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Navy Commission Paths

(Note: The below article is from the Aug 97 edition of Navy "All Hands" Magazine.


The Navy offers many ways to become a commissioned officer. This section briefly describes the Navy's basic commissioning programs. Specific qualifications for entry into any of the programs may change from time to time because of the Navy's needs or if new legislation is enacted.

Commissioning programs are available for both college students and graduates. Specialists in certain professional categories, such as lawyer, doctor, nurse or chaplain, may qualify for a direct commission. Enlisted men and women who are outstanding performers may also qualify and apply for commissioning programs.

By providing many paths to a commission the Navy can more effectively meet its personnel needs while taking into account a variety of individual circumstances.

The right road for each individual is determined by balancing two basic factors — what the Navy needs to man the fleet and what the person is qualified to do.

U.S. Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) offers an opportunity for qualified young persons to embark on careers as naval officers.

All Academy applicants must have a nomination from a member of the executive or legislative branches of government (e.g., a congressman, senator or the president) to be considered for appointment. There are many nomination sources; applicants should apply to all of them.

Each year the Secretary of the Navy may nominate for admission to the Naval Academy 85 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel and 85 Navy and Marine Corps Reserve personnel either on active duty or assigned to a drill unit.

Qualified candidates are appointed to the Academy as midshipmen and receive monthly pay of approximately $500, plus tuition, room and board.

Naval Academy applicants must be:

    a U.S. citizen.
    at least 17 years old and not yet 23 years old on July 1 of the year of admission.

    unmarried, not pregnant and have no legal obligation to support a child or other individual.

    of good moral character.

    scholastically, medically, and physically fit.

Active-duty personnel must have an active-duty pay entry base date (PEBD) one year prior to July 1 of the admission year. Reservists on active duty or assigned to a unit must have a PEBD one year prior to July 1 of the admission year.

Naval Academy Prep School

The Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS), located in Newport, R.I., provides intensive instruction and preparation for the academic, military and physical training curricula at the USNA.

NAPS convenes each August with the course continuing through May of the following year for candidates seeking July admission to the Academy.

Applicants who are not selected for direct appointment to the Academy are automatically considered for selection to NAPS. OPNAVINST 1531.4 (series) covers admission to the USNA and NAPS. See your command career counselor for details.

NROTC scholarship program

The Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship program leads to an appointment as an officer of the Navy or Marine Corps in the grade of ensign or second lieutenant respectively. The NROTC programs are maintained to educate and train well-qualified men and women for careers as commissioned officers.

The NROTC program is designed to provide the Navy with unrestricted line officers. Only persons who are open to the possibility of making their career in the Navy or Marine Corps should apply.

There are a limited number of NROTC scholarships available to college students who want to become Nurse Corps officers. They must meet all the eligibility requirements of the NROTC program and be competitive for admission to a University with a College of Nursing.

The NROTC scholarship provides tuition, books, fees and $150-a-month subsistence. NROTC units are located at more than 60 host colleges and universities throughout the United States. Two to four year scholarships are available. NROTC midshipmen are inactive reservists and do not receive pay and allowances.

General eligibility requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

  • Be under 27 years old on June 30 of the year of commissioning. Age waivers of up to 48 months are available to those with prior active military service.

  • Be a high school graduate or possess an equivalency certificate.

  • Be physically qualified for unrestricted line service.

  • Be morally qualified and possess officer-like qualities and character.

  • Have no moral obligations or personal convictions which would prevent conscientious support and defense of the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

  • Have no record of military or civil offenses.
For application procedures, see OPNAVNOTE 1533.

BOOST program

The Navy is engaged in a vigorous effort to ensure that opportunities for a career as a naval officer are open to persons who may have been educationally deprived, but who have demonstrated they possess the fundamental qualities and desire necessary to gain a commission.

To help these individuals achieve their potential, the Navy developed the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program.

BOOST prepares selected individuals for entrance into the NROTC Program or the USNA.

General eligibility requirements are:

    Be an enlisted member on active duty in the Navy or Naval Reserve or a civilian agreeing to enlist for four years with BOOST school guarantee.
    Be highly motivated to become a commissioned officer and have the potential for professional growth if given the educational opportunity.

    Have 36 months of active obligated service as of June 1 of the year BOOST training commences or agree to extend enlistment or active-duty agreement to accumulate 36 months.

Upon completion of BOOST, members must accept four years of obligated commissioned service.

To qualify for entrance to USNA upon completion of BOOST, the member must be unmarried, have no dependents and must be at least 17 years old.

Prospective NROTC candidates must not have passed their 22nd birthday on June 30 of the year entering BOOST.

Candidates with duty may be granted a waiver on a month-for-month basis up to 36 months.

Prospective USNA candidates must:

    Not have passed their 22nd birthday on July 1 of the year entering BOOST.
  • Be able to meet the stringent physical requirements prescribed for unrestricted line officer programs.

