The Marine Corps faces a bit of a problem when it comes to the education of service members: marines find themselves on ships or submarines for long periods of time. Getting to class, then, could be quite tricky. The Marine Corps has come up with innovative ways to provide educational opportunities to service members. These include distance learning, online courses, and providing extended leave. This article expands on the educational benefits that are available to marines, those serving on active duty and in the reserves. You may also be eligible for military-wide educational benefits.


Benefit Name Active Duty Reservist
Marine Corps College Fund X  
Special Education Program X X
Advanced Degree Program X X
Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program X X
Navy College Program for Afloat College Education X  

Marine Corps College Fund

This fund provides prospective, qualified recruits an incentive to enlist. Upon enlistment, recruits accept the Marine Corps College Fund for up to three years, with an initial enlistment of at least four years. This money supplements the Montgomery GI Bill.

  • Award amount: The award amounts depend on when the soldier enlisted and began serving on active duty and the service commitment of the original enlistment. Money accrues monthly (for up to 36 months of total benefits) provided the service member maintains enrollment in the Montgomery GI Bill Program.
    • Benefits last for 10 years after the service member’s final release from active duty if used with the Montgomery GI Bill.
  • Eligibility: Marine Corps recruits must enlist for active duty with no prior service. They must receive a score of at least 50 on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test and a General Technical score of at least 100. Finally, they are required to enroll into the Montgomery GI Bill Program at the time of enlistment.
  • Applicability: These benefits can apply toward degree and certificate programs, correspondence courses, online courses, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, work-study programs, private tutoring, remedial courses, cooperative programs, flight training, and vocational or technical training.

Special Education Program

To further their education, officers will get extended leave from the Marine Corps to complete their education at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force Institute of Technology, or an accredited civilian institution. Officers will incur a four-year active duty service commitment for programs over one year. They will incur a three-year active duty service commitment for programs shorter than one year.

  • Award amount: The Marine Corps will cover the costs of tuition, fees, and travel and provide a stipend of up to $100 each quarter for textbooks.
  • Eligibility: Active duty commissioned officers in possession of bachelor’s degrees who rank between first lieutenant and major are eligible for this program. Reserve officers must apply for a regular active duty commission to participate. Any Marines who have previously used educational benefits must fulfill the associated service commitment first. Afterward, they become eligible to participate in the Special Education Program. Those who previously participated in Marine Corp-funded post-baccalaureate degree programs are not eligible.
  • Degree programs:
    • Aeronautical engineering
    • Electronic systems engineering
    • Modeling virtual environment and simulation
    • Combat systems science
    • Environmental management
    • Information warfare
    • Manpower systems analysis
    • Financial management
    • Computer science
    • Information systems technology
    • Operations analysis
    • Defense systems analysis
    • Contract management
    • Systems acquisition management
    • Joint command
    • Control, computers and intelligence systems
    • Material logistics management,
    • Space systems operations
    • Mass communications
    • International law specialist
    • Environmental law specialist
    • Labor law specialist
    • Procurement law specialist
    • Criminal law specialist
    • Master of law

Advanced Degree Program

This program is for Marine officers who want to complete a master’s degree and can do so within 1824 months. Officers will get extended leave from the Marine Corps to complete their education. They will incur a four-year active duty service commitment for programs over one year. For programs shorter than one year, the active duty service commitment is three years.

  • Award amount: Officers will continue to receive all military pay and benefits according to their rank; however, officers must fund their education on their own. GI Bill benefits can be applied to the costs of the degree, but Tuition Assistance is not permitted.
  • Eligibility: Active duty commissioned officers in possession of bachelor’s degrees who rank between first lieutenant and major are eligible for this program. Reserve officers must apply for a regular active duty commission to participate. Any Marines who have previously used educational benefits must fulfill the service commitment incurred from those programs first. Then they regain eligibility to participate in the Advanced Degree Program. Those who previously participated in Marine Corp-funded post-baccalaureate degree programs are not eligible.
  • Degree programs:
    • Advanced science and applied math
    • Aeronautical engineering
    • Computer science
    • Education
    • Electronic systems engineering
    • Environmental engineering management
    • Financial management
    • History
    • Information technology management
    • Law
    • Material logistics support management
    • Operations analysis/research
    • Space systems operations

Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program

This program offers enlisted Marines the chance to return to college full-time while remaining on active duty. Marines will participate in an NROTC program while at school. Following completion of a bachelor’s degree and graduation, they will commission as second lieutenants.

  • Award amount: Marines will remain on active duty while attending college. They remain eligible for full military pay and benefits.
  • Eligibility: Marines must be U.S citizens with an enlisted rank of sergeant or higher. Marines must be at least 20 but must be younger than 30 upon commissioning. Marines must have a minimum of three years of service and at least 12 college credits (at least three of which must be math or science and a minimum of three in English). Minimum scores on college entrance tests are required: 1000 on the SAT (math and verbal), 22 on the ACT, and 74 overall on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test. Additionally, marines must achieve minimum scores on both a physical fitness test and a combat fitness test.
    • Marines serving in the Reserves must apply for a position on active duty to be eligible.

Navy College Program for Afloat College Education

While serving in the Marines, service members may find themselves shipboard for long periods of time. The Marine Corps does not want this to inhibit educational opportunities. Thus, it has partnered with Central Texas College to provide college courses to sea-bound service members. There are instructor-led and distance learning opportunities provided minimum enrollment is met. Instructor-led courses are offered by Central Texas College, while distance learning opportunities are provided by Central Texas College, Coastline Community College, Dallas Colleges Online, Governors State University, Old Dominion University, Saint Leo University, Thomas Edison State University, the University of Oklahoma, and Vincennes University. All earned credits will be transferable to other institutions to ensure that service members can complete their degrees at a later point.

  • Award amount: The Marine Corps and Navy will cover 100% of tuition. Service members are responsible for books and class materials.
  • Eligibility: Service members must be assigned to ships on sea duty. Both Navy and Marine Corps service members are eligible to participate in this program. If a service member is temporarily assigned to sea duty, the service member is only eligible to participate in the program if coursework can be completed while the ship is at sea.

Page last updated: 05/2017