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How do I Go From Enlisted to an Officer in the Army?

by Eric Strauss

Sometimes, noncommissioned personnel in the U.S. Army are not content advancing through the enlisted ranks, but instead want to earn an officer's commission. One of the major requirements for such a promotion is that the would-be lieutenant must hold a four-year college degree. To help with this requirement and smooth the path for enlisted men and women who want to become officers, the Army has created the "Green to Gold Program."

Three Paths to Glory

The Green to Gold Program gives soldiers on active duty three basic options for earning a college degree. All three involve the Army ROTC, which trains college students to become officers. Soldiers who are selected for the program can either leave active duty to attend college full-time with a scholarship or stipend, or earn their degree while remaining on active duty. Upon completion of one of the three programs, the soldier not only earns a degree, he earns a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army.

The Scholarship Path

Army division commanders can nominate deserving soldiers for a two- to four-year scholarship that enables them to attend college as ROTC cadets. The scholarship length is based upon how much college credit the soldier already possesses, meaning a soldier without any college credit receives a four-year scholarship, but a soldier with an associate's degree would receive a two-year scholarship to complete a bachelor's degree. The scholarship covers either tuition or room and board, plus books and a monthly stipend. Those seeking to enter this program must meet a variety of requirements both military and academic, including a minimum of two years of active duty service time.

The Non-Scholarship Path

The non-scholarship path is open to soldiers with two years of college credit, who thus need only two years to earn a bachelor's degree. This option also provides soldiers with a stipend as they work toward their degree as ROTC cadets. Although this option also requires recommendation from superiors, the only other requirements are an age limit that can be waived, and a grade-point average requirement. Unlike the scholarship option, there is no service time requirement.

The Active Duty Path

Soldiers who wish to remain on active duty can still earn their degree through the Green to Gold Program. These soldiers must be able to earn the degree in two years, and do not receive a scholarship. Instead, they are paid their active duty salary and allowances for the two years they are in the ROTC program. Like the scholarship option, this choice has a variety of military and academic requirements, including the two years of active duty service time.

About the Author

Eric Strauss spent 12 years as a newspaper copy editor, eventually serving as a deputy business editor at "The Star-Ledger" in New Jersey before transitioning into academic communications. His byline has appeared in several newspapers and websites. Strauss holds a B.A. in creative writing/professional writing and recently earned an M.A. in English literature.

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