1.0 Introduction

This article provides an overview of the United States (US) Army Officer Candidate School (OCS).

OCS forms one part A of the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC A) and is 12 weeks in duration, with branch specific training forming part B (BOLC B) and is 6-16 weeks in duration. Candidates may then receive further training (schooling in the US vernacular), for example Airborne, before arriving at their first unit.

OCS is designed to give candidates a framework for their role as a unit commander. They will learn tactics training, how to deal with mental and emotional stress, and how to give orders. By the end of the course, they will know how to lead. It is important to remember that officers are leadership generalist’s not technical specialists, such as Warrant Officers.

This article is divided into five parts for easier reading.

  • Part One is the introduction, giving a brief history of the OCS.
  • Part Two describes the training hierarchy.
  • Part Three outlines the application process.
  • Part Four outlines the OCS curriculum.
  • Part Five provides some useful publications and links, as well as references.

1.1 Aim

The aim of this article is to outline the training undertaken by US Army officer candidates whilst attending the Officer Candidate School.

1.2 Brief History

In 1913, the then Chief of Staff of the Army, General Leonard Wood, hosted a volunteer summer military camp for East Coast college students. Due to its success, this model was repeated at the Presidio at Monterey, California and at Plattsburg, New York.

When America entered World War One (1914-1918) in 1917, the camp at Plattsburg became an important officer training facility. The continuing critical need for Infantry Replacement Officers led to the creation of the Reserve Officers Corps Army Training Camp at Langres, France, in 1918. These so-called “Ninety Day Wonders,” who graduated from an abbreviated pre-commissioning and Infantry Officers Basic Course, were sent directly to the frontline and into combat, often with only six weeks of training.

Between World War I and World War II, the Civilian Military Training Corps provided voluntary summer camps to train soldiers for service in the Enlisted Reserve. Following three successful completions, the graduates became eligible to apply for a US Army Reserve Commission. By 1938, the US Army began considering options for a systemised approach for rapidly preparing candidates for commissions in the event that large numbers of officers would be needed to lead in a rapidly expanding force for a future world war.

During the summer of 1940, the then Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall, recognised the importance of establishing rigorous training facilities for new officers. His vision for this officer training was first put into action at Fort Benning, Georgia. Brigadier General Asa L. Singleton, Commandant of the Infantry School at the time, laid the groundwork for the modern OCS for Infantry establishing the Infantry, Field Artillery, and Coastal Artillery OCS on 05 July 1941. Other branches later followed with their own OCS. The first Infantry OCS class started with 204 candidates and, after a 13 week course, graduated 166 Second Lieutenants on 27 September 1941 with General Marshall as the guest speaker of the graduation ceremony.

Brigadier General Omar N. Bradley, Commandant of the Infantry School from 04 March 1941 to 10 February 1942, is credited with establishing the foundation of training still used in OCS today. Bradley emphasised rigorous training, strict discipline, and efficient organisation – remaining the base values of today’s OCS. After the first class, OCS increased to 17 weeks and some 67,056 Infantry second lieutenants graduated from OCS during World War II. From June 1947 to January 1951, Infantry OCS transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, as part of the Ground General School. Consequently, all other OCS were discontinued including the Infantry OCS, which was inactivated on 01 November 1947.

A shortage of officers during the Korean War (1950-1953) caused the Department of the Army to re-open Infantry OCS at Fort Benning on 18 February 1951 and lengthen the course from 17 to 24 weeks. The Infantry OCS became the First Officer Candidate Battalion, Second Student Regiment. The strength of OCS increased rapidly. As one of eight branch programmes, Infantry OCS included as many as 29 companies with a class graduating every week. During the Korean War, OCS commissioned approximately 7,000 Infantry officers. On 04 August 1953, the Department of the Army reduced OCS from eight to three programmes: Infantry, Artillery, and Engineer.

