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United States Marine Corps Commissioning Programs

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There are several ways to gain a commission in the United States Marine Corps, whether one is currently enlisted, or whether one is currently a civilian college student/graduate.

For those Marine Officers not attending the U.S. Naval Academy, the road to a commission as a lieutenant in the Corps begins with one of several programs at Officer Candidates School: The Officer Candidates Class, the Platoon Leaders Course, or the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Each course is a screening process, with the mission to motivate, train, evaluate, and screen potential officers.

Basic Qualifications

There is no longer a specific officer candidate academic test for Marine Corps Officer applicants. Those wishing to apply for a commission in the Marine Corps must achieve one of the following minimums:

(1) Combined score of 1000 on the verbal and math sections of the Sccholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

(2) Combined math and verbal score of 45 on the American College Test (ACT), or

(3) 120 (can be waivered to 115) on the Marine Corps EL composite score of the ASVAB.

Aviation officer applicants must also take the Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Selection Test Battery.

Other minimum qualification requirements include:

  • Minimum of a Bachelors Degree (upon commissioning)
  • Must be a United States Citizen
  • Age: Between 18 and 28 (no older than age 30 for current enlisted)
  • Must Meet Normal Accession Medical Standards
  • Must Be Eligible for a Security Clearance (Either SECRET or TOP SECRET, depending on the job assignment)
  • High Moral Character. Applicants convicted of any felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude can forget it. History of addiction to any narcotic, illegal drug, or alcohol is disqualifying. See Marine Corps Criminal History Information for basic details.

The United States Naval Academy

A percentage of each class at the U.S. Naval Academy receives commission in the Marine Corps through a selection process. The academy offers bachelor of science degrees and reserve commissions as second lieutenants to graduates. Academy candidates should begin their nomination request during their junior year in high school. For complete details, see the article, The Perfect University.

Officer Candidate Course

Under the officer candidate programs, male and female graduates of an accredited four-year college or university, and graduates of accredited law schools licensed to practice in a state or federal court are eligible for a reserve commission.

Upon successful completion of a 10-week screening and evaluation program, candidates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps Reserve. I should mention here, that even though graduates receive a "Reserve" commission, graduation and acceptance of a commission incurs a minimum active duty (full time) service commitment (see below).

Upon completion of this program and commissioning, second lieutenants are assigned to The Basic School at Quantico, Va., for 26 weeks of officer training. After completing The Basic School, aviation offcers undergo flight instruction for an additional 18 to 24 months, while ground officers attend specialty schools of varying lengths.

Ground officers have an active duty obligation of 3.5 years after commissioning. Pilots have an active duty obligation of six years if trained as a helicopter or fixed-wing turboprop aircraft pilot and eight years if trained as a jet pilot. Naval flight officers (NFOs) have an active duty obligation of six years.

Aviation candidates must be at least 20 years old upon entering the program and no older than 27 upon commissioning. Ground officers must be less than 28 years old upon commissioning.

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