Entry Qualifications

Entry qualifications specify the qualifications for original appointment as a commissioned officer.

Federal Law

10 U.S. Code § 531: In order to receive original appointments in grades O1, O2 and O3, an officer requires a Presidential appointment. In order to receive original appointments in grades O4, O5 and O6, an officer requires a Presidential appointment made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Service Secretaries may make original appointments for reserve officers transferring to active-duty status.

10 U.S. Code § 532: Original officer appointments are only given to a person meeting the following criteria:

  • Is a U.S. citizen (unless waived by SECDEF and only for grades O1 to O3)
  • Is of good moral character.
  • Is physically qualified for active service.
  • Has such special qualities as prescribed by the concerned Service Secretary

10 U.S. Code § 12201: Service Secretaries prescribe required qualifications for appointment as a reserve officer in the concerned military branch, provided that the candidate is over the age of 18 and

  • is a citizen of the United States or
  • has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence or
  • has previously served in the armed forces or in the National Security Training Corps.

In prescribing the age qualification for appointment as a Reserve officer, the Service Secretaries shall not prescribe a maximum age of less than 47 years for the initial appointment of a person who will serve as a medical, dental, or nurse officers in a specialty designated as critically needed in wartime.

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DoD Policy

DODD 1322.22: Appointments to service academies are made by the President and offered only to those with strong potential for military careers as commissioned officers. Except for certain exceptions, appointees must have the following qualifications, as demonstrated through evaluations prescribed by the Secretary of the Military Department

  • Meet acceptable standards of physical fitness and medical qualifications.
  • Meet high standards of moral conduct, personal conduct, and integrity.
  • Be at least 17 years old and not older than 23 years old on July 1 of entry year into the academy.
  • Be a citizen of the United States (except for a few cases specifically approved by USD[P&R]).
  • Have no spouses or dependents.

All cadets and midshipmen who complete graduation requirements (unless they become medically disqualified during their senior year) are eligible for officer commissions.

To be qualified for inter-Service appointment, applicants must meet all graduation requirements and all requirements for commissioning in the gaining Service; and both the gaining and losing Secretaries of the Military Departments concerned must concur in the appointment.

DODI 1310.02: In general, an original appointment applies to an individual entering a Military Service for the first time through any military accession program; a former officer returning to service; an enlisted member completing an officer program; an officer transferring between Military Services; an officer transferring between components within a Military Service; an individual, enlisted member, or officer appointed by warrant or commissioned as a warrant officer; or a warrant officer being appointed as a commissioned officer.

Generally, only those individuals, enlisted members, and officers who have clearly demonstrated the potential for full military careers will be appointed as military officers. Individuals, enlisted members, and officers recommended for appointment will be mentally, physically, morally, and professionally qualified for appointment and meet age, citizenship, and other eligibility requirements. All officers on the ADL will have a Regular appointment, and all officers on the RASL will have a Reserve appointment.

RASL officers performing operational support duty will not be placed on the ADL, regardless of the duration of the active duty, and will not be transitioned to Regular officer status while performing such duty.

With the exception of adjutants general (AGs) and assistant AGs, no person shall be appointed as a Reserve officer above the grade of O4 unless the person was formerly a commissioned officer of a Military Service or such an appointment is recommended by a board of officers convened by the Service Secretary.

An officer transferring between two Military Services or a commissioned officer transferring from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, or the United States Coast Guard to one of the Military Services will be processed as an original appointment.

DODI 1304.26: Age limitations for appointment as a commissioned or warrant officer normally depend on the Service. The maximum age qualification for initial appointment as a Reserve Officer will not be less than 47 years of age for individuals in a health profession specialty designated by the Secretary concerned as a specialty critically needed in wartime.

To be eligible for appointment as a regular officer, a person must be a U.S. citizen unless waived by the SECDEF for lawful permanent residents in a grade below O4. Educational requirements for appointment as a commissioned officer are determined by each service. Generally, a baccalaureate degree is required as a prerequisite for a commission or appointment. The services shall specify circumstances under which individuals who have dependents may become commissioned officers.

DODI 1215.17: With some exceptions, officers in grades above O2 in the Reserve Components must have a baccalaureate degree (unless otherwise waived by the secretary of the given Service).

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Air Force Policy

AFI 36-2032: To be eligible for appointment as a commissioned officer, an individual must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Not be a conscientious objector
  • Be of sound moral character
  • Be at least 18 years of age and not reached his/her 40th birthday. A prior service applicant must have an actual age which allows for the accrual of 20 years of satisfactory service prior to the applicant's mandatory retirement date or request a waiver.
  • Be medically qualified or medically acceptable with waiver
  • Be physically fit
  • Meet dress and appearance standards
  • Have a baccalaureate degree
  • Meet Air Force Officer Qualifying Test minimum standards
  • Have a valid social security card
  • Have a favorably completed personnel security investigation

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Army Policy

AR 601-100: Army policy is to transition to an All-Regular Army Active Duty Force. All officers commissioned for service on the ADL will receive Regular Army commissions, regardless of method or source of commission. Reserve commissioned officers on the ADL as of 1 May 2005 were automatically integrated into the RA on 11 November 2005, provided they met the requirements for RA appointment under 10 USC § 532. The officers' rights and obligations under their original contracts remain unchanged and their oath of office remain in effect.