With the onset of the Vietnam War (1965-1975), further reductions concentrated the OCS programme to two branches: Infantry and Field Artillery. During the height of the war, Infantry OCS produced 7,000 officers annually from five battalions. Towards the end of the war, a Female OCS was established and operated at Fort McClellan, Alabama. A Branch Immaterial OCS was also established at Fort Benning in April 1973. The two programmes merged in 1976 to produce a programme very similar to the modern OCS programme consisting of a 14 week training cycle.

OCS has continued to grow and adapt to meet the needs of the Army. The addition of Charlie Company in June 2000, and Delta Company shortly after, increased the Battalion strength to four line companies. The most recent addition, Echo Company, was activated in October 2005 and began training in January of 2006. Each company can conduct one class at a time, with a maximum of 160 candidates being trained in each class. HHC serves as a ‘holding’ company for new candidates going through their in-processing or for injured candidates who are recuperating from their injuries. Those recuperating from injury are often ‘recycled’ into the next class. Every three weeks a class graduates and another one is started.

In 2008, “The Surge,” a term that refers to the 2007-2008 Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn strategy change and subsequent manning increase, necessitated a rapid increase in the output of commissioned officers. United States Military Academy (USMA) and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) commissioning sources remained a four year programme, with OCS adapted to meet this task by shortening the programme of instruction (POI) from 14 to 12 weeks.

Additionally, the 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment (OCS) is responsible for the Direct Commissioning Course (DCC). DCC is normally used for professionals such as chaplains, medical professionals, and lawyers for the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, although it has been used to direct commission some officers into the Cyber Branch. DCC is 6 weeks long and focuses on basic officer tasks and military customs and courtesies. Training events during DCC are military customs and courtesies, Oath of Office, National Infantry Museum tour, leader’s reaction course, risk management, BRM, squad FLX and graduation. DCC conducts 3 courses per fiscal year and graduates over 300 directly commissioned officers annually.


2.0 Introduction

This part of the article highlights some of the organisations involved in the selection and training process for officer candidates.

2.1 Training and Doctrine Command

The US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOCECOM) is responsible for the training, development, and education of officers and enlisted personnel.

“TRADOC recruits, train, and educates the Army, driving constant improvement and change to ensure the Total Army can deter, fight and win on any battlefield now and into the future.” (TRADOC, 2019).

TECOM is located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Newport News, Virginia, and is led by the Commanding General (CG), a General (OF-9). The CG is assisted by:

  • Deputy CG and Chief of Staff (COS), a Lieutenant General (OF-8);
  • Deputy COS, a Major General (OF-7); and
  • The Command Sergeant Major TRADOC, a Command Sergeant Major (OR-9).

TRADOC is composed of five major subordinate centres and command, and oversees 32 Army schools under eight Centres of Excellence.

  • Army Capabilities Integration Centre, Fort Eustis.
  • Combined Arms Centre, Fort Leavenworth.
  • Initial Military Training, Fort Eustis.
  • US Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox.
  • US Army Cadet Command, Fort Knox. Centres of Excellence (COE):
    • Aviation COE.
    • Cyber COE.
    • Fires COE.
    • Health Readiness COE.
    • Intelligence COE.
    • Manoeuvre COE.
    • Manoeuvre Support COE.
    • Mission Command COE.

2.2 The Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence

The Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence (MCOE) is located at Fort Benning (‘Home of the Infantry’), Georgia, and is led by the Commanding General (CG), a Major General (OF-7). The CG is assisted by:

  • Deputy CG MCOE, a Brigadier General (OF-6);
  • Command Sergeant Major (CSM) MCOE, a CSM (OR-9);
  • Deputy to the CG, a civilian.
  • Infantry School Commandant, a Brigadier General (OF-6);
  • Armour School Commandant, a Brigadier General (OF-6);
  • MCOE COS, a Colonel (OF-5);
  • Garrison Commander, a Colonel (OF-5); and
  • Garrison CSM, a CSM (OR-9).

