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The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a state-supported military college in Lexington, Virginia, the oldest such institution in the United States. Unlike any other Senior Military College in the United States, and in keeping with its founding principles, VMI enrolls cadets only and awards baccalaureate degrees exclusively. VMI offers cadets strict military discipline combined with a spartan, physically and academically demanding environment. The Institute grants degrees in 14 disciplines in engineering, the sciences, and the liberal arts.
While VMI has been called the West Point of the South, it differs from the federal service academies in several respects. For example, the living conditions at VMI are far more austere than at the service academies. Also, while all cadets must participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), they are afforded the flexibility of pursuing civilian endeavors or accepting a commission in any of the active or reserve components of any of the U.S. military branches upon graduation.