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This article is organised as follows:

  • Part 01: Background to Officer Candidates School.
  • Part 02: Training Hierarchy.
  • Part 03: USMC Commissioning Programmes.
  • Part 04: Outline of the OCS Curriculum.
  • Part 05: Miscellaneous.


1.0     Introduction

This article provides an overview of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Officer Candidates School (OCS).

Commissioned officers in the USMC come from several sources, including the United States Naval Academy (USNA), civilian universities, and the enlisted ranks of the Marine Corps and other services. All of these officers except those who attend the USNA are required to successfully complete a screening process at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, called Officer Candidates School (OCS).

One of the primary goals of OCS is to place candidates under stressful, pressure-filled situations in order to determine their ability to lead others while under stress.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to outline the training undertaken by USMC officer candidates whilst attending the Officer Candidates School.

1.2     Brief History

The OCS traces its roots to the ‘School of Application’, established in 1891 in Washington, D.C.

Prior to World War I, almost all officers in the USMC came from either the USNA or from the enlisted ranks of the USMC. As a consequence of the war, it became necessary to commission more officers.

In 1918, the Officer Candidate School (OCS) was known as the Camp of Instruction (Stark, 1990), based at the Marine Corps Station, Philadelphia, were all instructional efforts were consolidated.

Due to its successes during the war, the USMC was maintained at a larger size and subsequently started relying more heavily on recruitment through civilian universities via the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).

In 1934, the USMC developed the Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) for colleges with no NROTC programme. After two six-week periods of instruction, at either Quantico or San Diego, students would be commissioned as reserve officers.

With World War II looming, in 1940 the USMC added another programme known as the Officer Candidate Class.

There were a number of name changes, including Officer Screening and Basic School and Training and Test Regiment, before the Camp of Instruction was officially designated the Officer Candidate School in June 1963.

OCS courses are delivered at Brown Field, although prior to 1987 the PLC (Juniors) was delivered at Camp Upshur (approximately 12 miles away) (Stark, 1990).

1.3     Factors Predicting Graduation

In 2002, Donald McNeill completed his master’s thesis as part of his degree programme at the Naval Postgraduate School.

In his thesis McNeill (2002) noted that, during the year 2000, there was only one company of 238 PLC Seniors but three companies of PLC Juniors totalling 698 candidates. McNeill’s research suggests that only 55% of PLC Juniors will continue on to the PLC Seniors – There is no requirement for PLC Juniors to continue to PLC Seniors unless they have received financial assistance.

McNeill argues that the commissioning source is significant in estimating the probability of success of candidates at OCS for two reasons:

  1. The varying financial incentives offered to candidates based on their commissioning pathway; and
  2. The interaction between Officer Selection Officers (OSO), who recruit PLC and OCC candidates, and Marine Officer Instructors (MOI’s) at each college that has an MCROTC programme. Each OSO has a certain geographic area, often covering thousands of square miles, and works at the colleges in that region to recruit candidates. In contrast, most MOI’s work at a single university to oversee the MCROTC candidates enrolled there.


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 Education Command

The US Marine Corps Training and Education Command (TECOM) is responsible for the training, development, and education of Marines. TECOM’s mission is:

“To develop, coordinate, resource, execute, and evaluate training and education concepts, policies, plans, and programs to ensure Marines are prepared to meet the challenges of present and future operational environments.” (TECOM, 2017).

TECOM is located at Quantico, Virginia, and is led by the Commanding General, a Major General (CG) (OF-7). The CG is assisted by an Executive Deputy, a civilian, and a Sergeant Major (OR-9).

