Top 10 International Military Schools

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This list can be thought of as an addendum of sorts to a similar list that was done here at TopTenz, featuring American military schools.  There was a bit of thought, both from myself, and from the readers of the original list, that there is something to be said about military institutions of higher learning beyond the borders of the United States.  And indeed there is.

Interestingly (though not surprisingly), not all countries operate their military academies in the same manner as the U.S.  While most international military academies mirror their American counterparts in the mission of training men and women to become leaders within the armed forces, they do not all include a post-secondary styled education.  After a bit of thought, I’ve included on this list some of the schools that do not offer such a program (namely the Brits and Brazilians).  The reason for this is that the main focus of these lists – in my mind anyway – has always been the military training aspect.  There happens to be a number of international schools that excel at producing superior military officers and deserve inclusion, in my opinion, on any list that tackles this subject.  After all, the idea behind any military school is to develop leaders, and this they do exceedingly well.

Without further commentary, here are the top ten international military schools:

10.  Royal Military College of Canada

Canadas-RMC

For reasons that continue to allude me, America’s neighbor to the north tends escape the notice of most.  A literal sleeping giant, Canada has a rich military history in its own right, though its contributions may have not drawn as much attention as other nations.  Nevertheless, The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) continues to produce officers for service in the Canadian armed forces.  RMC is Canada’s only federal degree-conferring military-oriented university.  With the stated mission to “educate, train and develop officer cadets for leadership careers of effective service in the Canadian Forces – the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Canadian Army,” RMC has dutifully performed its stated function since 1876.

Located at Point Frederick, Kingston, Ontario, the school emphasizes 4 “pillars: of education: military leadership, athletics, academics, and linguistics (French and English). A fully accredited institution of higher learning, RMC offers 19 undergraduate programs (in the areas of engineering, arts and science), 34 graduate programs, and 14 doctorate programs.  The school has several different education tracts available to students, depending on their particular commitment (or lack thereof) to serving in the Canadian armed forces.  The Regular Officer Training Program caters to those students who will be obligated to five years of service upon completion of their education (the program is actually considered a scholarship).  These students have their expenses fully paid by the Canadian government, and receive a stipend each month to cover additional expenses.  Other programs within the school allow students to attend without having an obligation for military service (requiring them to pay their own expenses).  Eligibility for admittance into the school requires a potential cadet to meet the set criteria for the undergraduate programs of the school, as well those conditions set for officers of the Canadian armed forces.

In regards to cadet life on campus, the RMC functions in a similar manner to American military academies.  Students, referred to as cadets, form the school’s cadet wing.  The cadet wing is then broken down into smaller squadron and flight formations.  The cadets have a rank hierarchy that is adhered to, as well as the responsibility of administering the day-to-day activities of the wing (i.e. discipline, duty details, etc.).  A strict code of military bearing and discipline is expected, and enforced.  Cadets are required to participate not only in the rigorous academic offerings of the RMC, but to master the different phases of military and leadership training as well.

During their first year, cadets are subjected to intense indoctrination.  Cadets are required to march everywhere they go, maintain incredibly high dress standards, and participate in rigorous physical training.  In addition, cadets are not allowed to leave the campus OR receive visitors during their first year.  Upon successful completion of the first academic year, cadets continue their training, though under slightly less intense pressure.  Additionally, cadets will begin to assume leadership roles within the cadet wing to better prepare them for a career of leadership and service within the armed forces.

With a rich tradition that spans 135 years, the Royal Military College of Canada has provided the Canadian armed forces with the leaders that have enabled its military to serve with distinction around the globe, in times of war and national need.

9.  Royal Military Academy of Belgium

RMA-Belgium

Belgium is not traditionally recognized as a military juggernaut.  Nevertheless, those outside of the European Union may be surprised at the central role that Belgium has in the international arena.  Brussels, for example, is considered the unofficial capitol of the European Union, not to mention the location of the headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  In the midst of this, Belgium has maintained a professional military establishment, that stands ready to defend Belgium’s national interest and treaty obligations in NATO.

The Royal Military Academy is the nation’s military university.  Established in 1834 and based on French “grand ecoles” (elite university) standard, its purpose is to educate the future officers who will comprise the leadership of its armed forces.  Located in Brussels, the school is fully accredited and confers degrees (Bachelor and Master Degrees) under a 5 year system (3 years for the BA and the MA in the final 2 years).  Admission for future students is competitive.  First, potential students must successfully pass a battery of military admission tests, that are given to every prospect entering the Belgian military.  Next, students will have to perform well on public examinations.  In this phase, they are competing with other potential entrants to the school, with those who score the highest winning the coveted and limited spots available each school year (about 400 or so).

