Cadet Life

A VMI cadet’s life balances academic, military, and athletic activities to build discipline, structure, and clarity.

VMI cadet leaders marching in parade in front of flags

Events and Traditions

From matriculation to graduation, VMI cadets immerse themselves in tradition. Weekly and regular parades showcase cadets' professionalism. Other traditions prepare cadets for a life of service and include breaking out of the Rat Line, earning privileges, wearing the uniform, taking on responsibilities through the Class System, earning a class ring, serving the community, and supporting "brother rats" from all backgrounds to succeed at VMI and beyond.

VMI cadets carry flag and run on track during rat olympics

Cadet Leadership and Development

Now more than ever, our society needs leaders who can take on 21st Century challenges. VMI produces the types of leaders highly sought after in military, government, medical, legal, and private and public industry. The VMI leadership system provides cadets from all backgrounds with the highest standards of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism. The system includes the VMI Honor Code, Class System, Regimental System, Center for Leadership and EthicsLeader-in-Residence program, and other leadership programs and activities.

Honor Integrity Leadership

Resilience Self-Discipline Service

Daily life at VMI challenges cadets physically, mentally, and academically while instilling character traits built on honor, integrity, civility, personal conduct, self- discipline, and lifelong bonds through the “brother rat” spirit.

VMI cadets walking close together in group in gym and smiling during rat olympics

Daily Life

The way cadets live together and work together while at VMI lays the foundation for the way they will live and work throughout their lives. Cadets take responsibility for themselves and their “brother rats” in every aspect of daily life at VMI, including keeping their sparingly-furnished barracks rooms clean and orderly. Daily life at VMI centers on improving the health, welfare, and resiliency of the Corps of Cadets through demanding academic, athletic, and military skills training, engaging extracurricular activities, and a proven system of leadership development.

VMI cadet looking down and smiling at class ring that she holds on her lap


VMI cadets progress from matriculation and the Rat Line, develop rat-dyke mentorships, break out of the Rat Line to become 4th Class cadets, become part of the upper class cadre, earn a class ring during Ring Figure, apply for and may be awarded rank, serve on the General Committee to help monitor every facet of cadet life, and finally graduate to serve in a wide variety of civilian professions, pursue graduate studies, or commission as new officers in military service.

VMI cadet holding diploma and smiling during graduation as she walks back to her seat

Academics, Athletics, Military Life

High-quality undergraduate academic programs in engineering, science, and the arts, opportunities in NCAA team and club sport athletics, and military training and the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program carefully and deliberately build future leaders. These individuals possess unwavering character, demonstrate sound reasoning, make ethical decisions, engage in societal problem-solving, deliver results, lead honorably, and serve selflessly.

Members of the VMI Fire Fighting Club stand in front of and sit on Lexington City fire truck

Embracing a Life of Service

VMI cadets work with members of their local and global communities in civic engagement programs through academic departments, NCAA athletics programs, ROTC branches, VMI's Alumni Association, and other organizations in Rockbridge County and beyond to benefit others, and to provide cadets with opportunities to serve, compete, explore diverse interests, and master new skills.