The Army is the only service where individuals must enlist first, before attending Officer Candidate School (OCS). That is right, if you are going to be an officer, you will attend Basic Combat Training (BCT) alongside enlisted recruits.
Under the Army's Enlistment Program 9D, applicants enlist with a guarantee of attending OCS, after completion of enlisted basic training. The program is spelled out in the Army Recruiting Regulation, Army Regulation 601-210, paragraph 9-10.
This program is available to qualified non-prior service (NPS) and prior service (PS) applicants enlisting for the minimum term of enlistment authorized by the Army enlistment computer system, known as REQUEST (usually it's a three or four year minimum enlistment obligation, depending on the current recruiting "needs of the Army").
Applicants must have received a baccalaureate or higher degree. Applicants in their senior year of a 4-year college program may be enlisted into the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) contingent upon successful completion of a BA/BS. Army Reserve (USAR) OCS candidates do not require a BA/BS degree, but must have at least 90 semester hours toward a BA/BS. USAR Officers commissioned prior to degree completion must complete their baccalaureate degree prior to their consideration for promotion to Captain (O-3).
OCS applicants must have an Army ASVAB GT score of 110 or greater. While at BCT, recruits will be tested physically with both the Army PFT and the Army Occupational Physical Assessment Test (OPAT).The OPAT is considered the physical fitness ASVAB as the recruit’s performance on this test will determine if they are capable of the physical challenges of combat arms MOSs such as infantry, artillery, tanks as well as non-combat arms MOSs. The OPAT consists of four events: Standing Long Jump, Seated Power Throw, Deadlift, and Beep Test. This test measures elements of tactical fitness such as muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, explosive power, and speed.
Under the 9D OCS enlistment program, NPS applicants are guaranteed enrollment in OCS, upon completion of basic training. PS applicants go directly to OCS, skipping basic.
Prerequisites (Must be Met Before Enlistment)
There are basic eligibility requirements for enlisting / commissioning into the military. All candidates must meet these standards and must have proof of higher degree from accredited college or university. If candidates are in their senior year of college, they may enlist into the delayed entry program if a transcript letter from the college is provided indicating projected graduation date. Officer candidate MUST be a United States citizen, with no criminal record, and not have more that ten years of active military service at the time of commission. Officer candidates must also be at least 19 years of age and not have passed their 29th birthday, however age waivers are accepted on a case by case basis.
Upon joining the service the candidates must pass medical standards according to the Army Regulation 40-501 and meet the Army Weight / Body Fat Standards. This program is not for former officers of other branches of service, however former Warrant Officers are eligible to apply for this commissioning program.
Enlistment for OCS
Army enlistment counselors at MEPS enlist applicants under this option through REQUEST Option 11: United States Army Officer Candidate School. This has the effect of reserving the slot. OCS selection boards will be conducted by the Recruiting Battalion. Usually, the applicant is enlisted in the DEP at this time, to await the decision of the OCS selection board. If the board does not accept the applicant, then he/she has the option of requesting a DEP discharge, or selecting an enlisted MOS (job), and continuing with their enlistment process.
Army OCS is conducted at Fort Benning, GA, and is 14 weeks long. Branches in which officers are trained vary according to the needs of the Army. These needs are greater in Combat Arms than in other support branches.
Applicants complete an OCS preference statement, listing Army officer branches they would like to be assigned to. However, applicants must fully understand that the OCS preference statement does not make or imply a guarantee of commissioning branch, or that they will graduate from OCS.
Graduates normally are commissioned in one of the following branches: Infantry, Armor, Medical Service Corps, Signal, Engineers, Field Artillery, Transportation, Quartermaster, Finance, Chemical, Ordnance, Military Intelligence, Adjutant General, Military Police, and Air Defense Artillery. This list is subject to change without notice.
Training for OCS is designed to place the Soldier in and under physical, mental, and emotional pressure to simulate the stress and fatigue of combat. From the date of entry into the Army, the Soldier will undergo extensive and intense training until graduating from OCS.
OCS candidates are administratively promoted to the rank of Sergeant (E-5) while attending OCS. OCS candidates that are administratively eliminated or medically disqualified from OCS will be reduced in grade as determined by the Commandant, OCS.
Candidates who are administratively eliminated or medically disqualified from OCS are either discharged from the Army, or retained for the remainder of their enlistment obligation in enlisted status. This decision is not up to the individual, but rather the Army, and depends -- in large part -- on the "needs of the Army" and reason for failing to complete OCS.