We see this topic come around a lot, so we developed this page to answer your commissioning questions.

Q: If I have a degree, should I come in as an officer or as enlisted?

As with most of our recruiter answers, it depends on your situation. What type of degree do you have? What was your GPA? What are your personal and professional goals? Coming into the Air Force as an officer can be extremely competitive, and our line officer recruiters will often only submit their most highly qualified applicants to the boards for consideration. In many cases, if your degree and/or GPA don’t match what the Air Force is looking for they will recommend you contact an Enlisted Accessions recruiter to help you come in where you can apply for OTS (Officer Training School) after 2 years.

Q: Once I’m in, what commissioning programs exist for Airmen that want to commission?

There are three main paths for enlisted members to earn a commission, to include, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, Officer Training School, and the Leaders Encouraging Airman Development program.

“Airmen who are within 365 days of completing a bachelor’s degree will have to apply to Officer Training School in order to receive a commission,” said Susan Sorrell, 325th Force Support Squadron education services specialist. “ROTC programs are for Airmen who are in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, but are not within 365 days of earning their undergraduate degree.”


According to airforce.com, the following are ROTC programs that Airmen can apply to: Scholarships for Outstanding Airmen to ROTC, Airman Scholarship and Commissioning Program, Professional Officer Course-Early Release Program, and the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning program.

“With ROTC commissioning programs, Airmen are released from active-duty, becoming full-time students and Air Force reservists,” Sorrell said. “Upon graduation, program participants earn the rank of second lieutenant and will then return to active-duty status.”

Each ROTC program has varying requirements, but general guidelines for entry. To include age restrictions, completion of a specified amount of college credits, and a satisfactory cumulative GPA. For more information on each programs eligibility requirements visit www.afrotc.com.


“To have a competitive [OTS] submission, applicants should demonstrate the whole Airmen concept in their package,” Sorrell said. “Airmen must meet a grade point average of at least 2.5, undergo an interview process, receive their commander’s recommendation and take the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test.”

To apply for OTS search for Air Force Recruiting Service (AFRS) and select “apply for commission (Active Duty Enlisted Airmen).” The direct link is at www.my.af.mil. Full eligibility requirements are listed in AFI 36-2013.


The LEAD program gives enlisted members the opportunity to earn a college degree at the Air Force Academy. In reference to airforce.com, 170 slots are available annually for Airmen to be nominated by commanders to attend the Air Force Academy and the Academy Prep School.

“This program [LEAD] has strict requirements for entry,” Sorrell said.

The following are the eligibility requirements for acceptance into the program:

· For direct entry into the Air Force Academy, the applicant cannot reach their 23rd birthday by July 1 of the year of entry
· For entry into the Prep School, the applicant cannot reach their 22nd birthday by July 1 of the year of entry
· Must be unmarried and not pregnant
· Must complete AF Form 1786 and submit an online application (the form is due to Office of Admissions by Dec. 31)

For additional guidance about the LEAD program or the Air Force Academy visit the following website: http://www.academyadmissions.com/admissions/advice-to-applicants/enlisted-airmen/

For more information, feel free to contact us for additional guidance!