Army Officer: Officer Candidate School Overview

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is the U.S. Army’s main training academy for prospective Army Officers.  The school is generally open to qualified enlisted Noncommissioned Officers, along with civilians who hold at least a four-year college degree. Candidates who successfully complete the rigorous, 12-week school receive formal commissions as U.S. Army Officers and assume the ability to command Soldiers.

Officers do not have easy jobs.  The men and women you lead will count on you to make the right decisions when the going gets tough.  Officer Candidate School is designed to give you a framework for your role as a unit commander. You will learn tactics training, how to deal with mental and emotional stress, and how to give orders. By the end of the course, you will know how to lead.

The benefits of becoming an Officer rival those from the very best jobs in the civilian world. But your experience as an Officer will also signify to others that you have the fortitude to lead in any situation, no matter the environment, no matter the stakes.


Requirements

In order to qualify for Officer Candidate School as an active duty, enlisted Soldier, you must be:

  • A college graduate with at least a four-year degree
  • Must not have more than six years of Active Federal Service (AFS) upon arrival at OCS
  • Between 19 and 32 years old (you must enter active duty or ship to training by your 33rd birthday and accept commission prior to age 34)
  • Eligible for a secret security clearance


In order to qualify for Officer Candidate School as a civilian, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A college graduate with at least a four-year degree
  • Between 19 and 32 years old (you must enter active duty or ship to training by your 33rd birthday and accept commission prior to age 34)
  • Eligible for a secret security clearance


In order to qualify for Officer Candidate School as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, you must be:

  • A college graduate with at least a four-year degree
  • Must not have more than six years of Active Federal Service (AFS) upon arrival at OCS
  • Between 18 and 32 years old (you must enter active duty or ship to training by your 33rd birthday and accept commission prior to age 34)
  • Eligible for a secret security clearance

TRAINING

Officer Candidate School, located at Fort Benning Georgia, is 12-weeks of intense tactical and leadership training. All Officer candidates must complete Basic Combat Training before they enter OCS.

At the outset of the course, candidates are organized into squads, in which they will learn a variety of leadership skills and small-unit tactics. From there, the course is divided into two basic phases:

PHASE 1: You will learn the basic leadership skills required of a Commissioned Officer. Candidates face both physical and mental challenges that your trainers will use to evaluate your determination and desire to excel.

PHASE 2: All of the skills you have learned in your training will be put to the test in the field. As a senior-phase candidate, you're tested in your ability to lead a team during an intense 18-day training mission.

At graduation, you will be given a formal commission as a U.S. Army Officer and assigned to the rank of Second Lieutenant, the lowest of the commissioned ranks. You will be recognized as a leader in the nation's first and best line of defense. You embody what it means to be Army Strong.

See the paths to becoming an Army Officer.

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Officer Candidate School