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Located on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy, 6 miles south of the cadet area, this ten-month school is designed to academically, physically, and militarily prepare selected young men and women to enter and succeed at the Academy.

Prep School Program

The United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, popularly known as the “Prep School,” prepares a diverse group of cadet candidates to succeed and lead at the United States Air Force Academy.

Unless you are a Regular Airman in the Air Force, there is no direct application process for the Prep School. If you apply to the Academy and are not accepted, you may receive an appointment to the Prep School. For more details, see Prep School Admissions.

Students at the Prep School are addressed as “cadet candidates.” Each year, approximately 240 students between 17 and 22 years old begin the program in late July.

The Prep School program emphasizes the same four areas as the Academy:

Prep School Academics

The academic program is rigorous and specifically designed to transition students from a high-school academic environment to the world-class collegiate academic program at the Academy.The success of the Prep School’s academic curriculum has been borne out over the years with a graduation rate from the Academy that very nearly matches the graduation rate of those appointed directly to the Academy.

To earn an appointment to the Air Force Academy, cadet candidates must meet historically established academic standards. To accomplish these goals the Prep School divides the academic year into four quarters, each approximately nine weeks long. An integrated course in basic study skills is required in the first quarter to learn time management and study techniques that will facilitate the transition to the demanding requirements of college academics.

The rest of the curriculum is designed to lay the groundwork for success in courses required at the Academy, with a focus on math, English and science:

  • Math: A robust mathematics sequence, providing intense instruction in a spectrum of topics including college algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and applications in science and engineering.
  • Science: Chemistry is used to teach all students fundamentals in scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  • English: The primary focus is to develop solid writing skills through a composition program that incorporates literature and character-focused readings plus a required course in reading in the social sciences to ready students for the reading requirements of college courses in history, political science, and philosophy as well as to hone writing and critical-thinking skills.

Honors programs are available for more advanced students in math, chemistry, and physics, as is the opportunity to take a freshman-level English or math course at the Academy in the spring. Instructors are readily accessible for extra academic assistance to anyone who needs it.

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Prep School Military Training

Military training at the Prep School is centered on the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. Military training is a part of a cadet candidate’s everyday life.

Upon arrival at the Prep School, cadet candidates enter an 18 day indoctrination into the military called Basic Military Training (BMT). BMT is designed to orient cadet candidates to the military lifestyle and provide them with information on the organization of the Air Force, military customs and courtesies, drill and ceremonies, military history, Core Values, the Honor Code, physical training and proper wearing of the uniform.

Cadet candidates are briefed in detail on the standards of conduct and appearance they will be expected to maintain while at the Prep School. To ensure they uphold these standards, cadet candidates undergo regular inspections of their uniforms and personal appearance as well as their rooms and the overall dormitory.

Working directly with each Prep School squadron is a company grade officer known as the Associate Air Officer Commanding (AOC), another company grade officer known as the Military Training Officer (MTO) and two non-commissioned officers who are the Academy Military Training Noncommissioned Officers (AMT). The roles of the AOC, MTO and AMT are varied: trainers, disciplinarians, counselors, advisors, and often mentors and confidantes to cadet candidates.

Each year is concluded with a three-day exercise called the Transition Exercise, or TX. It is designed to be a physical and mental review of all the cadet candidates have learned for the year and to prepare them for Basic Cadet Training (BCT) at the Academy.

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Prep School Athletics

The Prep School Athletic Department’s mission is to prepare cadet candidates for the rigors of athletic competition and the physical conditioning required of all Academy cadets. It provides cadet candidates a realistic leadership experience in a mentally and physically challenging environment, and motivates cadet candidates for a lifetime of fitness. 

The Prep School athletic program includes fitness training and testing, self-paced workouts and athletic competition via participation in intercollegiate or specialized sports.

Prep School intercollegiate teams include:

  • Football
  • Wrestling
  • Men’s and women’s basketball
  • Women’s volleyball
  • Men’s and women’s soccer

Prep School varsity athletic teams compete against top-rated National Junior College Athletic Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association junior varsity and other service academy Prep School teams. Walk-ons and managers are essential and encouraged.

Specialized sports are those the Prep School cannot form or coach a full team, but select cadet candidates may join a downtown team or league. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Lacrosse
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Men’s and women’s gymnastics
  • Swimming

Participation in specialized sports is based upon a cadet candidate’s recruitment and limited to cadet candidates with the potential to compete at the Division I level (i.e., no walk-ons).

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Prep School Character Development

Character development is the process that builds and reinforces the traits which form a cadet candidate’s commitment to personal excellence and produces quality officers to lead the Air Force. Implementation of this program is through a yearlong comprehensive process, which focuses on the Honor Code, human relations, and spiritual development.

All cadet candidates must accept the Honor Code when entering the Preparatory School and agree to live by principles of character that extend beyond the Honor Code. Character development training starts during Basic Military Training (BMT) and continues throughout the entire year.

Cadet candidates also have the opportunity to participate in community service projects, honor and ethics symposiums, intramurals and distinguished visitor testimonials as part of the continuous character development process.

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Do you want to Attend the Academy?

Understanding our admissions requirements is the first step.