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As a Reservist, What are My Army Officer Commissioning Options?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m currently in the Army Reserve as an E-5 and I’m enrolled in the last two classes I need to complete a BA. My question is what are my options in pursuing a commission in the Army? — Paul

A: Paul, there are four ways to become an Army officer, however, only three could pertain to you being you are about to complete your BA degree:

  • Army ROTC;
  • Direct Commission;
  • Officer Candidate School (OCS).

The fourth way is an appointment to WestPoint. Because you almost already have your BA, you wouldn’t be accepted at WestPoint.

If you plan to continue using your education benefits to further your schooling by pursuing a graduate degree, you can join the Army’s two-year ROTC program. At the end of two years, you need to receive your graduate degree and then you would be commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

If you plan on going into the Medical, JAG, or Chaplian Corps, you may qualify for a Direct Commission. With a Direct Commission, your officer rank is determined by your professional branch, so you could start out higher than a Second Lieutenant. You usually need to be towards the end of graduate school before being considered for a Direct Commission.

Probably, the most viable way (and the quickest) for you to become an Army officer is via Officer Candidate School (OCS). Being you already have Basic Training and about to receive your BA degree, you would need to attend the 12-week course at Ft. Benning. At OCS, you will learn to plan and lead in both field and non-field environments.

Your best bet is to discuss all these officer commissioning options and graduate education benefits further with an Army Recruiter.

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