Comparing Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

August 14, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Comparing Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

Choosing a college or university can be a daunting task. In this article, we will be comparing Lehigh and the United States Military Academy. We will explore various aspects of these institutions, including location and campus facilities, admission requirements, and more.

Location and Campus Facilities

Lehigh University is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a small suburban city that offers a charming historic downtown with plenty of shops, restaurants, and cultural events. The campus is spread over 2,350 acres, and its facilities include 150 buildings, including residence halls, academic buildings, and research centers. The university offers state-of-the-art facilities, including a newly renovated library, a performing arts center, and a state-of-the-art business school.

In contrast, the United States Military Academy is located in West Point, New York, and is situated on 16,000 acres of land. The campus is self-contained and includes all the necessary facilities for cadet life, including academic buildings, residence halls, and training facilities. The campus also includes a golf course, hospital, and recreational centers for cadet use.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates

Lehigh University has an acceptance rate of 26%, and admission is highly competitive. The admissions process considers factors such as academic achievement, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and essays. Students are required to submit SAT or ACT scores, and the average SAT score for enrolled students is 1440.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

The United States Military Academy is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of around 10%. The admissions process considers academic performance, athletic achievement, leadership potential, and medical qualifications. Candidates are required to take the ACT or SAT, and the typical ACT score for admitted students is a 31-34 composite score.

Aside from academic and extracurricular achievements, Lehigh University also values community involvement and service. Applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to community service and volunteer work are viewed favorably in the admissions process. Additionally, Lehigh University offers a test-optional policy, allowing students to choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores.

The United States Military Academy also places a strong emphasis on physical fitness and military training. Applicants must pass a physical fitness test and meet certain medical requirements. In addition, candidates must receive a nomination from a member of Congress or another authorized nominating source.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered

Lehigh University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs across four colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Education, and Engineering. The university offers over 100 undergraduate programs, and students have the ability to personalize their education by selecting multiple majors.

At USMA, all cadets take a core curriculum that includes academic coursework in engineering, humanities, mathematics, science, and military science. Additionally, cadets must select a field of study or major that will result in a degree from the academy.

Faculty and Staff Qualifications

Lehigh University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and employs over 1,200 faculty and staff members, the vast majority of whom hold Ph.Ds. Faculty members engage in scholarly research in a wide range of fields, and their research often includes collaborative work with students.

a computer science professor demonstrating

At USMA, instruction is provided by both military and civilian faculty members, and all faculty members hold advanced degrees in their area of teaching. Faculty members also serve as mentors to cadets, providing guidance in both academic and personal matters.

Additionally, Lehigh University requires all faculty members to undergo regular professional development training to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest teaching methods and technologies. This commitment to ongoing education ensures that students receive the highest quality instruction possible.

At USMA, faculty members are not only experts in their fields, but they also have extensive military experience. This unique combination of academic and military expertise allows them to provide cadets with a comprehensive education that prepares them for leadership roles in the military and beyond.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio and Class Sizes

As mentioned above, Lehigh University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. The majority of classes at Lehigh are small, with an average class size of around 20 students. This allows for personalized attention and an interactive educational experience.

USMA has a similar student-to-faculty ratio, with approximately one faculty member for every 7 cadets. However, class sizes at USMA are significantly larger, often consisting of over 100 cadets per class.

Despite the larger class sizes at USMA, the academy places a strong emphasis on individualized attention and mentorship. Cadets are assigned to a faculty advisor who provides academic guidance and support throughout their time at the academy.

Extracurricular Activities and Athletics Programs

Lehigh University offers over 300 student organizations, including clubs for academic, professional, and recreational interests. The university also has a strong athletic program, with 23 varsity sports teams that compete at the NCAA Division I level.

teacher in blue holding a clipboard

At USMA, extracurricular activities are highly regimented due to the nature of a cadet’s military training. However, cadets have access to a variety of athletic programs, including football, basketball, baseball, and track and field.

Additionally, Lehigh University offers a wide range of community service opportunities for students to get involved in. These programs allow students to give back to the local community and gain valuable experience in leadership and teamwork. Some of the community service organizations include Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Volunteer Center.

At USMA, cadets also have the opportunity to participate in military-focused extracurricular activities, such as the Cadet Competitive Marksmanship Program and the Cadet Leadership Development Program. These programs provide cadets with hands-on experience in military tactics and leadership, which can be valuable in their future careers as officers in the U.S. Army.

Campus Culture and Student Life

Lehigh University is known for its diverse and inclusive community, and students are encouraged to engage in intercultural dialogue and learning. The university hosts numerous events and festivals throughout the year that celebrate diversity and inclusion.

At USMA, the campus culture is centered on the principles of duty, honor, and country. The aim is to develop leaders who will serve in the United States Army and serve as examples of integrity and leadership.

Additionally, Lehigh University offers a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. From sports teams to academic clubs, there is something for everyone. The university also has a strong commitment to community service, with many opportunities for students to volunteer and give back to the local community.

Career Opportunities for Graduates of Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

Lehigh University graduates have a high success rate in securing employment or pursuing advanced degrees. Students participate in internships, co-op programs, and research opportunities that prepare them for the working world. Lehigh maintains strong relationships with industry and business partners, providing graduates with access to a wide range of career opportunities.

a young man shakes someone's hand after being interviewed

USMA graduates are commissioned as officers in the United States Army and embark on a military career, serving in various leadership positions. Graduates of USMA are highly sought after by employers in a variety of fields because of their rigorous academic training, leadership experience, and disciplined character.