The MCOE is composed of five training units and hosts a number of tenant units:

  • Fort Benning Garrison;
  • Airborne and Ranger Training Battalion (ARTB);
  • 194th Armoured Brigade;
  • 198th Infantry Brigade;
  • 199th Infantry Brigade; and
  • 316th Cavalry Brigade.

2.3 199th Infantry Brigade

The 199th Infantry Brigade is a training unit of the MCOE and is located at Fort Benning. It is led by a Colonel (OF-5) who is assisted by a Brigade CSM (OR-9).

The brigade is home to the OCS, where the US Army trains its civilian volunteers as officers and future leaders of the US Army.

2.4 Officer Candidate School, Regular Component

The 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment (Officer Candidate School) is the training unit that delivers the OCS programme of instruction (POI), and is located at Fort Benning. It is a unit of the 199th Infantry Brigade and is led by the Commanding Officer (CO), a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4), who is assisted by:

  • Battalion CSM, a CSM (OR-9);
  • Battalion Executive Officer, a Major (OF-3);
  • HHC Company Commander/1SG (‘Highlanders’);
  • A Company Commander, a Major (OF-3)/First Sergeant (1SG) (‘Attack Company’);
  • B Company Commander/1SG (‘Balckhawks’);
  • C Company Commander/1SG (‘Crusher Company’);
  • D Company Commander/1SG; and
  • E Company Commander/1SG.

The mission of OCS is to train, educate and commission officers, in the rank of second lieutenant, for the US Army.

OCS conducts training year-round, training “1,144” candidates during the financial year (FY) 2017 (MCOE, 2018, p.8).

2.5 OCS Commandant

The OCS commandant is responsible for the operation of the OCS training programme, which includes:

  • Enrolling attendees;
  • Developing and evaluating attendees’ leadership skills;
  • Relieving attendees from the course, if required;
  • Commissioning attendees upon graduation;
  • Maintaining and reporting data required by Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA); and
  • Developing mobilisation programmes of instruction (POI) for the branch immaterial portion of branch–specific courses to be conducted by other Service schools after M–day (mobilisation day).

2.6 Officer Candidate School, Reserve Component

The 196th Regiment, Regional Training Institute (RTI), located at Fort Meade is one of four major commands of the South Dakota Army National Guard (ANG) and is one of the premier regional training institutes throughout the Army National Guard (South Dakota National Guard, 2019).

The 196th Regiment (RTI) has two subordinate battalions (SDKG Public Affairs Office, 2018):

  • 1st Battalion (Officer Candidate School) at Fort Meade with “…eight subordinate companies…”
  • 2nd Battalion (Modular Training) in Sioux Falls.

The Fort Meade campus is home to one of the US’s four consolidated OCS programmes where enlisted Soldiers who want to become officer’s conduct a three-phase programme designed to stress their mental and physical capabilities, and evaluate their leadership potential for future commissioning as second lieutenants.

The 1st battalion also offers the Tactics Certification Course and Platoon Trainer Qualification Course; two specialty courses for platoon trainers and instructors in the OCS environment.

The Reserve Component OCS is:

  • A 12- to 15-month (traditional programme) leader’s course of instruction.
    • Also known as the State Officer Candidate School.
    • Held at a state RTI over weekends and two, two-week periods.
  • An 8-week (accelerated programme) leaders’ course of instruction.
    • Also known as the National Guard Bureau Accelerated Officer Candidate School.
    • Held in the winter or summer.
    • Location varies by state.

ANG OCS candidates can opt to attend the Regular Component OCS or one of the two Reserve Component OCS programmes.

Detailed information can be found in the Officer Candidate Guide for OCS Reserve Component in Useful Publications (Section 5.1).


3.0 Introduction

This part of the article provides an outline of the application and entry standards for candidates desiring to attain a commission in the US Army via the OCS.

The recruitment and selection criteria for the US Army can be found here, which the reader is advised to read.

All candidates for OCS must submit an application packet (of documents) to the Human Resources Command Officer Professional Management Division (Officer Accessions Branch) where an OCS selection board will be conducted. The OCS does not have influence over what is required, nor who is (or is not) selected. Further information can be found here.

