Officer Candidates School

Despite what you may have heard, Marine Officer Candidates School (OCS) is not boot camp for officers.

The mission of Officer Candidates School is to train, evaluate, and screen officer candidates to ensure they have what it takes to lead Marines.

Candidates who show up to OCS are expected to be physically fit, knowledgeable, and of sound moral character. OCS exists to ensure you have the qualities expected of a Marine officer.

If you don’t have what it takes, the Marine Corps will NOT hesitate to send you packing.

The Marine Corps spends a great deal of resources evaluating and training it’s officers to ensure they are quality leaders.

OCS Training and Preparation

Officer Selection Officers (OSO) and NROTC units provide the training you need to be successful at Officer Candidates School. To supplement the invaluable guidance that comes from your units, these resources will further enable your ability to train and prepare.

General Information

Mission and Organization – The mission of OCS is to train, evaluate, and screen officer candidates to ensure that they possess the moral, intellectual, and physical qualities for commissioning and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company-grade officers in the Operating Forces.

History of Quantico – A historical overview of Quantico, VA. The heart of development and military education for the United States Marine Corps.

Training Phases – Learn the five distinct training phases that Marine Corps Officer Candidates School is divided into.

Candidate Billets – An overview of the responsibilities, assignment procedures, and tour of duty for billets at Marine Officer Candidates School.

Evaluation

Evaluation Process – The Marine OCS evaluation process provides a method and basis for screening officer candidates for commissioning.

Leadership Evaluation – Leadership is the most important aspect of Marine OCS. Candidates will be evaluated on their leadership ability from the second they check in to the last moments before graduation. The leadership evaluation category comprises of 50% of your grade at OCS. One must demonstrate the characteristics of a Marine leader to graduate from OCS.

Academic Evaluation – Everyone at Officer Candidates School is either attending college or has already graduated. It should come as no surprise that candidates are expected to maintain high academic standards. The passing grade for all examinations is 80%. Failed, or missed, exams must be made up on the weekend. The retake grade does not get factored into your academic evaluation score. The retakes are there to ensure candidates are able to pass all exams.

Physical Fitness Evaluation – As Marines, we thrive to possess the physical capabilities necessary to perform in austere environments. Candidates are placed under strenuous conditions to include hot and cold weather environments, sleep deprivation, and mental exhaustion.

Seniors Commissioning Course

This is the most useful resource provided. Unfortunately, the juniors material is unavailable. The courses should be read prior to OCS.

Juniors Commissioning Course Material – Marine OCS 6-Week Commissioning Course (Juniors) Student Outline. This is a PDF file you can download from Google Drive.

Seniors Commissioning Course Material – Marine OCS 6-Week Commissioning Course (Seniors) Student Outline.

Extra Items to Pack

2 Rifle Cleaning Tools To Add To Your OCS Packing List

Resources

Operations Order Skeleton – A template to help you write orders faster and get the format down.
Operations Order Shorthand – Some of the abbreviations are beyond the scope of OCS. Use this as a guide for developing your own shorthand.

Common Questions

How long is OCS?

The length of Officer Candidates School is dependent of the program you enter through.

PLC Juniors – first 6-week session is the summer between your sophomore and junior year of college (may vary)
PLC Seniors -second 6-week session is the summer before your senior year of college (may vary)
OCC – Single 10-week session after graduating college
NROTC Marine Option – Single 6-week session before your senior year of college (may extend to after you graduate)
MECEP – Single 10-week session before beginning college

Where do I need to be physically upon arriving at OCS?

Read the article Benchmarks And Workouts For TBS. A Good Reference For OCS Candidates As Well.

77 COMMENTS
  • Pat
    Reply

    How long is the contact for with a 4 year degree?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      4 years active, 4 years in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR). Note that IRR is not the same as the active reserves. You won’t have drill on the weekends or anything. Your essentially a civilian and it’s unlikely you will get called back to active duty.

      1. Pierre
        Reply

        What are the minimum physical requirement to start boot camp?

        1. USMC Officer
          Reply

          The minimum is not going to cut it at OCS, so I’m not going to answer the question. Check out this article with some fitness benchmarks.

      2. Miguel Diaz
        Reply

        Sir,
        I am almost done with my Bachelors Degree but I have a question I had a GED not a High School Diploma . Also my age is 27 what would be the age limit ? Thanks in advance .

