Army OCS Guide - Operation Military Kids (2023)

The United States Army conducts Officer Candidate School (OCS) for prospective officers in training.

Candidates that receive an offer to attend Army OCS are former enlisted members, warrant officers, inter-service transfers, or recent college graduates.

Officer Candidate School teaches you the fundamentals of serving the military branch as an officer.

Army OCS lasts several months and tests your physical and mental capabilities.

Learn more about what you can expect at Officer Candidate School.

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Table of Contents

What is Army Officer Candidate School (OCS)?

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Officer Candidate School (OCS) is the primary training academy for prospective officers of the U.S. Army.

Army Commissioned Officers serve as managers for the military branch, planning and influencing critical decisions, as well as acting as problem-solvers for a group of enlisted soldiers.

The training academy is open to qualified enlisted Noncommissioned Officers along with civilians with at least a four-year college degree.

Army OCS lasts 3 months with a rigorous training regime.

Recruits that successfully complete Officer Candidate School receive formal commissions as U.S. Army Officers.

The United States Army depends on highly qualified and competent officers to make important decisions out in the field.

Therefore, Army OCS presents recruits with the framework to prepare and handle the important role as a unit commander.

The Army focuses on teaching tactical training as well as handling emotions under intense stress.

In short, prospective officers learn how to become leaders throughout the training.

There are many reasons why enlisted personnel and civilian college graduates consider attending Army OCS.

It’s not only a prestigious title within the United States Army but also invaluable once you transition into civilian life.

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How long is Army OCS?

The U.S. Army Officer Candidate School lasts 12 weeks.

The training academy is based out of Fort Benning in Georgia.

Army OCS trains, assesses, and evaluates prospective commissioned officers for not only the U.S. Army, but also the Army National Guard and Reserve.

Officer Candidate School adheres to the motto “Standards, No Compromise”.

It’s worth mentioning that the U.S. Army is the only uniformed branch where individuals must enlist before they attend Officer Candidate School.

(Video) My Army OCS Experience

Consequently, recruits need to attend Basic Combat Training (BCT) prior to Officer Candidate School, unlike other officer training programs of the Marine Corps and Navy.

The Army accepts enlisted members (E-4 to E-7), warrant officers, inter-service transfers, and civilian college graduates for the “OCS Option” after completing boot camp.

How Are Future Officers Evaluated?

The United States Army requires several steps to become a commissioned officer.

First, you need to enlist in the U.S. Army like any new recruit.

The Army has basic guidelines you need to meet like proving you’re a U.S. citizen and passing a medical exam.

The Armed Forces require that recruits arrive in shape and able to meet basic physical fitness standards.

Army OCS applicants must also complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) like all other recruits.

The series of tests allows the military branch to assess your mental competence.

Prospective officers need to score General Technical (GT): 110 or higher on the ASVAB to stay considered for the prestigious Officer Candidate School.

Furthermore, recruits need to pass the Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT).

The Army guarantees enrollment in Officer Candidate School (OCS) for non-prior service (NPS) applicants after completing basic training.

Meanwhile, prior service (PS) applicants may go directly to Army OCS, therefore, skipping basic training.

Candidates in their senior year of college may enlist in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).

Army Officer Responsibilities

Army OCS Guide - Operation Military Kids (3)

The United States Army (like other military branches) separates officers from enlisted personnel.

While enlisted personnel represents an overwhelming majority of the Army (about 83%) the remaining percent serve as higher-ranking officers.

Officers are critical to the U.S. Army because they act as the commanding leaders of separate units.

Army Commissioned Officers need to manage personnel in their unit as well as make tough decisions.

A few general job duties of an Army Officer, regardless of the MOS, include:

  • Planning, organizing, and leading troops and activities during military operations.
  • Managing enlisted personnel during day-to-day life.
  • Operating and commanding aircraft, armored vehicles, and ships.
  • Providing personnel with professional services in medical, legal, engineering, and other high-ranking Army positions.

During Army OCS, prospective officers have the opportunity to complete an OCS preference statement.

