CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The deadline for the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Degree Completion Program is approaching.
Staff NCOs interested in completing a baccalaureate degree in a specific field of study must act now to participate in this program. Manpower and Reserve Affairs at Headquarters Marine Corps must receive applications between March 1 and June 15.
Marine Corps order 1560.21D lays out the program's guidelines. Marines interested in the program must have completed at least two years of college and have a minimum of 24 semester hours of a single major study area. They must also be at least a staff sergeant select up to and including master sergeant with the potential for promotion. First sergeants and above are ineligible.
"First sergeants are placed in a major leadership position and harder to replace because potential first sergeants must go through selection boards," said Sgt. Douglas J. Perez, an administrative chief with the Special Assignment Section, Headquarters Marine Corps. "Master sergeants are considered duty experts in specific fields and can be replaced much easier than a first sergeant if they decide to go to school."
According to the order, the program is available only to active duty Marines who must agree to re-enlist or extend for a period of four years upon completion of the program.
"It's a win-win situation," said Gunnery Sgt. Patrick M. Hansen, the career planner for Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base. "The Marine gets to finish up his or her schooling full-time, and the Marine Corps gets to keep a Marine for another four years."
The order states that applicants must submit a list of required courses to complete a baccalaureate degree with an official transcript of all work from each college or university attended.
Applicants will be selected for participation in the program based on their career potential, previous academic record, off-duty education accomplishments, the ability to consistently hold a "B" average in their area of study, and billet vacancies.
Marines accepted for the program will study subjects based on the needs of the Marine Corps. Currently, the Corps needs college-educated people in accounting, business administration, education, psychology, safety education and music. Upon completing their schooling, Marines serve in a billet that will take advantage of the education they received.
Selected applicants will attend school full-time and receive their regular pay and allowances. The Marine pays all school fees, such as tuition and books, whether using in-service G.I. Bill benefits, student loans or other non-Marine Corps means.
"Marines who've done it, love it," said Hansen. "More should jump on it."
For more information, Marines can contact their unit career planners.