TECOM is composed of ten organisations/directorates (TECOM, 2017):

  • Five Directorates:
    • Centre for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL).
    • MAGTF Training Education Standards Division (MTESD).
    • Training and Education Capabilities Division (TECD): Provides training and education support to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of training and education programs across the mission spectrum
    • MAGTF Staff Training Programme (MSTP): provide training in MAGTF operations across the range of military operations, within the context of a Joint and/or Combined Task Force environment, to improve the war-fighting skills of senior commanders and their staffs
    • Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
  • Education Command (aka The Marine Corps University, MCU): MCU is a group of accredited higher-education schools at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. It was established on 01 August 1989 by General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., then Commandant of the Marine Corps.
  • Training Command: Delivers officer and enlisted:
    • Entry-level Military Occupational Specialty (MOS, aka Phase 2 Employment Training).
    • Career progression and career enhancement skills (aka Phase 3 Training).
  • MCRD Parris Island: Delivers recruit (aka Phase 1 Initial) training.
  • MCRD San Diego: Delivers recruit training.
  • Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Training Command: Manages the MAGTF Training Programme (MAGTFTP) and conducts service level MAGTF combined arms training to enhance the combat readiness of the operating forces and support the Marine Corps’ responsibilities to national security.

2.2     Training Command

The US Marine Corps Training Command (TRNGCMD) is responsible for the training of Marines. TRNGCMD’s mission is:

“Training Command consistently produces officer and enlisted entry-level Military Occupational Specialty, career progression, and career enhancement skills trained Marines and Sailors to meet force generation and operating force requirements, while reinforcing our warfighting ethos and facilitating the growth and resiliency of our permanent personnel, students, and families.” (TRNGCMD, 2018a).

TRNGCMD is located at Quantico, Virginia, and is led by the Commanding General (CG), a Brigadier General (OF-6). The CG is assisted by a Sergeant Major (OR-9).

TRNGCMD is responsible for a number of training organisations, including the Officer Candidates School (OCS).

2.3     Marine Corps Base Quantico

Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ) is located near Triangle, Virginia, in approximately 55,000 acres of land.

MCBQ is home to the Officer Candidates School (OCS) and The Basic School (TBS), where the US Marine Corps trains its civilian volunteers as officers and future leaders of the USMC.

2.4     Officer Candidates School

The US Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School (OCS) is located at the Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), Virginia.

OCS is led by the Commanding Officer (CO), a Colonel (OF-5). The CO is assisted by an Executive Officer, a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4) and a Sergeant Major (OR-9). The mission of OCS is to:

“…educate and train officer candidates in Marine Corps knowledge and skills within a controlled and challenging environment in order to evaluate and screen individuals for the leadership, moral, mental, and physical qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.” (TRNGCMD, 2018b).

OCS conducts training year-round, but the bulk of the screening is done in the summer, causing the permanent OCS staff to swell from “35 officers and 120 enlisted personnel to 75 officers and 490 enlisted Marines.” (Stark, 1990).

The officers and drill instructors who augment the staff are essentially ‘on loan’ from other units on base. All are given a two-week Staff Training Course to ready them for the upcoming surge of candidates. Permanent OCS staff are intermingled with augmentees to provide a well-rounded team.


3.0     Introduction

This part of the article provides an outline of the commissioning pathways open to candidates desiring to attain a commission in the USMC.

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

OCS delivers courses for officer candidates depending on their commissioning pathway.

3.1     Officer Candidates Course

The Officer Candidates Course (OCC) is a commissioning programme designed to allow college graduates who have earned a bachelor’s degree from any accredited college or university and desire to pursue a commission in the US Marine Corps or to simply participate in OCS training without any military obligation.

The OCC is primarily for college graduates, woman officer candidates (WOC), and Marines participating in the Enlisted Commissioning Programme.

The OCC is 10-weeks and there are usually two or three per year (summer, fall, and winter).

3.2     Platoon Leaders Class

The Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) is an undergraduate commissioning programme that is designed to allow college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors who are currently enrolled full-time in any accredited college or university to pursue a commission in the US Marine Corps or to simply participate in summer training without any military obligation.

In this programme freshman and sophomores attend two six-week courses at OCS, whilst juniors and seniors will attend one ten-week course (Table 1 below).

