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This pathway is made up of five military service branches, each with their own active-duty and part-time components (i.e., Guard and Reserve). Together, they offer a broad variety of ways to serve.

How to Pursue This Pathway

Students who choose the Military Pathway must submit an enlistment contract as evidence of their plan to meet the Learn.Plan.Succeed. graduation requirement.

Each branch varies in service commitment, location, and how its members contribute to the overall mission of protecting our country, though all are on the same rank-based pay scale.

U.S. Army

Army Seal

The Army is the largest military branch in the United States. It’s a powerful fighting force defending and serving our nation by land, sea, and air. Elite groups within the Army, such as the Army Rangers and Special Forces, receive specialized training for advanced combat situations.

Army Reserve
Offers the opportunity to work in a civilian career or attend college full time while serving near home.

Army National Guard
Community-based and reports to the governor of its respective state unless called to protect U.S. domestic interests in times of conflict or natural disaster. Members hold civilian jobs or attend school while conducting their military training part time.


U.S. Marine Corps

marines seal

Marine Corps
The Marines play a major role as the first force on the ground in most conflicts. Today, Marines are stationed around the world at all times, ready to deploy quickly whenever and wherever needed. Total service commitment ranges from four to six years.

Marine Corps Reserve
The Reserves support active Marine forces in time of war, national emergency or contingency operations, provide personnel and operational tempo relief for the active forces in peacetime, and provide service to the community.


U.S. Air Force

Air Force Seal

Air Force
The Air Force operates with a three-part vision: global vigilance, reach and power. This vision empowers a technologically advanced force that is focused on air, space, and cyberspace superiority.

Air Force Reserve
With readiness as its primary charge, the Air Force Reserve is actively involved in operations around the world.

Air National Guard
Comprised of citizen Airmen who train part-time, close to home, until called upon for duty. These professionals serve both federal and state governments — assisting their communities and helping the Air Force to guard the skies.


U.S. Navy

Navy Seal

The Navy handles operations on and under the sea, in the air and on the ground. Elite groups within the Navy, such as the SEALs and Navy Divers, receive specialized training for advanced warfare situations. A Navy Sailor generally serves a term of four years aboard a Navy ship, though options for shorter time commitments exist.

Navy Reserve
Offers citizens the chance to serve on a part-time basis, training near home until called to Active Duty. A reservist can pursue a full-time civilian education or career, or obtain special military training while serving.


U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard
The Coast Guard is responsible for an array of maritime duties, from ensuring safe and lawful commerce to performing rescue missions in severe conditions.

Coast Guard Reserve
Reservists take part in maritime safety, mobility, security, national defense and the protection of natural resources. Reservists spend an average of one weekend a month and two weeks a year performing duties vital to national security.


Enlistment Requirements

Each branch has specific requirements, but some basic requirements are common to all the branches. Here are some requirements that may be asked of applicants:

  • Citizenship
    Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident with a valid Permanent Resident Card or Green Card.
  • Age
    Be age 17 with parental consent, or age 18 or older without consent. Each service branch has a different enlistment age limit. 
  • Education
    Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Testing
    Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) multiple-choice test series, which is used to determine if you have the mental aptitude to enlist, and which branches and jobs you can pursue. ASVAB is required to enlist in all five military branches. 
  • Health and Fitness
    Pass a physical exam and meet weight limits. Each service has different fitness standards.

Next Steps

If military service is a postsecondary option that interests you, consider taking the next steps:

  1. Research the military branches
    Compare the different military branches and explore full-time and part-time options, benefits, basic requirements, and steps for enlisting.
  2. Contact a recruiter
    Get in touch with a recruiter for each of the military branches you're interested in, and prepare a list of branch-specific questions.
  3. Understand options for Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
    DEP, also called the Delayed Enlistment Program, is a program whereby individuals going into active duty enlist first in the DEP before they ship out to Basic Training, or "boot camp."
  4. Report to a MEPS and take ASVAB
    If you decide to enlist, you'll spend a day at a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). You'll take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) vocational aptitude test to determine which jobs and occupational specialties would be the best fit, have a physical exam, and meet with a career counselor. If you're accepted, you'll take the oath of enlistment.
  5. Examine Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Options
    The U.S. Army categorizes the jobs performed by enlisted personnel under what is called the Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, system. Every MOS is known by its code. In fact, most military members will use this code to describe their jobs to people who ask what they do in the military.
  6. Await orders for basic training
    You'll receive orders for basic training within a few weeks. If you enrolled in the delayed entry program, you’ll get orders within a year.

Office of College and Career Success

School Counseling and Postsecondary Advising


773-553-3543 (Fax)

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602