To be commissioned in the Regular Army, candidates must have the following qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be physically qualified; determined "fit for duty," or given a waiver (AR 635-40).
  • Not be a conscientious objector.
  • Possess a SECRET-level security clearance.
  • Be able to complete 20 YCS prior to the age of 62 (with excepts for some of the professional corps).
  • Have a baccalaureate degree, except Officer Candidate School graduates with 90 semester hours of college who can complete a baccalaureate degree prior to consideration by the captain promotion board.
  • Must neither be nor have been a member of any foreign or domestic organization, association, movement, or group or any other combination of persons that advocates subversive policy or seeks to alter the form of the U.S. Government by unconstitutional means.
  • Must be of good moral character

AR 135-100: Minimum and maximum age limitations for officer appointments in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are as follows:

Grade Minimum Age Maximum Age less than
O1 Chaplains 18 34
All other O1s 18 28
O2 Chaplains 18 40
All other O2s 21 33
O3   39
O4   48
O5   51
O6   55

Appointees must

  • Be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. Residents, or have lawfully entered the United States for permanent residence or must be currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Achieve a General Technical Aptitude Area score of 110 or higher and a score of 90 or higher on Subtest 2 of the Officer Selection Battery.
  • Have demonstrated understanding and proficiency in the English language or score a minimum of 80 on the English Comprehension Level Test (ECLT).
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Possess traits as potential leaders and can deal effectively with people.
  • Be medically qualified
  • Possess a Secret security clearance.

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Navy Policy

OPNAVINST 1120.13: N13 issues Program Authorizations (PAs) that prescribe commissioning qualifications, eligibility requirements, accession source, obligated service requirements, and other related topics for a specific community or Navy designator. In general, the PAs specify that an officer must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 19 years old and less than 29 years old. The maximum age limit may be adjusted for prior service.
  • Have a baccalaureate degree
  • Be physically qualified
  • Be of good moral character

COMNAVCRUITCOM sends applications passing initial screening to the appropriate community sponsor for review by a professional recommendation board for the applicants' communities, which reviews the applications based on the following criteria:

  • Academic performance
  • Test scores
  • Professional certification (if applicable)
  • Commitment
  • Leadership potential
  • Work experience
  • Foreign language/cultural expertise
  • Qualities of character (e.g., honor)
  • Prior service
  • Interview appraisals
  • Personal recommendation
  • Adversity overcome

Specific details on appointments to the Medical, Dental, Supply, Nurse, Medical Services, Chaplain, Civil Engineering, JAG Corps and for Limited Duty Officers, are outlined in OPNAVINST 1120.4A, OPNAVINST 1120.5A, OPNAVINST 1120.6, OPNAVINST 1120.7, OPNAVINST 1120.8, OPNAVINST 1120.9, OPNAVINST 1120.10, OPNAVINST 1120.11, and OPNAVINST 1120.12.

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Marine Corps Policy

MCRCO 1100.2A:

All applicants who meet prescribed standards are acceptable for consideration for commissioning. No applicant will be refused consideration for commissioning because of race, color, religion, national origin, or gender, or sexual orientation if the applicant is otherwise qualified in accordance with the provisions in this order.

The qualifications for the original appointment as a commissioned officer under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense, an original appointment as a commissioned officer (other than as a commissioned warrant officer) in the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corps may be given only to a person who:

  1. Is a citizen of the United States;
  2. Can complete 20 years of active commissioned service before his or her fifty-fifth birthday;
  3. Is of good moral character;
  4. Is physically qualified for active service; and
  5. Has such other special qualifications as the secretary of the military department concerned may prescribe by regulation.

Applications for all Marine Corps officer programs must meet the following requirements prior to enlistment, appointment, or commissioning:

  1. Must have met the minimum academic standards in paragraph 2102;
  2. Must have met the physical qualifications in paragraph 2103;
  3. Must have met the minimum aptitude and testing requirements in paragraph 2104;
  4. Must be a citizen of the United States at the time they initiate the application process. Refer to paragraph 2105;
  5. Must have met the age requirements in paragraph 2106; and
  6. Be of unquestionable moral integrity.

Applicants are not eligible for enlistment, appointment, or commissioning if they have experienced, participated in, are subject to, or fit a list of 22 separate factors, including illegal drug use, have evaded the draft, and have anti-social behavior of various kinds. The list extends from 2-1 to 2-4.

2102. Academic Requirements:

  1. Applicants for all officer programs will complete academic requirements at an accredited institution. More details follow in the order.
  2. Along with other requirements, the applicants (sic) cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) and last term GPA must be at least a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  3. More details follow for foreign or online degree applicants.

2103. Medical Requirements:
Applicants for any officer program must be physically qualified for appointment to commissioned grade in the Marine Corps per the standards set forth in NAVMED P-117, Manual of the Medical Department.

2104. Aptitude Tests and Requirements:
Applicants for all officer programs must attain qualifying scores on either the SAT, ACT, or ASVAB test. This amounts to a 1000 minimum combined math and critical reading score on the SAT and a composite score of 22 or 45 combined English and Math on the ACT. Applicants must obtain a minimum score of 74 on the AFQT portion of the ASVAB.

2105. Citizenship Requirements:
Applicants must be a citizen of the United States at the time they initiate the application process.

2106. Applicants for any officer candidate program must meet the following age requirements at time of appointment to commissioned grade. Prior USMC or other service experience will be a considered factor in granting age waivers.
Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) — at least 20 and up to but not including 28
PLC (Naval Aviator) — at least 20 and up to but not including 27.5
PLC (Law) and all Officer Candidate Classes — at least 20 and up to but not including 28
A waiver of the minimum and maximum age requirements will be considered only for exceptionally qualified applicants and will never be less than 19 or more than 34.

2107. Dependency and marital requirements:
Provided they are otherwise qualified, applicants with more than one dependent require a dependency waiver. A spouse is considered a dependent. Single parents with child custody also require a waiver.

A series of additional requirements and considerations follow to address the prohibitions raised on pages 2-1 through 2-4.

Follows Navy Policy

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