The US Marine Corps is one of the four branches of the US military, which also includes the US Army, US Navy and US Air Force. Although technically, the top Marine officer — the Commandant of the Marine Corps — reports to the Secretary of the Navy, the Marine Corps acts as and is considered to be a distinct military branch. For those who want to join, US Marine Corps qualifications include prerequisites shared with all military branches, requirements unique to the Corps and finally, those that differentiate between an enlisted Marine and a Marine officer. All US military branches, for example, require recruits to have completed high school or a General Educational Development (GED) exam. Recruits must also be US citizens or hold a permanent alien green card, be at least 17 years old, free of any felony convictions and must sign a contract for a specified period of between two and six years.
US Marine Corps qualifications include age limits. A recruit must be at least 17 years old but no older than 29 at the time of service entry. Each military branch has a minimum score that recruits must attain on the 99-point, service-wide Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). US Marine Corps qualifications require that a recruit score a minimum of 32 points or more. Physical US Marine Corps qualifications also include an appropriate weight and body fat percentage for the recruit's height, with adjustments for male and female differences.
The body fat chart used is available from any Marine Corps recruiting office. Related to this issue are the US Marine Corps qualifications regarding successful completion of one of its two very rigorous and challenging 13-week long boot camps, longer by three weeks than the Army's boot camp. After completing boot camp, weeks or more of additional arms and combat training is undertaken at one of two Schools of Infantry in order to meet additional US Marine Corps qualifications. Afterwards, non-infantry recruits are trained for their military occupational specialties (MOS). Under most circumstances, the recruit will complete training and continue working within his assigned MOS for a minimum of four years, the length of service required for enlistment.
Entry into the Marine Corps can be completed by enlistment after high school. For those who have completed some college, the Corps allows for a somewhat higher enlistment rank based upon the number of college credits. Recruits with a college degree can enlist whether or not they participated in a college Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. To obtain a commission, US Marine Corps qualifications include successful completion of an Officer Candidates School (OCS) in addition to boot camp.