Service Options

Active or Reserve, enlisted or officer, as one of the Few, you will forever be known by the title you earn: United States Marine.

Initial Requirements

Marine Officers must be well organized but easily adaptable, contemplative but decisive, open-minded but sure. They must possess uncommon foresight and the wisdom to know when to consult the knowledge of their senior Enlisted Marines. Those who aspire to become Marine Officers must first meet several academic and physical requirements.


Becoming an officer in the Marine Corps requires the completion of two distinct and exacting tests. The first is Officer Candidates School, or OCS, which qualifies candidates to be commissioned as second lieutenants. Next comes The Basic School, a six-month course that develops the leadership skills of these new Marine Officers, and it is here where Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) are selected.

Officer Candidates School

Officer Candidates School (OCS) is the first test for future Marine Officers. Here, candidates are evaluated on their leadership potential as well as moral, physical and academic strengths. Candidates must pass the Physical Fitness Test, consisting of a timed run, pull-ups and crunches, and demonstrate their grasp of battlefield-tested leadership traits. 

OCC Reserve

Reserve Officer opportunities are available through the Officer Candidate Course Reserve program. Becoming a Reserve Officer necessitates the same requirements as that of a regular, active-duty officer. The only difference is that upon completion from OCS, TBS and MOS school, the Reserve Officer will be assigned to a reserve unit instead of a regular active-duty unit. Just like Reserve Enlisted, for the Reserve Officer, there is a training commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks a year versus full-time active duty.


Mission success is heavily reliant on the decisions made by Marine Officers. When all eyes are on them, Marine Officers will have the presence to inspire, the judgment to command and the decisiveness to prevail. These officers fight shoulder to shoulder with the Marines they lead, instilled with the confidence to stand in front of—and in charge of—this elite warrior class.


The two most common paths to becoming a Marine Officer are the Platoon Leaders Class (PLC), which candidates may attend during summers while they're in college, and the Officer Candidate Course (OCC), which candidates who have already graduated with a college degree attend.


The Platoon Leaders Class is the most common route to becoming a Marine Officer. For college freshmen and sophomores, the program consists of two six-week training sessions between school years at Officer Candidates School in Quantico, VA. For college juniors, it is one 10-week training session.

The Reserve Officer

A Reserve Officer must meet the same qualification process required of a regular, active-duty officer. Upon completion of OCS, TBS and MOS school, the Reserve Officer will be assigned to a reserve unit. Reserve Officers have the option to choose the location where they will serve, often near their hometown. They commit to training one weekend a month and two weeks a year. The rest of the time, the Reserve Officer enjoys a civilian life, but is ready to be called into action at any time.


There is a distinct pride that comes with becoming, and being, an officer of Marines. Marine Officers learn and adopt leadership skills that have been tried and proven in every conflict this nation has seen. From these skills Marine Officers develop their own leadership styles and adapt them to best suit the needs of the mission and their Marines. To find out more about becoming a Marine Officer, contact your local Officer Selection Officer.


Marine Officers are commissioned by the President of the United States and gain leadership experience far outpacing that of their civilian peers. Roles in the Corps are known as Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), and each officer's MOS is assigned to them based on personal preference, personal performance, and most importantly, the needs of the Corps. These specialties are divided into three categories: Ground, Air and Law, and MOS training occurs after completion of The Basic School.

Being a Marine Officer is not just about leading Marines, it's about earning their respect. So physical and mental toughness, moral courage, unselfishness, teamwork, commitment and a belief in yourself are essential to your success at OCS.

Colonel (Ret.) Louis N. Rachal,
Former Commanding Officer, Officer Candidates School


For those with both the desire and ability to lead a life filled with honor, courage and commitment, becoming a Marine-Option Midshipman in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Program represents the unique opportunity to begin this journey on a college campus. Request more detailed information from a Marine Recruiter about becoming a Marine Officer and college graduate through the NROTC Program. When filling out the form, be sure to check the box marked NROTC to indicate your interest in the Naval ROTC scholarship. 


The Frederick C. Branch Scholarship is an additional NROTC scholarship opportunity open to students planning to attend a participating Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Frederick C. Branch was the first African American Marine Corps Officer. In May 1943, while attending Temple University, Branch received a draft notice from the Army, but he was ultimately selected to be a Marine. He went on to complete Basic Training at Montford Point, NC, and was assigned to serve in the Pacific. His conduct earned him the recommendation of his commanding officer to attend Officer Candidates School. On November 10, 1945, Frederick C. Branch was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He went on to serve during the Korean War and attained the rank of captain before leaving the Marine Corps in 1955. In his honor, the Marine Corps offers four-year, three-year and two-year NROTC scholarships for students attending or planning to attend the following Historically Black Colleges and Universities:

  • Allen University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Dillard University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Hampton University
  • Howard University
  • Huston-Tillotson University
  • Morehouse College
  • Norfolk State University
  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Savannah State University
  • Southern University
  • Spelman College
  • Tennessee State University
  • Texas Southern University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana


If you are interested in applying for the Frederick C. Branch Scholarship, and are planning to attend one of the HBCUs listed above, request more information from your local Marine Recruiter or Officer Selection Officer (OSO).