  • Platoon Leaders Class, Juniors (PLCJR): This is a six-week class, conducted twice each summer, open only to freshman and sophomore males.
  • Platoon Leaders Class, Seniors (PLCSR): This is the final six-week increment of OCS. The officer candidate must have completed PLCJR and be between their junior and senior year of college. Once the candidate, has obtained a four-year degree, they may choose to be commissioned.
  • Platoon Leaders Class, Combined (PLCCOMB): This is a combination of male and female candidates who are either college graduates or between their junior or senior year of college. If lasts 10 weeks and is usually conducted once every summer.

Upon graduation from OCS, candidates return back to their school for fall semester continuing on towards their Baccalaureate Degree. Candidates must ensure they maintain 12.0 semester hours and above a 2.0 grade point average. During the school year, candidates simply communicate with the Officer Selection Team via phone or e-mail bi-monthly and maintain proper physical condition if they desire to stay enrolled in the programme.

The PLC will not interrupt your academic career and it is not an ROTC programme.

3.3     NROTC and USNA

The Marine Option Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (MNROTC) and US Naval Academy (USNA) programme is delivered by NROTC staff and held at OCS. There are three increments of six-week classes per summer for MNROTC students and midshipmen from USNA. These combine to form ‘Bulldog’ platoons.

3.4     PLC Aviation

The PLC Aviation programme is designed for students who are interested in becoming pilots and Naval Flight Officers (NFO).

If qualified and chosen, those selected for this programme will be guaranteed to attend flight training for designation as Marine Corps Aviators.

The Flight Indoctrination Programme provides civilian flight instruction to fully trained members of the PLC Aviation option who have agreed to accept their commission. Students who have completed their summer training and are within one year of their graduation are eligible for this programme.

3.5     PLC Law

The PLC Law programme is designed for college seniors, and first and second year law students.

Candidates must meet the basic requirements for the PLC Ground programme and 150 on the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT).

In this programme candidates will attend:

  • A ten-week course and, if successful, be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the USMC, then,
  • Be placed on inactive duty without pay or allowances while you finish your law degree,
  • Receive credit for your time in service for promotion and pay purposes while you are in law school, and
  • Upon graduation from law school and admittance to the state bar of your choice, you will attend The Basic School, followed by the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island.

3.6     Woman Officer Candidates

In 1990, woman officer candidates (WOC’s) were evaluated alongside their male counterparts during the 10-week increment (Stark, 1990). Women were placed into an all-female platoon with a female staff. They trained with the male platoons, although the physical training programme was modified slightly. Women did not participate in the offensive combat preparatory classes.

3.7     College Timelines

Table 1 highlights the timelines for the various stages of college.

Table 1: College Timelines
Year Description
  • Complete freshman school year, attend PLC (junior course, 6 weeks).
  • Complete sophomore school year, no OCS.
  • Complete junior school year, attend PLC (senior course, 6 weeks).
  • Complete senior school year, decide to accept or decline commission.
  • Complete sophomore school year, attend PLC (junior course, 6 weeks).
  • Complete junior school year, attend PLC (senior course, 6 weeks).
  • Complete senior school year, decide to accept or decline commission.
  • Complete junior school year, attend PLC (combined course, 10wks).
  • Complete senior school year, decide to accept or decline commission.
  • Complete senior school year, attend OCS (10 weeks) then decide to accept or decline commission.

Candidates are paid as an E-5 (aka Sergeant) whilst attending the six- or ten-weeks of OCS, plus there are a variety of other financial incentives.


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.

““We are not here to train,” explained Fox, a former enlisted Marine. “Our job is to evaluate and screen candidates to ensure they possess the leadership, moral, and physical qualities needed for a commission in the Marine Corps.”” (Stark, 1990).

Although training was conducted in the 1990s, it was used as a tool to aid in evaluating a candidate’s potential (Stark, 1990).

