please correct my mistakes!
     

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