Virginia Tech® home

Defense Civilian Training Corps


Overview - The Defense Civilian Training Corps (DCTC) is a scholarship-for-service program that provides a comprehensive development for selected students to earn a bachelor’s degree and prepare them to be future leaders within the Department of Defense's (DoD) ecosystem. While in school, DCTC scholars engage in active learning in the classroom, take on immersive learning challenges to solve real-life problems, and participate in project-based summer internships.  This program is open to all students at Virginia Tech with an interest in DoD careers related to acquisition, digital technologies, critical technologies, science, engineering, and finance.

Vision - DCTC strategically develops talent that can immediately contribute to solving the Department of Defense’s (DoD) most challenging problems and adapt to the future.

Mission - The DCTC integrated curriculum and development program provides scholars from a broad array of majors across the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), finance, business, law, and policy fields with the critical skills and experiences needed to jump-start a career in the civilian acquisition workforce. DCTC is designed to provide a multidisciplinary cohort-based learning environment, match scholars to a project-based summer internship with DoD organizations, facilitate a security clearance before graduation, and establish a pathway to employment.


Full tuition + a monthly stipend of $2,000 + a summer internship support stipend (subject to availability of funding).


4 semesters; 2 credit hours per semester of classroom learning and active/immersive learning activities, mentoring, project-based summer internships, and senior year innovation capstone projects.


8-10 week multidisciplinary, project-based summer internships at sponsoring DoD organizations during summer between the first and second year of the program for each cohort.


Background investigations are planned to start Fall of the first year of the program with projected completion of Secret security clearance process prior to May graduation for each cohort.

Critical Skills

The DCTC program is designed to prepare scholars for the DoD Acquisition Systems’ most critical skills through development in three areas:

  •  Specialty - DCTC scholars acquire knowledge and experience that demonstrate the ways in which their chosen fields of study contribute to and align with the DOD acquisition system.
  • DoD Acquisition - DCTC scholars gain knowledge and skills related to the DoD acquisition process and community. Potential roles include research and development, contracting and procurement, project and finance management, production and supply chain management, and test and evaluation.
  • Employability - DCTC scholars acquire essential employability and character-building skills vital for their personal and professional development, e.g. leadership, strategic and critical thinking, resilience and adaptability, collaboration, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, integrity, communication, etc.

Job Placement

DCTC project-based summer internships, which provide a pathway to employment, give scholars experience applying their studies, working with DoD organizations who may hire the scholar, and solving real-world DoD challenges.

Is the Defense Civilian Training Corps (DCTC) like ROTC? Will I be in uniform?

The DCTC program is a talent pipeline to recruit top talent for the civilian workforce. Similar to the military ROTC program, the curriculum includes a summer internship component, and effective with the Academic Year 2024 cohort, scholars will agree to provide one year of employment within the DoD upon graduation for each year of scholarship. Upon graduation, DCTC Scholars will be placed in DoD labs or command organizations to begin their career in federal service. Civilians wear business or business casual dress in the workplace.

What are the benefits of working for DoD as a civilian?

The DoD employs 950,000 civilians, many serving in critical positions worldwide. There are a multitude of opportunities requiring a diverse range of skills. If a competitive salary, great benefits, unsurpassed training, and the pride of defending our Nation interests you, then your future is with DoD. Across DoD the key principles of employee engagement, results-driven, honor, duty and integrity, teamwork, family-oriented, and diversity and inclusion foster a supportive and productive culture and environment. DoD civilian employees are committed to the national security mission and their cutting edge, innovative, and impactful work motivates them every day.

How do I know about my ability to obtain a DoD security clearance?

Please visit the below websites for additional information on eligibility guidelines for obtaining a security clearance:

What materials do I need to apply?

To apply for a DCTC scholarship, you must submit a transcript, resume, and short statement of interest. The DCTC representative at each pilot university will provide an application.

Is it okay that I’m a non-STEM major?

