Alabama is what many consider a “military-friendly” state.
In other words, many public high schools support the military by offering local JROTC units.
Additionally, Army ROTC extends to have a presence at 10 different colleges and universities in the state.
In fact, Auburn University features one of the largest Navy ROTC classes in the country.
What are the best military schools in Alabama as you prepare for ROTC?
Southern Preparatory Academy and Columbus Girls Academy are outstanding military schools in Alabama yet entirely different institutions in many regards.
Meanwhile, Marion Military Institute is considered one of the finest military prep schools in the United States.
Learn more about the top rated military schools in Alabama based on academics, prestige, college placement success, and affordability.
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#1. Southern Preparatory Academy
- Location: 174 Ward Cir, Camp Hill, AL 36850
- Founded: 1898
- Grades: 6-12
- # of Students: 95
- Student / Teacher Ratio: 8:1
- Official Website: https://southernprepacademy.org/
Southern Preparatory Academy (formerly Lyman Ward Military Academy) is one of a handful of male-only boarding schools in Alabama.
It also consistently ranks among the premier military schools in Alabama for a variety of reasons.
Southern Preparatory Academy distinguishes itself by utilizing a military model for its middle school and high school offerings.
The private military school welcomes boys between the grade levels 6-12 to apply for the prestigious academy.
The military institution has impressive origins that date all the way to the late-19th century.
Southern Preparatory Academy emphasizes academic achievement along with leadership and character development, like most military schools.
It was founded as a non-profit, non-denominational school in 1898 and has organized a JROTC program since the 1960s.
Southern Preparatory Academy assigns a retired Army officer and NCO to organize the in-house JROTC program.
Its close proximity to the University of Auburn (approximately 20 miles) allows the military school to link with the very popular military programs on campus.
Southern Preparatory Academy operates on a block schedule / semester system.
Cadets at the high school level take a full course load of 8 courses per year.
Individualized attention is a priority at Southern Prep Academy where the average class size sports an impressive student to faculty ratio of 8:1.
The entire student enrollment is generally less than 100 students which helps maintain the rural, small-town vibe of Southern Prep.
Students must meet the general middle school and high school requirements of the State of Alabama.
However, the military school has a variety of Advanced Placement and Honors courses available to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
The junior high school / middle school (grades 6-8) also operates on a semester system with an emphasis on leadership and character development.
Southern Preparatory Academy has been accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1972.
For this reason, it is widely considered one of the finest prep schools in the American South and therefore gets a lot of notice from the Ivy League and other prominent colleges and universities.
Southern Preparatory Academy exists on a beautiful 300-acre campus which contains several athletic fields.
Furthermore, Lake Mary and Lake Ann provide a safe and scenic refuge for cadets while they live on campus.
The campus, like most military schools in Alabama, is separated between its middle school and upper school / high school.
The campus also includes 3 dormitories, dining hall, indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, rifle ranges (indoor and outdoor), library, auditorium, and chapel.
It looks and feels like a traditional college campus in many regards including its own JROTC headquarters, infirmary, and supply warehouse.
Athletics play an important role at Southern Prep where the Rangers are especially dominant in football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and cross-country.
Southern Prep Academy also features the norms of a military school with its own band, drill team, rifle team, sword drill, and color guard.
The drill and rifle teams are open to cadets at the upper school and they compete in several state and national competitions throughout the school year.
Southern Preparatory Academy accepts middle school and high school applicants beginning at the 6th grade.
Students have the option between wanting to apply for middle school, or wait until the upper school becomes available starting in 9th grade.
The time to enroll at Southern Prep Academy usually depends on your academic goals and study habits.
Southern Preparatory Academy has open admissions and accepts applications throughout the year.
New cadets are traditionally admitted the following August or January (whatever comes first).
Additionally, mid-term admissions are considered and often accepted as a method for saving on tuition.
You’ll need to contact Southern Preparatory Academy directly for accurate tuition rates including room and board.
Tuition generally raises each school year with the 2020-21 average for boarding students posted at $28,250.
On the other hand, international students spent an average of $37,000 on tuition at Southern Prep.
These rates do cover room, board, laundry, and student fees which helps make Southern Preparatory Academy slightly cheaper than other military schools.
There are many different ways to finance an education at Southern Preparatory Academy .
Southern Prep features its own tuition forgiveness and assistance programs, along with various grant and loan opportunities.
Learn more about the different types of Southern Prep financial assistance.
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#2. Marion Military Institute
- Location: 1101 Washington St, Marion, AL 36756
- Founded: 1842
- Grades: Undergraduate
- # of Students: 410
- Student / Teacher Ratio: 14:1
- Official Website: https://marionmilitary.edu/
Marion Military Institute (MMI) is a public military junior college with a history that spans more than 175 years.
It is the official state military college of Alabama and the oldest military junior college in the United States.
Today, Marion Institute is only 1 of 4 remaining military junior colleges in the nation.
The campus is an Alabama Historical Market and a couple of the buildings exist on the National Register of Historic Places.
Marion Military Institute was founded in 1842 along with the establishment of Howard College in Marion, Alabama.
Lovelace Hall and the Chapel were used during the Civil War and remain functional for cadets of the 21st century.
Marion Institute models many of its principles and military structure after Virginia Military Institute.
Several of its critical military components have been in existence for more than a half-century and are highly recommended by military leaders for those looking to get commissioned.
While it once had a high school boarding school, Marion Military Institute discontinued the upper school in 2009.