The statement lets you select what Army officer branches you prefer assignment, though the statement is no guarantee that you’ll receive your wishes.

Army OCS graduates usually receive assignment to one of the following branches:

  • Infantry
  • Armor
  • Medical Services Corps
  • Signal
  • Engineers
  • Field Artillery
  • Transportation
  • Air Defense Artillery
  • Military Intelligence
  • Quartermaster
  • Finance
  • Chemical
  • Military Police
  • Ordnance
  • Adjutant General

Enlisting in the Army and joining the OCS training program after you qualify is one of the best ways you can serve and represent the United States Army.

Related ArticleArmy Ranks and Pay

How Do You Get To Army OCS?

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The United States Army requires all recruits, regardless of designation, to attend Basic Combat Training (BCT).

Army boot camp lasts 10 weeks for most Military Occupational Specialities (MOS) and slightly longer for Infantry and Armor OSUT.

Boot camp is your orientation to the United States Army with thorough training.

Following the completion of Army BCT, it’s time to progress to Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Army OCS is available to qualified non-prior service (NPS) and prior service (PS) applicants.

Officer Candidate School is open to civilians yet only with an applicable four-year college degree.

Officer recruits also need to complete the Armed Services Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), Army PFT, and Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT) to sufficient standards.

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Army OCS Requirements

The basic requirements for Army OCS candidates that are already enlisted personnel:

  • A college graduate with at least a four-year degree.
  • Between 19-32 years of age.
  • Less than six years of Active Federal Service (AFS) upon arrival at Army OCS.
  • Eligible for secret security clearance.

What’s taught at Army OCS?

Army Officer Candidate School (OCS) is an intense tactical and leadership training course.

From the beginning, candidates get organized into squads where they start to develop leadership skills in small-unit tactics.

The U.S. Army divides OCS into two phases:

  • Phase 1: The first phase provides basic leadership skills. Candidates endure physical and mental challenges used to evaluate your leadership and determination.
  • Phase 2: The second phase applies tactical and leadership principles to the field. Senior-phase candidates get tested on their ability to lead a team during a demanding 18-day training mission.

Students receive the distinction of Basic Officer Candidate (BOC), Intermediate Officer Candidate (IOC), or Senior Officer Candidate (SOC) depending on their status of completion at the school.

The Army enforces strict physical fitness scores for Officer candidates with an expected score between 240-270.

Candidates receive very little privileges comparable to boot camp.

However, Army OCS is different from boot camp in that instructors expect candidates to immediately act like leaders and take responsibilities.

OCS graduates receive a formal commission as a U.S. Army Officer.

Then, Army OCS graduates receive an assignment with the rank of Second Lieutenant (O-1).

How hard is Army OCS?

Army Officer Candidate School is very demanding.

The purpose of Army OCS is to place the recruit under physical, mental, and emotional pressure to simulate the stress and exhaustion of combat.

It’s similar to the situational encounters you train for at Basic Combat Training (BCT), yet with more challenging exercises since the school is reserved for higher-ranking officers.

Officer recruits spend 12 weeks at Fort Benning in Georgia preparing for their commission.

The program teaches basic leadership qualities and tactical skills using infantry battle drills.

The Army references the Field Manual 3-21.8 as guidelines for instruction and evaluation.

As a result, the Army currently trains recruits at OCS in over 70 different tasks.

Recruits are under constant observation and evaluation.

The course is physically demanding with a plethora of tactical road marches, timed runs of varying distances, and Army Combatives training.

Additionally, the Army considers the mental and emotional levels of each trainee.

Because both factor heavily into leadership and making the right decisions under pressure, the Army tests problem-solving and moral resolve in their evaluations.

Army OCS classes are limited to under 200 Officer Candidates making it not only difficult to make it to OCS but also complete the program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Do you have more questions about Army OCS?

Here are some questions that we receive a lot from readers:

Related ArticleArmy vs. Air Force: 5 Main Differences

Is Army OCS difficult?

Yes, Army OCS is very difficult to complete.

Recruits go through a few stages to receive their distinction as an Army Commissioned Officer.

