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Officer Waivers

What will the Marine Corps potentially look past?

Everyone who joins the Marine Corps has a history before they don the uniform.


Unfortunately, in very few cases, that past can disqualify individuals from becoming a Marine. 

To evaluate exceptions to disqualifications, the Marines allow waivers to be requested by applicants or their recruiters.

Read on to learn more about the waiver process and how to earn a commission if you are disqualified on your first try.

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What is a Waiver

The waiver process is utilized to evaluate case-by-case exceptions on medical, legal, and other factors which preclude candidates from serving as a Marine.  Waivers allow specific disqualifiers to be re-evaluated by senior leaders to determine if an individual may be afforded a chance to serve by exception. 


Common types of waiver are for:

  • Age

  • Drug 

  • Moral Conduct

  • Physical Aptitude

  • Academic Capability

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Age Waivers

Waivers for applicant age are to allow those who do not meet the minimum or maximum age limits to become Marines.  The minimum age to commission in the Marine Corps is 20 years old.  If applicants have not reached their 20th birthday at the time of their commissioning, they must apply for waiver consideration.  The Marine Corps will accept no applicants below the age of 19. 

The maximum age to commission varies by the program to which an applicant is applying.  For all Ground and Law contract programs, the maximum age at time of commissioning is 27 years old.  For Aviation contract, the maximum age is 27.5 years old.  Once an applicant has reached their 28th birthday (or past 27.5  for aviation applicants) they must apply for waiver.  No applicants at or above the age of 34 are considered for waiver approval.

Drug Waivers

The Marine Corps has a Zero Tolerance policy for drug abuse in its ranks.  The Corps takes a similar stance towards its applicants and has put measures in place to prevent such activity from entering its ranks.  That said, the Marine Corps has established specific allowances for accepting applicants who may have partaken in elicit drugs in their past.

During the commissioning process OSOs will complete a questionnaire with applicants.  Questions are structured specifically to uncover potential dependency or any legal record of illicit drug use.  Those who disclose their prior experimentation or casual use or drugs are eligible to request a waiver for enlistment.  Applicants who state they have or have previously had an addiction to drugs (or alcohol) will not be allowed to enlist.  Any candidate with a history of drug trafficking or sales will not be permitted to access into officer programs.  Waivers are not accepted for addiction to or trafficking of drugs.

OCS Combat Course from LCpl Phuchung Ngu

Moral Conduct Waivers

The Marine Corps is built on discipline.  The Corps has no space in its ranks for those who have proven themselves to be a disruption to society, but a previous history of a mistake or two will likely not prevent individuals from earning a commission.  The Marine Corps understands everyone has a history, so it has established guidelines on how any lapses of judgment can be properly identified to allow qualified applicants to enlist. 

When applicants review their history, common traffic offenses and other minor offenses can be annotated without preventing accession.  Generally, these situations do not require a waiver request.  However, any number over four offenses of these types will be viewed as a trend of misconduct.  If an applicant has an abundance of traffic or minor offenses, they will require evaluation of a waiver to a Commanding General.


Individuals convicted of gang activity, any sex-based crime, domestic violence toward a significant other or child, or drug trafficking are not eligible for officer accessions.  Waivers are not permitted, and those individuals are disqualified from service. 

Physical Aptitude Waivers

The physical and medical background of applicants is key to the enlistment process.  The essential step to this requirement is the Medical Examination complete at the local Military Entrance Processing Station, or MEPS.  At MEPS, applicants complete a thorough assessment to determine their eligibility to enlist.  Medical and dental professionals will evaluate applicants’ height, weight, vision, lab samples, and medical history.  Conditions requiring waver and those which are disqualifying are numerous, so we list some common examples below:


Potentially Disqualifying, Waivers Allowed:

  • Heart Murmur

  • Asthma

  • Bee or insect allergy

  • Orthopedic surgery

  • History of psychological or psychiatric care

  • History of certain cancers

Permanently Disqualifying:

  • Blindness

  • Deafness

  • Scoliosis

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Disease

  • Mental handicap

For conditions or medical history specific to your situation, your recruiter can guide you through the process to verify eligibility.

Academic Capability

Marine OSOs are required to seek out the best and brightest of applicants.  Part of this requirement is to commission applicants who possess the mental aptitude and ability to execute military duties and to lead Marines in combat.  To quantify this requirement, OSOs will review test scores as necessary for applicable program:

  • ASVAB- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

  • SAT- Scholastic Assessment Test

  • ACT- American College Testing

  • ASTB- Aviation Selection Test Battery

  • LSAT- Law School Assessment Test

The ASVAB is utilized by each of the armed forces to evaluate the abilities of applicants.  It is composed of multiple subtests which provide a variety of scores that tell the recruiter what Military Occupational Specialty an applicant is qualified for.  The most important score is the AFQT, or Armed Forces Quality Test, and it provides recruiters an applicant score of out of a possible 99 points. Applicants are required to attain a minimum score of 74. 


The SAT and ACT are each utilized to assess high school students and graduates for college admissions.  The results of these tests can also be utilized by OSOs for applicant's packages for officer programs.  Candidates who score less than 1000 on the SAT of 22 on the ACT require waiver.  Both tests are not required for acceptance in a program.  If an applicant one meets the standard with at least one of the two tests, the applicant may complete their application with the one acceptable score.  

The ASTTB is utilized to assess applicants for aviation programs.  Applicants who complete this test receive four sets of scores; three of the scores are a 1-9 range, and the fourth score is a 20-80 point range.  Applicants who receive a 1 in the 1-9 score range categories must receive a waiver approval from the Deputy Commandant for Aviation.  

The LSAT is only utilized for Law program applicants.  If any applicant received less than 150 on their LSAT, they must be currently accepted to a law school and have an accompanying qualifying test score (ASVAB, SAT, or ACT).