4.1     Arrival Information

Pertinent arrival information for candidates includes:

  • Reporting to Yeckel Hall.
  • Wearing appropriate (clean and pressed) civilian attire consisting of: a collared shirt; trousers with a belt (belts are not required with female trouser styles without belt loops); and dress shoes.
    • This includes prior-enlisted personnel.
    • Clothing with Commercial/Unit logos is not recommended.
  • Wear their civilian attire for the first 2-3 days!
  • Wearing running shoes (that are appropriate and fit properly) as soon as you arrive (i.e. place in the top of your luggage).
  • Carrying a black pen (when checking-in).
  • Having cell/mobile phone and car keys in hand when checking in.
  • Military clothing will be issued during the first week.
  • Basic overnight toiletry items for the first week, including: razors; shaving cream; soap; shampoo; deodorant; toothbrush; toothpaste; and solid colour towel.
    • Female candidates should also bring hygiene items
    • d birth control prescriptions.
    • Medication (if applicable).
  • Money (either through cash or credit), between $60 and $100.
    •  A bag issue is paid for by debit/credit card, between $320 and $405.
  • Wearing a rugged watch (shock and water resistant).

Things that would be beneficial to memorise before arrival include:

  1. The Leadership Traits.
  2. Leadership Principles.
  3. General Orders of the Guard.
  4. Code of Conduct.
  5. Rank structure.
  6. Five paragraph order (aka SMEAC) and BAMCIS (the acronym for the troop leadership process).
  7. US Marine Corps history.

You can find some pointers in the Useful Publications section below.

4.2     OCS Training Programme

Table 2 provides an outline of the five phases of the OCS training programme.

Table 2: Outline of OCS Training Programme
Phase Name Period Description
I In-Processing Day 1-4
  • This is where the foundation and reinforcement of Core Values and ethics starts.
  • This is where candidates begin administrative and medical in-processing, receiving their gear and uniforms, take the Initial Physical Fitness Test (IPFT), learn basic military customs and courtesies, and are placed in their respective training company.
II Transition Weeks 1-3
  • Combat Conditioning and learning about the Marine Corps in classes on General Military Subjects, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), and physical fitness.
  • Candidates will be indoctrinated into the Marine culture, Marine Corps leadership, and close order drill.
  • Probably the hardest three weeks a candidate will have endured so far in their life.
III Adaptation Weeks 4-5
  • Begins the formal evaluation process.
  • There will be an increased responsibility on billet holders and an emphasis on leading one’s peers.
  • Candidates receive additional training in land navigation and basic tactical training.
IV Decision-making & Execution Weeks 6-9
  • Candidates are evaluated on four major leadership events, demonstrating leadership traits and principles while exhibiting knowledge of tactics instruction in a field environment.
  • They are tested academically and physically, and face the defining evaluation of the SULE test of mental, moral, and physical challenges.
V Out-Processing Week 10
  • Candidates feel the transition from officer candidate to Basic Marine Officer during the final week leading up to graduation and commissioning.

Candidates will attend the Commanding Officer’s Orientation Brief first followed by an introduction to their platoon commander, platoon sergeant, and sergeant instructor.

After this candidates are at the mercy of their instructors and “The stress begins.” (Stark, 1990).

Candidate squad leaders will be posted by the end of the first week, with platoon posts by the second week, and company posts by the third week. Each post is rotated every 48-hours.

Reveille is at 04:00 (or 4am) and generally starts with physical training, which is also used as an evaluation tool. Not only are candidates responsible for themselves, they now become responsible for others in the platoon, and they must also cope with the physical and mental fatigue of arduous activity and long hours.

4.3     OCS Training Events

Table 3 outlines some of the training events undertaken during the OCS training programme.