First, you start out as a Basic Officer Candidate (BOC).

The basic training phase provides an orientation on the training program as well as tests to act as baselines.

The Army scores all your events using the Order of Merit (OMB) list used for branch selection.

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Once you complete the basic phase you receive a branch selection and transition into an Intermediate Officer Candidate (IOC).

The stage of training introduces more academics while also focusing on field and tactical instruction.

Meanwhile, the final phase of Army OCS training earns you the title of Senior Officer Candidate (SOC).

The senior phase presents a complete field environment where students receive evaluations on land navigation, tactics, and leadership.

There are final exams that candidates need to pass in academics and physical fitness.

Candidates are also subject to peer evaluations along with final TAC (Training, Advising, and Counseling) Officer assessments.

Do you get paid during OCS?

Yes, every recruit begins to earn compensation from the U.S. Army once they reach boot camp.

The amount you receive in pay is based on your Army rank.

Army OCS candidates earn the rank of Sergeant (E-5) while attending Officer Candidate School.

Therefore, your pay is at the E-5 level until you graduate and receive a formal commission.

Army Officer Candidate School graduates students into the lowest officer rank – Second Lieutenant (O-1).

OCS candidates that are administratively eliminated or medically disqualified from OCS will be reduced in grade as determined by the Commandant, OCS.

Is Army OCS Physically harder than basic training?

Army Officer Candidate School (OCS) is more challenging compared to Basic Combat Training (BCT).

While both training courses push you to the limits in terms of physical fitness, there is more stress on leadership qualities at OCS.

Army OCS candidates are constantly evaluated for their leadership characteristics in addition to physical fitness and tactical skills.

The program is also slightly longer (12 weeks compared to 10 weeks).

The Army purposely makes OCS more difficult compared to basic training.

It prepares high-ranking officers, those that will make difficult decisions out in the field later on down the road.

What happens if you fail OCS?

The U.S. Army has the final call when it comes to whether or not you pass Officer Candidate School.

If you fail Army OCS you have one of two choices:

  • You get discharged from the Army.
  • You complete the remainder of your service agreement as an enlisted soldier.

While it’s certainly frustrating for candidates that don’t pass the officer academy you should not feel too dejected.

Enlisted personnel is the lifeblood of the Army and you can still serve your country in many facets under the designation.

What happens after OCS?

Once you complete the 12-week training course at OCS it’s time for the next step in the process.

A newly commissioned officer of the U.S. Army attends the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC).

The Basic Officer Leader Course is a three-phase training program that offers initial military training for junior commissioned and warrant officers.

Its purpose is to train new officers on the subject matter specific to their new job (since they only received general leadership and tactical training at OCS).

Army Officers are different from enlisted personnel in that they can make suggestions, yet their MOS and assignment is not guaranteed.

The U.S. Army uses the Order of Merit (OML) list to compare officer candidates to each other.

Those that perform near the top of the metrics generally get assigned to the branch of their choosing.

Meanwhile, lower-performing OCS students will likely get placed wherever there is a need in the Army – and likely not their first or second choice for placement.

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Therefore, performing well at Army OCS is critical to getting an assignment that you’ll enjoy.

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Conclusion

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a training academy for the U.S. Army that prepares new officer recruits.

The intense 12-week training program tests your physical, mental, and emotional competence.

Candidates are sent through a variety of training exercises and constantly evaluated based on leadership performance.

The benefits of attending Army OCS and becoming a commissioned officer are plentiful.

Your experience as an Army Officer prepares you for an exciting career leading and ordering others in your unit.

It will make you into one of the best leaders the world has to offer with the pressure of overseeing and keeping other lives in your unit safe.

See Also

National Guard OCS

Marine OCS Guide

Navy Officer Candidate School (OCS) Guide

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Elie P.

Elie Piha served as a paratrooper in the US Army from 2008 to 2012. He used
the GI Bill to graduate from UC Berkeley where he majored in English. He
currently works as a writing tutor, a freelance writer, and a bartender, is
completing a novel based on his time in Afghanistan, and is pursuing
graduate school.