        1. USMC Officer
          Reply

          GED is fine, your college transcripts will have the most weight on your application. The age limit is 28.

          1. Miguel Diaz

            One more question if you get 285 or higher on the pft will they be able to do an age waiver ? If I am pass the 28 .

  • Cesar
    Reply

    Is there a certain type of degree you have to graduate with?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      No, the Marine Corps gives no preference to any particular major.

  • Paul
    Reply

    What if you have a 3 year Bachelors Degree that is Compacted, from a 4 year Bachelors Degree, in Science? From The Art Institute San Diego.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      As long as you have a degree from an accredited school, it doesn’t matter how long it took you to get it.

      1. Paul
        Reply

        Thank you very much. I’m a prior enlisted, Marine and did 5 years 8 months active duty. I want to come back to the Marine Corps after completing my degree, in about a year. What should I start doing, I’m a Senior now in College, should I stat getting the process started? My motivation for the Corps is very high, the only reason I left was my Command, and I didn’t want to go back to the fleet after completing Marine Security Guard duty, as an enlisted ground pounding, Devil Dog. Is becoming an Officer the best route, for a prior Enlisted?

        1. Andy
          Reply

          Hey Paul,
          First thanks for your past service and hopefully future service. Since you are wrapping up your senior year by this point. I would definitely say go talk to an OSO (i.e. XO of your local RS) immediately if you haven’t already. You will most likely for to the Officer Candidate Course (OCC), the 10 week course. You’ll be right in your element as this is the route that all of the active duty enlisted guys go to (MECEP and ECP) IOT become an officer. The first few weeks of that course are essentially how to tie your boots and make your rack and other very basic stuff, however it picks up quickly. Obviously make sure you are as fit as possible before showing up. Everything else, you’ll be a step above most others with your experience as a Devil. Most important thing to take from this is go see the OSO like now haha. Good luck brother!

  • Amanda
    Reply

    Do you have to have a 4 year degree or will a two year degree work ?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      You have to have a Bachelors Degree.

  • E. Whitfield
    Reply

    Sir,

    How competitive is the selection process for OCS? What are the required scores (ACT, SAT, ASVAB)? Work outs? Diets? Any and all advise you’re will to share is greatly appreciated!

    I’m currently overseas (Sasebo) with my AD Navy spouse, a year away from my bachelors, on an accelerated program. I don’t have any stellar volunteer experience… I’ve been working since 18 and was a Resident Assistant in college back home. Currently I work on base and maintain 18 units.

    Female. 21. Estimated graduation date March2017.

    Thank you!

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      You need a minimum SAT score of 1000 and a bachelors degree to apply for the OCC Commissioning Program (for those who apply after obtaining a degree).
      Your GPA and Physical Fitness Test (PFT) score will have a large impact on your application. Those should be your primary areas of focus for the next year. The site has some example workouts to prepare for OCS. However, to get ready for the PFT you really need to run and start doing pull-ups.

      1. E.Whitfield
        Reply

        Thank you for the quick response! Would there be a way for me to do the Seniors program once i’m established as a senior? If so what is that requirement? Thank you in advance!

        1. USMC Officer
          Reply

          You cannot do PLC Seniors without having done Juniors first. If you are already a senior in college, the recruiter will likely recommend that you apply for OCC once you graduate.

  • E.Whitfield
    Reply

    In addition how competitive is the program!?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      With budget cuts and downsizing it is becoming increasingly competitive. I do not have the latest acceptance rates.

    2. A. Powell
      Reply

      A 3.0 or better and as close to a 285 pft will get you well into the spotlight. I was 1st increment summer 2015.

  • Micah Murphy
    Reply

    What are the dates for the PLC Juniors this summer 2016?

  • Johnathan Hunt
    Reply

    Anybody with experience going from Air Force enlisted to becoming a Marine Officer. Just wondering about your experience and your transition.

    1. Andy
      Reply

      Have two buddies that were enlisted Army and Navy that went through OCS as well as a ton of mustangs from the Corps. The biggest thing at OCS is to shut out your pride since you’ve already been through a version of bootcamp and may rate the same as the sergeant instructors that are tearing your head off. This is especially true for enlisted Marines going through OCS. A couple of my friends were DIs before going to OCS and were being paraded around by people that are literally their buddies that they may have even worked closely with in the past. As for folks from different services, as far as I know, as long as the instructors themselves don’t find out AND you don’t make yourself a target then it won’t matter; you’re just another candidate. Worst case scenario you get spotlighted and harassed for a second about being an airman then they forget to care about you haha.

