The Army Specialized Training Program was a military training program instituted by the U.S. Army during World War II at a number of American universities to meet wartime demands for junior officers and soldiers with technical skills.
After U.S. entry into the war the Army apparently suspended at least certain advanced elements of ROTC training (around 1943). This was a particularly problematic situation for the numerous land grant colleges around the country, which have in their constitution the agreement to train "militia". In addition, far-sighted military planners could look forward to a sudden and massive emergency requirement for junior officer replacements during an anticipated amphibious invasion of the Japanese mainland. However ASTP differed from the V-12 Navy College Training Program in that producing technically-trained personnel and not officers was its primary goal. ASTP was approved in September 1942 and implemented in December.
So during the late part of the academic year 1942-1943 a national testing program was conducted among the male college student bodies. The test instrument used at some, if not all schools, was Army OCT-X3, a IQ test of standard Stanford-Binet type. Selection was based upon approximately 1 standard deviation above the mean, or above. Enlisted men already on active duty were also tested, and accepted only at the rank of private. Individuals who passed above the acceptable level were sent to Army Specialized Training Program: intensive (approximately 25 class-time hours per quarter) courses in engineering and science at land grant colleges around the country. This included many volunteers from the civilian echelons who were at least 17 but below 18 years of age.
Active duty students were shortly terminated prematurely, due to casualty losses, and returned to active duty. Those who had sacrificed noncommissioned rank to qualify for the college training diversion were not necessarily reinstated, and often shortly went into combat as privates.
The 17-year olds were continued in school until 18, at which time they were transferred from Army Reserve to AUS status and called up to Infantry Basic training. After basic, those who were willing were returned to the reduced number of land-grant schools still maintaining ASTP. However by November 1943 the Army recognized that its replacement training centers were not producing nearly enough new soldiers for the Army Ground Forces, particularly in light of the impending invasion of France. ASTP was not only one of the easiest programs to reduce or eliminate, it also provided a large pool of already-trained soldiers.
From a wartime high of 150,000, ASTP was immediately reduced to approximately 60,000 and the remainder, having already completed basic training, were sent to the AGF. Even though they did not have the experience to qualify for NCO rank, the Army anticipated that their superior training and intelligence levels would result in advancement to leadership positions.
In the spring of 1944 ASTP levels were further reduced at the direction of Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall. The Army RTC's continued to experience serious shortfalls in producing casualty replacements, necessitating the use of divisional service troops and Army Service Forces troops as infantry replacements. When the Army was faced with the choice of immediately reducing its strength by three divisions or discontinuing ASTP altogether, it chose the latter.
Largely a failure, one secondary benefit of ASTP was a financial subsidy of land grant colleges whose male student bodies had been decimated by the diversion of about 14 million men into the various armed forces, and another was a softening of university resistance to lowering the draft age from twenty to eighteen. However many otherwise qualified potential officers were routed through ASTP who might have gone to Officer Candidate School, to the Army's detriment.