There are two primary avenues for entering OCS:

  1. In-service option:
    a. Open to enlisted soldiers who want to become officers and have a four year college degree from an accredited university.
    b. The degree completion programme has been suspended indefinitely.
    c. Not required to attend Basic Combat Training (BCT), as they completed BCT upon entry into the Army as enlisted Soldiers.
  2. Enlistment option:
    d. Open to civilians who want to become officers and have a four year college degree from an accredited university.
    e. Must complete BCT followed by OCS.
    f. Began in 1998.

Although ANG candidates are eligible for the above, they can also attend one of the two programmes mentioned in Section 2.6.

3.1 Commissioning Sources

The OCS is one of three main commissioning sources for the Regular Component of the US Army, the other two being:

  1. The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) located on 270+ military and civilian college and university campuses; and
  2. The United States Military Academy (USMA) located at West Point, New York. It is commonly known as West Point.

There are also other commissioning sources:

  • Graduation from any of the other US federal service academies, for example the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).
    • “To apply for, and to accept if tendered, an appointment to serve as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, (including the Merchant Marine Reserve, U.S. Navy Reserve), U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, or any other Reserve or National Guard unit of an armed force of the United States, for at least eight (8) years following the date of graduation from the Academy;…” (USMMA, 2018).
    • Graduates of these academies must request commissioning in the Army, and be granted approval by both the Army and their parent branch of service, before commissioning as an Army second lieutenant.
  • OCS programmes of the Army National Guard at Regional Training Institutes (RTI) (Section 2.6):
    • The curriculum is identical to that of the federal OCS programme and audited by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
    • The programmes are structured to better accommodate part-time soldiers of the Army National Guard.
  • Direct Commissioning Course (DCC) is normally utilised for chaplains, medical professionals and lawyers.
    • As I understand it, the US Army Reserve is using DCC, in limited quantities, for some of the basic branches.
  • Inter-Service transfer as a commissioned officer of another US branch of uniformed service.
  • Battlefield commissions or meritorious commissions.
    • Though technically still provided for, have not been used by the US Army since the Vietnam War.

USMA and ROTC are generally four-year programmes that result in a baccalaureate degree and commission followed by attendance at a basic branch course. OCS is a much shorter programme, at 12 weeks, which is also followed by attendance at a branch basic course.

The USMA was the first source of commissioning (1802), followed by the ROTC (formally established in 1916), with both eventually being supplemented by the OCS. Therefore, traditionally, USMA and ROTC have been the primary sources of Army officers, with OCS providing a ‘surge’ capability and advancement opportunity for talented enlisted personnel. This meant that about 60% of annual officer accessions would come from ROTC, 25% from USMA, and 15% from OCS and direct commissions (Henning, 2006). Production from these sources changed over the period 2001 to 2006; for FY2006 it was projected that 46% of the Year Group would be from ROTC, 19% from USMA and 35% from OCS and direct commissions (Henning, 2006).

While, previously, a college degree was not a prerequisite for OCS, by policy all officers must have possessed a degree to be eligible for promotion to captain. However, nearly 80% of OCS graduates between 2001 and 2006 had already earned a baccalaureate degree.

OCS is considered to be a ‘flexible backup’ source for commissioning officers, as officers can be commissioned within a shorter period of time, 12 weeks versus 2-4 years through the ROTC and USMA. Examples include:

  • For a partial mobilisation, an expanded OCS may be required to supplement other peacetime officer procurement programmes, such as it did during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
  • Upon full or total mobilisation, OCS will provide the bulk of officers normally produced by the ROTC programme during peacetime.

