Becoming an Officer
The National Guard depends on strong leaders. Are you capable of stepping up to fill that role as a commissioned officer? If you think you are up to the challenge, check out the two paths available to you--Officer Candidate School and Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Officer Candidate School

Officers are the Army’s leaders. They plan training and lead Soldiers all over the world. Rising through the ranks, commissioned officers become managers and problem-solvers. They maintain a commitment to excellence, make critical decisions, lead every mission and guide Army Soldiers by the thousands. They take responsibility for the safety and freedom of Americans all over the world. Their training encourages the development of leadership and problem-solving skills that make them sought after by civilian employers. And the place where they’re made is Officer Candidate School.

Michigan offers candidates 12 different branches to choose from for their career:

  • Transportation
  • Infantry
  • Military Intelligence
  • Engineer
  • Signal
  • Armor
  • Military Police
  • Law
  • Chemical
  • Ordnance
  • Quartermaster
  • Medical

OCS is an intense leadership training ground. It’s physically and mentally challenging, and not everyone’s cut out for it. But those who are accepted, and make it through, agree it’s one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.

You’ve got options. There are two options for attending OCS, as outlined in this brochure. After speaking with a recruiter, you’ll choose the best one for you based on your specific circumstances, such as your work and family commitments.

Accelerated OCS

Accelerated OCS Takes place at Fort McClellan, AL. Soldiers attend eight weeks straight, seven days a week. Accelerated OCS takes place twice a year; January through March and June through August. Both classes are 57 day courses.

Traditional OCS

Traditional OCS takes place at Fort Custer Training Center and is taught by the Regional Training Institute (RTI). Soldiers meet on weekends only, between 14-16 months, plus 2 two-week periods.

  • Pre-Phase: Zero phase consists of 5-day orientation style instruction, set-up to give the candidates an overview of what they can expect and what will be expected of them at OCS. Areas covered include military courtesy, advanced land navigation, troop leading procedures, dining hall procedures, proper clothing displays and more.
  • Phase I: Phase I is the first step in the OCS commissioning process. During this phase candidates will conduct land navigation, a field leadership exercise, a 5-mile foot march and cover Army Training Management and advanced map reading.
  • Phase II: Phase II makes up the bulk of a candidates OCS experience. During this phase candidates will conduct a field leadership exercise, a 7- and 10-mile foot march and a 3-mile formation run. Also, the candidates will cover Operations, Leadership doctrine, Military Justice, Military Intelligence, Supply activities, Military Heritage and History, Tactics, Call for Fire and Communicative skills.
  • Phase III: Phase III is the last step in the OCS commissioning process, this phase covers troop leading procedures, the leadership reaction course, the final field leadership exercise, infantry squad tactics, combat water survival training and a tactical exercise without troops (TEWT).


Before starting the OCS application process, please take a moment to read the prerequisite list. This will help you avoid delays and problems when filing your application.

  • Must be a US Citizen prior to commissioning.
  • Must attend OBC within 18 months of commissioning.
  • Must have completed BCT and AIT or other military service equivalent. (AIT can be waived for those Soldiers enlisting into the Army National Guard for the OCS Option. Contact your local recruiter for details on the OCS Enlistment Option).
  • GT score of 110 or higher.
  • Must have 90 credit hours from an accredited College or University to enroll.
  • The minimum age for enrollment is 18 years.
  • The maximum age for enrollment is the age that will allow the applicant to complete the program prior to reaching age 42.
  • Must pass the APFT upon entering the program and again prior to commissioning.
  • Must pass a Commissioning Physical prior to Phase I and within 24 months of commissioning.
  • Must have a current PHA within 12 months of commissioning date.
  • Must meet the height weight standards in accordance with AR 600-9.


Becoming a Soldier in the Army National Guard comes with its benefits. As an officer, you receive many of the same benefits, to include:

  • Higher pay
  • Student Loan Repayment Program
  • Medical, Dental & Life Insurance
  • PX & Commissary Privileges
  • Retirement Pension
  • Space A Travel
  • And much more!

Reserve Officer Training Corps

Guard Soldiers

Guard Soldiers may be exempt from ROTC Basic Course (MS I & II) because of military training and experience. Instead, Guard Soldiers may qualify to enroll directly into Advanced ROTC (MS III & IV). During the school week, SMP Cadets participate in all ROTC classes, labs and field training exercises. On training weekends, SMP Cadets are mentored in their assigned unit. During these weekends, Cadets wear their ROTC designation and carry out duties of new 2LTs in a supervised, on-the-job training environment.

Attend College

The next step is to be accepted and attend a college or university offering Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) courses.

Once this is accomplished:

  • Complete an SMP Agreement Contract before your Sophomore or Junior year
  • Take the contract to your school’s ROTC department and enroll in the ROTC Advanced Course (the Advanced Course averages seven hours per week; one 2-hour class, one 2-hour lab, and 3-hours of physical fitness)
  • Begin ROTC classes
  • Continue attending Guard unit training assemblies

ROTC Advanced Camp

After completion of Military Science III (Junior year), SMP Cadets attend a six-week ROTC Advanced Camp at Fort Lewis, WA instead of AT.

After camp:

  • Return to school for Senior year
  • Enroll in and complete Military Science IV


Once classes are complete, SMP Cadets can apply for graduation and receive their commission as Second Lieutenants (2LT) in the Army National Guard or United States Army.

Traditionally, ROTC consists of three phases: Basic Course, Advanced Course & Advanced Camp.

Basic Course

Basic Course refers to freshman and sophomore level ROTC classes; Military Science (MS) I and II. These classes cover subjects like military history, traditions and organizations, and national defense. A strong emphasis on leadership development is prevalent the first two years. This offers a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on leadership skills while in college.

Advanced Course

This final phase consists of the last two years of the ROTC program, MS III and IV. The curriculum focuses on preparation for the challenges of military leadership. To enter this course, you must have already completed one of the following:

  • Army Basic Combat Training
  • Basic Leadership Training Course
  • Complete MS I & II

During your Junior year, you will combine classroom instruction and practical application focusing on land navigation, military tactics and how to prepare and present operation orders.

Your Senior year focuses on Cadet leadership positions, leadership challenges and preparation to become a 2LT. You will also be responsible for training and evaluating Cadets currently going through MS I & II.

Advanced Camp

This segment of a Cadet’s training provides one-third of the evaluation for accession and branch selection at commissioning. Here you will train to Army standards, refine leadership skills, and evaluate officer potential.

This phase is intentionally tough and stressful. The days are long with considerable night training. Throughout, a Cadet encounters physical and mental obstacles, challenging him/her as a person, Soldier, and leader. Training:

  • is primarily conducted in small unit, tactical sessions
  • sequenced in a logical, building-block manner
  • covers basic military skills for leading Soldiers in tactical environments
  • forces Cadets to serve in positions of leadership from squad to company level
  • serves as a basis to evaluate Cadets on their leadership, organization and teamwork abilities
  • allows camp instructors ample opportunities to advise, coach and evaluate a Cadet’s potential.

Michigan ROTC Universities