Will My Master’s Studies Take Me Past The OCS Age Limit?

Question

This spring, I will finish my undergraduate studies as a 23-year old. Someday, I want to do my Masters. If I do it right after I’m done with my undergrad, I’ll be 25 once I’m finished.

Is there an age limit to do OCS? What options do I have?

Response

marine-flares-nightIf you want to do your Masters, we wholeheartedly recommend doing it sooner rather than later. Once you’re in the Marine Corps, you don’t get “time off” to pursue your own educational goals.

As for your age, you can apply without a waiver up to 28. Additionally, we personally know several officers who attended OCS in the 30-32 range with the help of a strong application or resume along with an age waiver.

Another option is to go Reserves and be a full-time student, part-time officer. It’s an option to go from Reserves to Active once you get your MBA.

Anyone Else?

Have you faced this situation? Do you have any different advice? Feel free to share any other thoughts in a comment below. (You can do it anonymously.)

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7 thoughts on “Will My Master’s Studies Take Me Past The OCS Age Limit?

  1. Not a Marine officer here, but I can speak from the other side of the coin.

    After college, I had two plans: (1) earn my Ph.D. (with M.S. degree en-route), and (2) become a Marine officer. Now I’m 31 and too old for an age waiver even with a 290+ PFT and stellar undergrad and grad GPA. My local OSO staff said I could’ve gotten an age waiver a few years ago, but not now with a downsizing Corps. “Try the Army…” Tough luck for me. (NB: a fellow Ph.D. student in my dept commissioned in the Army via ROTC during grad school).

    I regret not making OCS a priority while I was still eligible and in better physical condition. You’re only 20-something-young once. As a fresh Ph.D., I’ll tell you that grad school can wait. Many science grad students are 30+ yrs old, many with experience working in the industry + a few military vets. You can probably use that post-service GI Bill for an MBA, MD, JD (+ many other graduate programs offer free tuition in exchange for teaching or research assistantships).

    Can anyone comment on taking graduate courses after commissioning? Maybe not “time off”, but down time waiting, say between OCS and TBS or TBS and MOS school? Anyone with experience using the “Advanced Degree Program” or “Special Education Program”? see http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO%201560.19E.pdf

  2. You won’t make it very far in your career as an officer, or senior enlisted, if you don’t make time for continuing your education. You may not be able to pursue the Master’s program you truly seek, but after a career as a Marine Officer you will undoubtedly be put into positions which earn you credit towards a Master’s Degree.

  3. I feel compelled to comment on this thread, since I chose a similar path to that proposed in the original inquiry. I am 25, hold an M.A. in English, and was recently selected as part of the OCC 218 board.

    Since the time investment required for a Master’s degree is fairly short, I would personally recommend pursuing your Master’s degree as soon as possible, although this advice assumes that you are energized and prepared to devote yourself to another two years of study with little to no interlude. The worth of your degree will likely be directly proportional to the amount of enthusiasm you are willing to pour into it, so if you’re feeling drained from your undergraduate work, accruing applicable work and life experience or proceeding directly to an OSO may be more beneficial.

    That said, I suspect that a graduate degree will significantly bolster your application, should you still choose to pursue Marine Officer candidacy once you complete your degree.

    1. Just wanted to share my point of view. I too am 25, with an M.A. in History and was recently selected for occ-219. I believe the advantage of going ahead and entering a graduate program centers on all the time it gives you. Over the two year period you can really forge a good relationship with your OSO and the other staff. With all the paperwork and curveballs the selection process throws at you, this is invaluable. Secondly, it gives you time to get your PFT as high as possible.

      My office sent 19 guys and no one was below 285 PFT, so it really is a crucial part of your application. Having a solid PFT and a graduate degree is really going to separate you from the pack. But forging a good relationship can be the most advantageous thing you do.

      Originally, I had missed the deadline for the 218 because my medical clearance was delayed. I received my medical clearance two days before the board met. The Captain called me and said he was informed that he needed to send one more before the board. He chose me and I was selected. If it was not for the time I spent proving to the OSO how dedicated I was to being selected, who knows if I would have ever been selected.

      Point being, really get to know your OSO office. That includes everyone, the Captain, the Gunny and the person who processes all the paperwork. These guys will bend over backwards to get you selected if you invest the time in proving you want to be there.

      Good Luck

  4. I’m considering wanting to go to OCS. I’ll be 33 when I complete my Masters in Social Work with focus in Military Social Work. I had done 8 years as a reserve and left as a Sergeant.

    What would I need to do to get an age waiver?

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