military schools in illinois
Military Schools

Military Schools in Illinois

When it comes to education in the state of Illinois, you’ll find many choices from which to select. The state offers charter schools, public magnet schools, and private school options.

Students who want to push themselves academically or receive an introduction to military culture should consider attending a military prep school.

Cadets start training for a potential career in the military while also keeping their options open for college.

Learn more about the top military schools in Illinois based on prestige, reputation, academics, extracurricular activities, and affordability.

Related Article – Top 15 Military Colleges in the U.S.

#1 – Phoenix Military Academy

military high schools in chicago
Image: Flickr
  • Location: 145 S Campbell Ave, Chicago, IL 60612
  • Founded: 2004
  • Grades: 9-12
  • # of Students: 540
  • Student / Teacher Ratio: 18:1
  • Official Website:

Phoenix Military Academy (PMA) regularly ranks among the best military schools in Illinois.


The military prep school serves all high school grade levels (9-12) with an advanced learning curriculum.

Since it’s a public school, the military school is open to students who reside in the Chicago metro area and meet other qualifications.

Phoenix Military Academy has been in operation for under 2 decades yet has built a stellar reputation for building character and leadership skills in its students.

The campus generally admits less than 550 students in the four grade levels, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1.

While the student-to-teacher ratio is not as low as you might find from other top military schools in the state, it’s still better than many Chicago area public schools.

Phoenix Military Academy focuses on promoting student development in 5 critical areas:

  • Leadership
  • Character
  • Citizenship
  • Service
  • Academics

PMA is currently expanding its STEM program along with the Leadership Academy Pilot Program.

The two initiatives are part of a multi-million dollar grant Phoenix Military Academy received from the Department of Defense (DoD).

The military academy seeks to enroll young people who wish to become better citizens and leaders in the 21st century.

Phoenix Military Academy builds extraordinary character and a clear vision for success in post-secondary education.

Since Phoenix Military Academy is highly regarded as one of the best military schools in Illinois, cadets get noticed by major universities, colleges, and service academies.

Chicago Public Schools oversees the ROTC program at Phoenix Military Academy.

Cadets are required to take two years of the arts in addition to military training.

Furthermore, all students at PMA must take 2 years of foreign language in combination with all other core studies.

Average Tuition / Boarding

Phoenix Military Academy (PMA) is part of the Chicago Public School system.

The good news is that like other public military schools, PMA does not charge tuition.

However, Phoenix Military Academy is not your traditional military boarding school because there is no option to live on campus.

There are pros and cons to attending a public military school over a boarding school but the biggest advantage is affordability.

Chicago Public Schools is home to more than 160 high schools including Phoenix Military Academy.

The variety in public high schools is designed to offer a free or affordable option for every student in the metropolitan area, including learning environments that feature a military structure.

Chicago Public Schools are a little different from other school districts in that you do not need to reside in a specific zone to attend PMA.

Nonetheless, you must still meet eligibility criteria, and admittance to Phoenix Military Academy is only contingent on available seats.

Students who are interested in attending Phoenix Military Academy need to complete the Chicago Public Schools application.

Once the selection phase is complete, Chicago Public Schools will notify students of their enrollment status.

Related ArticleMilitary Schools in Florida

#2 – Carver Military Academy

illinois military academy
Image: Carver Military Academy
  • Location: 13100 S Doty Ave, Chicago, IL 60827
  • Founded: 1947
  • Grades: 9-12
  • # of Students: 407
  • Student / Teacher Ratio: 16:1
  • Official Website:

Carver Military Academy is another excellent public school option in Chicago, Illinois.

The military school was formerly known as George Washington Carver Area High School.

It has served the Riverdale region of the far south side of Chicago since the high school’s inception in the late 1940s.

Carver Military Academy has an interesting story. It was originally a public inner city school that nearly collapsed in the 1990s over low attendance and lack of funding.

Regardless, the school was resurrected under new leadership and has transitioned into a military academy since the turn of the Millennium.

At the time it made history, as Carver Military Academy was only the second public military high school in the country at the time.

Chicago Public Schools manages the military academy similar to other public offerings like Phoenix Military Academy.

In addition to the structured military environment and challenging academics, students may also compete in extracurricular activities.

Along with the Chicago Public Schools ROTC, cadets also play sports on varsity athletics in the Chicago Public League (CPL).

The Challengers won a state championship in boys basketball in the 60s, and the program has produced several professional athletes including Tim Hardaway and Terry Cummings.

Carver Military Academy is slightly more selective compared to neighboring Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago.

The school has an enrollment of less than 500 students, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1.

Average Tuition / Boarding

Carver Military Academy features a rigorous, inquiry-based college preparatory curriculum.

Along with personalized academic support, cadets build leadership skills that empower them in all walks of life.

