Drill Instructor shouts at recruits

Marine Corps Boot Camp and Officer Candidates School: What to Expect

Marine Corps Basic Recruit Training is the first step in preparing you mentally and physically to serve. The second step is the School of Infantry, where you'll develop core skills for service.

On the officer path? Marine Corps Officer Candidates School will evaluate you on leadership, academics and physical training. After you earn your commission as a second lieutenant, you'll head to the Basic School where you’ll develop the leadership, knowledge and esprit de corps that define the Marine Corps.

What you need to know about Basic Recruit Training

Marine Corps Basic Recruit Training has two locations:

  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California

Your training location is determined based on where you live in the U.S. All female recruits are trained at Parris Island.

The 12-week Marine Corps Recruit Training program

The training focuses on physical and academic challenges, and tactical training. You can expect:

  • Medical evaluations
  • An initial strength test of
    • Pull-ups or flexed-arm hang
    • Crunches
    • Timed 1.5 mile run
  • Classroom instruction
    • Marine Corps culture and traditions
    • Personal conduct
    • Military history
    • First aid
  • Leadership Training
    • Lead teammates through obstacle and confidence courses
    • Accomplish tasks with minimal direction
    • Take on leadership roles within the platoon
  • Hand-to-hand combat training
    • Bayonet
    • Pugil sticks
    • Marine Corps Martial Arts
  • Rappelling: Controlled slide down a rope
  • Combat water survival
    • Swim with gear and supplies
    • Assist a casualty in full gear
  • Rifle training: Firing an M-16 from standing, kneeling, seated and prone positions
  • Confidence course
    • Course of 11 obstacles
    • Complete individually and as part of a group
  • Basic warrior training
    • Repair equipment
    • Negotiate obstacles
    • Use camouflage
    • Cover and concealment
    • Hand and arm signals
    • Identify mine and improvised explosive devices
  • Use a compass and map: Identify your position on a map using landmarks
  • Day movement: Recruits learn to stay together in tactical scenarios and ensure each other's safety.

Week 11: The final test—the Crucible

  • Marines with a military occupational specialty of infantry are trained for 59 days at the Infantry Training Battalion
  • Non-infantry Marines are trained for 29 days at the Marine Combat Training Battalion
  • There are two schools of infantry - Camp Geiger, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California.

After graduation: The second stage of training, the School of Infantry

  • Marines with a military occupational specialty of infantry are trained for 59 days at the Infantry Training Battalion
  • Non-infantry Marines are trained for 29 days at the Marine Combat Training Battalion
  • There are two schools of infantry - Camp Geiger, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California.

Marine Corps Officer Candidates School

There are several paths to Officer Candidate School:

  • U.S. Naval Academy
    • Must be nominated to the Academy by a member of Congress or the President of the United States.
    • Begins with the Plebe Summer, seven weeks of physical training, naval education, and moral and ethical development
    • After graduating from the four-year U.S. Naval Academy, you will be commissioned as a Marine officer.
  • Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps
    • College students in this four-year military scholarship program attend class, receive military education and participate in Marine Corps training courses while working toward their degree.
    • Graduates continue their training at Officer Candidates School after receiving their bachelor's degree.
  • Enlisted Commissioning Program: Active-duty enlisted Marines with a bachelor's degree who demonstrate exceptional leadership and a desire to advance may apply to Officer Candidates School.
  • Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program: This program offers enlisted Marines who demonstrate exceptional leadership and a desire to advance the chance to go to a four-year college full time while maintaining active-duty status and pay.
  • The Meritorious Commissioning Program Reserve
    • Commanding officers may nominate qualified enlisted Marines in the Marine Corps Active Reserve Program to Officer Candidates School and subsequent commissioning in the Marine Corps Reserve.
    • Candidates must have an associate degree or 75 credit hours of actual college work.

Officer Candidates School, the Basic School and specialized training

This multi-stage officer training process trains, screens and evaluates officer candidates.

  • Officer Candidates School located at Quantico, Virginia, focuses on developing leadership, academic and physical abilities.
  • The Basic School is a six-month program in Quantico, Virginia, building on everything you've learned so far:
    • You must have completed Officer Candidates School
    • You'll participate in a five-day offensive/defensive exercise and a four-day combat exercise, beginning with a helicopter assault
  • Specialized training follows the Basic School. You'll receive training in a military occupational specialty at ground, flight or Naval justice school.