Table 3: Outline of OCS Training Events
Training Event Description
Combat Conditioning
  • This builds a strong foundation in general fitness by increasing core strength and upper body development through power movements and events like the obstacle and confidences courses, MCMAP, and conditioning hikes.
  • The confidence course is an 11-station obstacle course that helps the candidates build confidence as well as upper-body strength.
  • This is the basic way in which platoons march and move from place to place and is one way that candidates learn discipline and teamwork.
  • At first, candidates practice staying in step with the rest of the platoon and Sergeant Instructor.
  • However, as training continues, the platoon becomes a well-oiled machine performing synchronised, complex drill movements.
Marine Corps Martial Arts Programme (MCMAP)
  • This is a martial art that was designed to be the “synergy of mental, character, and physical disciplines.”
  • Candidates are introduced to the fundamentals of MCMAP early on in the training cycle, and continue to progress through graduation.
Leadership Reaction Course
  • This is a training evolution designed to see how a candidate can perform as a fire team leader.
  • During this training evolution, the candidate will be given a problem that they have to negotiate with time restraints and limited equipment.
Team Assault Course
  • This training evolution is designed to give the individual candidates the skills needed to work as a small unit to be able to negotiate different types of obstacles.
  • During this evolution, candidates will also be put under a controlled amount of stress to be able to further evaluate their leadership skills.
Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE)
  • SULE is the culminating leadership evaluation event at OCS.
  • It is designed to evaluate a candidate’s mental, moral, and physical development.
  • For many, SULE II will be the first time a candidate has reached the limits of their mental, physical, and emotional endurance; SULE II will demonstrate that they are capable of much more than they previously believed.
Individual Movement Course
  • “The Individual Movement Course is one course used to develop tactical skills. Moving as a fire team, the candidates practice the high crawl, back crawl and low crawl through long, narrow, muddy trenches covered in barbed wire. They finish with a mock assault on Marines from the Combat Demonstration Platoon who fire off blank rounds to simulate an enemy position.” (Stark, 1990).
Academics Training
  • Enables the candidates to exercise their minds and covers subjects ranging from Marine Corps history, policy and regulations, Marine customs and courtesies, to basic lifesaving procedures.

4.4     Physical Training during OCS

Physical training undertaken during OCS is outlined in Table 4.