Once admitted, RMA begins transforming young men and women into military leaders.  As with most national military academies, tuition and expenses are fully covered by the government, and students receive a small salary during their time at the school. With a focus on physical and military training in conjunction with character development, the RMA sounds and feels like what would be expected at any top-notch military educational institution.  The RMA refers to its educational offerings as “integrated”.  The reason for this is the concerted effort to mix a beneficial blend of academic and military training to students.  The school’s academic offerings are among the best to be found in Europe.  In addition to BA and MA degrees, the school has a post-graduate PhD program, as well as renowned research opportunities.

Life for students at the RMA is a bit more relaxed than what can be found in American military academies, but nonetheless military-oriented.  During the first 3 years at the school, students will reside in rooms with 2 or three other students.  During the fourth year, students may opt for individual rooms.  Students will spend most of their time on campus, though they are allowed weekends and one night per week to leave (assuming that they are in good standing).  Additionally, because every military in the world has physically demanding requirements, students are required to participate in at least 5 hours of physical/sports activity each week.

Finally, students are also required to participate in military camps twice a year during their stay at the school.  These camps will focus on the needed military, and leadership, skills needed to become an effective officer in the armed forces.  The first camp lasts about two weeks in January, and the second camp is about one month long in July.  At least one of the camps will take place outside the borders of Belgium.

8.  Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (Brazil)

academia-militar-das-agulhas-negras

In English, the name of this fine institution translates as “Military Academy of the Black Needles”.  Besides being arguably the most notable military institution in South America, the coolness of the name alone deserves a spot on our list (the name is derived from the locality of the school). Located in the city of Resende, Rio De Janeiro, Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (AMAN) traces its roots back to 1792, making it a model for future military academies in North America, as well as the first.  Through several incarnations, the school has developed into the largest military academy in Brazil, that provides education and training for cadets to become officers in the Brazilian armed forces.

Potential students who wish to attend AMAN must attend a preparatory course beginning in high school and lasts through college, or win appointment through open competition.  Suffice to say that entrance into the school is difficult at best.  It seems that students that are admitted to AMAN’s Cadet Corp have already obtained their post-secondary degrees.  In this, once admitted to AMAN, the sole emphasis of the school is on developing cadets into fully-trained and capable officers (or warlords, according to the translation on their website).

The training is divided into three phases.  The first phase lasts for two years, and can be considered the indoctrination period.  During this time, cadets are introduced to the military-style regiment, that is a hallmark of military academies around the world.  The second phase emphasizes leadership training, and continues to build on the physical and military training began in the first phase.  The third, and final, phase of training is tailored to the specific responsibilities that young officers will need to master in order to perform in the various billets within the armed forces.

One should note that the Brazilian army has, on occasion, found the need to overthrow the elected government, in addition to confronting numerous regional hostilities.  For such onerous tasks, the development of an educated and highly trained leadership is essential.  In this, AMAN continues to excel.

7.  National Defense Academy of Japan

national-defense-academy-japan

Japan has a rich military tradition, that is centuries old.  In this regard, The National Defense Academy of Japan (NDAJ) aims to uphold the prestige and honor of military service. It’s interesting to note, however, that many people are under the impression that Japan doesn’t have a standing military.  True enough, with the conclusion of the Second World War, Japan’s Imperial military forces were disbanded.  However, with the onset of the Cold War, America placed a good deal of pressure on Japan to assume some of its own defensive responsibility.  This emphasis has only increased, as America has had to deal with other military commitments around the world, as well as China’s emergence as a military power in the region.

Established in 1953 and located in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, NDAJ is a post-secondary military institution of higher learning.  The mission of the school is to provide training and education to students who desire to become officers in Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.  The school provides post-secondary/university level course level work, but does not actually grant degrees.  This is due to the fact that NDAJ is not a member of the accreditation organization (The National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation) that confers such honors.  However, the courses at NDAJ are duly recognized, and students are granted degrees upon graduation through the National Institution upon request.  In line with other Japanese universities, NDAJ offers a strong curriculum in science and engineering, with students able to earn degrees in these disciplines as well as social sciences.

As with entrance into any Japanese university, admission into NDAJ is competitive.  This is especially true, due to the fact that all costs associated with attending the school are covered by the government.  In fact, even if a student drops out of the program before completion, or refuses to enter into the military upon graduation (which, apparently, many do), the student is not required to reimburse the government for the time spent at NDAJ.  Nevertheless, students are selected on a competitive basis (high school rankings, grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, etc.) relative to all those who apply.  A point of interest with the NDAJ is that the school states its main emphasis is on academics, and military training is limited to fundamental levels (additional military training takes place at the officer candidate schools in the SDF).