      After commissioning, whatever you were before no longer matters; you are a Marine now. Everything will be based on performance (a lot of academy kids have trouble understanding this haha). Hopefully this answered your question! Good luck

  • Moshe Dee
    Reply

    Becoming at age 24 OK plus what’s the most demanding and challenging mos an officer can obtain in the Corp.

  • Larry Boyd
    Reply

    Quick question about shaving.

    As an African American, It’s hard for me to shave with a traditional razor (no matter how good it is) without getting razor bumps or razor burn of some sort. It’s a combination of sensitive skin and naturally curly hair.

    With that being said, would I be allowed to use an electric trimmer/clippers during OCS? I’ve heard of them being approved by medical during in-processing.

    How true is this?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Yes, electric shavers are good to go. In extreme cases, medical can authorize you to not have to shave for a few days. But if you go this route everyone if going to hate you, especially the drill instructors. Stick with the electric razor.

  • Neena
    Reply

    Why is it a single 10 week session for prior enlisted marines and only a single 6 week session for the people that went through NROTC?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Prior enlisted Marines in the MECEP program used to do just the 6 week program after their first year of college, but the failure rate led to the Marine Corps deciding to send them to the single 10 week course prior to starting college. OCS is heavily focused on infantry tactics, so sending MECEP Marines to the 6 week program prior to having at least a year of college probably wouldn’t work out too well considering the failure rate was high when those Marines had a year in NROTC to get caught up.

  • James tallakson
    Reply

    What would it take for someone in the national guard and still in college to go to OCS for the Marines? Is it just the conditional release process? What if you have service connected injuries that have been taken care of, will a clean military physical be enough to get you in?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Acceptance into a commissioning program will supersede your enlistment. Yes, you will get a physical during the application process and once you arrive at OCS. If all checks out, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Jarrod
    Reply

    I am leaving for OCC class 224 on January 7th. What are your recommendations for purchasing boots before OCS? I currently own McRae temperate weather boots. How many and what pairs are you issued at the beginning? Is there an opportunity to purchase different boots on liberty? Thanks!

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      You will get two pair of boots that you’ll be required to wear in the first couple weeks as the staff tries to help you break them in. One will be hot weather boots and the other for cold weather. You can buy at Exchange during liberty, but you’ll have so much gear at that point you’ll probably hold yourself back.

  • C. Hric
    Reply

    For those who just started in January 2017, what day will graduation be held?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Candidates will have the opportunity to call back home with that information.

  • Jacob Darabaris
    Reply

    In the case that I pass the board in the coming months, I will be doing the 10 week program this summer. When are the start and end dates? If it makes a difference, my local office is in Lexington, KY.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Your most likely on the 3 June 2017 to 12 August 2017 class. Here’s the published projected dates.

      1. Glenn Sullivan
        Reply

        I have a client that signed his papers to go to OCS this summer and no longer wants to serve. He feels intimidated by the recruiter and came to me to ask advice. 1st, I am a veteran myself and I promote service, but not to those who genuinely have a complete change of heart.
        What needs to be done to withdraw from their slot? Please be specific. Also, are there any repercussions that would prevent him from joining another branch of the service in the future after completing their Master’s Degree?
        Thank you.

        1. USMC Officer
          Reply

          He simply needs to tell the recruiter. OCS applications can be withdrawn. It’s not like the enlisted side. Applicants can fail or drop out of OCS. It looks bad on recruiters to send candidates who fail the program, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

          If he withdraws before attending OCS, he can still join later on. However, if he fails or drops out at OCS, he won’t qualify for other commissioning programs.

  • Regina
    Reply

    Reading that the candidates that are commmisioned will go directly to sign in to the basic school, will they have time off til that Monday, following sign in?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      There will be a few days in between. Don’t worry though. TBS is nothing like OCS, you will be treated as an Marine officer not a recruit/candidate.