It is often considered one of the best military schools in Illinois based on leadership development.

Cadets are constantly reminded of the values of respect, integrity, and self-awareness.

Students who attend Carver Military Academy must serve in the Army JROTC program.

Cadets must complete leadership training requirements from freshman through senior year.

Carver Military Academy has a strong tradition of college placement for an inner city public school with an average placement of 72%.

The military school does not offer on-campus living or dining.

So, it’s not a typical boarding school where students live on campus full-time.

However, it does make a significant difference in terms of cost as Carver Military Academy is tuition-free.

Nonetheless, you’ll need to apply in advance and make sure you meet the prerequisites.

Placement at Carver Military Academy is contingent on qualifications as well as available seats in a class.

Related Article – 17 Scholarships For Military Children, Spouses, and Veterans

#3 – Air Force Academy High School

air force academy high school in chicago
  • Location: 3630 S. Wells St, Chicago, IL 60609
  • Founded: 2009
  • Grades: 9-12
  • # of Students: 193
  • Student / Teacher Ratio: 18:1
  • Official Website:

The Air Force Academy High School (not to be confused with the Air Force Academy) is a college military prep school in Chicago.

Air Force Academy High School has the rare distinction of being the only public USAF high school in the nation.

The military high school is the most recent addition to public military academies in the state which includes several other offerings in the metro Chicago area.

Regardless, it is the only public military academy in the state that is officially connected with the United States Air Force.

The academics at Air Force Academy High School in Chicago are outstanding.

Since its inception in 2009, the local high school has sent graduates to Cornell University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Additionally, there are graduates of Air Force Academy High School in Chicago who have advanced to the federal service academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The diverse student population at Air Force Academy High School makes for a terrific learning environment.

Moreover, the military high school is conveniently located minutes from downtown Chicago.

In fact, the campus neighbors White Sox Field, which teaches cadets to think and dream big.

Air Force Academy High School (Chicago) currently features over 20 school-sponsored organizations and athletics.

The academic clubs range from student leadership to civic engagement.

The high school also has traditional organizations like Student Council, Yearbook, Debate, and Chess teams.

Lastly, all students at Air Force Academy High School are required to serve in the AFJROTC program.

The training program promotes a sense of citizenship while building self-confidence and discipline traits.

Average Tuition / Boarding

Air Force Academy High School is located in Chicago, Illinois, different from the federal academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The relatively small public school has a student enrollment of less than 200 students with personal class sizes.

Air Force Academy High School faculty consists of several retired USAF staff members.

The faculty challenges students to “expect excellence not excuses”.

Like many military institutions in America, the school holds true to the core values of integrity and community service.

Air Force Academy High School is not a boarding school, therefore you do not need to worry about covering room and board.

Those who are interested in attending Air Force Academy High School in Chicago have two different ways to apply.

The public school emphasizes college and career readiness along with cadets who are interested in aviation.

Applicants who are interested in the military model at Air Force Academy High School have the strongest likelihood of success.

Contact the staff for more questions about the application process.

Related ArticleMilitary Schools for Girls

#4 – Chicago Military Academy

military school illinois
Image: Chicago Military Academy

Chicago Military Academy is yet another public offering within the Chicago Public Schools.

The metro area has a quality selection of top-rated military schools, including the academy in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

Chicago Military Academy exists in a building known as the Eight Regiment Armory.

The public military school opened its doors for the first time at the dawn of the 21st century and has made a positive difference in the local community.

Chicago Military Academy features multiple academic departments.

Therefore, cadets may focus on Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) School or enroll in advanced placement (AP) courses.

Chicago Military Academy has honors courses in Computer Science, Foreign Language, and Fine Arts.

Furthermore, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program is a popular offering among the student population.

The JROTC program is available through Chicago Public Schools and is a mandatory requirement like many other military schools in the city.

Chicago Military Academy – Bronzeville also has varsity athletics in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and soccer.

There are many students who are active members of the National Honor Society, Academic Decathlon, Principal’s Scholars, and Beta Club.

School organizations like Peer Leaders, Community Service Club, and Student Council offer other ways for cadets to round out their extracurriculars.

Average Tuition / Boarding

Chicago Military Academy is one of many public offerings available through the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The curriculum is built around leadership development and targeting desired post-secondary skills.

The purpose of the Bronzeville Project is to establish a world-class urban military academy.

As a result, the military institution reviews applications for students who want to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Chicago Military Academy is not a boarding school, which helps families save costs on room and board.

It is considered one of the best military schools in Illinois for not charging tuition, like the other CPS institutions on the list.

Chicago Public Schools manages the other public military schools in the metropolitan area, like Phoenix Military Academy and Carver Military Academy.

Classroom instruction takes place at the historic Eight Regiment Armory Building.

The building has historical significance and has undergone renovations over the last few years.