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FAQs

How many people fail OCS? ›

There is a roughly 35% failure rate at OCS overall.

Can you fail Army OCS? ›

In Phase 1 of OCS, the candidates will have their land navigation skills testing again, and there, the stakes are higher. Failing twice will result in expulsion from the program.

Does OCS have an age limit? ›

Requirements to Join OCS

You must be a U.S. citizen and have your bachelor's degree by the time you are commissioned as an Officer. The general age requirement is between 19 and 32. You also have to be eligible for a secret security clearance.

Is OCS hard army? ›

It's physically and mentally challenging, and not everyone's cut out for it. But those who are accepted-and make it through-agree it's one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Whether you're a first-time Soldier or have prior military experience, OCS will transform you into an effective leader.

Which OCS branch is hardest? ›

If by “hardest” you mean the most physically demanding—then without question, it is U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS), with U.S. Army OCS coming in at a close “second.” Army OCS is “difficult,” but Marine Corps OCS can only be described as “brutal.”

Which branch has the easiest OCS? ›

The Air Force is reported to be the “easiest” branch when it comes to physical challenges and difficulties. Next to the Coast Guard, Air Force members are among the least likely to see combat. Deployments in the Air Force are not as common as the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, and they are generally shorter in duration.

What is the pass rate of OCS? ›

College graduate applicants are chosen by a selection board convened by the Army Recruiting Command, and current military personnel are selected by a board convened by the Army Personnel Command (PERSCOM). Once selected, the graduation rate for OCS is over 90 percent.

What is a good GPA for OCS? ›

The most competitive packages have a GPA of 3.0 or above, particularly if the recruit is in one of the preferred majors below and has completed a calculus and physics sequence.

Do you get weekends off in OCS? ›

Do you get any time off during OCS? You will have MOST weekends or parts of them off. When you are released for the weekend you must be back by 2100 Sunday, lights out is 2200. Same goes for during the week.

Do you get smoked at OCS? ›

We did get "smoked" regularly. To prepare physically I recommend Insanity or a similar program. Running, push-ups, and sit-ups alone will not prepare you. Learn how to assemble and adjust an Army ruck.

Are phones allowed at OCS? ›

Candidates are authorized to have cellular phones while at OCS. Use of phones is limited by the training schedule and to certain locations. Are Candidates authorized POVs (Privately Owned Vehicles)?

What can disqualify you from OCS? ›

An officer in the U.S. Army must be mentally and financially stable for reasons of trustworthiness and national security. Red flags in a military background check include a history of bankruptcy, extortion, writing bad checks, defaulted student loans, poor credit scores or overdue child support.

How many pull ups for OCS? ›

Pullups for men (23 max for most), or (10 max for most) for women. Push ups are now authorized in place of Pullups.

How many miles a week is OCS? ›

The key message from the above program is that you should be comfortably running at least 12-15 miles per week.

Is OCS a gentleman's course? ›

OCS was considered a gentleman's course. There was no extreme shouting. There were no extreme “smoke” sessions or physical punishments. Your punishments, how they add stress, and how they treated you through the course were more mental.

Is OCS harder than boot camp? ›

It's harder, easier, and different. Physically it will be harder. They expect you to be a solid first class pft for OCS whereas Bootcamp you just have to meet those IST minimums. Knowledge will be ridiculously easier.

What branch promotes officers the fastest? ›

The Army is generally the branch of the military that promotes the fastest. That said, your military job and advanced education you have will impact your ability to be promoted. A college degree can help you get promoted, regardless of your branch. However, specialized career fields often don't promote quickly.

What's the most respected military branch? ›

Top 10 Greatest Military Branches in the World
  1. 1 United States Marine Corps. ...
  2. 2 United States Army. ...
  3. 3 British Army. ...
  4. 4 French Foreign Legion. ...
  5. 5 United States Navy. ...
  6. 6 Australian Army. ...
  7. 7 United States Air Force. ...
  8. 8 Canadian Army.