  • Lane N
    Reply

    Sir,

    What is the general length of the liberty period between commissioning and TBS? And then between TBS and your MOS school? Thank you.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      There’s really no average. Some people have 12-14 months between OCS and TBS while others have 3 days. MOS school will start within a few months after TBS, unless you get Communications which could have a 5-6 month waiting period.

  • Jaime A
    Reply

    I’m an OCS hopeful who will be graduating with a bachelors degree right after the summer 2017. I’ve inquired with an OSO for information regarding the application process and Physical Fitness Test details. The OSO recommended that I apply for the July board of 2017 for selection; however, I am not in ideal physical condition at the moment (I literally started training 8 days ago). I would like to be in top physical shape for the application process and put myself in a position to become a leader among leaders if I were to be selected to attend OCS.

    I was wondering if you might have any information regarding the OCS selection board application deadlines after the July 2017 board. I would like set a goal date to work towards after my graduation from university.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Sorry, the OSO you are working with would have the most accurate information for you.

  • JJ
    Reply

    I have a bachelors degree from a UC school and recently started the OCS application (even went to MEPS). But I also applied to graduate schools in case I didn’t get into OCS. Lo and behold, I got into Harvard and Emory. I am now in the dilemma of choosing the Marines or a masters degree from Harvard, which is two years long. Is there any benefits or downsides with applying to OCS again in two years at the age of 25 but with a masters degree from an Ivy League?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      You will be highly qualified if you get a Master’s degree. Although, I’ve never met an officer who commissioned after already having a Master’s Degree. I think it’s going to be difficult for you to accept a commissioning with a Second Lieutenant salary when other job opportunities will be available.

      1. JJ
        Reply

        The Marines is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now so hopefully I don’t get disillusioned after I graduate. I’m definitely not doing it for the money so I think I’ll still fulfill my dream of joining the Marines.
        Thanks for the reply

  • J H
    Reply

    I’d appreciate everyone’s ideas.

    I’m old… will be 27 this year (2017).
    I have terrible GPA (but above 2.0 which is a minimum standard, I heard) with a bachelor degree in science from the state university.

    I’m working on my PFT and recruiters (not OSO) asked if i’d be interested in mustang course i.e. enlisted to officer route.

    How likely is this?

    I don’t mind starting from the bottom (i think bachelor degree starts you from E5) but how soon can I be the NCO then finally apply for commissioned officer?
    Time is against me and i’d love to join and serve but i’d like to end up as an officer (not NCO).

    Thank you in advance.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I DO NOT recommend you follow the recruiters advice. It will be at least 4 years if not closer to 5 or 6 before you will have what you need to build an enlisted to officer application. Having helped Marines create those applications, I personally believe it’s a far more competitive process. You’ve met the minimums academically so try to excel in what you can control. A 300 PFT and some extra-curricular/community service can go a long ways in your application. If you don’t get it the first time through the boards you can keep applying.

  • Anon
    Reply

    I know this will probably draw immediate ire from some of the commentators, but here goes. I go to a small private college, and a recruiter has reached out to our campus via email multiple times advertising the 10 week summer program for graduating seniors. In the email, the officer marketed the program as something you could do without necessarily committing to become an officer, but it seems like most people enter this program with the express purpose of becoming an officer. I’ve never seriously considered joining the armed forces, but I have an interest in doing the program. Do people do this program for the physical/fitness, leadership/discipline/toughness aspects even if they don’t plan to enlist?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      If they’re referring to the 10-week OCS program, you are committing to joining the armed forces. Yes, you can fail out of OCS, but if you complete the course you will commission immediately and be committed to 4 years.

  • Will
    Reply

    If I am a new enlisted with a bachelors degree, will I go to OCS before or after boot camp?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Boot camp and OCS are two completely different careers paths. If you enlist, you will go to boot camp and NOT be a Marine officer even if you have a degree. If you want to be a Marine officer, you need to apply for the OCC program through a local OSO.

  • Colt
    Reply

    Officer,
    What does a Congressional Letter of Recommendation do for you as far as OCS goes?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Those types of recommendation are usually used to get into a military college like the Naval Academy. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to have one for an OCS application, but I can’t quantify the impact it will have on your application.

      1. Colt
        Reply

        So is the Congressional Letter of Recommendation a requirement to get into a military college?

