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What is Navy Officer Training?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Navy officer training is the program that people go through to become an officer in the United States Navy. Participants must meet eligibility requirements, including being at least 19, physically fit and a citizen of the United States. They must also possess a bachelor’s degree, though application to the program can be made before the degree is acquired. Navy officer training, also known as Officer Candidate School (OCS) and Officer Development School (ODS), is conducted at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island.

The first part of Navy officer training is OCS. This 12-week program instructs candidates on leadership and the academics concerning command of ships and submarines, and provides physical and military training. Academic classes in this program include leadership, navigation, sea power, military law, military indoctrination, naval warfare and damage control. The physical portion of this training includes third-class swimming qualification and intense physical conditioning.

While OCS is not as physically challenging as Navy enlisted boot camp, it is demanding both morally, mentally and physically. The program requires total commitment and mental prowess. Following completion of this portion of Navy officer training, successful candidates are commissioned as officers into the U.S. Navy.

The second part of Navy officer training, ODS, is a five-week program that trains newly commissioned officers in their specific field of study. This can include nuclear engineering, medicine, oceanography and chaplaincy, among many others. While not as physically demanding as OCS, this training does also include physical conditioning and swimming qualifications. Academic classes included in this portion of Navy officer training are the same as in OCS, although they do provide a more advanced education in these areas. The final two weeks of ODS is dedicated exclusively to leadership skills.

This final portion of Navy officer training provides officers with both an introduction to their responsibility as an officer and a comprehensive education on Navy structure, history, traditions and customs. It also provides leadership development training and information on military etiquette. The goal of ODS is to ensure newly commissioned naval officers are prepared to function as a leader for both enlisted Navy and lower-ranking officers.

Following completion of these two portions of Navy officer training, new officers are either assigned to their station or go on to complete even more educational training if they are planning to have a Navy career in a specialized area. Navy officer training is physically strenuous and mentally challenging. Despite this, those who make it through typically go on to be excellent officers and leaders in the U.S. Navy.

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