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Requirements of to Become an Army Officer

It comes with no surprise that the requirements for becoming an army officer are very strict since the U.S. Army places great stock in the excellence of its officer corps.  Besides the rare battlefield promotion and direct commissioning, there are three sources that the Army draws officers from, and each has its own standards.

The three possible sources to become an Army officer are:

  • The US Military Academy
  • The U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS)

US Military Academy

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is regarded by the Army as their principle source of a new army officer.  New cadets are required to be U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 23 years old, not pregnant, and under no child support obligations.  Passing a medical exam and a physical fitness test that consists of basketball throws, pull-ups for men and flexed-arm hang for women, push-ups, sit-ups, shuttle run, and a one mile run are also required.

Once these requirements have been met, they can either apply directly to West Point and seek admission on the basis of competitive academic standards, or seek nomination from their senator or congressman.  Five vacancies at West Point are assigned to each member of Congress every year, but they can make as many as ten nominations to fill them.  After being accepted into West Point, An intensive four-year program must be accomplished by the cadet before being commissioned as an army officer.


The U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program attached to civilian colleges and universities is another source for an army officer.  It is important to note that military schools like the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) are not part of the U.S. Army, and that an army officer commissioned from such schools is technically coming from the ROTC program.

Candidates must gain admission and graduate from a school that has an affiliate ROTC program.  Requirements for the candidates specify that they must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 26 years of age, must pass a medical and physical fitness exam, must have graduated high school with a 2.5 GPA or higher and have scored a minimum of 920 on their SAT’s or 19 on their ACT exam.


Candidates for OCS must be a U.S. citizen between 18-29 years of age, must have earned a four-year college degree, pass a physical exam, be able to get a security clearance, and must have served no more than a total of 10 years with any federal agency.  They must also accomplish a 14 week course to be commissioned as an army officer.

There are also other ways to be commissioned as an army officer besides what we’ve mentioned.  The military tradition of commissioning an officer on the battlefield predates the founding of the U.S. Army.  There are no specific requirements other than to demonstrate outstanding bravery and leadership.  This is extremely rare, but it does continue to take place today.

Direct Commissioning results from the Army selecting people with very important skills from their civilian lives, and given a suitable army officer ranking.  Requirements are simply met by simply having the skills the Army wants along with being a U.S. citizen and passing minimum medical requirements.

So whichever way you decide to with to become an army officer, just make sure to focus on your goal and always strive to be the best.

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