How to apply for commissioning

September 20th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

How to apply for commissioning with a flight contract into the United States Marine Corps via Officer Candidates Class

Before I tell you how to apply, there are some requirements:

Those wishing to apply for a commission in the Marine Corps must achieve certain minimums on either the SAT, ACT, or the ASVAB. Speak with an OSO to find out the current requirements.

Other minimum qualification requirements include:

  • Minimum of a Bachelors Degree (upon commissioning)
  • Must be a United States Citizen
  • Must be 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. 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.

Air applicants must also take and pass the Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB). Marine Corps minimum test scores are 4/6/6. A one-point waiver is available for those who don’t achieve the minimum score.

The first thing you have to do is find an Officer Selection Officer (OSO). They will walk you through the entire process, as well as answer all of the questions you have.

After I met with my OSO, the first thing I was told to do was get a medical exam at MEPS. The purpose of MEPS is to qualify individuals for enlistment. Three primary areas are considered in determining an applicant’s qualifications:

  • aptitude for military service
  • physical qualification
  • background evaluation screening

You can read about my MEPS experience here.

After MEPS, you begin the arduous task of getting 7 letters of personal reference (8 if you are in college still, you need one from your Dean). I got 8 letters anyway: one from a retired Naval Aviator, one from a Congressman, one from the head of the New Jersey chapter of a national conservative political organization, two from employers (one is ex-Marine), my Pastor, and two professors from college.

You need to call or visit your dentist and ask them to write a letter stating that your teeth are in good condition. My dentist was happy to write one.

You must fill out an Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire Worksheet (EPSQ). The EPSQ is a ridiculously long questionnaire regarding the past 7 years of your life. Take your time on it and make sure it is correct.

The Officer application itself is short. You have to write an essay on why you want to be a Marine Officer. Sounds easy, until you read that is has to be 100 words. Yes, only 100 words.

Sometime during the process you are sent to see an eye doctor and must pass a cycloplegic eye exam. The requirements of the exam are as follows:

a. Visual activity 20/30 OD & OS must be correctable to 20/20
b. Cycloplegic refraction:
(1) Myopia refraction
(2) Hyperopia no greater then +3.00 diopters
(3) Astigmatism no greater then +/-0.75 diopters.

Once you finish all of the above and provide your OSO with the necessary documents (Social Security card, birth certificate, college diploma, SAT score report, etc) your application is sent out for the next Officer Selection board.

There are three classes per year: January, June, and October. The boards typically meet a month or so before the class. Expect to hear back from the board via your OSO a week or two after the board convenes.

Do not be discouraged if you don’t get into the class you applied for. If you really want to be a Marine, prove it to them, apply again.

After you have been accepted for a flight contract, you are usually sent down to Pensacola, Florida for a flight physical.

  1. Jack
    August 7th, 2012 at 14:16 | #1

    How should a person handle an enlisted recruiter when they are trying to become an officer?

  2. August 7th, 2012 at 16:15 | #2

    Jack :

    How should a person handle an enlisted recruiter when they are trying to become an officer?

    I would only speak with an Officer Selection Officer (OSO). You cannot become an officer by speaking with an enlisted recruiter, unless you become an enlisted Marine first. Of course if that’s the path you want to follow, great, but if not, skip the recruiter and talk to the OSO.

  3. Isaac
    September 9th, 2012 at 15:10 | #3

    During the med exam do they check an applicant’s hearing? If so, would anyone happen to know what standards you have to meet?

  4. Kimberly
    January 15th, 2013 at 09:02 | #4

    Do the eligibility requirements differ if you are applying for the law contract instead of flight?

  5. Albert
    September 9th, 2017 at 11:55 | #5

    If one is a full time undergrad student, must one enlist, or is there a circumstance where one should enlist, as part of the OCS process? Please explain one way or the other.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully submitted.

  6. September 9th, 2017 at 12:14 | #6

    Hi Albert,

    Good question. Enlisting versus applying for Office Candidate School, are completely different. Enlisting is joining the enlisted ranks, going to OCS is to be an officer. Of course, you can be enlisted and then become an officer later, but that is a personal choice you’d have to make. If you decide to apply to OCS, make sure you talk to an Officer Selection Office, and not a recruiter. Hope this helps.

    – Michael

  7. Albert
    September 10th, 2017 at 07:24 | #7

    Thank you, Michael.

  8. Ethan
    February 10th, 2018 at 12:30 | #8

    I’ve read that most commissioned officers in the corps go through the PLC program. I’m currently a senior in high school and would like to begin the process to becoming a commissioned pilot as soon as possible. My local recruiter said that I should join the reserves and a 4 year university as well, and after I get out of boot camp and MOS I should apply for the PLC program. Is this the right thing to do? He stated that I’m MUCH more likely to be enrolled in the PLC program if I am already a reservist, if so is there anything else I can do on top of being a reservist to help my chances of being enrolled in the program? I’m skeptical of taking the reservist route because I’ve heard from many marines in my family that recruiters have quoatas, I don’t want to join the reserves to only find out later on that it was the wrong path to take and then I’m stuck with a long term reservist commitment.
    Thank you,

  9. February 10th, 2018 at 14:51 | #9

    Hi Ethan – that’s exactly right. You should only join the reserves if that is the path you want to take. Sure, it may help your chances getting into any program in the future, but it is a large sacrifice to make if you aren’t sure it’s the right decision for you. If you want to become an officer, I suggest you speak to an officer recruiter, not an enlisted recruiter who may, as crazy as it sounds, talk you into enlisting. That all being said, I think that some of the best Marines were prior-enlisted. But I do not believe that it is a requirement or that everyone should do it. Best of luck whatever direction you choose. -Michael

  10. Ethan
    February 10th, 2018 at 19:39 | #10

    Thanks for your response Michael! What path did you take to become commissioned? Is there a post on your site that describes the best path to take, especially for somebody who wants to become a pilot? Thank you very much

  11. February 10th, 2018 at 20:21 | #11

    I joined as an officer after I had completed college. There is no ‘best’ path. It comes down to what you want to do with your life. If you want to become a pilot, I’d recommend going straight to Officer Candidate School. You’re going to be in the Marines a very long time if you are lucky enough to become a pilot, so I’d get things started sooner than later in life. Just my $0.02. Best of luck.

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