The United States Marine CorpsOfficer Candidates School (OCS) is a training regiment designed to screen and evaluate potential Marine Corps Officers. Those who successfully complete the period of instruction are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the United States Marines. Unlike the other United States military services, the majority of Marine Corps officers complete OCS to earn a commission; the exceptions are midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy , limited duty officers, and inter-service transfers. The OCS attrition rate is 30–50%. It is located at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
Depending on the course, Officer Candidates go through either a 10-week (PLC Combined/OCC), or two 6-week courses (PLC) over separate summers, designed primarily to screen and evaluate candidates' fitness to lead Marines by placing them in leadership positions in a stressful environment. The 10-week course only happens after a candidate's junior year of college. Students are evaluated during 2–3 day garrison command billets at the company and platoon level, and squad and fire-team level tactical billets during field exercises.
Prior to World War I, Marine officers came primarily from the Naval Academy, or were commissioned from the enlisted ranks. But as the Marine Corps expanded, it needed its own training pipeline for officers. OCS traces its roots to the "School of Application", established in 1891 in Washington, D.C. With the expansion of the Marine Corps for World War I, all instructional efforts were consolidated—first at Marine Corps Station, Philadelphia, then in 1940 at MCB Quantico, where they remain today.
OCS is currently located at Brown Field at Marine Corps Base Quantico. PLC Juniors was at Camp Upshur through 1987, but was subsequently consolidated with PLC Seniors at Brown Field.
Selection and entry
Entry to the Officer Candidates School comes from several different commissioning programs:
- Officer Candidates Course (OCC) for college seniors and graduates
- Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) for college students with one or more years left in school
- NROTC (Marine Option) in addition to regular NROTC program requirements, NROTC (Marine Option) midshipmen must pass a 6-week OCS course known as "Bulldog" during summer between junior and senior year. "Bulldog" is modeled after the PLC Seniors Course.
- Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP) for enlisted Marines with a college degree
- Meritorious Commissioning Program (MCP) for enlisted Marines within 18 months of graduation (No longer an active commissioning program)
- Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP)
Officer Candidates must pass a series of tests before being admitted into the Officer Candidate School. An Officer Selection Officer, usually a Captain, meets with a prospective Officer Candidate. Upon completing a satisfactory interview, the OSO then makes the decision to move the prospective candidate onto the next step. The prospective candidate then must complete a short essay about why they want to be a Marine Officer, provide identification (usually a birth certificate and Social Security card), pass a background check, provide five letters of recommendation, and complete a physical medical exam.
After successful completion of these steps, the OSO may then conduct the Officer Candidate through a Physical Fitness Test. Upon reaching a score on the test that the OSO deems to be acceptable (usually in the range of 285 and above), the Officer Candidate then signs the contract (including the contract to attend the course, the fraternization policy acknowledgement, and the Marine Corps drug policy acknowledgement). Candidates choose to enter the program as either a ground, air, or law contract.
All of this information is sent to a review board, which will vote to decide if the Candidate should be accepted to Officer Candidate School. These review boards generally convene only once a month. After receiving a majority vote of acceptance from the review board, the Officer Candidate is officially accepted into the Officer Candidate Program and scheduled for a class.
OCS screens potential officers using a program designed to test and assess the candidates with an emphasis on confidence and leadership abilities. This includes evaluated events such as the leadership reaction course and small unit leader evaluation exercise.
Regardless of course, the instructors usually include officers to handle most academic instruction, enlisted sergeant instructors (Staff Noncommissioned Officers taken from the drill instructor community) to conduct most of the day-to-day management, and other instructors (most often non-commissioned officers) to teach most field skills. Officer Candidates on both courses have many related expenses (including travel to and from Officer Candidate School, meals, and lodging) paid for them, and receive a stipend while in training to pay for uniforms, books, and other supplies. The Training and Education Command designs the program of instruction for OCS.
Platoon Leaders Class
The Platoon Leaders Class normally consists of two six-week training sessions taken between consecutive school years, which occur in the summers with no commitment during the school year. Young men and women at any accredited four-year college or university are eligible for this class.
Officer Candidates who attend the Platoon Leaders Class may opt for either the PLC Juniors/Seniors program or the PLC Combined program. In the Juniors/Seniors program, a freshman may attend the PLC Juniors course the summer between their freshman and sophomore years, then attend the PLC Seniors course the summer before their senior year begins. Sophomores can attend the PLC Juniors course the summer before their junior year in school and the PLC Seniors course the following summer. PLC Combined is a ten-week program for those interested in completing officer screening during a single summer after completing their junior year in college.
Training includes academic and field topics. Academic subjects covered include Marine Corps history, leadership, close order drill, weapons handling, and general military subjects such as land navigation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, interior guard, moral and ethical leadership, and basic combat. PLC candidates need to be physically fit as the physical training is demanding, for example, Officer Candidates in the PLC Seniors course run and hike an average of 250 miles (400 km) or more during a six-week period.
Those who opt for the Juniors/Seniors program will find that the divided program is tailored to provide progressive training. The Juniors course is an introduction into the Marine Corps, and allows the candidates to be evaluated and motivated for a possible commission. Physical training, small unit leadership, and basic infantry tactics are addressed, as well as significant academic instruction. PLC Seniors is an advanced course of indoctrination and contains similar physical training, small unit leadership, infantry tactics, and academics; but at a faster rate and with more instructor-induced stress. Those candidates who opt for the combined course cover the same areas of instruction, but it is integrated without the need to reevaluate candidates due to a year-long gap. NROTC midshipmen attend the PLC Seniors course for their final summer cruise, nicknamed "Bulldog".