  • Have no record of conviction by court-martial or by civil or criminal court (other than for minor traffic violations)

  • Have no record of non-judicial punishment in the two years prior to the application due date.

  • Meet high standards of personal conduct, character, patriotism, sense of duty and financial responsibility.

  • Be a high school graduatee a GED certificate.

  • Have taken SAT or ACT within 12 months preceding the application date.

  • Be recommended by the commanding officer.

The BOOST program is conducted at the Navy Education and Training Center, Newport, R.I. Detailed information on this program is available in the annual BOOST OPNAVNOTICE 1500.

Enlisted Commissioning Program

ECP provides enlisted personnel, who have previous college credit, a full-time opportunity to complete requirements for a baccalaureate degree and earn a commission.

General eligibility requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

  • Be on active duty in the Navy or Naval Reserve.

  • Have at least four years time in service.

  • Be at least 22 years of age but less than 31 by the time of commission

  • Be physically qualified for unrestricted line service.

  • Have no record of conviction by court-martial or civil court, other than minor traffic violations, and no non-judicial punishment for two years prior to application.

  • Meet standards of personal conduct, character, patriotism, sense of duty and financial responsibility.

  • Have sufficient traditional college credits to complete a technical degree in 36 months or a non-technical degree in 30 months.

  • Be recommended by the commanding officer. ECP officer candidates receive full pay and allowances, but must pay their own tutuition and other school related expenses. Four years of active commissioned service will be incurred upon commissioning.

Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) program

The CWO program (along with the Limited Duty Officer Program) is one of the primary enlisted-to-officer programs that does not require a college education. CWOs provide technical expertise at a relatively stable grade level in the officer structure.

General eligibility requirements are:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

  • Be serving on active duty as a chief petty officer in the regular Navy, Naval Reserve or Training and Administration of Reserves (TAR) program at the time of application.

  • Be physically qualified for appointment to CWO.

  • Be a high school graduate or possess a service-accepted equivalent.

  • Have no record of conviction by courts-martial nor conviction by civil or criminal court for offenses other than minor traffic violations for the two-year period immediately preceding Oct. 1 of the year application made.

  • Be recommended by the commanding officer.

Personnel in pay grades E-7 through E-9 must have completed at least 12 but no more than 24 years of active naval service immediately preceding the year application is made.

Specific application procedures and additional information about the chief warrant officer program can be found in NAVMILPERSCOMINST 1131.1A.

Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program

The LDO program is another enlisted-to-officer program that does not require a college education. The LDO meets the Navy's needs for officer technical managers. General eligibility requirements are the same as those of the CWO program with the following exceptions:

    Be serving as an E-6, E-7 or E-8. If the applicant is an E-6, the member must have served in that capacity for at least one year immediately preceding the year of application.
    Have completed at least eight but not more than 16 years of active naval service on Oct. 1 of the year application is made.

    E-6 candidates must complete all performance tests, practical factors, training courses and service schools required for CPO. Additionally, each E-6 applicant must successfully compete in the annual Navywide exam for CPO administered in January of the year of application.

    A candidate whose final exam multiple is equal to or greater than that required to be CPO selection board eligible will be eligible.

    An E-6 is exempt from this requirement when authorization for advancement to CPO had been received by the commanding officer.

    Must be recommended by the commanding officer. NAVMILPERSCOMINST 1131.1A contains specific application procedures.

Officer Candidate School

OCS provides 13 weeks of officer candidate indoctrination and training. Selected enlisted members are designated officer candidates upon reporting to OCS in Pensacola, Fla. The program is open to male and female personnel except for the submarine, surface nuclear power and Special Warfare (SEALS) programs, which are not open to women.

Applicants in pay grades E-4 and below who are designated officer candidates are advanced to E-5 upon reporting.

Enlisted applicants in pay grades E-5 and above are designated officer candidates in their current pay grade. The curriculum includes intense naval science and human relations management courses.

General eligibility requirements are:
    Be a U.S. citizen.
    Have a baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university.

    Be at least 19 years old, but less than 29 years of age at time of commissioning. Pilots and Naval Flight Officer (NFO) applicants must be less than age 27 at time of commissioning. Age waivers for many specific designators may be granted for fleet applicants on a month-for-month basis for prior active-duty service.

    Agree to take the Officer Aptitude Rating examination.

    Be physically qualified. Physical standards vary depending on career path designator.

    Current service members must be entitled to an honorable discharge; be serving on active duty; and have at least six months of obligated service remaining on current enlistment upon receipt of orders to most schools.

    Applicants must possess leadership qualities, be of good moral character and have good personal habits.

    Married and single applicants must meet the dependency requirements outlined in OPNAVINST 1120.2.

    Service obligation for non-aviation OCS officers is four years active duty.

