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Direct Commission Selected School (DCSS) Program


College graduates who have been exposed to military training through collegiate-level Armed Services Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, equivalent regimented programs at select colleges (enumerated below) or other Federal military academies, while earning an undergraduate degree are eligible to apply to the Coast Guard’s DCSS program.  DCSS seeks to offer direct commissions to high performing individuals who have already proven their leadership ability and desire to serve others through rigorous programs.  Typically, a broad range of mission fields are available to DCSS graduates for their initial assignment in the Coast Guard.  These possibilities include but are not limited to assignment to a Coast Guard sector as a member of the response or prevention department, or assignment afloat on a Coast Guard cutter.

Initial Assignments and Training:

DCSSs work with a Coast Guard assignment officer following selection. The assignment officer will review the individual’s education, experience and qualifications, in addition to their expressed assignment interests, and assign orders to a position at a Coast Guard field unit that best aligns the selectee’s talents & potential with the needs of the Coast Guard.  Following commissioning (which occurs approximately 30 days prior to attending the Direct Commission Officer (DCO) course in New London, Connecticut) new officers will execute permanent change of station (PCS) orders and report directly to their first unit for a brief period. DCSSs will then go TDY to the DCO course.  The DCO course will be 4-5 weeks in duration.  At DCO training, DCSSs receive initial indoctrination to the traditions and programs of the service, and training on service specific administration essentials needed for their success as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard.  Following completion of DCO training, DCSSs will return to their unit.

Career Path:

During subsequent assignments, DCSS officers can expect to broaden their experience within the operational community to which they were initially assigned- with increasing levels of leadership and management exposure with progression in rank. DCSS officers have opportunities for special assignments and assignments within sub-specialties, including intelligence, human resources, engineering and C4IT, international affairs, legal, recruiting, financial management and training.

DCSS Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Age: Have reached your 21st but not your 42nd birthday as of 30 September of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.
  2. Character Standards:
    • All applicants must be of outstanding moral character.
    • Applicants currently in the Coast Guard: Applicants are ineligible for commissioning if in the 36 months prior to the first DCO class panel date in the selection cycle, they have been convicted by a court-martial, been awarded non-judicial punishment (NJP), received an “Unsatisfactory” conduct mark, received a mark of less than “4” in any performance dimension, received a negative Administrative, or been involved in an alcohol-related incident.
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. Citizen
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a Secret Clearance
  5. Dependency:
    • May not have more than 3 dependents (your spouse is considered your dependent, regardless of military status).
    • Coast Guard active duty applicants, E-5 and above, with a minimum of four years active military service (excluding active duty for training), at least two years of which must be Coast Guard active duty service may have sole or primary custody of dependents.
    • All eligible applicants must provide a dependent care plan with an indefinite general Power of Attorney.
  6. Education:
    • Must have a baccalaureate or higher from one of the following schools and have been a participating member of the corps of cadets, ROTC, or equivalent regimented program:
      • The Citadel
      • Mary Baldwin College, Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership
      • University of North Georgia
      • Norwich University
      • Prairie View A&M University
      • Texas A&M University
      • Virginia Military Institute
      • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
      • Federal Service Academies (at least 2 years at a federal service academy including the United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, and United States Military Academy (West Point).
    • Graduates of other institutions with solid academic curricula and strong ROTC or corps of cadets programs will be considered by CGRC on a case-by-case basis.
      • ROTC: at least two years of ROTC must have been successfully completed to be considered.
    • College Seniors: are eligible to apply if all of the below are met:
      • Baccalaureate degree will be conferred prior to commissioning date, which will occur approximately 30 days prior to the first DCO course convening for which the panel is making selections.
      • The applicant provides an official letter from their college registrar certifying their enrollment, degree, major, GPA, and anticipated date of graduation.
    • Foreign Degrees: Applicants who have degrees conferred by a foreign school shall include in their application a course-by-course assessment from an organization such as Education Credential Evaluators, in addition to the inclusion of the translation of their degree (if in a language other than English).
    • Baccalaureate or higher degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (college seniors graduating after the application deadline must provide a letter from their academic institution indicating their degree major, GPA, and the date their degree will be conferred).
  7. Financial: Must meet all financial obligations, and not have a debt to income ratio in excess of 80% (ratio of debt to projected income at applicant’s highest accession level i.e. O-1).
    • May not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years
    • Student Loans: applicants shall also disclose to their recruiter any student loan payments that are in deferment, and the anticipated date and amount of repayment of those loans. 
  8. Interview: DCSS applicants must receive the recommendation of a Coast Guard interview board, administered by 3 Coast Guard Officers.
  9. Military Service:
    • Not required
    • Max Active Duty Service: Have less than 10 years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service as of commissioning date, which is equivalent to the date that the applicant, if selected, will take their oath of office.
    • Coast Guard Officers:
      • ADPL Officers: Applicants currently holding a commission in the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Reserve who are on the Active Duty Promotion List (ADPL) are not eligible to apply.  
      • IDPL Officers: If a Reserve Officer on the Inactive Duty Promotion List (IDPL) meets the eligibility criteria, he/she may apply for the program, provided a conditional resignation, approved by CG-PSC-rpm, is included in the application package.
    • Commissioned Officers: who have been 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.
    • Conditional Release: Members currently in another military service (or IRR) and CG Reservists must furnish an approved DD368 form (conditional release) in their application package.  
    • Release approval (validity) period: The release shall be valid, at a minimum, through the date of the panels for which the applicant is applying.  Ideally, the release should be valid through the projected accession date for that panel.
    • CG Reservists, CG IRR, and Other Military Service IRR: Recruiters shall submit the DD368 (with only Section I complete) to CGRC Accessions branch at
    • CG Active Duty Enlisted: do not need a conditional release
    • Members of Other Military Services (except IRR): The applicant shall submit the DD368 (with Section I complete) through their chain of command to their services’ authorizing official* (which is different for each service).  Once approved, the DD368 and any other approval documents (i.e. Service Memorandum) shall be submitted in the application package.
  10. Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
    • Normal Color Vision
    • Meet height/weight standards:
    • CG members: Must meet MAW or Body Fat standards as per COMDTINST M1020.8H
    • Shall complete a structured physical fitness program while at DCO School.
  11. Test Score:  There is no test score requirement for DCSS applicants
  12. Tattoos: Applicants may not have tattoos or body markings that are inconsistent with the CG tattoo, body marking, body piercing, and mutilation policy. 
  13. DCO Pre-Reporting Guide: Applicants must have read and understood the DCO Pre-Reporting Guide.

DCSS Terms of Service and Appointment Grade:

  1. On commissioning, applications will receive a three year active duty obligation and will be commissioned as an Ensign (O-1).

Application Process

If you are ready to apply, you must visit the “Plan Your Next Move to become an Active Duty Coast Guard Officer” page and follow the application process.