You'll be pushed to your limits.
And beyond.

The United States Air Force Academy doesn't just prepare you for a career. It prepares you to become a leader in the Air Force. From the moment new cadets walk across the Class of ‘59 Challenge Bridge, they begin the training that will mold them into officers of character.

Basic Cadet Training

Much of your first summer at the United States Air Force Academy will be spent in Basic Cadet Training (BCT). This rigorous, six-week orientation program introduces you to military life. BCT is a very serious undertaking. Your performance and attitude in this program will strongly influence your future success at the Academy.

The Rigors of BCT

BCT has two phases—one in the cadet area, the other in Jacks Valley rural training area—each with unique demands and rewards. BCT will challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally. Few of your high school friends will ever face such tests. Your commitment to yourself, to those close to you, and ultimately, your nation, will be tested daily. You’ll expand your limits and emerge with a deep sense of pride and confidence in your accomplishments and abilities. You’ll begin to understand what sets the Academy apart from other colleges and universities.


This phase focuses on the transition from civilian to military life. Upper-class cadets instruct you in military topics ranging from customs and courtesies, the Honor Code, Air Force heritage to marching and room inspections. You’ll demonstrate proficiency through knowledge tests, drill, rifle-manual competitions, parades and inspections. Your daily physical conditioning training includes strenuous exercises, running and competitive sports. All activities condition you to meet the physical and mental demands of BCT in Jacks Valley and the academic school year.


During Field Day, your squadron competes against other BCT squadrons in events such as distance races, log relays and the tug-of-war to test teamwork.  Points earned, added to those awarded throughout BCT for marching, knowledge tests and performance in various other activities, determine the “honor squadron.”


Following the military and physical preparation of BCT in the cadet area, training continues in Jacks Valley rural training area, a 3,300 wooded area on the Academy grounds. Activities in Jacks Valley will push you to your physical limits and build your self-confidence and confidence in your classmates. You’ll also become familiar with small-unit tactics and firearms. After a challenging and rewarding experience in Jacks Valley, BCT training concludes back in the cadet area.


The end of BCT and transition into the academic year are marked by the Acceptance Parade. There you will receive your Fourth-Class shoulder boards to recognize completing BCT and to signify your acceptance into the cadet wing. In a ceremony associated with the parade, new fourth-class cadets culminate the intensive BCT core values, honor, ethics and human relations training by taking the Academy Honor Code Oath and pledging to live by its principles. It’s the end of one test but the beginning of another—meeting the new and different challenges that each succeeding year at the Academy will bring.

Meeting the Challenge

The training you’ll receive during your fourth-class year will serve as a foundation for your conduct throughout your time as a cadet and career as an officer. As a Fourth-Class cadet, you are expected to enter the Academy armed with physical fitness, mental resolve, enthusiasm for competition and challenge, and an attitude positively directed toward success. Your training will be rigorous and well disciplined, designed to test and strengthen your motivation and capabilities.

Along with BCT, the fourth-class year will probably be more emotionally and physically demanding than anything you have done in your life. To succeed, you must accept the challenges that the Air Force Academy presents, realizing that the training you receive is directed toward making you an effective member of the Air Force. You must commit strongly to succeed at the Academy. Candidates who enter training because of pressure from peers or parents, with the attitude that they’ll just “give it a try,” usually have great difficulties. More than 50,000 graduates have met the challenges of the fourth-class year and have succeeded. You too can join that group of winners and become a leader of character.

Do you want to Attend the Academy?

Understanding our admissions requirements is the first step.