Army Eligibility Requirements

The basic eligibility requirements for joining the Army are as follows:

Minimum / Maximum Age to Join the Army

Minimum Age. The Army allows an individual to enlist in the Army at the age of 17 with parental consent. Parental consent is no longer needed upon reaching the age of 18. The minimum age requirement is the same for active duty Army, Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve.

Maximum Age. The maximum age allowed for an initial enlistment varies. For active duty Army and the National Guard, the maximum age allowed for initial enlistment is 42. The Army Reserve will only accept initial enlistees up to the age of 39.

Service Academy Age Requirements: Those wishing to enter an Army service academy must be between the ages of 17 to 23.

OCS Maximum Age: For prospective officers wishing to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), the maximum age is now 35 and no waivers will be considered.

Citizenship Requirement for Joining the Army

To enlist in the Army, an individual must be an American citizen or lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence and possess a Green Card. Note that Army jobs or MOSs that require a Secret or Top Secret security clearance will require U.S. citizenship.

To be appointed as a commissioned officer or warrant officer, U.S. citizenship is required except for the Army Reserve which only requires an individual be lawfully admitted for permanent residence. The U.S. citizenship requirement for Regular Army and Army National Guard officers must be satisfied when commission is tendered.

Education Credentials Required for Joining

The education credentials accepted by the Army fluctuate based on the need for soldiers. The recent recession and ongoing recovery has made it easier for the Army to attract recruits which is an obstacle for those not possessing a high school diploma.

GED requirements. There is only a small pool of "slots" available for GED applicants as the Army prefers to recruit high school graduates (attrition rates are higher for those not possessing a high school diploma). Those possessing a GED must score a 50 in the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is a composite score of the ASVAB. GED applicants will be considered regular high school graduates by completing 15 college credits from an accredited school, therefore bypassing the restricted acceptance rate for GEDs.

OCS. For Officer Candidate School (OCS), a Bachelor's Degree is required. Enlisted soldiers used to be able to apply for OCS with 90 college credits but this is no longer the case.

Aptitude (measured using the ASVAB)

To enlist in the Army, a high school graduate must score a 31 in the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT), which is a composite score from the ASVAB. Those possessing a GED must score a 50 or higher in the AFQT.

Officers are not required to take the ASVAB and are generally not subjected to aptitude tests since they possess college degrees.

Physical Fitness

Each applicant shall be independently evaluated by an authorized physician or a physician at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to ensure the applicant is:

  • Free of contagious or infectious diseases
  • Free of medical conditions or physical defects that would require excessive time lost from duty or would likely result in separation from the Service for medical unfitness
  • Medically capable of satisfactorily completing required training
  • Medically adaptable to the military environment
  • Medically capable of performing duties without aggravation of existing physical defects or medical conditions

Each enlisted MOS is also evaluated under the PULHES system to identify the broad physical demands of an MOS and associated physical ability required.

For minimum and maximum weight requirements and body fat:
View the Army Weight / Body Fat Chart in PDF format.

For Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) requirements:
View the APFT chart in PDF format. Note that according to gender and age, one must score a 60 in each event (pushups, situps, and two mile run) EXCEPT for those in basic combat training. They only need to score 50 in each event.

Maximum Dependents Allowed

Married individuals with more than two dependents under the age of 18 will require a waiver as well as unmarried individuals with joint or shared custody of any dependents under the age of 18. Unmarried individuals will not be allowed to join the Army if they have sole custody of any dependents.

Moral Character Standards

The Army wishes to recruit only those of good moral character. Moral character standards serve to minimize the entrance of persons likely to become disciplinary cases or security risks or who disrupt good order, morale, and discipline. The Military is responsible for the defense of the nation and is not a source of rehabilitation for those who have not subscribed to the legal and moral standards of society at large.

The following kinds of persons will be disqualified from joining the Army:

  • Individuals under any form of judicial restraint (bond, probation, imprisonment, or parole).
  • Those convicted of a felony (waiver granted only in some cases after evaluating the circumstances and accumulating letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant's character).
  • Those who have been previously separated from the Military Services under conditions other than honorable or for the good of the Service
  • Those who have exhibited antisocial behavior or other traits of character that would render them unfit to associate with military personnel.

Article Last Modified: May 10, 2011

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