Chicago Military Academy is open to all residents of Illinois, including those in all Chicago neighborhoods.

However, placement is dependent on number of available seats as well as other considerations.

We recommend that you contact the main office at (773) 534-9750 for more details regarding the application process.

Related Article: Best Military Schools in Texas

#5 – Marmion Academy

military school for boys in illinois

Marmion Academy distinguishes itself from other military schools in Illinois because it’s a private Catholic school.

The private high school serves grades 9-12 with a small enrollment of under 550 students.

The low enrollment allows Marmion Academy to keep classroom sizes small where cadets can expect a 10:1 student/teacher ratio.

Marmion Academy is a well-established military school as it has been in operation for close to a century.

The Roman Catholic institution was created and continues to remain managed by the Benedictine monks of Marmion Abbey.

As a result, Marmion Academy operates under 3 critical pillars: spirituality, academics, and leadership.

Marmion Academy is well regarded for its Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program.

Moreover, the United States Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) is a long-running tradition of the prestigious school.

Marmion Academy is located in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

The military school is part of the Chicago Catholic League and the cadets generally field competitive varsity athletics.

The demanding curriculum at Marmion Academy includes 2 years of a foreign language as well as studies in theology.

Marmion Academy is proud of its alumni, which includes many prominent figures like legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn.

Average Tuition / Boarding

Marimon Academy once served as a boarding school with two different campuses (one for residential students and one for day students).

However, the residential program closed in the early 2000s when the military institution decided to change direction.

For this reason, cadets no longer have the option of living on campus.

Nonetheless, Marmion Academy does charge tuition, which is something families need to plan and budget for accordingly.

The tuition rate for the 2020-21 school year is $14,800 and does not include the cost of books, uniforms, and other school fees.

Students who are interested in attending Marmion Academy are encouraged to take an 8th-grade online qualifying exam.

Marmion Academy does offer scholarships and other forms of tuition assistance for families concerned with affording the education.

In fact, Marmion Academy awarded over $1,207,000 in tuition assistance during the 2022-23 academic school year.

Contact the Office of Admissions at Marmion Academy for more information at (630) 897-6936.

#6 – Rickover Naval Academy Chicago

  • Location: 5700 W Berteau Ave, Chicago, IL 60634
  • Founded: 2005
  • Grades: 9-12
  • # of Students: 441
  • Student / Teacher Ratio: 15:1
  • Official Website:

Rickover Military School is deserving of its placement among the best military schools in Illinois.

The military institution has been around for a little over 15 years and created a new alternative avenue for high school students (grades 9-12) to pursue.

Rickover Military School seeks to establish a foundation for future success by enabling cadets to excel in academics while participating in meaningful leadership training.

These experiences and more help train and prepare cadets for post-secondary education or a career in the military.

Rickover Military School desires to take cadets out of the classroom and receive real-world experiences.

Thus, many students participate in national and international travel opportunities, partnership programs with universities and corporations, as well frequent interaction with personnel of the U.S. Navy.

The school encourages cadets to take advantage of Advanced Placement and Dual-Enrollment courses at Rickover Military School.

Students complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service, though many strive to complete several more hours than the standard requirement.

Furthermore, Rickover Military School pushes cadets to become leaders by being responsible for a squad that can range from 5-30 fellow classmates.

Those in the greatest positions of trust and power may help manage and be responsible for nearly 600 of their peers.

Rickover Military School cadets live by the motto “Learning to lead in order to serve.”

Average Tuition / Boarding

Rickover Military School seeks to empower cadets to meet and exceed academic standards set throughout the curriculum.

The naval academy promotes leadership training and experiences that get students out of their general comfort zones.

As a result, young people learn how to become better citizens and leaders by participating in active community engagements.

Rickover Military School does a tremendous job of college placement.

In fact, Rickover Military School graduates average receiving $90,000 to $100,000 in scholarships.

Additionally, the military school has sent 100% of its graduates to a post-secondary school for the last 5 years.

Rickover Military Academy fosters an atmosphere that cultivates academic excellence along with teamwork and trust-building exercises.

Consequently, cadets earn their rank and place in the battalion through tangible participation in activities and service.

The military school is part of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, which has an online application format.

Students are not charged tuition at Rickover Military Academy, and room and board are not required as it’s purely a day school.

The revamped application process for Chicago Public Schools allows anyone in the state of Illinois to apply.

There are minimum reading and math test scores needed to qualify for Rickover Military School.

You can contact the institution for more information about the admissions process at (773) 534-2890.

Related ArticleJoining The Military After College: How To Do It The “Right” Way

Rob V.
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Military School Illinois

Military School Illinois

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Illinois is home to 6 military schools, boarding schools, and military academies. Learn more about each one, including their location, courses of study, and average tuition.

Originally posted on 01/09/21

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