How to Become a Marine Corps Officer

Officer Candidate School Quantico, Virginia
U.S. Marine Corps officer candidates graduate the Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Nov. 18, 2017. (Pfc. Donte Busker/U.S. Marine Corps)

The Marine Corps recruits young men and women of high moral standards who have or will have a four-year college degree, are physically fit and have demonstrated potential for leadership. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and pass the initial Marine Corps physical fitness test. Additionally, applicants must take either the SAT, ACT or ASVAB aptitude tests.

Minimum acceptable scores are a combined 1000 on the verbal and math portions of the SAT or a 22 on the ACT. (Enlisted applicants don't need SAT or ACT scores. The minimum score an applicant trying to be an enlisted Marine must achieve on the ASVAB is a 31.)

The only age requirement is that a person must be at least 20 and less than 30 years of age at the time of commissioning. Applicants for law programs must score a minimum of 30 on a 50-point scale, or 150 on a 180-point scale, of the LSAT.

Marine Corps officers are selected from various sources, including the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) Program and the Officer Candidate Class (OCC) Program.

Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps

The NROTC Scholarship Program offers tuition and other financial benefits at more than 60 of the country's leading colleges and universities. Four-year NROTC scholarships are available to high school graduates on a competitive selection process in which consideration is given to such factors as high school record, college board scores, extracurricular activities and leadership.

U.S. Naval Academy

Since 1883, Marine Corps officers have been commissioned from the U.S. Naval Academy, where graduating midshipmen earn a bachelor of science degree either in one of seven engineering programs or in one of 11 disciplines offered apart from engineering programs. Today, nearly 17% of each graduating class receive a regular Marine Corps commission.

Platoon Leaders Class

The Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) Program is for those college freshmen, sophomores and juniors who decide to pursue a Marine Corps officer commission. Application to this program may be made upon successful completion of the first semester or quarter of the freshman year. Applicants must be pursuing a four-year baccalaureate degree from an accredited college. They are eligible to receive financial assistance after successful completion of their first summer of training.

PLC officer candidates attend summer training sessions at the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia. Freshmen and sophomores participate in two six-week sessions, and juniors participate in one 10-week session.

Aviation guarantees in the PLC-Aviation Program are available to those who qualify. In this program, individuals can receive flight experience and instruction to familiarize themselves with flying before military flight training begins.

PLC-Law is a post baccalaureate degree program for law school attendees. Active duty is postponed until a student obtains a law degree and passes the bar examination.

Officer Candidate Class

The Officer Candidate Class Program is pre-commissioned training for college seniors and graduates who want to be Marine Corps officers. Upon graduation from college, candidates attend one 10-week officer training course and receive a reserve commission upon successful completion of training. In addition to the programs described above, the Marine Corps has programs for qualified enlisted personnel to earn commissions as officers. These programs include the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program, the Enlisted Commissioning Program and the Meritorious Commissioning Program.

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