What is the hardest branch to rank up? ›

To recap: The hardest military branch to get into in terms of education requirements is the Air Force. The military branch with the toughest basic training is the Marine Corps. The hardest military branch for non-males because of exclusivity and male dominance is the Marine Corps.

Which branch sees the least combat? ›

The Coast Guard is the least likely to see combat, as they are a part of Homeland Security and play a different role in protecting the United States. Every military branch has a different organizational structure. Within that structure, some units and troops focus on training for combat.

Is OCS hard to pass? ›

Yes, Army OCS is very difficult to complete. Recruits go through a few stages to receive their distinction as an Army Commissioned Officer. First, you start out as a Basic Officer Candidate (BOC). The basic training phase provides an orientation on the training program as well as tests to act as baselines.

How much money do you make during OCS? ›

Income at OCS

You'll be paid as a PO2, at roughly $2,000 USD per month. You won't receive BAH or BAS while at OCS as that money goes toward the luxurious Nimitz and Nay Bed and Breakfast.

Is getting an OCS worth it? ›

So, is the OCS worth it? Bottom line, there are significant advantages to having an OCS, especially from a career standpoint. While you may not get a huge raise immediately, having advanced board-certification will likely open doors either at your current job or in a future position.

Does everyone pass OCS? ›

There is a roughly 35% failure rate at OCS overall.

Do you get liberty during OCS? ›

Liberty typically begins after your third week at OCS, and occurs every weekend from that point on. Before liberty starts on Saturday afternoon, candidates are inspected in their civilian clothing to ensure that they look presentable to go off base.

Can you go to OCS with 90 credit hours? ›

To qualify for state OCS, you must meet the following eligibility requirements: Earned a minimum of 60 semester hours toward an accredited degree and 90 credits upon commissioning.

How hard is accelerated OCS? ›

“It's going to be tough and challenging in a lot of ways but its only eight weeks. You learn a lot more because you're invested into it. You are there full time. With the 16-month course, there is a lot of work to do between training weekends.

Do you have to cut your hair at OCS? ›

Any female candidate that arrives and suspects that she may be pregnant should notify OCS Medical staff immediately. Results of your latest pap smear results (if obtained within the last year). Bras and hair related items. Female candidates are not required to cut their hair.

Do they drug test at OCS? ›

All offers of employment are contingent upon successful completion of background checks & drug testing. After hire, OCS will provide you with training during your orientation and on the job.

Does OCS pay sick pay? ›

Do OCS pay sick pay? No.

Do they yell at you in officer training school? ›

Just be prepared to get yelled at those first 4 weeks daily. And don't worry about studying the OTSMAN beforehand. You will live and breathe it here. By the end of the first few weeks here, you'll know it front and back.

Can you bring your own boots to OCS? ›

All candidates may bring one pair of additional boots to OCS (for a total of three when included with the required/issued pairs). Candidates who wish to bring a third pair of boots are encouraged to purchase USMC regulation boots prior to arrival at OCS.

What shoes should I wear for OCS? ›

Above all else, report to OCS with proper fitting RUNNING shoes, preferably fitted by your local running shoe shop that watches you run. DO NOT report to OCS with running shoes older than 3 months or 300 miles. Bring orthotics if you wear them.

How fast do you run at OCS? ›

The pace that OCC, PLC Combined and PLC Juniors begins at 8.5 minutes per mile and is worked down to 7.5-minute per mile pace by the completion of the cycle.

What happens if you get injured at OCS? ›

If you do sustain an injury while at OCS, our medical staff will provide you with treatment and rehabilitation. Our OCS Medical Staff includes Sports Medicine Physicians, Physical Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Independent Duty Corpsmen, and other technicians and corpsmen.

Do you swim in OCS? ›

You will complete a survival swim while at OCS and this swim is administered in an ODU.

Can you quit after OCS? ›

You will receive pay for your time at OCS and you can leave voluntarily–no-fault.