Military training, in total, will only consume about 1,000 hours of a student’s time at the school.  Students or cadets are required to participate in two hours of basic military training each week.  Additionally, students will undergo further training in the form of a six-week course each academic year.  So, at first glance, NDAJ may seem lax on the military orientation.  Nothing is further from the truth.  In fact, the NDAJ is actually strikingly similar to its American counterparts.  The student body forms Cadet Corps, which in turn, is organized into smaller battalions and platoons.  The Corps is a self administering body, with the cadets themselves serving in leadership billets that administer the day-to-day activities of the students.  Life is regimented along the basis of military discipline – formations, marching, wearing uniforms, inspections, etc.

Still, NDAJ is uniquely Japanese.  There is high desire to produce highly educated officers who are able to think logically and scientifically, as well as display personal characteristics that are valued in Japanese society (and that will allow them to be effective officers in the 3 branches of the SDF). As a result, the NDAJ is an institution of higher learning first and foremost, and is among the most effectual of schools to be found in Japan.

6.  Federal Armed Forces University (Germany)

helmut-schmidt-university

Germany is known (famously and infamously) for its military prowess.  Regardless of which side of right the German military establishment has fallen, the fact remained that the German armed forces were always a capable and dangerous fighting machine.  One of the reasons for this is the emphasis that the Germany military has placed on maintaining a professional corps of highly trained military leaders (for the sake of this discussion, we are talking about officers – however the German military has long recognized the importance of non-commissioned officer leadership as well).

As part of the initiative, the German government established not one, but two universities for the purpose of providing university level academic instruction to its officers (and potential officers).  These two institutions, Bundeswehr University Munich, and Helmut Schmidt University (in Hamburg), are administered by the German armed forces.  However, these two universities are operated completely different than most other military-run institutions of higher learning.  These two institutions are almost completely devoted to traditional academic offerings, with very little in the way of military training.  In fact, excepting to the intensity of the course work, the Federal Armed Forces Universities (FAFU) largely resemble other German universities.

Officers and officer candidates who attend FAFU can earn Bachelors and Masters degrees.  The primary difference with FAFU, from other German universities, is that degrees can be earned about a third faster.  FAFU academic years are based on a trimester, while retaining comparable weight (in terms of credit and instruction) to the courses that are offered therein.  As such, a master’s degree can be earned in four years, as opposed to five at other schools.

Officers and officer candidates who attend the school are obligated to 13 years of military service (for pilots, it’s 15 years).  The majority of students at FAFU are military.  However, by 2003, the prestige and quality of the course work increased, and civilian students were allowed to attend the school, provided that space was available and that the costs were underwritten by a secondary source (i.e. businesses, etc.).  For military students, all costs are covered by the government, and students are paid a salary.

Life for students at FAFU is much different than can be found at most military school and academies as well.  In fact, students at FAFU enjoy a college atmosphere that is similar to any civilian university.  Students don’t wear uniforms, are allowed to schedule their classes and other activities as they see fit, and are not required to conform to a rigid military style of discipline.  Indeed, the only visible military-oriented feature of FAFU is the military/language training that is offered on Wednesday afternoons.  There is, of course, an emphasis placed on physical training through club sports, which students are encouraged to participate in.

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FAFU hangs its hat on the high quality of its academic offerings, especially in the area of scientific research.  The schools have a particularly strong aeronautical engineering program.  The essence of the school’s structure is to develop highly educated officers, with the necessary military instruction and training coming from other avenues.


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35 Comments

    • You have not listed so many real warrior/leader raising institutions for centuries therefore, there is no need to make comment….it shows that Canada (United Kingdom) Australia(United Kingdom), western and one or two unrated new military schools were shown…so, good for you……Anybody who thinks Western schools and US /.UK influenced schools are superior has a huge problem…..

    • Watch videos on YouTube Indian soldier have no food to eat so how they are talking?
      Why not Pakistani Military Academy Pakistan is the only country in the world who is won the war against terror Pakistan finished 99% terrorism in Pakistan

  1. Better list than the previous list indeed. Was just wondering that how come no military academies from Army giants like China, India and Russia?

    • they aren’t included because their military theory is as such:

      1. Conscript huge army of illiterate peasants.
      2. Give half of them (the ones in front) weapons and let the other half (the ones in back) carry ammo. They guys in back are expected to pick up weapons from the dead guys in front.
      3. Charge towards objective, overwhelm the enemy with millions of bodies.

