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The U.S. Congress directed the Secretary of Defense to conduct an assessment of recruiting efforts, admissions policies, graduation rates, and career success rates with respect to the diversity of entrants and graduates of the United States Military Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Naval Academy. Data provided by the service academies on the demographics of recent entering classes and their outcomes (such as first-year completion rates, graduation rates, completion of initial service obligation [ISO] following graduation, and propensity to stay in the military beyond ISO completion) allowed a descriptive analysis of trends across years and a comparison with similar data on very selective civilian four-year institutions. Although the percentages of women and nonwhite entrants have increased, these groups tended to have lower graduation and ISO completion rates than their counterparts. However, in recent entry cohorts, these groups showed improved graduation rates, and the rates were similar to or higher than those in civilian institutions. The U.S. Department of Defense can support service efforts to increase diversity in the academies by developing a standardized definition of diversity, reviewing goals and metrics to measure progress in this area, and improving career retention of a diverse group of officers.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Diversity of the Officer Corps and All Officer Accessions: Trends Over Time

  • Chapter Three

    Selected Diversity Rates and Trends: United States Military Academy

  • Chapter Four

    Selected Diversity Rates and Trends: United States Air Force Academy

  • Chapter Five

    Selected Diversity Rates and Trends: United States Naval Academy

  • Chapter Six

    Service Action Plans

  • Chapter Seven

    Selected Findings and Recommendations from the Literature

  • Chapter Eight

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Continuation Rates of Graduates Who Completed Their ISO, 1993–2003 Graduating Classes

  • Appendix B

    Active-Duty Service Obligations

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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