3.2 Branch Options

OCS offers candidates the following branch options only:

  1. Air Defence Artillery Officer.
  2. Armour Officer.
  3. Aviation Officer (This branch has special conditions that must be completed prior to attending OCS, e.g. flight physical). See Useful Publications (Section 5.1).
  4. Engineer Officer.
  5. Field Artillery Officer.
  6. Infantry Officer.
  7. Chemical Officer.
  8. Military Intelligence Officer.
  9. Military Police Officer.
  10. Signal Officer.
  11. Finance Officer.
  12. Ordnance Officer.
  13. Personnel Systems Management Officer.
  14. Quartermaster Officer.
  15. Transportation Officer.
  16. Cyber Operations Officer (This branch has special conditions that must be completed prior to attending OCS). See Useful Publications (Section 5.1).

Medical service branch officer candidates do not attend OCS.

3.3 Structured Interview

As part of the application process all candidates must attend a structured interview, also known as a local board, which is similar to a job interview and is intended to be objective.

Immediately before the structured interview, candidates are required to submit a hand-written narrative stating “Why I want to be an Army officer.” The purpose of this so that the interviewers can assess the candidate’s writing and ability to express a desire to serve as a commissioned officer.

3.4 How Long Should a Candidate Expect to Wait for Orders?

  • The average wait time to be selected to OCS is 5 months after the application packet is submitted.
  • Average wait to attend OCS after being selected for ‘in-Service’ Army personnel is 12 months.

3.5 Eligibility Criteria

There are a number of eligibility criteria, with the main outlined here and a full list being found in AR 350-51 (see Useful Publications, Section 5.1):

  • Be a US citizen;
  • Achieve a General Technical Aptitude Test (GT) score of 110 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
  • Soldiers must take and obtain a passing score on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) (850 or higher) or the American College Test (ACT) (19 or higher).
    • A passing score on the SAT is 850 or higher; a passing score on the ACT is 19 or higher.
  • Pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and meet the height and weight standards of AR 600-9.
  • Have a SECRET security clearance.
  • Have completed at least 90 semester hours of study from an accredited college or university and be able to complete a bachelor degree in one year or less.
    • This criterion does not apply to Medal of Honour or Distinguished Service Cross recipients.
  • Achieve a score of 80 or higher on the English Comprehension Level Test (ECLT)/American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT) if the applicant’s primary language is other than English.
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Have no convictions by civil or military courts.
  • Have not been previously dis-enrolled from officer candidate training.
  • Be at least 18 but less than 30 years of age at the time of enrolment.
  • Have completed advanced individual training (AIT) (enlisted personnel).
  • Have had a type “A” medical examination within 9 months of the date of the application.
    • Applicants must have a physical of at least 222221.
  • Have accumulated no more than 10 years of active Federal service when appointed as a commissioned officer.

Warrant officers and enlisted personnel on active duty and in the Army National Guard may apply for OCS, as well as those in the US Army Reserve not on active duty. Certain former commissioned officers may also apply (as a rule you can only attend OCS once), and civilians under the OCS Enlistment Option.

There are also certain groups who cannot attend OCS. For example, personnel who are still in Phase 1 (Basic) Training or Phase 2 (Employment) Training, such as Basic Combat Training (BCT) or Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Warrant Officers in certain branches must complete 1-2 years of their first tour prior to applying for OCS.

The full list of who may or may not attend OCS can be found in AR 350-51 (see Useful Publications, Section 5.1).

3.6 Arrival Information

Pertinent arrival information for candidates includes:

  • Signing into OCS no later than 1200 hours on the report date of their class.
    • Course dates can be found on the Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) course catalogue.
  • Specific required in-processing documents are based on:
    • Temporary Duty (TDY) and Return:
      • 201 File.
      • Copy of Dental Records.
      • Copy of Medical Records.
      • 10 – Copies of DD 1610 or Format 400 orders and amendments.
      • If E-4 and below; 10 Copies of Orders to E-5.
    • TDY En Route:
      • 201 File.
      • Dental Records.
      • Medical Records.
      • 10 – Copies of DD 1610 or Format 400 orders and amendments.
      • If E-4 and below; 10 Copies of Orders to E-5.
      • Marriage and Birth Certificates (If Applicable).
      • Divorce Decree (If Applicable).
      • Assignment/Termination of Quarters (If Applicable).
      • Court Order for Child Support (If Applicable).
    • Permanent Change of Station (PCS):
      • 201 File.
      • Dental Records.
      • Medical Records.
      • 10 – Copies of DD 1610 or Format 400 orders and amendments.
      • If E-4 and below; 10 Copies of Orders to E-5.
      • Marriage and Birth Certificates (If Applicable).
      • Divorce Decree (If Applicable).
      • Assignment/Termination of Quarters (If Applicable).
      • Court Order for Child Support (If Applicable).

