It is no secret that the United States armed services highly value education and training. In the U.S. Air Force, education is an essential element to advancement. The U.S. Air Force is committed to education, and there are several Air Force education programs that airmen can take advantage of on or off base. Some Air Force education programs for enlisted personnel include the Community College of the Air Force, the Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program (ASCP), Leaders Encouraging Airman Development (LEADS), Professional Officer Course - Early Release Program (POC-ERP), the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program (NECP), and the Physician Assistant Training Program. There are additional Air Force education programs that can lead to a commission as an officer in the U.S. Air Force such as the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, Officer Training School, and the United States Air Force Academy. Air Force personnel can also take advantage of educational online opportunities available through an accredited Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) institution, an independent accrediting entity recognized by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education.
The Air Force education programs discussed earlier focus on opportunities for enlisted airmen/women. There are several opportunities available for officers as well. Such opportunities include Master and certificate degrees from the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Air University is an institution that offers educational opportunities to officers in the U.S. Air Force, as well as select officers of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard, and qualified civilian personnel and officers from foreign militaries seeking a joint education in accordance with the mandates of the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Air University also offers programs available online to its personnel, further evidence that the U.S. Air Force has embraced online education.
Not only does the U.S. Air Force highly value education, it values training as well. In fact, there are Air Force education and training programs available that offer financial assistance to airmen seeking opportunities to advance their careers such as the Air Force Tuition Assistance (TA) Program. The Department of Veterans Affairs also administers funding programs for education like the Post-9/11 Bill and the Montgomery G.I. Bill.
With so many options available, it is important for one to consider and evaluate which Air Force education and training program is best. With the advent of the information age, that the U.S. Air Force has embraced, individuals do not have to resort only to 'brick and mortar' institutions, but can also further their education and training online. Which option should an individual select? One should consider a program that fits one's lifestyle and schedule. It is important to consider the U.S. Air Force does allow its members to apply the benefits from the Air Force education and training programs to online universities and training providers. Online universities and training programs offer flexible access for enlisted and officer personnel who have to frequently move to different locations and deploy to remote areas that would prohibit them from obtaining a Bachelor or Master's degree from a traditional brick and mortar institution. Institutions that have received DETC accreditation offer many opportunities for individuals seeking opportunities to advance their education and training, and open opportunities for themselves for advancement.