Officer Candidate School (OCS)

Back to Top

Overview:

Civilians and current enlisted members of the Coast Guard who seek to advance their leadership and are ready to accept the challenge of responsibility in one of the service's many missions may apply for selection as a Coast Guard officer through the officer candidate school program (OCS).  OCS is a highly specialized, 17-week course of instruction in leadership, management, navigation, law enforcement, and military subjects.  OCS classes are convened periodically throughout the year, depending on the needs of the service.

Initial Assignments and Potential Career Paths:  Individuals who successfully complete OCS are commissioned as ensigns (O-1)* in the Coast Guard.  In the final stages of OCS, officer trainees receive the opportunity to indicate their preferences for their initial assignment in the Coast Guard.  Specific available assignments typically fluctuate during any given year based on needs of the service as adjudicated by the discretion of the assignment officer.

*Note: Chief warrant officers may be eligible for commissioning as an lieutenant junior grade (O-2).

Potential Career Paths:  Typically the first assignment helps determine the direction of your career path in the Coast Guard.  Coast Guard career paths are divided into four broad categories: prevention, response, mission support and aviation, with additional sub-specialties (intelligence, legal, finance, human resources, engineering, public affairs, etc).

TEMPORARY COMMISSION: 
Officer Candidate School Temporary Commission (OCS-T) Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Age:  Have reached your 21st but not your 35th birthday as of September 30 of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.  Active duty Coast Guard chief warrant officers are eligible until they reach their 40th birthday.
  2. Character Standards: All applicants must be of outstanding moral character.
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a secret clearance
  5. Dependency:
    • If single, may not have sole or primary custody of dependents
    • No more than three dependents
  6. Education:
    • Have a baccalaureate or higher degree or
    • Receive the ACE recommended score on the five general CLEP exams (i.e. english composition, humanities, natural science, college mathematics, social science/history) or
    • Have one year of college (30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours) and have completed at least one college-level mathematics course, or receive the ACE recommended score on the college mathematics CLEP exam.
  7. Financial: May not have filed for bankruptcy (any chapter) in the last 10 years
  8. Military Service:  (all of the below must apply)
    • Must be presently serving on active duty in the Coast Guard, and have at least four years of active-duty time-in-service by the first OCS class convening date in the selection cycle (two years of which must be in the Coast Guard)
    • Must be an E-5 or above by the selection panel convening date
  9. Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
    • Normal color vision
    • Meet height/weight standards
    • Must submit a health and physical pre-assessment 30 days prior to reporting to OCS
    • Must be able to pass a physical fitness test and swim test prior to graduation from OCS
  10. Test Score:  Receive a qualifying score in one of the following (test scores are valid indefinitely)
    • SAT I: 1100 or greater combined score (math and critical reading)
    • ACT: composite score of 23 or greater
    • ASTB: 4 AQR/ 5 PFAR (or greater)
    • ASVAB: GT score of 109 or greater (110 if taken prior to July 1, 2004). GT score is derived by combining the VE and AR scores

OCS-T Terms of Service:

On commissioning, which occurs upon graduation from OCS, members will be discharged from their enlisted status and commissioned as a Coast Guard officer with an initial three-year active-duty obligation.

OCS-T Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What substantiates as meeting the college level math requirement?
    • Successfully passing a CLEP mathematics exam
    • Satisfactorily complete a 100 series (or above) college math class (010 series; i.e. "pre-requisite" math classes do not count)
  2. What substantiates as "active-duty time-in-service" to meet the four* years of active-duty time-in-service requirement*?
    • Regular active-duty
    • EAD (if currently on an EAD contract, the contract must cover the period up to and including the graduation date for OCS)
    • Title 10
    • ADOS
    • *Remember, at least two of the four years of service must be active-duty Coast Guard service.
  3. Does active-duty for training (ADT) count for active-duty time-in-service?
    • No
  4. If I am on the advancement list for E-5, am I eligible for OCS-T?
    • Not necessarily: you may complete and submit your application, but if you do not advance by the date the selection panel convenes, your application will be pulled.
  5. What if I have previously been an E-5, but reverted, am I eligible for OCS-T?
    • If you were reverted to an E-4 due to a change in rate in accordance with Article 3.A.2.a.(2) of the Coast Guard Enlisted Accessions, Evaluations, and Promotions Manual, COMDTINST M1000.2, and you previously served satisfactorily as an E-5 in the Coast Guard, you are eligible to apply for OCS-T.
  6. What if I received a degree outside of the United States?
    • You must have a detailed credential evaluation report prepared by an education service in the United States.
  7. If I have a degree, can I apply for both OCS-R and OCS-T?
    • No. If you are eligible for OCS-T, then you are no longer eligible for OCS-R.