Officer Candidates Course
The main alternative is the Officer Candidates Course, which is designed for college seniors or graduates and enlisted Marines, and consists of one ten-week training session. While the curriculum is identical to the 10-week PLC Combined session, OCC is held three times a year (winter, summer, and fall), and accepts only college graduates. Additionally, graduates of OCC are commissioned immediately upon graduation of OCS.
The Quigley is a legendary water obstacle used in training at OCS. Lieutenant Colonel William J. Quigley, a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, designed it in 1967. It consists of a long canal with 4-foot (1.2 m) cement culverts submerged in swampy water; candidates must swim through the Quigley as a part of the OCS training program.
Officer candidates who complete OCS (and have obtained their college degrees) are then commissioned as Second Lieutenants and sent to The Basic School (TBS) at Quantico for six months of further training with other newly commissioned Marine officers from all other commissioning programs. At TBS, they receive the skills and knowledge necessary to lead Marines in combat; much like "every Marine is a rifleman", every officer is introduced to the skills necessary to lead a provisional rifle platoon.
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
- ^Home - Commanding Officer. Trngcmd.usmc.mil. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
- ^"US Marine Corps Platoon Leader Course: What You Need to Know". The Balance. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
- ^"Earning a Commission". U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate's Guide. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2007-01-28.
- ^"U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate's Guide". Retrieved 2007-01-27.
- ^Lowe, Christian. "Leadership ability tested in frustrating 'SULE' course, April 07, 2004. Accessed April 07, 2010.
- ^Lowe, Christian. "Walking the razor's edge: Those who don't quit or aren't booted keep up the fight", Marine Corps Times website, April 07, 2004. Accessed January 30, 2010.
As the largest single source of Navy and Marine Corps officers, the NROTC Scholarship Program fills a vital need in preparing mature young men and women for leadership and management positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps. The following is a list of NROTC scholarship programs:
The NROTC Four-year Scholarship:
- Full tuition at one of the listed college or universities
- All colleges/university educational fees
- Stipend for text books
- Provide all uniforms
- Subsistence allowance each academic month:
- Freshmen receive $250
- Sophomores receive $300
- Juniors receive $350
- Seniors receive $400
The NROTC Two-year Scholarship:
- Covers final two years of college.
- Provides tuition, fees, textbooks, and uniforms for two academic years.
- Subsistence allowance for a maximum of 20 months.
- Open to college students who have completed their sophomore year or third year in a five-year curriculum.
- Deadline date: 15 March of the applicant's sophomore year.
- On graduation commission as ensign, US Naval Reserve or second lieutenant, US Marine Corps Reserve.
- Total military service obligation is eight years, at least four of which must be active duty.
NROTC College Program
- Two- or Four-year programs
- Applicants selected from students already attending or accepted by colleges with NROTC programs
- Pays for uniforms and instructional fees for naval science courses
- College Program students selected for "advanced standing" receive a stipend for maximum of 20 months. Advance standing is only available starting the junior year of college. Stipend per academic month is $350 junior year and $400 senior year.
- Students will complete naval science and other university courses, a few specific university courses, and attend one summer training session
- Normally at sea for Navy officers.
- Normally at Quantico, Virginia for Marine Corps-option midshipmen.
- Four-year applicants apply through professors of naval science upon commencement of freshman year
- Two-year applicants apply before spring of sophomore year.
- When accepted, two-year applicants will attend six-and-a-half week Naval Science Institute program in Newport, RI during summer between sophomore and junior years.
- On graduation, two- and four-year College Program midshipmen may be commissioned ensigns in the Naval Reserve or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps Reserves.
- Obligation of eight years commissioned service, at least three of which must be active duty.
Navy Nurse Corps NROTC Program
- Available to students interested in pursuing Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN).
- If selected for scholarship, selectee must major in a nursing degree program leading to BSN.
- On graduation, Nurse NROTC Scholarship Program midshipmen commissioned as reserve officers in Navy Nurse Corps.
- Nurse NROTC eligibility and selection procedures same as regular four-year NROTC Scholarship Program requirements.
- Academic, physical, and military requirements differ slightly from regular NROTC.
- Nurse NROTC Scholarship Program not for those pursuing any other medical program.
- More information on the Navy Nurse NROTC Scholarship.
More Scholarship Programs
The Tweedale Scholarship:
- Each unit Professor of Naval Science (PNS) is assigned two Tweedale Scholarships each year.
- Program focused on students majoring in specific technical fields
Criteria for selection:
- Student must have completed at least one but no more than four academic terms w/ a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) which places student above peer mean or 3.0, whichever is higher.
- Transcript must reflect grade of "C" or better in all courses attempted.
- Student must have completed one academic term of college level math or science
- Will be required to complete Naval Science Course 101 as soon as possible
- Students interviewed by PNS and must comply w/ standards regarding leadership potential and military/physical fitness.
- Submit a revised degree plan for review by PNS; degree plan must be verified by student's faculty advisor and demonstrate that student will by able to complete all naval science requirements and still graduate on time with his/her assigned class year group
- Majors in:
- Computer Science
- Strong math/science background in high school and "B" or better in calculus, if completed
Historically Black College (HBC) Scholarship Program
There are a limited scholarships available to attend Historically Black Colleges. Applicants must meet the same minimum qualification criteria used for the 4 year national scholarship. To apply for one of these scholarships, contact one of the below listed schools:
- Florida A & M University
- Hampton University
- Morehouse College
- Norfolk State University
- Prairie View A&M University
- Savannah State University
- Southern University and A&M College
Full information concerning the NROTC Scholarship Program is available from any of the colleges and universities with NROTC units or from Navy and Marine Corps recruiters. A list of colleges and universities is available on this website at the Colleges and Universities page.
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