Can you be an officer with ADHD? ›

While ADHD alone does not disqualify a person from military service, the Department of Defense (DOD) places significant enlistment restrictions on individuals with an ADHD diagnosis and/or prior treatment with medication. Has documentation of adverse academic, occupational, or work performance.

How long is your contract after OCS? ›

ROUTINE USES: DISCLOSURE: Title 5, United States Code, Section 552A. I further agree that, upon graduation from OCS, I will accept appointment as a commissioned officer in any branch of the USAR, if tendered, and will serve for a minimum of 3 years in a commissioned status on active duty.

What happens if you do 15 pull ups a day? ›

Your muscular strength and endurance will improve

Assuming you're not already capable of doing 15–20 or more pullups in a single set, you'll see improvements in your upper-body muscular strength. This means that theoretically, you can lift more weight for the same number of repetitions.

How many pull ups can the average kid do? ›

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports states that the 50th percentile for pullups for males ages 6 to 12 are 1 to 2 full repetitions. Specifically, boys ages 6 to 9 are expected to perform 1 pullup for the 50th percentile while boys ages 10 to 12 are expected to perform 2 pullups.

Can the average man do a pullup? ›

If you are a beginner with no training experience, you will likely be unable to do a single pull-up. However, fit and active men should be able to do at least 4 to 8 pull-ups in one set. Fit and active women should be able to do at least 1 to 3 pull-ups in one set.

How often do you get paid at OCS? ›

Candidates are considered at the pay grade of a Sergeant or E-5, “or the highest pay grade achieved if” entering… “directly from current service at a pay grade above E-5.” In other words, there's no pay cut if you're a prior enlisted Marine attending OCS. Military pay is disbursed twice a month by direct deposit.

Do you ruck in OCS? ›

5 mile run, LandNav/Map Reading, 12 mile ruck and History Test's.

What should I bring to OCS? ›

All candidates will bring the following, regardless of prior service:
  • 2 collared shirts (1 worn)
  • 2 undershirt (1 worn)
  • 2 pairs of slacks, pressed, with belt (1 worn)
  • 1 pair of dress shoes (clean, worn)
  • 5 pairs of underwear.
  • 5 sports bras (females)

What is the max age for OCS? ›

Requirements to Join OCS

The general age requirement is between 19 and 32. You also have to be eligible for a secret security clearance. If you're current military, you can't have more than six years of active service before joining OCS.

What happens if I fail Army OCS? ›

Of course Army regulations change but if you fail/drop out of OCS completely, you'll probably finish the rest of your contract as enlisted, E-4 Specialist in an MOS according to the needs of the Army at the time.

What is the attrition rate for OCS? ›

What is the attrition rate for Marine Corps OCS? The drop out rate of Marine Corps OCS is estimated at 50% for female candidates and 25% for males.

What if you dont pass OCS? ›

If you fail OCS, you are sent home. Depending on how you fail one of two things will happen. What ASVAB score do I need for the marine infantry? Navy OCS applicants must apply to a specific Navy community.

How many miles do you run at OCS? ›

The key message from the above program is that you should be comfortably running at least 12-15 miles per week.

Is OCS or boot camp harder? ›

The primary reasons being that, unlike enlisted boot camp, you can request to drop out of OCS and since OCS is a selection process, they are looking for reasons to get rid of you. The combination of those two factors makes OCS much more mentally challenging than boot camp.

How much do you get paid in Army OCS? ›

As of Oct 22, 2022, the average annual pay for an Army OCS in the United States is $42,806 a year.

Is OCS worth? ›

If the goal is to mature as a person, OCS is arguably the best option to do so in NS. With that said, one needs to mentally prepare for the tough training ahead to overcome the challenges during OCS.

Are cell phones allowed in OCS? ›

Are we authorized to bring cell phones? Candidates are authorized to have cellular phones while at OCS. Use of phones is limited by the training schedule and to certain locations.

What rank do you leave OCS with? ›

Officer candidates who complete OCS (and have obtained their college degrees) are then commissioned as Second Lieutenants and sent to The Basic School (TBS) at Quantico for six months of further training with other newly commissioned Marine officers from all other commissioning programs.

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