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Requirements to Enlist

Before You Head to the Recruiter

The requirements to become a Marine:

  • Between 17 and 29 years old

  • Pass a DOD Medical Examination

  • Possess a High School Diploma (or GED equivalent)

  • US Citizen or resident (resident's will receive citizenship upon graduation)

  • Pass the Initial Strength Test (IST)

  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test

Read on to learn more about each requirement.

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Age Requirements

You can Enlist starting at 17

To Enlist, prospective Marines must be between 17 and 29 years of age.

17 year-olds are able to Enlist if they have permission from a parent or legal guardian. With their signature, you may enlist at 17. 

At age 18, you are free to sign for yourself.

There are age waivers occasionally for prospective Marines over age 29, although they are rare. To learn more about age waivers, reach out to your local recruiting office.


Medical Examination

Ensuring You Are Healthy

The Military requires you to be in generally healthy medical condition before you can enlist. They will perform a physical exam and review of your medical record to ensure you can serve.

There are numerous medical conditions that can get you disqualified from military service.


Some of these are to be expected, such as missing limbs, psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular disorders, hormonal, gastrointestinal, or other systemic conditions.

Others may be more surprising. We have heard of disqualification due to food allergies, thyroid issues, and orthopedic injuries.

Waivers exist for everything, so if you believe you may be disqualified, ask your recruiter. Even if you are temporarily disqualified, you can request a waiver.

Education Requirements

High School Diploma

Marines are strict about education standards. The stigma that Marines do not value education is flat-out false.

To join the Marine Corps you must be a High School Graduate. If you have not yet graduated high school, you can join the Delayed Entry Program and will be able to properly enlist once you receive your diploma.

In certain circumstances, the Marines will accept highly qualified candidates that receive a GED (a test indicating you have the knowledge of a High School Graduate in lieu of a diploma).

Prospective Marines with college level courses may become eligible for signing a contract ensuring they will come in at a higher rank (Private First Class) instead of beginning as a Private.

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Citizens or Visa Holders

You must be a citizen or legal immigrant to the US in order to be eligible to enlist. The Marines will not bring foreign nationals to the United States to serve in the military.

Native born or naturalized citizens can serve without restriction. 


A legal immigrant must possess an I–551 Permanent Residence Card (Green Card).


If you have eligibility questions, contact your recruiting office. One of the perks of serving in the military is that many Marines receive their citizenship upon graduation from Boot Camp. Additionally, there are programs that help you receive citizenship for your family as well.

Pictured left are Marines who earned their citizenship upon Graduation from Parris Island's Kilo Company in September of 2017. They are Pfc. Pabel Reyes Polanco, Dominican Republic; Pfc. Sayfullakhuja Nurullakhonov, Uzbekistan; Pfc. Paul Lacarta, Philippines; Pvt. Zhiyuan Quan, China; Pvt. David-Mathieu Lewis, Jamaica; Pvt. Muataz Al Dujaili, Iraq; Pvt. Louis Estiverne, Haiti; Pfc. Deshaun Cookson, Jamaica; Pfc. Kevin Gonzalez Murcia, El Salvador; Pvt. Fernando Bermudez Canizares, Cuba; Pvt. Pablo Vergara, Chile; Pvt. Louis Urmeneta, Peru.

Physical Fitness

You Must Pass an IST to Ship to Boot Camp

The Initial Strength Test, or IST, is composed of abdominal crunches, pullups, and a 1.5 mile run.  Poolees and Recruits have the option of completing push-ups in lieu of the pullup portion.  

IST Minimum Requirements:

  • Males  

    • Crunch:  44

    • Pullup:    3 or Push-up:  34

    • Run:       13:30

  • Females

    • Crunch:  44

    • Pullup:   1 or Push-up:  15

    • Run:      15:00


If you need help preparing, check out some of our workout guides in the Shop.



Testing Your Mental Capacity

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, is an exam that tests your skills in certain functional areas. It is timed, multiple choice, and graded on a percentile scale.


The Minimum score to enter the Marine Corps is a 32.

Components of your test score will determine what MOS's you are eligible for. Of particular importance is the GT score - the general technical knowledge portion.

To prepare for the ASVAB, purchase an ASVAB prep book and see how you score. If you score less than a 50, you should really study to make sure you are eligible for all MOS's.

To study, determine which sections of the exam you are struggling with. These will be the ones you scored lowest on in your practice exams. Then get a tutor to help you out.

We offer tutoring services and can definitely help you get your scores up. Click here to learn more.

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