Additionally, Lehigh University offers career counseling services to help graduates navigate the job market and find employment that aligns with their interests and skills. The university also hosts career fairs and networking events, connecting students with potential employers and industry professionals. These resources, combined with a strong academic foundation, make Lehigh graduates highly competitive in the job market.

Alumni Network and Professional Connections

Lehigh University has a large and active alumni network, with over 80,000 alumni worldwide. The university offers numerous opportunities for alumni to remain engaged with the university and with each other, including alumni events, reunions, and networking events.

USMA also has a strong alumni network, with over 70,000 graduates who remain active and engaged in the military and beyond. USMA graduates often remain connected to the academy and to each other throughout their careers.

Both Lehigh University and USMA alumni networks provide valuable professional connections for graduates.

Lehigh alumni have access to career services, mentorship programs, and job postings through the university’s alumni association.

Similarly, USMA graduates have access to a variety of career resources, including job fairs and networking events specifically tailored to military veterans. These connections can be invaluable for alumni seeking career advancement or new opportunities.

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid Opportunities at Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

Lehigh University tuition fees are among the highest in the country, with an annual cost of around $56,000. However, the university offers a significant amount of financial aid and scholarships to students, and around 60% of students receive some form of financial assistance.

The United States Military Academy is tuition-free, and all students receive a stipend while attending. However, students who attend USMA are required to serve in the United States Army after graduation.

It is important to note that financial aid opportunities at Lehigh University are not limited to scholarships. The university also offers work-study programs, which allow students to work part-time on campus and earn money to help pay for their education. Additionally, students can apply for federal and state grants, as well as private loans, to help cover the cost of tuition and other expenses.

At the United States Military Academy, students not only receive a tuition-free education, but they also have access to a wide range of resources and opportunities. For example, cadets have the chance to participate in military training exercises, internships, and study-abroad programs. They also have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a world-class library and athletic center.

Academic Resources and Support Services Available

At Lehigh, students have access to a wide range of academic resources and support services, including a writing center, tutoring programs, and academic advising. The university also offers various research opportunities, with students and faculty members collaborating on projects in numerous fields.

USMA offers academic support services to cadets, including tutoring and academic advising. Cadets also have access to a variety of resources, including a writing center and a math center.

Additionally, Lehigh University provides students with access to a comprehensive library system, with over 2 million volumes and access to numerous online databases. The libraries also offer research assistance and workshops on topics such as citation management and literature reviews.

Similarly, USMA’s library system provides cadets with access to a vast collection of resources, including books, journals, and databases, as well as research assistance from librarians.

Research Opportunities at Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

Lehigh University places a high value on research, and students and faculty members engage in collaborative research projects across numerous fields. The university also has numerous research centers that support cutting-edge research, including the Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems Center and the Environmental Initiative Center.

USMA faculty members engage in research and scholarship, and cadets often assist in these projects, gaining valuable research experience. Additionally, USMA has numerous research centers, including the Geospatial Research Laboratory and the Cyber Research Center.

Furthermore, Lehigh University offers various research funding opportunities for students and faculty members. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs provides support for grant proposals and manages research funding from external sources.

Internship Programs and Work-Study Opportunities

Lehigh University offers numerous internship and work-study opportunities to students, providing them with hands-on experience and the opportunity to work in their field of interest. These opportunities prepare students for the working world and often lead to full-time employment after graduation.

USMA offers cadets the opportunity to participate in summer training programs and internships, providing them with experience in a variety of military and government organizations. Additionally, cadets can participate in work-study programs that provide them with valuable leadership experience.

Furthermore, Lehigh University has partnerships with various companies and organizations, allowing students to gain experience in their desired industries. These partnerships also provide networking opportunities for students, which can lead to future job opportunities.

Similarly, USMA offers cadets the opportunity to participate in exchange programs with military academies from other countries. These programs provide cadets with a unique cultural experience and the opportunity to learn about different military strategies and tactics.

Comparison of ROTC programs at Lehigh and the United States Military Academy

Lehigh University offers an Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, which provides students with the opportunity to train for a military career while pursuing their undergraduate degree. The program includes a combination of military training and academic coursework and prepares students to become commissioned officers in the Army.

a soldier carrying books

At USMA, all cadets are required to participate in the ROTC program, which is integrated into the curriculum. Cadets participate in military training and coursework throughout their time at the academy, culminating in their commissioning as officers after graduation.

One major difference between the ROTC programs at Lehigh University and USMA is the level of commitment required. At Lehigh, students can choose to participate in the ROTC program as a minor or as a full-time commitment.

This allows for more flexibility in scheduling and allows students to pursue other interests outside of the ROTC program. At USMA, however, the ROTC program is a full-time commitment for all cadets, leaving little room for other extracurricular activities.


Lehigh University and the United States Military Academy offer students two very different types of education. Lehigh provides a traditional college experience, with the opportunity to explore numerous academic programs and engage in a wide range of extracurricular activities and research opportunities.

USMA provides a highly disciplined and structured military education that prepares graduates for a career in the United States Army. Both institutions offer distinct advantages and challenges, and it is up to the individual student to determine which type of education is the best fit for them.

Segue to AdmissionSight

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