      With this line of thought, it only takes about 20 minutes to train an officer from the former USSR or China. 15 of those minutes are spent pinning lieutenant’s bars on new officers.

      • @ Marc. You know your answer is very very offending and mean. I don’t know which country you come from but from your remarks it seems that people like you are the reason that others hate you and your country (you make even the good people in your country seem evil). Douche bags like you should not be visiting this site. You are just making a mockery of the people who have laid their lives for their country. Would it feel nice if someone goes and pisses on the graves of the army heroes of your country.
        TopTenz Master – Please if you respect the international crowd which visits your website please ban people like Marc.

        • I bet I have read more books about Warsaw Pact doctrine than you ever knew existed, including a few written by the Soviet Army. My quick and dirty summary of Pact doctrine really does sum up how their tactics and strategy worked. Giant conscript army, arm every man with every weapon you have and send them all toward their objective. How do you think Stalin and his generals defeated the Germans? With brilliant maneuver and high tech weapons? No, they did it with the T34, the Moisin-Nagant, lots of artillery and endless waves of bodies. The T34 was a good, simple tank. Their rifles were simple and robust. Their artillery was plentiful and their armies were enormous. They also had the weather on their side.
          The Chinese army has only recently made a serious attempt to modernize and become a tactically and technically proficient force. Until the late 90’s, they still used copies of Soviet equipment and copies of Soviet tactics. The only thing they have going for them in a war with say, the USA or Russia, right now is a population in the billions.
          Did I make any disparaging remarks about the UK, France, Germany, India, or any of the other countries on this list? No, and I’ll tell you why. They are small countries who have to make up for a lack of manpower with serious military theory. They cannot afford to throw 200,000 men at a single objective. They MUST make use of every tactical trick and technical advantage in their power. They have developed complicated schemes of maneuver to defeat armies like the Warsaw Pact or China. They have world class military schools because they need them.
          The reason Americans hate your country is because you demand censorship the second someone pisses on your feet. I’m a veteran, I’ll say what I damn well please.

        • @ Marc….First of all Americans don’t hate my country. I’m Indian. If you read my first comment I wrote about three countries. India, China and Russia. It was a relevant question I had asked. You ended up giving a very self centric and rude answer. You claim to be a veteran and let me tell you my father has been in the Indian army for 25 years. Indians along with the Gurkhas have fought in world war 1 and 2 supporting the British alliance. Many have lost their lives. So when you wrote those remarks it was indeed offending as anyone who can read would say that your remarks were not coming out of a veteran. A soldier no matter from which ever country would respect other soldier. And India isn’t a small country as you wrote comparing it to UK, France and Germany.
          Please stop assuming things and get rid of your superiority complex.

        • @ Amarendra

          Why are you wasting your time on an ignorant, prejudiced so called veteran who probably does not know that the US Army and Navy conduct joint exercises with the Indian Armed forces. Furthermore why should we ask the Americans for recognition. Our Indian Army officers and men, notably the Sikh, Rajput and Gurkha regiments have won laurels in the 1st and 2nd world wars, fighting and putting up a brave resistance even to the Japanese.

        • I am sorry to say so that Marc is right.

          The question is ” which country has strongest training facilities?” there are patriotic soldiers in many country and many of them has laid down their lives. The fact that millions of Chinese and Russians died in 2nd World war proves the fact that they r patriotic, but it does not prove that they have good training facilities. Its also true that a peasant soldier from russia is no match to a middle class soldier of germany, england, france or usa.

          Marc has not said anything against Indian Army. So, there is no reason for us to get offended.

          India’s officer Training College is very good. India shd have been included. However, one thing I will say here, that, the common soldiers of Indian army are semi literate farmers. Make 5 indian soldiers (not officers) stand side by side with 5 European soldiers, and u will see the difference.

          However, our officers are quite smart…. this is result of 2 Indias… the well educated, sophisticated and the other, peasant and semi literate. Whatever, I think India should have been included instead of Egypt because Egyptian officers sometimes train in India. I am not insulting the common Indians killed in battle, I am only saying that the average Indian common soldier can only function if spoon feeded by the officers.

        • Very good list, i like the fact that you properly reserched all of these places in detail. Also i am glad to see Austraila In a top ten list for once.

      • You are kidding right? Or you must be very young person with very limited information about the world and other nations military schools.

    • Lee Standberry on

      @Amrendra – i actually considered China and Russia institutions (like Frunze), but the manner in which their formats were structured, I didn’t feel they fit well with the criteria i generally used for this list. I didn’t look at India – my apologies for the oversight.