In accordance with AR 600-8-19, soldiers in grade of Specialist/Corporal and below entering OCS will be administratively promoted, by losing organisation, to Sergeant (E-5). Personnel who arrive from a MEPS station are required to have E-5 promotion orders in their possession when they arrive to in-process at OCS.

Information on in-processing documents required and a packing list can be found in Useful Publications (Section 5.1). The packing list was revised on 11 Marc 2018, with those failing to adhere to the packing list risking being removed from the course!


4.0 Introduction

This part of the article provides an outline of the curriculum undertaken by candidates during their time at OCS, including arrival information and the training conducted.

“3rd Battalion 11th Infantry Regiment (OCS) trains, educates, and commissions officers in order to provide the Army with leaders of character who live by the Army Ethic.” (MCOE, 2019).

Specifically, the battalion’s mission is to train and commission Second Lieutenants for the US Army.

In its current form the training syllabus is 12 weeks in duration.

4.1 Outline of Typical Day

  • 0530: First formation.
  • 0545-0700: Physical training (PT).
  • 0700-0715: Personal hygiene.
  • 0730-0800: Breakfast.
  • 0800-1115: Training and classes.
  • 1130-1200: Lunch.
  • 1200-1645: Training and classes.
  • 1700-1730: Dinner.
  • 1730-2100: Study in barracks.
  • 2100-2200: Personal time!
  • 2200: Lights out.

4.2 Outline of the OCS Training Syllabus

OCS is a 12-week programme to determine a candidate’ mental, physical and emotional potential as a leader.

In simple terms, a candidate will learn the basic leadership skills and the physical and mental challenges required of a commissioned officer in the early stages of the training syllabus, and during the later stages these will be tested.

Previously, OCS was described as a three phase programme:

  • Phase 1: the Basic (Black) Phase consists of physical development, leadership and ethics, basic soldier skills, Operation Orders (OPORDs) and Troop Leading Procedures (TLPs) from weeks 1-5.
  • Phase 2: The Intermediate (Blue) Phase consists of field leadership exercises (FLXs) and evaluations from week 5-9.
  • Phase 3: The Senior (White) Phase consists of history, officership, mentorship, senior leadership seminars and a staff ride to Andersonville National POW monument and museum during weeks 9-12.

On 01 September 2018, OCS implemented a new standard of conduct that is designed to ensure a better officer will be produced during the 12 weeks they are at OCS.

The first six weeks of OCS is now focused on immersion training, which can be defined as instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study.

Training is conducted 7 days a week, and students are not allowed outside of the Battalion area during this time. Physical training (PT) is conducted six days per week, with one day of recovery per week.

As noted by OCS, there is increased time spent focusing on the ‘intangibles’ that Company and Battalion Commanders want in their young officers.

The training syllabus is composed of three main elements:

  • Academic, for example military history;
  • Physical, for example running with and without equipment; and
  • Leadership, for example performance on field leadership exercises.

