Officer Candidate School
Officer Candidate School (OCS) is an intense leadership training ground. It is physically and mentally challenging, and not everyone is cut out for it. But those who are accepted, and make it through, agree it is one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. It takes a special person with special abilities. One who is mentally and physically prepared to face the constant challenge of command. Whether you are a first-time Soldier or have prior military experience, OCS will transform you into an effective leader.
Besides the pride you’ll feel and the respect you will gain, becoming an officer has many tangible benefits too. OCS candidates are promoted to E-5 upon acceptance into the academy. If eligible, OCS candidates may also receive additional education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill Kicker. OCS graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Army National Guard, with a state and federally recognized commission, valid in any state or on active duty. Officers are among a select few with the responsibility of leadership and the authority and freedom to do things on their own. When you’re an officer, you have a greater voice in the operation of the Guard.
There are three options for attending OCS, as outlined below. After speaking with the your recruiter or Officer Strength Manager, you will choose the best one for you based on your specific circumstances, such as your work and family commitments.
Three Paths to an OCS Commission
State Officer Candidate School
If you already have at least three years of college credit and you meet the eligibility requirements, you can join the Army National Guard under the state Officer Candidate School enlistment option. Current National Guard soldiers and Prior Service soldiers who meet the eligibility criteria may also apply for state OCS. The state OCS program is a 15 to 18 month course of instruction conducted from March to August the following year. The OCS Academy is located at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt, NJ. Upon successful completion of OCS, you will become a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard. To qualify for state OCS, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Earned a minimum of 90 semester hours toward an accredited degree
- Be less than 42 years at time of commissioning (applicants with no military service must enlist on or before their 35th birthday)
- Have a minimum score of 110 in the GT section of the ASVAB
- Be eligible for a SECRET security clearance
- Complete Basic Combat Training
Accelerated Officer Candidate School
The Army National Guard also conducts an eight-week accelerated OCS program for qualified personnel. To qualify applicants must meet the requirements for the state OCS program and be selected to attend. Candidates are eligible for commissioning upon course completion pending federal recognition.
Federal Officer Candidate School
The Federal OCS program is an Active Army course at Fort Benning, Georgia. The program is conducted over a 12 week period. In order to qualify, applicants must have a Bachelor’s or higher degree and be a current U.S. citizen. Applicants must be able to graduate and receive their commission prior to their 34th birthday.