Table 4: Outline of OCS Physical Training Events
Event Description
  • Functional Body Development (FBD) course.
  • The purpose of FBD is to develop all round military combat fitness in preparation for the Combat Fitness Test (CFT).
  • The session is undertaken twice during training and is progressive by design.
  • The first session lasts 32 minutes and the second session lasts 40 minutes.
Run Circuit
  • A circular course in the immediate OCS area consisting of many exercise stations designed to build endurance and overall body strength.
Conditioning Runs
  • Week 1: 3-mile Platoon run wearing training shoes with pace at 8:30 to 9:30 per mile.
  • Week 3: 3-mile wearing boots and utilities: first 1.5 miles as a squad at 9:00 to 10:00 per mile; and second 1.5 miles being maximal individual effort.
  • Week 4: 3-mile run wearing Load Bearing Vest (LBV) and rifle, in preparation for the Endurance Course. First 2-miles as a squad and final 1-mile is individual effort.
Fartlek Course
  • A 3 to 4-mile trail, consisting of 8 to 11 exercise stations, designed to build endurance.
  • The Juniors Fartlek and Juniors Fartlek extension runs are both 3-miles in duration.
  • The Seniors Fartlek run is 3.2-miles whilst the Seniors Fartlek Extension run is 4-miles.
  • Prepares candidates for the more intense Endurance Course.
Obstacle Course
  • A 100-metre long series of obstacles that must be negotiated in a prescribed amount of time.
  • A standalone event that also forms part of the Endurance Course.
Confidence & Tarzan Courses
  • A series of high obstacles created to build an individual’s self-confidence while teaching military skills.
  • This PT session exposes the candidate’s ability to work independently and as a team at height.
  • Both courses require a level of muscular strength and dexterity, and serve to build a candidate’s personal confidence.
Conditioning Hikes
  • Three graded hikes ranging from 4 to 9.3 miles with combat gear.
  • Hike 0: 3-miles introduction to hiking. The purpose of this session is to introduce candidates to the conduct of a foot march under load, with emphasis placed on technique coaching and correct pack fitting. The hike also serves to introduce candidates to the baseline pace of the Marine Corps march which is 3.6mph. The first 1.5 miles are conducted individually, before reforming and hiking within the Platoon for other 1.5 miles.
  • Hike 1: 4-miles.
  • Hike 2: 6.2-miles.
  • Hike 3: 9.3-miles.
  • The above hikes are all conducted after a night in the field and prior to an evaluated leadership exercise.
Pugil Sticks Simulates close combat fighting.
Combat Course
  • This is a 1.5-mile course which simulates a combat environment by stressing all around security and noise discipline while negotiating a series of obstacles.
  • Obstacles include: three-rope bridge; 18-foot wall; two-rope bridge; commando crawl across a single rope; balancing on logs; muddy waters of the Quigley; climbing and descending a cliff; traversing low and high walls; crossing a ford; and assaulting objectives (Stark, 1990).
  • A graded event.
Endurance Course
  • A 2.5-mile course testing a candidate’s physical endurance and ability to cross and negotiate various obstacles.
  • 3.27 miles when including the Obstacle Course.
  • Culminating PT event and attaining a passing score is a graduation requirement.
  • Candidates wear combat clothing plus LBV and rifle (except Obstacle Course).
Rope Climbing
  • Two techniques taught at OCS include: Wrap Around method; and S-Method.
Muscular Endurance Course (MEC)
  • Designed to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance.
  • 1.25 miles in duration and consisting of 25 exercise stations which are performed for 30 seconds on rotation 1 and 45 seconds on rotation 2.
  • Conducted in squads who must sprint between each station.
Seniors Medal of Honour Course
  • The purpose of this PT session, which is 5-miles in duration, is to motivate the candidates along a course containing the citations for 16 Medal of Honour recipients.
  • This run is conducted in boots and utilities.
Rifle & Log Drill
  • The purpose of this PT session is to develop the candidate’s muscular strength, endurance, and co-ordination, as well as teamwork.
  • Only conducted once.
  • In 1990, candidates had to complete the log race through the “Obstacle and Stamina and run over rough terrain (about 3.2 miles).” (Stark, 1990).
Montford Point Challenge
  • The purpose of this PT session is to celebrate the sacrifices and heroism of the Montford Point Marines.
  • The course sees squads compete against each other while carrying ammunition containers, stretchers, and logs.
  • The course is 3 miles in duration and is conducted in combat gear.
Kettlebell Training
  • The compound, whole-body movements, typical of kettlebell exercises are superior to machines that isolate specific muscles for improving muscle tone, body composition, and strength.

4.5     Evaluation during OCS

Candidates will be evaluated from the moment they arrive at OCS – i.e. as soon as you get off the transport. The USMC has determine that evaluations are crucial to the proper screening of candidates to become Marine officers. Candidates are evaluated daily by their Sergeant Instructors for their performance and how well they are developing an understanding and personal ownership of core values, ethics, and leadership.

With this in mind, evaluation at OCS is divided into three categories:

  • Leadership:
    • 50% of evaluation is associated with leadership, which should not be a surprise given the importance of leadership within the overall role of an officer.
    • During OCS, a candidate’s leadership grade is based on practical application events and staff observation.
    • Evaluations are based on command presence, communication skills, decision making, and leading subordinates.
    • Leadership is evaluated using the following events and opportunities:
      • Command Evaluations I and II.
      • Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) I and II.
      • Small Unit Leadership Evaluation (SULE) I and II.
    • SULE commences after an eight-mile forced march beginning at midnight, the candidates are given problems to solve and, throughout the day, are evaluated on their leadership, problem solving skills, and endurance after very little sleep (Stark, 1990).
  • Academics:
    • 25% of evaluation is associated with academics – officers should be both educated and knowledgeable on past and present military and civil affairs.
    • General military subjects taught to candidates includes: Marine Corps history, tactics, operations and organisation, land navigation, and other military subjects.
    • Candidates are evaluated via written exams and practical application.
    • Further information on academics can be found in the Section 4.1 (Useful Publications).
    • All candidates are given a book, known as ‘Knowledge’, and expected to study at night and at certain scheduled times of study.
    • Candidates should become familiar with the Five Paragraph Order (aka SMEAC) and the BAMCIS process.
  • Physical Fitness:
    • 25% of evaluation is associated with physical fitness – officers should lead by example, being physically capable of completing the same tasks as the Marines they lead.
    • The physical training programme undertaken by candidates has been designed to teach, then test and evaluate, a very high level of physical fitness in a minimum amount of time.
    • The programme is built on the principles which will test physical courage, will-power and determination, while preparing candidates for the rigours of future Marine Corps duty.
    • The physical aspects of OCS are designed to test an individual’s general strength and endurance under varying field and tactical conditions.

Practical applications (Prac Apps) are generally outdoor exercises where the candidate learns ‘hands-on’ skills first taught in a classroom environment. Examples include: fire-team; squad tactics; rifle skills; and compass skills. This training will be graduated, for example, candidates will be given a classroom lesson(s) on land navigation before moving on to a small outdoor course, and finally being tested on a larger course/exercise.

All tests conducted in the classroom use multiple choice sheets.

For candidates who feel the US Marine Corps is not for them are allowed to Drop on Request (DOR) at any time after four weeks, for the six-week programme and seven weeks, for the 10-week programme.

For candidates who do not pass academically or physically, or who do not demonstrate sufficient leadership skills, a company board is held, and all company recommended drops are referred to the CO for review.

4.6     The Seven Graduation Requirements

Candidates must pass the seven graduation requirements in order to successfully graduate from OCS:

  • Combat Course.
  • Command Evaluations I and II.
  • LRC I and II
  • SULE I and II.
  • Academic exam.
  • Physical fitness.
  • Battalion Commander’s Inspection.

4.7     Family Day and Graduation

Family Day and Graduation take place on the last two days of training, and consist of:

  • Family Day starts with the Commander’s Motivational Run, a three and a half mile run that both candidates and OCS staff undertake.
  • Family Day Orientation is an informal, hour-long presentation led by the OCS CO, and provides an overview of OCS training and an opportunity to ask questions to the CO.
  • Candidate Liberty is granted in the afternoon, after orientation, where candidates can show their guests the base or spend time together in the local area.
  • The formal Graduation Ceremony and Parade takes place at Brown Field on the final day of training, lasting approximately one hour.
  • The Commissioning Ceremony, taking place on the Parade Deck and lasting approximately 30 minutes, is for those who successfully complete OCS and choose to accept a commission in the USMC as Second Lieutenants.

4.8     Transition to The Basic School

Following the commissioning ceremony, the newly commissioned Second Lieutenant is required to report to The Basic School with immediate effect for administrative check-in and briefs.

The Basic School ensures all Marine officers have the same basic education and qualifications when they arrive in the fleet.


5.0     Summary

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

5.1     Useful Publications

The following documents are for information/illustration purposes only.

5.2     Useful Links

5.3     References

Stark, K.V. (1990) Officer Candidate School. Leatherneck. 73(9). Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 11 April, 2018].

TECOM (United States Marine Corps Training & Education Command) (2017) TECOM Training & Education Command. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 30 November, 2017].

TRNGCMD (United States Marine Corps Training Command (2018a) Training Command. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 10 April, 2018].

TRNGCMD (United States Marine Corps Training Command) (2018b) Officer Candidates School. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 10 April, 2018].