A military medical student takes a test. A military medical student takes a test.

Eligibility Requirements

The Military isn't looking for just anyone to treat its service members and their family members. Aspiring military physicians must distinguish themselves mentally and physically, and always push themselves to be the best.

Age

To join the Military, you have to be at least 18 years old (17 with parental consent). As for the upper age limit, it depends on the Service and the program:

  • Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP): 36 (for the Navy, you can be no older than 42 at the time you enter Active Duty, following your degree completion—unless you were granted an age waiver when you were recruited)
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward HĂ©bert School of Medicine (USUHS): 36
  • Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard: 42
  • Navy and Navy Reserve: 64
  • Air Force: 48
  • Air Force Reserve: 47
  • Air National Guard: 47

Age waivers are available, but they depend on your skills and the Military's needs.

Citizenship

Since all military physicians serve as commissioned officers, you must be a U.S. citizen in order to apply. However, if you are a noncitizen health care professional, you may be eligible to serve through the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. This program, which is available only in the Army and Army Reserve, offers expedited citizenship in exchange for a service commitment.

Grade-Point Average (GPA) + Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Scores

In general, a competitive applicant for the HPSP or USUHS will have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an MCAT score of 27 or higher. The Military also factors in volunteer work and leadership, so students with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher and an MCAT score of 24 or higher may wish to apply.

Degrees + Licensing

HPSP and USUHS require all of its applicants to have baccalaureate degrees from accredited programs in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico. Also, in order for the HPSP application to be final, applicants must be accepted to, or enrolled in, an accredited physician of medicine (MD) or physician of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree program in the United States or Puerto Rico.

If you hope to enter the Military as a full physician, you must have a degree from an accredited MD or DO program from the United States or Puerto Rico.

If you hope to enter the Military as a full physician, you must have a degree from an accredited MD or DO program from the United States or Puerto Rico. Accreditation must come from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association. 

Physicians with degrees from foreign medical schools must also:

  • Pass either the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination of the Medical Sciences or hold an Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates certification
  • Be certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties
  • Complete GME1 in the US, Canada or Puerto Rico
  • Be licensed to practice in the United States and its territories
  • Be currently engaged in clinical practice

Finally, physicians need to have completed one year of graduate medical education, must have a valid state license issued by a state, territory or commonwealth of the United States or the District of Columbia, and should be board-certified or board-eligible.

Physical + Moral Standards

Regardless of your age, you must have a physical to indicate that you are healthy enough to serve in case you are deployed. Where you take your physical depends on the program you want to enter. HPSP applicants will take a physical at a Military Entrance Processing Station near them, and USUHS applicants will take their physicals through the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board. You are also required to pass a security investigation and demonstrate the high moral standards expected of a physician and a military officer.

Waivers are available on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the program, you may want to apply early to give the Services enough time to approve your waiver.

Prior Service + Prior Military Commitments

Those with prior service or prior military commitments can apply to be military medical students, residents or physicians, although some individuals may need to fill out extra applications. For example, Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets must be approved for an educational delay because of their existing military commitments before they apply to HPSP or USUHS. Likewise, cadets and midshipmen in Service academies and ROTC must be approved by their respective Service before accepting admission to medical school.

If you are an active-duty service member, you must receive permission from your Personnel Command to leave your current assignment and apply to medical school and scholarship programs. In that case, any preexisting service obligation for your military education and training will be added to any obligation related to your participation in a medical scholarship program.