        • India’s primary military academy is the The National Defense Academy, after which the cadets are sent to Indian Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy according to their choice.

        • India may be using mostly Soviet weaponry, but our military doctrine is based mainly on the British Army.. and we all know how professional they are.. The Indian Army has always been a volunteer force, even when the Brits were ruling over us, it was still voluntary.. That’s how professional our soldiers are..

      • Edward Anderson on

        The title is pretty misleading as the Academies that I looked at that were on this list were NOT “open” to foreign private students, at least Germany’s wasn’t, and the one German Academy that did accept foreign students had to be in a foreign military already. You had to have permanent resident status to qualify to get into Canada’s & Australia’s Academy, which meant living there pretty much full time. Sandhurst in England only took in English soldiers for Officer Training, so I didn’t even bother to check out their Commando Academy. It is apparent that the US is the only country to allow private people into their Acadmies. I would hope that the next “list” of military academies that someone would put together would list the ones that a private person could attend without having to actually join a military. The discipline, training, and military knowledge would be a great asset to a young person. My opinion is that Germany produces the greatest military officers, training & tatics, but they are closed to non-citizens.

  2. Annette Walker on

    Hi. I need to speak to someone regarding this article, I cannot find an email or contact information. Please let me know how to contact offline.

  3. Nishnat Biswas on

    I am surprised at the inclusion of Egypt in the list. Some militarily weak countries have been included eg. canada, belgium and australia.

    However it can be that in many cases these countries dont need to have a large and strong army. No European country will attack Belgium and if a Non European dares to do so, all European countries will beat up the aggressor. However these “weak” countries may have a very strong training institute. So, their inclusion can be justified.

    EGYPT is an exception. Its army was destroyed by Israel within 6 days. And this country is included in No 2. Egypt’s army and training are weak. In no ways can it make entry in the first 50.

    This is the only country whose inclusion is doubtful. The rest is OK.

    Just to add, India and Israel also has very good training facilities. In fact many Egyptian and Arabian officers come to India for training.

    • Egypt is not weak as you think Sir … and not it is true that many of our officers are trainning in India ..we have the great military institutes and you must know that Israel did not destroy the Egyptian army in 6 days as you think, but the Egyptian leadership was weak.. for this the army didnot  fight in 1967 and see to 1973 after only 6 years of defeating Egyptian army and destroying it at the hands of Israel this army has proved to be a great army by destroying Israel lines Defense in just 6 hours .. but without entering of the U.S. leadership and the foreign minister at that time Henry Kissinger Israel was becoming a remembrance …Sorry sir, but it is  the truth

    • Hey dude …. what a hell u r talking about …. If the Egyptian army has defeated in six days from Israeli army , the same army not only defeated the Israeli army within six hours but also the Israeli prime minister Golda Maeir declared that Israel is on the verge of disappearing and send a famouse messege to USA said that ” SAVE ISRAEL ” …. hey dude what’s your openion now …. And as whole the eEgyptian military academy established in 1811 that means that the EMA is older than Israel itself ……dude do you heared about Nasser Academy there are cadets from aboute 80 nationality all over the world have studied in it from Greece, Turky ,India, Pakistan , Nethierland, Germany, Italy etc …. rather than the African , Asian and Arabian countries …….. all these countries have trusted in the Egyptian Military Academy and you after that simpley claiming the weakness of Egyptian Academy ….. the different armies came to egypt every two years in bright star exercise to learn from egyptian army HOW TO FIGHT IN DESERT …. Finally Egyptian army is stronger than Israeli army and higher rank than it .

  4. “Ah, the French. Well, a lot can be said about the French military, not all of it good…”

    What a stupid comment, not only can the same be said on every military ever, but France has the best military record in Europe.

    “whatever one’s particular opinion about the French military”

    Again, what a stupid comment. The problem is that in the English-speaking world the opinion on the French military is based on nothing but ignorance and/or centuries of anti-French propaganda, not facts.
    The stereotypes of weakness and cowardice that are nowadays associated with the French army in the English-speaking world are inexistant in the rest of the world.

  5. Djoutsa Tabakem Robenson on

    I am 23 years old and it will be a plasure to me studying in the ARMY UNIVERCITY of GERMANY , i am an Advance level holder and want to save with ornor and fiderlity the entire country of Germany .please ich warte ihre antwort dank .
    viele gruze Djoutsa.

  6. I love that the entire first group of commenters piss and moan about America not being listed. The list says in the title ‘International’ AND there is an entire list devoted to top 10 American Academies which also says American in the title. Speaking about the past, its been a long time since America has led the race in education and it shows right here.

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