Yes,  DCTC is designed for students pursuing an undergraduate degree relating to acquisition or finance, as well as digital technologies, critical technologies, science, or engineering. Students in majors such as business, supply chain management, contracting, and pre-law are encouraged to apply. The experiential learning curriculum creates an environment where students collaborate across disciplines (business, engineering, computer science, public policy, etc.) and actively engage in classroom discussions and hands-on assignments to understand the fundamental principles of defense acquisition and how to work as multidisciplinary teams, using flexibilities and agility to develop, acquire, and sustain capabilities to keep pace in the great power competition.

How will my current financial aid be affected if I receive a DCTC scholarship?

Check with your university Financial Aid office to address questions concerning impact to existing tuition aid, housing, etc.

Will I receive a minor or a certificate for completing DCTC curriculum?

The process for evaluating the DCTC curriculum for consideration as a minor or certificate program will be university-specific. 

Application Requirements:
  • Applicants’ interests should align with a desire to serve in a national security role that supports the research, development, and production of military capabilities.
  • Applicants must plan to become a DoD civilian upon graduation and complete a two-year service obligation (one year of service obligation for each year of scholarship).
  • Applicants must be a citizen of the United States at the time of application. Nationals and permanent residents are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must have (and maintain) a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Applicants must have 4 semesters remaining before graduation (i.e. an expected graduation date of May 2026) are currently enrolled at one of the DCTC pilot universities. The DCTC curriculum includes four 2-credit courses that must be taken over four semesters as part of Cohort 1.
  • Applicants must be able to qualify for a security clearance and will be subject to a background check before final acceptance into DCTC.
  • Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time, in-person bachelor’s degree program or accepted as a full-time in-person transfer student from a community college.
  • Applicants must currently be unencumbered by another federal scholarship and/or internship-type program

Students selected to DCTC must:

  • be available to join the DCTC Research Review event in Washington, DC, July 29-31, 2024 (stipend provided)
  • register for the 2-credit hour DCTC 301 course in the Fall 2024 semester
  • register for a 2-credit DCTC course in each of the three subsequent semesters leading up to graduation.

1. The Core Curriculum 

The core curriculum consists of four, 2-credit semester courses that begin with an introduction to the acquisition process and community followed by courses that delve into the DoD acquisition system, critical technology needs, and other topics important to the DoD mission. The four courses are:

  • DCTC 301: Fundamentals of Civilian Service in the DoD
  • DCTC 302: Exploration of the DoD Acquisition Environment
  • DCTC 401: Overview of DoD Missions and Community Functions
  • DCTC 402: Driving Institutions to Success

Each weekly lesson consists of a preparatory video, selected readings, class discussions, and exercises to engage active learning. In the junior year, scholars engage in semester-long micro-projects that dig deeper into selected topics relevant to the DoD mission and learn how to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams. The senior year features a capstone project.

2. Active/Immersive Learning Experiences

Active/immersive learning experiences are hands-on experiences where scholars apply classroom learning to real-world problems. These experiences are offered on campus during the regular semester on weekends in the form of oneor two-day hack-a-thons or challenge competitions. Scholars are required to participate in one active/immersive learning experience per academic year. Through these experiences, scholars will learn how to:

  • innovate within the DoD ecosystem
  • listen and communicate effectively as a DoD employee
  • collaborate as a member of a multidisciplinary team
  • develop leadership attributes and mindsets. 

3. Project-Based Summer Internship 

Partner DoD organizations will host 8-10 week-long summer internships offering opportunities for scholars to work on real-world challenges in multidisciplinary teams. The hosting DoD organizations will provide scholars a network of leaders, mentors, and resources to ensure a productive experience. The internship will provide scholars with valuable opportunities to work with today’s DoD civilian professionals, apply the lessons of the DCTC curriculum and gain first-hand insight into a career as a DoD civilian. The DCTC core curriculum ensures scholars arrive at their summer internships with well-developed communication and resilience skills.

4. Innovation Capstone Project 

In the senior year, scholars will engage in a capstone project developed by experts and providing scholars opportunity to meet DoD challenges by developing viable and realistic solutions. The scholars will be strategically assigned in multidisciplinary teams and encouraged to innovate under the supervision of an expert advisor. Each team will present their final report, design, or product to a panel of experts and have the opportunity to enter their projects in a year-end competition among all DCTC scholars