RESERVE COMMISSION (OCS-R) Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Age:  Have reached your 21st but not your 31st birthday as of September 30 of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.
  2. Character Standards:
    • All applicants must be of outstanding moral character.
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a secret clearance
  5. Dependency:
    • Applicants not currently in the Coast Guard may not have more than three dependents
    • If single, may not have sole or primary custody of dependents
  6. Education:
    • Have a baccalaureate or higher degree and
    • Have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA
  7. Financial:
    • May not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years
  8. Military Service:  (all of the below must apply)
    • Members currently in another military service must furnish a signed/approved DD368 (conditional release).
    • Non-Coast Guard applicants may have no more than six years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service.
    • Commissioned officers separated or removed from active-duty from any service as a result of non-selection for promotion, extension, or integration may not apply for any Coast Guard commissioning program.
  9. Coast Guard Members:
    • Coast Guard reservists must furnish a signed/approved DD368 (conditional release).
    • Coast Guard (who meet all other eligibility requirements for OCS-R) cannot be an E-5 by the date of the selection panel convening and have more than four years time-in-service by the date of the first OCS course convening following the selection panel. This also means if you have more than four years of time and service by the date of the first OCS course convening following the selection panel, but have not yet advanced to E-5 by the date of the selection panel, you are eligible for OCS-R. Likewise, if you are an E-5 or above, and have less than four years of time in service by the date of the first OCS course convening following the selection panel, you are eligible for OCS-R.
    • Example: 1) A CG member who is an E-4 with five years' time in service on the date of the selection panel is eligible for OCS-R.
    • Example: 2) A CG member who is an E-5 by the date of the selection panel, but has only three years time in service (and will not exceed four years time in service by the date of the first OCS course convening following the selection panel) is eligible for OCS-R.
    • Example 3) A CG member who is an E-6 by the date of the selection panel, but has only three years of service by the date of the first OCS course convening following the selection panel is eligible for OCS-R.
    • Example 4) A CG member who is an E-4 with four years of time in service, who is on the advancement list and does not advance by the date of the selection is eligible for OCS-R.
  10. Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
    • Normal color vision
    • Meet height/weight standards
    • Must submit a health and physical pre-assessment 30 days prior to reporting to OCS (detailed in the OCS
    • Must be able to pass a physical fitness test and swim test prior to graduation from OCS (see Appendix 2)
  11. Test Score:  Receive a qualifying score in one of the following (test scores are valid indefinitely)
    • SAT I: 1100 or greater combined score (math and critical reading)
    • ACT: Composite score of 23 or greater
    • ASTB: 4 AQR/ 5 PFAR (or greater)
    • ASVAB: GT score of 109 or greater (110 if taken prior to 1 July 2004). GT score is derived by combining the VE and AR scores

OCS-R Terms of Service:

On commissioning, which occurs upon graduation from OCS, members will be discharged from their enlisted status and commissioned as a Coast Guard officer with an initial three-year active-duty obligation in the Coast Guard Reserve.

OCS-R Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Can I be eligible to apply to both OCS-R and OCS-T?
    • No, if you meet the eligibility criteria to apply to OCS-T, you cannot apply to OCS-R.
  2. I am a senior in college, can I apply to OCS-R before I graduate?
    • Yes, you will need to have a letter in your application from your college's registrar's office that specifies your projected graduation date. This will take the place of a copy of your degree in your application.
  3. I want to be a pilot in the Coast Guard, but I don't meet the requirements for DCA. How do I apply to be a pilot?
    • There are several avenues, but you first must be selected to OCS. If you do extremely well at OCS (i.e. your class rank is very high) via a combination of high performance physically, academically, and via military duties, then you are likely to receive the assignment of your choice based on service needs. Typically, there are several aviation training assignments available to each OCS graduating class; and if you apply at this point, you are likely to be given the consideration to the program (keep in mind that you must medically qualify via a flight physical). If you are not selected for flight training at OCS, then you may continue to apply after you have accepted your initial assignment as an officer and reported for duty. Flight selection panels for officers who are already in the Coast Guard typically convene twice a year. Maintaining high performance at your assigned Coast Guard unit, receiving a strong endorsement from your command, and accomplishing a qualifying ASTB score will assist you in your goal.

Application Process:

If you are ready to apply, you must visit the program forms and deadlines page and follow the application process, which includes downloading the forms and all necessary application elements appropriate for the OCS program.

For more information download the OCS Guide below. It will help prepare you for your initial transition to your OCS class.