Cadets that are seeking a first-class military experience in college should make a point to attend Marion Military Institute.
It is not only one of the best military schools in Alabama, but around the country for its Army preparation.
Marion Institute features a standard Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) unit along with the U.S. Army 2-year Early Commissioning Program (ECP).
Both programs feature the opportunity to get commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant without having to attend college for 4 years.
For this reason and many more, experts consider it the premier commissioning program for the U.S. Army.
Cadets that are interested in serving in the U.S. Armed Forces yet would like to go another route beside the Army should consider the Service Academy Program (SAP).
Freshmen that enter the program at Marion Military Institute begin preparing for the academic and physical challenges necessary to gain admission to one of the federal service academies.
The Service Academy Program does an outstanding job of preparing cadets for West Point or Annapolis with insider connections to help you get noticed.
As a result, it is not uncommon for graduates of Marion Military Institute to enroll in a service academy since all of them endorse the military model at MMI.
Lastly, Marion Military Institute does feature a Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) for those interested in the military branch.
Furthermore, the U.S. Air Force has a connection with MMI through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
Marion Military Institute has a rich tradition with the USAF ROTC program as it has produced more than 200 generals and admirals in the military branch.
MMI Corps of Cadets
The Corps of Cadets at Marion Military Institute is organized into a battalion.
It consists of the Headquarters along with six companies that include Band.
Cadets assume all forms of leadership including a battalion commander.
There are additional leadership positions in each company.
Cadets earn their rank based on school year, academic performance, and merit – like most military schools in Alabama.
The platoons normally consist of 3-4 squads.
Marion Military Institute assigns a cadet staff sergeant to each squad who works closely along with the cadet sergeant and corporal.
Marion Institute is a member of the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States.
It also has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation.
Marion Military Institute is designated and endorsed by all 5 federal service academies, including the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Marion Military Institute is one of the most sought after military schools in the United States.
Consequently, admissions are competitive and require due diligence to get accepted.
While Marion Military Institute specializes in commissioning and sending recruits to the U.S. Armed Forces or service academies, military service is not mandatory following graduation.
The military school in Alabama prepares students for both civilian careers and military service.
Marion Military Institute is surprisingly affordable for a boarding school.
Residents of Alabama spend only $6,000 per year on tuition with room and board totaling a yearly expense of $16,170 (on-average).
As per the norm, tuition is more expensive for out-of-state residents with starting rates at $12,000 per school year.
Out-of-state students spend, on-average, $22,170 per school year on academics.
Unfortunately, this price does not include uniforms which are required.
There is a wide range of grants and scholarships available to families that need financial assistance.
Contact Marion Military Institute at 1-800-664-1842 for more details.
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#3. Columbus Girls Academy
- Location: 14 Motts Dr, Seale, AL 36875
- Founded: 1898
- Grades: 7-12
- # of Students: 60
- Student / Teacher Ratio: 21:1
- Official Website: https://christianschoolforgirls.com/
Columbus Girls Academy is a stark contrast to Marion Military Institute and Southern Preparatory Academy even if they are all military schools in Alabama.
Columbus Girls Academy serves more as a reform school for at-risk girls between the ages of 12-17 than a college prep school.
The year-round Christian boarding school is exclusive to female cadets that need to turn their live around.
However, the loving and personal nature of Columbus Girls Academy also doesn’t make it your regular disciplinary school.
Columbus Girls Academy combines traditional classroom learning with spiritual support and counseling.
Moreover, the equine therapy program has been incredibly successful and popular among students.
The 200-acre campus is peaceful and centered on restoring personal relationships.
It includes an expensive conference center, athletic facilities, swimming pool, and nearby hiking trails.
The purpose of Columbus Girls Academy is to target behavioral issues influenced by trauma, adoption, family discord, or peer pressure in a far healthier setting.
Cadets live on campus where they study as well as develop teamwork and leadership skills through a variety of activities.
The affordable military school in Alabama deals with common teen issues like rebellion, social awkwardness, lack of respect for authority and other self-destructing habits.
Additionally, the program can help students that struggle in school attain better grades.
The Teen Challenge Program offered through Columbus Girls Academy is endorsed by former U.S. President George W. Bush, Dr. James C. Dobson, and Dan T. Cathy (chairman and president of Chick-fil-A.
Average Tuition / Boarding
Columbus Girls Academy is designed for girls that are struggling with life-controlling issues, negative, or self-destructive behaviors.
The boarding school removes struggling teens from their comfort zone and places them in a new, accepting and loving environment.
Cadets are removed from distractions and bad influences where they can focus on academics, vocational skills, and character development.
The non-profit Christian boarding school is female-only and accepts girls between the ages of 12-17 that meet certain prerequisites.
Columbus Girls Academy has a terrific track record having been in operation for more than a half-century.
The institution has assisted in transforming the lives of hundreds of young girls.
The year-round school is affordable and the admissions department can work with you to find a reasonable tuition rate.
Columbus Girls Academy does have certain conditions where it will not accept a female, even if the student is within the 12-17 age group.
There is no cost to apply for Columbus Girls Academy and inquires usually begin with an online interview.
If you know someone that could benefit from Columbus Girls Academy, families are encouraged to contact the school at (334) 855-3695.
Columbus Girls Academy is accredited through AdvancED – parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.
It is also a member of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
Support from these organizations ensure that academic standards meet local requirements if the student wants to transfer back to another high school or college after leaving the program.
Related Article: Best Military Schools for Girls