Army Early Commissioning Program Information

In an earlier post, I wrote about the five military junior colleges.  Today, I’d like to educate you about the Army’s Early Commissioning Program. If you’re thinking about becoming a commissioned officer, and you want to do it quickly, you should consider the Army Early Commissioning Program.  This is a unique program that lets you get commissioned as a Second Lieutenant after just two years of college.  And by the time you finish your four year degree, you can be a First Lieutenant which puts you well ahead of your peers.

In order to participate in this program, you must enroll in one of the nation’s five military junior colleges.  In short, they are Valley Forge Military Academy, Wentworth Military Academy, New Mexico Military Institute, Marion Military Institute, and Georgia Military College.

History of the ECP Program

This program first started in 1966, in order to help commission officers into Active Duty to meet officer shortages during the Vietnam War.  About 12 years later, in 1978, the program was revised to help fill Reserve shortages.  As of today the military junior colleges are a large feeder program for the service academies (such as West Point and Air Force Academy).  And they produce lots of commissioned officers in the ARNG and Army Reserves.

Why Consider the Early Commissioning program?

This unique program offers many benefits.  Some of my favorite things about the Early Commissioning Program include:

  • You can get commissioned in just two years.  This is half the time of traditional commissioning programs.
  • Once you get commissioned, you can start building time in service, retirement points, and time in grade, even while you are completing your junior and senior year of college.
  • Earn $450 per month in pay during your freshman year and $500 per month during your sophomore year.
  • Receive a hefty uniform and book allowance.
  • Get paid as an E-5 during your National Guard or Army Reserve drill weekend (SMP Program)

The Requirements

Once you graduate, you must finish your four year degree within 36 months.  If you don’t, you may lose your commission or be forced to repay some of your educational costs.  Furthermore, once you get commissioned all officers owe an eight year obligation to their service branch.  This could include a combination of Active Duty, Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve time.  Also, while you are participating in the program you cannot be deployed.

Final Thoughts

The thought of getting commissioned in just two years is very appealing.  However, attending a military junior college is not for everyone.  I would highly recommend that you do your due diligence and learn more about the different military junior colleges.  In addition, make sure you spend some time and compare it to your other options such as R.O.T.C, the Service Academies, and OCS.  Once you do that, you can decide what is right for you.  I have some friends and peers who completed the Early Commissioning Program and really loved it.  And I have other friends who completed the program but wish they would have went the traditional R.O.T.C. route.

If you know anyone who participated in this program, you should pick their brain and have them answer your questions and give you additional insights.  On the other hand, if you attended one of these Early Commissioning Programs, I would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and experiences about the program and tell us what you think.  Just leave a comment to do so. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask and we will attempt to answer them for you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “Army Early Commissioning Program Information”

  1. This is a great program, but here is a quick question:

    With the advent of online school, can a cadet earn the Commission through ECP, the access into the regular Army and complete the degree online while serving Active Duty, if not, why not…??

  2. Chuck,

    I am trying to locate any records pertaining to my ECP training in 1969-1970. Army basic was at Ft. Benning in 1969 and at Ft. Sill in 1970. Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated.

    Best regards.


  3. Robert W. Mitchell

    Dear Chuck,

    In 1969, Oklahoma Military Academy was also a participant in the ECP program. I signed my papers before the summer of 1969 and reported to Ft. Benning for basic training. After basic, I attended OMA for two years. The summer of 1970 was spent at Ft. Sill, for additional training. In 1971, I was supposed to be commissioned and go on active duty. With the war winding down, there was less of a need for new LT’s, so we were told to continue in college and not commissioned. In the summer of 1973, I attended Officers Basic at Ft. Belvoir (Engineers). Two years was a quick way to earn a commission. Sadly, OMA was another casualty of the Vietnam War. With antiwar sentiment running high, the school enrollment had declined to the point that Oklahoma closed the Military Academy in June of 1971. It is today Rogers State University.

    If OMA had survived another few years, it might still be on your list.

    Best regards.

    Robert W. Mitchell
    Gulf Shores, Alabama

  4. Candace Ginestar

    I have a few buddies who did this route (Marion Military Institute) and they all spent the maximum TIG as 1LT, so it doesn’t seem to be a big benefit on the backside, since they all just made CPT and I am not far behind them, even though I commissioned almost 3 years after they did.

  5. This is a great program for anyone planning on serving 20+ years as an ARNG Officer. Getting your commission two years early is huge. By the time you get your four year degree you can be a 1LT, on your way to becoming a Captain.

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