Below is an outline of the training syllabus in practice:

  • Weeks 01-03:
    • Initial Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).
    • Individual skills.
    • Bolton obstacle/confidence course.
    • Leadership and ethics.
    • 6-mile foot march.
    • Leader’s reaction course.
    • Map reading and land navigation.
  • Weeks 04-06:
    • 6- and 9-mile foot marches.
    • Military history.
    • WTBD’s and CFF.
    • Military intelligence.
    • Tactics and operations.
    • Terrain walk.
    • Squad FLX.
  • Weeks 07-09:
    • 12-mile foot march.
    • FLX.
    • Recovery operations.
    • Branch selection.
      • Branch decisions were previously made in the “sixth week at OCS.” (Oliver et al., 2011,
    • Training management and CSDP.
    • Leadership.
  • Weeks 10-12:
    • Branch mentorship.
    • Andersonville staff ride (POW monument and museum).
    • Final APFT.
    • Manoeuvre/mentorship/graduation runs.
    • Senior leaders’ seminars.
    • Transitioning to becoming commissioned officers:
      • Graduation social;
      • Graduation formal; and
      • Graduation.

4.3 Formal Gatherings for Family

There are a number of formal gatherings prior to the graduation ceremony where the family of students may attend, including:

  • The Senior Officer Candidate Review (Friday of week 6);
  • The Family SRP events (They occur throughout the course);
  • The Graduation Formal (Tuesday of Week 12); and
  • The Graduation (Thursday of Week 12).

4.4 OCS Graduation Requirements

Candidates must pass a number of graduation requirements in order to successfully graduate from OCS:

  • Meet Army height & weight standards;
  • Pass two APFT’s (initial and final);
  • Complete the obstacle and confidence course;
  • Achieve above 70% on all nine academic tests;
  • Pass day/night land navigation test;
  • Complete a 5-mile run at a 9 minute pace;
  • Complete a 3-mile, 6-mile, 9-mile, and 12-mile foot march; and
  • Pass 70% of evaluated leadership positions (both garrison and field).

4.5 Distinguished Graduates

The commandant may designate as distinguished graduates those students who exhibit the outstanding leadership ability and personal traits that are essential to become successful commissioned officers.

To qualify for such designation, a graduate must be in the upper one-third of the final class standing. These graduates are honoured formally at graduation ceremonies as the:

  • Distinguished Honour Graduate;
  • Distinguished Leadership Graduate;
  • Distinguished Academic Graduate; and/or
  • Distinguished Physical Fitness Graduate.

4.6 Transition to BOLC B

Following the commissioning ceremony, the newly commissioned Second Lieutenant will transition to BOLC B for branch specific training.

4.7 Active Duty Service Obligation

All officer graduates are required to provide an Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) which varies by commissioning source:

  • All USMA graduates will serve at least five (5) years in a commissioned officer status on active duty.
  • All ROTC graduates will serve at least four (4) years in a commissioned officer status on active duty.
  • All Active Army OCS graduates will serve at least three (3) years in a commissioned officer status on active duty.

Army programmes focused on retention may increase ADSO liability, for example (Henning, 2006):

  • Branch for Service, three (3) years additional ADSO.
  • Branch for Post, generally three (3) years additional ADSO.
  • Expanded Graduate School Opportunities, an additional ADSO of three days for each day of graduate school attendance up to a maximum of 72 months.

4.8 OCS Alumni Association

The mission of the US Army OCS Alumni Association (TUSAOCSAA) is serving and honouring the OCS programme and preserving the legacy of its graduates.


5.0 Summary

This article provides the reader with an outline of the training undertaken during the US Army Officer Candidates School.

