To qualify as an enlisted soldier in the military, you need to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. It is not necessary to have a degree. But if you want to become an officer, you will need a degree.
Therefore, if you are in this position, you will want to know “What degrees do the military look for?” and “What degree to get before joining the military?”
Unfortunately, no “best” or “ultimate” degree is fool-proof. A good degree varies from person to person (or should we say, servicemember to servicemember). You will need to decide on a degree that works best for you. Below, though, we have a few suggestions to help you get started.
Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
- How to Choose a Degree in the Military?
- Recommended Degrees for Military Officers
- Other Military Degrees Recommended
How to Choose a Degree in the Military?
Choosing a degree is certainly not easy. But knowing the factors to consider can simplify the task.
First, think about why you need a degree. Knowing this will help you determine your priority, which will be the reference point you use to make other decisions related to your degree.
Decide on your degree level first, then what the degree will be in.
For your reference, the different degree levels are:
- Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
- Doctoral Degree
If you need a degree to become a military officer, then you should choose the degree that best supports your area of concentration upon becoming an officer. In other words, your degree should focus and help shape your skills to develop in your area of concentration. A bachelor’s degree is probably the one you seek at this stage.
Your area of concentration can be the one that you are interested in and excites you or it can be in demand.
If you need a degree to rank higher than a military officer, a master’s is needed. Again, since the priority is your upcoming military career, the degree you choose should be geared towards helping you be a good fit for that.
If you need a degree to get another (higher) one, like a doctorate for a permanent professor position, for instance, you will need one that is relevant to your ultimate teaching goal.
If you need a degree to prepare yourself for the job hunt once you transition back to civilian life, you will probably need one for a specific skill or qualification. It should help make you a fitting candidate.
After that, factors that you should take into account include:
- Military-Friendliness – Is it accommodating?
- Affordability – How much will it cost you?
- Duration – How long will it take you?
- Quality – Is the quality of education high? Are there the necessary accreditations?
- Study Mode/ Place – Is it on base, a branch campus, or online?
- Transfer Credits – Does it accept military credits?
Recommended Degrees for Military Officers
The best degree is the one that is relevant to your specialization. For example, if the area of concentration you are pursuing is 12A Engineering, then you will want a degree in engineering. Here are some common degrees for Army officers:
- Degree in Law
- Degree in Psychology
- Degree in Intelligence
- Degree in Business
- Degree in Medicine
- Degree in Nursing
- Degree in Foreign Language(s)
1. Degree in Law
A law degree is valuable for officers in these areas of concentration: 27A Judge Advocate General, 27B Military Judge, and 31A Military Police.
- Note: This degree is relevant for both Army and for Air Force officers.
2. Degree in Psychology
This is for those after the AOC 37A or 37X Psychological Operations. It may also be useful for 65B Physical Therapy and 66R Psychiatric or Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner.
3. Degree in Intelligence
A degree in Intelligence can be leveraged if you are seeking to pursue these areas of concentration: 15C Aviation Intelligence, 35D All-Source Intelligence, 35E CounterIntelligence, 35F Human Intelligence, and 35G Signals Intelligence.
4. Degree in Business
This may surprise you because business is often a civilian private career. However, a business degree can in fact be valuable in various areas of concentration, including 36A Financial Manager, 42B (HR) Human Resources Officer, and 90A Logistics.
5. Degree in Medicine/ Degree in Pharmacy
A degree in medicine can open you up to many AOC opportunities in the military, such as 60A, 60B, 60C, 60D, 61E, 61G, 61H, 64C, 64F, and 67C, which are (in the same order):
- Operational Medicine
- Nuclear Medicine Officer
- Preventive Medicine
- Occupational Medicine Officer
- Clinical Pharmacologist
- Infectious Disease Officer
- Family Medicine
- Veterinary Preventive Medicine
- Veterinary Laboratory Animal Medicine
- Preventive Medicine Sciences
- Note: However, you will likely need a specialist certificate for some areas of concentration.