  • Bryan Overton
    Reply

    Hello,

    I’m going into my senior year of my undergrad and my goal was to apply to be an officer. I noticed that you stated they take GPA into consideration. My GPA was above a 2.0 but not by a lot. Im 21 and a collegiate athlete so I’m in pretty shape so the fitness part isn’t a problem. I’m just worried I won’t be accepted because of my grades. I didn’t take college as seriously as I should’ve. I wanted to be a marine to put structure and purpose in my life to make up for my negligence in college. Any suggestions ?

    Thank you

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I suggest that you meet with an OSO and submit an application. It’s difficult to speculate given many factors are considered.

  • William Madden
    Reply

    Hello,

    I’ll be a freshmen in college next year and was wondering how common it is for a candidate to attend PLC Juniors after their freshmen year. The reason I ask is that I’m required to do a semester long study abroad for my major, and the spring semester of my sophomore year is the most common time to do that.

    Thanks

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      It’s fairly common to go after your freshman. Just ask the OSO.

    2. USMC Officer
      Reply

      It’s fairly common to go after your freshman year. Just ask the OSO.

  • Erik
    Reply

    As someone who was a collegiate athlete, I suffered a few difficulties that led to a below average GPA (2.2). How much would this make a difference when being considered for OCS?

    I have a lot of connections to the military and have plenty of great letters of rec. Does that outweigh a poor GPA?

    Thanks.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I suggest that you meet with an OSO and submit an application. It’s difficult to speculate given many factors are considered.

  • Drew Parker
    Reply

    Can you succeed at OCS without having much knowledge going into it? Do they teach you well enough in order for the candidates to catch on to the new information being presented? Also, do you get a decent amount of study time for the exams? Obviously if you can’t tell, the academic aspect of OCS makes me the most uneasy. Thanks!

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      OCS is structured to teach you everything needed to be successful. No prior knowledge is required, but that just means you’ll have to study more. The academics portion is very straight forward. You get a class, study the material (yes you will have time), and take the test.

  • Emmanuel
    Reply

    If i get a bachelor degree, would i still get accepted if i did poorly on the ACT and SAT?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      If you already have a bachelors degree and are applying for OCC, your transcripts/graduating GPA will hold the most weight.

  • Carlos
    Reply

    Hello, I’m about to get my Associates degree but have not taken any kind of ROTC classes in my entire life. I was doing a research about USMC and I got really interested in a really late time of my life I think. I was thinking about taking ROTC classes as I get my Bachelor’s. Do you recommend this? Are these required for OCS ? Do they help me in some kind? Would they make me a better candidate? Or could I go on without them?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I am a product of the ROTC program and personally think it was one of the best decisions of my life. Mainly because it came with a scholarship that allowed me to afford college. To clarify, ROTC is a commissioning path and you cannot take the classes without being a part of the program. First, does your school have an ROTC program? Second, are you thinking of applying for the scholarship? You can join the program without being on scholarship. The program is NOT a requirement for OCS, but is designed to prepare you for the condensed 6-week course. Note, PLC is two 6-week sessions, OCC is one 10-week session, and ROTC is one 6-week session. Given the ROTC OCS class is condensed, you are expected to already know what is taught in PLC Juniors (the first 6-week class).

  • David
    Reply

    I just graduated from college with a B.S. in Physics, an a minor in Mathematics. I’m 30 years old, can I still attend ocs or am I to old.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      You would have to ask for an age waiver. Most age waivers are only granted for those who were prior enlisted, but you should talk to an OSO and see if they’re willing to process your application.

  • Jeff
    Reply

    If i go in the OCS training and finish the 10 weeks but decide it’s not for me can I just leave? I’m being told yes but, a lot of people disagree?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      It’s the Commanding Officers who has the final say on whether you will go on to graduate and accept a commissioning. With that being said, someone who is confident they don’t want to lead Marines will likely drop far before graduation.

  • Colin
    Reply

    I tried posting this earlier but I don’t think it worked. If I want to pursue an even higher form of education after my active duty would the Marine Corps pay for it?

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Yes. You can use the GI Bill after service which should be sufficient to cover graduate school for all but the most expensive schools out there. You can also try to get selected for Naval Postgraduate School, or some other higher level education programs, that allows you to go to school while active duty. The best part about NPS is you retain the GI Bill that a spouse or dependent may be able to use in the future if you fulfill the requirements.

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