5.1 Useful Publications

  • OCS Material:
  • MILPER Messages:
    • MILPER Message 12-380.
    • MILPER Message 13-042.
    • MILPER Message 15-242.
    • MILPER Message 15-270: FY16 US Army Federal Officer Candidate School Program Announcement. 08 September 2015.
    • MILPER Message 17-311: FY18 US Army Federal Officer Candidates School Program Announcement.
    • MILPER Message 18-140: FY19 US Army Federal Officer Candidate School Program Announcement.
  • Army Regulations (AR):
    • AR 135-100: Appointment of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Army.
    • AR 135-101: Appointment of Reserve Commissioned Officers for Assignment to the Army Medical Department Branches.
    • AR 140-50: Officer Candidates School, Army Reserve.
    • AR 350-1: Army Training and Leaders Development. 13 December 2017.
    • AR 350-51: United States Army Officer Candidate School. 11 June 2001.
    • AR 600-8-19: Enlisted Promotions and Reductions. 14 September 2016.
    • AR 601-226: Officer Candidate School Option. 28 August 1967 (Obsolete). Available from World Wide Web:,%2028%20August%201967.pdf. [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].
    • AR 611–110: Selection and Training of Army Aviation Officers.
    • AR 614-120: Inter-Service Transfer of Army Commissioned Officers on the Active Duty List. 20 June 2016.
    • AR 670-1: Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. 10 April 2015.
  • Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA PAM):
    • DA PAM 670-1: Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. 01 July 2015.
  • DA Forms:
    • DA Form 61: Application for Appointment.
    • DA Form 71: Oath of Office – Military Personnel.
    • DA Form 483: Officer’s Assignment Preference Statement.
    • DA Form 873: Certificate of Clearance and/or Security Determination.
    • DA Form 4322: Army Officer Candidate Contract and Service Agreement (Prescribed in paras 3-4, 3-9 and 5-1).
    • DA Form 5339: OCS Applicant’s Commanders Evaluation Sheet (Prescribed in paras 3-5 and 3-9).
    • DA Form 6283: Leadership Assessment Program (Video) (Prescribed in para 1-6).
    • DA Form 6285: Interview Plan No. 2 (Prescribed in para 1-6).
  • Department of Defence (DD) Forms:
    • DD Form 1A: Officer Commission Certificate.
    • DD Form 785: Record of Disenrollment from Officer Candidate-Type Training.
  • Security Clearance Procedures:
    • Memorandum on Security Clearance Procedures for Applicants for Officer Candidate School. 13 October 2015. [DOCUMENT].
  • US Army National Guard:
  • Legislation:
    • U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 12203: Commissioned Officers: Appointment, How Made; Term.
    • U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 12301: Reserve Components Generally.
  • Research:
    • Allen, M.T., Bynum, B.H., Erk, R.T., Babin, N.E. & Young, M.C. (2014) Selecting Soldiers and Civilians into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School: Developing Empirical Selection Composites. Fort Belvoir, Virginia: Army Research Institute. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].
    • Oliver, J., Ardison, S., Russell, T.L. & Babin, N.E. (2011) Identification and Accessioning of Individuals for the Officer Candidate School (OCS). Study Report 2011-01. Arlington, Virginia: Army Research Institute. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].
    • Henning, C.A. (2006) Army Officer Shortages: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].
    • Allen, M.T., Bynum, B.H., Oliver, J.T., Russell, T.L., Young, M.C. & Babin, N.E. (2017) Predicting Leadership Performance and Potential in the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). Military Psychology. 26(4), pp.301-326.
    • Wardynski, C., Lyle, D.S. & Colarusso, M.J. (2009) Towards a U.S. Army Officer Corps Strategy for Success: A Proposed Human Capital Model Focused Upon Talent. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].
    • Russell, T.L. & Tremble, T.R. (eds) (2011) Development and Validation of Measures for Selecting Soldiers for the Officer Candidate School. Arlington, Virginia: United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioural and Social Sciences. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 05 February, 2019]

5.2 Useful Links

5.3 References

Henning, C.A. (2006) Army Officer Shortages: Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].

MCOE (US Army Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence). (2018) MCoE Overview Brief. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].

MCOE (US Army Manoeuvre Centre of Excellence). (2019) Officer Candidate School (OCS). Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].

SDNG Public Affairs Office (South Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office. (2018) SD Guard’s 1st Battalion, 196th Regiment Changes Command. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].

South Dakota National Guard. (2019) 196th Regiment, Regional Training Institute. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 05 February, 2019].

TRADOC (US Army Training and Doctrine Command). (2019) Home Page. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 January, 2019].

USMMA (United States Merchant Marine Academy). (2018) Service Obligation. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 05 February, 2019].