6. Degree in Nursing
With a degree in nursing, you can strive for these areas of concentration:
- 66B Army Public Health Nurse
- 66C Psychiatric or Behavioral Health Nurse
- 66E Perioperative Nurse, 66F Nurse Anesthetist
- 66H Medical Surgical Nurse
- 66N Generalist Nurse
- 66P Family Nurse Practitioner
- 66R Psychiatric or Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner
- 66S Critical Care Nursing
- 66T Emergency Nursing
- 66W Certified Nurse Midwife
7. Other Degrees in the Medical Field
- Degree in Podiatry
- Degree in Optometry
- Degree in Obstetrics & Gynecology
- Degree in Dietetics & Nutrition
These are not the easiest degree for military officers, but they are the ones to go for if you are specifically geared towards certain medical areas of concentration.
8. Degree in Foreign Language(s)
This is not what most people think of when they think about degrees in the military. But it is actually very valuable. Being fluent in foreign languages is beneficial and can give you a competitive edge since the military often has missions and operations in other countries. A foreign language(s) degree is also highly recommended as a degree for military intelligence.
Other Military Degrees Recommended
1. By Indeed.com
- Management Information Systems
- Criminal Justice
- Military History
2. By CollegeConsensus.com
3. By Noodle.com
- Data Science
- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Social Work
- Strategic Security Studies
4. By Bestaccreditedcolleges.org
- Political Science
- Cultural Studies
- Human & Social Services
To start, you will need a military bachelor’s degree. But if you want to rank up as an active-duty officer, a master’s degree is necessary. And in this case, you should continue thinking about degrees that will best support your military career.
Here are some places that offer military college degrees (Master’s-level) for active-duty military officers:
- Southern New Hampshire University
- University of Central Florida
- Arizona State University
- Syracuse University
- Liberty University
- Averett University
- Thomas Edison State University
On Reddit threads, users suggest these institutions for degrees:
- Colorado State University
- Oregon State University
- Penn State University
- Ohio State University
- Utah State University
But another situation where you may want to obtain a Master’s degree is nearing retirement or when you are preparing to transition back to civilian life. In this case, you should look into degrees that support your post-military aspirations.
The common career paths that veterans take are:
- Government or Public Administration
- Defense Contracting (Especially popular among young veterans)
- Information Technology
- Law Enforcement
You may already have experience and skills that make you a fit for these paths. As such, you can consider pursuing degrees that build on top of your existing foundation.
If salary is something you are concerned about, browse this list of high-paying job positions for veterans:
- Public Administrators
- Aircraft Pilots
- Flight Engineers
- Software Developers
If you do not want to limit yourself to the veterans’ list, this general list of high-paying jobs may also be worth looking at:
- Lawyers (The median annual salary is $120,910)
- Pilots (The median annual salary is $130,059)
- Air Traffic Controllers (The median annual salary is $122,990)
- Computer and Information Systems Managers (The median annual salary is $146,360)
- Natural Sciences Managers (The median annual salary is $129,100)
- Engineering Managers (The median annual salary is $144,830)
- Podiatrists (The median annual salary is +208,000)
- Surgeons (The median annual salary is +208,000)
A Master’s degree can also be your stepping stone to a doctorate degree. With this, you can eventually be a professor at a service academy or in an ROTC program, as part of a military professor program.
In this case, your degree should be in what you would like to teach. So, if you want to become a professor in the Economics department, for instance, your degrees will need to be related to economics.
That’s it on what degrees do the military look for? To enlist, you just need to hold a high school diploma or equivalent, and not a degree. However, throughout your military career, you must get a bachelor’s and master’s to rank up. The degree you choose should best support your specific area of concentration.
To recap above, we have suggested getting a degree in Law, Psychology, Intelligence, Business, Medicine, Nursing, and Foreign Language(s).
And other recommendations from online sites (indeed.com, collegeconsensus.com, noodle.com, etc) are Management Information Systems, Criminal Justice, Kinesiology, Journalism, Military History, Finance, Aviation, Theology, Data Science, Social Work, Strategic Security Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, degrees — to name a few.
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I am Everett Bledsoe, taking on the responsibility of content producer for The Soldiers Project. My purpose in this project is to give honest reviews on the gear utilized and tested over time. Of course, you cannot go wrong when checking out our package of information and guide, too, as they come from reliable sources and years of experience.