The eligibility requirements for acceptance into any of the three specialty sections of the United States Medical Service Corps are high, with many requiring a minimum of a Master’s Degree. But that doesn’t mean this career path is completely out of reach for enlisted Sailors who might not have reached that level of education. The Medical Service Corps In-Service Procurement Program gives Sailors the chance to earn the degrees necessary for eligibility to serve in the Corps, but the requirements for program participation vary greatly; Sailors should consult with a Navy Counselor (NCC) to find out the specifics for the career in which they are interested.

In addition to being United States citizens (a requirement that cannot be waived), applicants must be commissioned before their 42nd birthday. That particular cutoff point was chosen not only to ensure that officers can handle some of the more physically demanding aspects of certain billet (particularly at sea or in forward operating areas), but also to guarantee a large enough pool of recruits.

But the Navy Medical Service Corps has not chiseled this rule into stone. Applicants between the ages of 42 and 57 are eligible for waivers on a limited, case-by-case basis, with special emphasis being given to those applying for specialties with personnel shortages or that have consistently failed to meet recruiting goals. In fact, applicants aged 58 or older will be considered if they possess skills that the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs considers critical—but only if the applicants are able to complete three full years of active duty after being commissioned.

Those candidates selected for the Active Component of the Corps must complete a five-week course of military orientation at the Naval Officer Development School in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion of this course, those selectees destined for the Aerospace Physiology or Aerospace Experimental Psychology specialties will be sent to the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute at the Navy Medicine Operational Training Center in Pensacola, Florida for six months of duty while under instruction.

Selectees for the Reserve Component of the Medical Service Corps are required to complete a two-week Reserve Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course, also head at Newport, within a year of being commissioned.

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