For pilots, active-duty obligation is seven years following designation (winging) as a Naval Aviator, while NFO active-duty obligation is six years following designation. For both pilots and NFOs training time prior to designation is between 18-30 months.

Seaman to Admiral Program

The Seaman to Admiral Program was re-established for enlisted Navy men and women in 1994.

General eligibility requirements for the program are:
    Be a U.S. citizen.
    Be at least 19 years old but not older than 27 on 30 September of the year of program selection. Age waivers can be granted up to one year on a case by case basis.

    Be an E-5 select or above with at least four years of continuous active duty service. TARS are eligible to apply.

    Applicant must have an associates degree from an approved accredited junior or community college prior to training. No waivers are authorized.

    Receive a score of 40 or above on the Officer Aptitude Rating (OAR) exam.

    Be physically qualified in accordance with the physical standards established by the Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

After selection by a board convened at BUPERS each September, all 50 Seaman to Admiral candidates attend OCS, Pensacola, Fla.

Successful completion of OCS results in an appointment in an Unrestricted Line officer community as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

After completion of initial operational training and fleet tours, Seaman to Admiral program officers will have the opportunity to earn their baccalaureate degrees at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Service obligation is four years from appointment as a commissioned officer.

Commissioning programs in Navy medicine

Navy medicine offers an alternative to the administrative burden and expense of private practice for physicians, dentists and medical service corps officers.

Health Care Administration and Physician Assistant Sections of the Medical Service Corps, Regular Navy - The Medical Service Corps in-service procurement program is a continuing program which provides a path of advancement to commissioned officer status for senior regular Navy hospital corpsmen (HM) and dental technicians (DT) E-5 through E-9 who possess the necessary potential, motivation and outstanding qualifications.

This program is extremely competitive. Enlisted personnel aspiring toward appointment in the medical service corps should begin preparation early in their careers through a sound self-improvement program.

General eligibility requirements are:
Be a U.S. citizen.

Be a member of the regular Navy serving as an HM or DT in pay grades E-5 through E-9.

Be at least 20 years old. Applicants must not have reached age 35 as of Oct. 1 of the year in which appointment can first be made.

Meet the physical standards prescribed for officer candidates.

Have no record of conviction by court-martial for the four years preceding the date of application.

Have a combined GCT/ARI score of at least 115.

Be a high school graduate or equivalent.

Have sufficient undergraduate course work with a grade point average of at least 2.5, to complete the requirements for a baccalaureate degree within 24 months.

For further information, refer to BUPERSINST 1131.2.

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

This four year, extremely competitive program to an accredited medical school accepts applications from service members who have a baccalaureate degree and have taken all of the required pre-med courses.

Students serve in pay grade 0-1 while in the program, regardless of previous rank, and are promoted to 0-3 upon graduation. Graduates incur a seven-year service obligation (following residency completion), and receive a doctor of medicine degree.

General eligibility requirements are:
    Be a U.S. citizen.
    Be between the ages of 18 and 28. Age waivers are granted for those with prior active military service on a year-for-year basis up to age 32.

    Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico, and have completed all requisite pre-med courses

    Take the Medical College Aptitude Test prior to application.

    Meet the physical qualifications for commissioning.

For further information, refer to SECNAVINST 1500.8A, or contact the USUHS Admissions Office at DSN 295-3102 or (301) 295-3102.

Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program

This is an extremely competitive program for applicants desiring to become a physician, dentist, or optometrist. Applicants can apply for 2-, 3- or 4-year scholarships.

Persons accepted into this program receive a commission in the Naval Reserves on inactive duty until they graduate, when they are advanced to lieutenant and enter active service. Graduates incur a year for year obligation (following residency obligation) based upon the scholarship received.

General eligibility requirements are:
    Be a U.S. citizen
    Be accepted to an AAMC accredited medical (or select osteopathic) school of medicine, or ADA approved dental school or American Optometric Association program.

    Be able to receive degree prior to your 40th birthday.

    Meet the physical standards for officer candidates.

Selected members receive payment for full tuition, books, and select incidentals, and a monthly stipend of $886 per month.

Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program

The Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program offers enlisted personnel of all ratings the chance to become ensigns in the Nurse Corps by allowing them to obtain their bachelor of science degree in nursing.

General requirements are:
    Be a U.S. citizen.
    Be able to complete the educational requirements and be commissioned before reaching their 35th birthday.

    Meet the physical standards for officer candidates.

    Have at least three years active service as of January 1 of the year of application.

    Complete the undergraduate requirements for a bachelor's degree in nursing within 36 consecutive months.

    Have a 2.5 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) from all college courses completed.

    Be accepted to a baccalaureate program leading to a bachelor's degree in nursing at a university accredited by the National League of Nursing.

Selectees will receive full pay and benefits, but will be expected to pay their own educational expenses.

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