OCS, or Officer Candidate School, is where Army members spend 12 weeks training to become military leaders and emerge as officers. The straightest pathway to this school is by earning your bachelor's degree prior to enlisting in the military. You'll go through basic training and upon graduating go right to OCS. But if you're already an enlisted member of the Army there are several other pathways to becoming an officer.
If you hold a bachelor's degree, you can approach your commanding officers through your chain of command. Start with your squad leader, who can set up an appointment with your lieutenant, who can then get you an appointment with your company commander. Treat your talks as seriously as you would a job interview. According to the Army OCS website, you'll need your superior officers' recommendation to have a successful OCS application.
If you don't have a bachelor's degree but do have at least 90 semester hours of college to your credit, you can still apply for OCS while you're enlisted. Once you complete training you can apply for Degree Completion any time before you reach captain status. You'll be given roughly a year to gain your bachelor's degree. While you're in school you won't be attached to a unit but you'll still receive your full-time lieutenant's pay.
Green to Gold
"Green to Gold" is another option for entering OCS while enlisted. It's a two-year ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program offered by the Army that enables soldiers to earn their bachelor's or even master's degree. If you're selected to join, you'll be given your full current pay and benefits for up to 24 consecutive months. Once you graduate you'll be accepted into the Army as a commissioned officer.
Worst Case Scenario
If you apply for OCS and Green to Gold and are turned down by both, you still have the opportunity to be accepted into OCS, though it will take you a little longer. You can finish your enlistment and join the ROTC, or you can go to college and get your degree. If you're going the college route, contact your local recruiter in the last year of your program and get an OCS date set in advance. Remember, active duty recruits must enter service before turning 30, whereas reserve officers must enter before turning 33.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images