Chaplain Corps Officer Direct Appointment Program

Navy Chaplain Corps Christian, Muslim, and Jewish insignias

The following provides basic information required to gain an appointment as a U.S. Navy commissioned officer in the Chaplain Corps. Active duty selects as designator 4100, and Navy Reserve selects as designator 4105.

All newly appointed active duty officers will receive military orientation training at Officer Development School (ODS) and Naval Chaplaincy School and Center (Basic Chaplain Leadership Courses) prior to reporting to first assignment.

All newly appointed Reserve officers will attend Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course (DCOIC) and Naval Chaplaincy School and Center (Basic Chaplain Leadership Courses).

Chaplain Corps Officer Qualifications

The Chaplain Corps is open to both male and female applicants. Applicants must be a citizen of the United States. Applicants cannot maintain dual citizenship. Waivers will not be granted.

Active and Reserve Chaplain Corps applicants must be commissioned before age 58. Prior to reaching the age of 62, chaplains must submit age waiver requests to remain on Active or Reserve duty.

Active and Reserve Chaplain Corps applicants aged 58 or older who possess specialized skills as determined by the Chief of Chaplains (OPNAV N097) may be considered for an exception to the age waiver policy if they can complete a full three year service obligation.

Age waiver applicants, prior to appointment, must understand and acknowledge in writing they may not have adequate time in service to obtain retirement status (active or reserve).

Education Requirements

Undergraduate Requirement: Bachelor's degree from an accredited educational institution.

Graduate Requirement: Graduate degree in theological or related studies from an accredited educational institution. A qualifying degree program shall require no fewer than 72 semester hours (108 quarter hours) of graduate-level work. Related studies may include graduate courses in pastoral counseling, social work, religious administration and similar disciplines when one-half of the earned credits include topics in general religion, world religions, the practice of religion, theology, religious philosophy, religious ethics and/or the foundational writings from the applicant's religious tradition.

Work Experience

Two years of full-time religious leadership experience required. Religious leadership experience shall be compatible with the duties of a religious ministry professional (RMP) in their respective religious organizations (RO) and relevant to the settings of military chaplaincy.


Applicants must meet physical standards for appointment as prescribed in the Manual of the Medical Department, Chapter 15. Candidates must meet the physical fitness weight and/or percentage of body fat standards at the time of application and at time of commissioning.

Ecclesiastical Endorsement

Applicants must have an approved endorsement (DD Form 2088) from a qualified RO (as specified in Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments, DOD Instruction 1304.28 of 1 I May 2004) verifying that the individual, is a RMP as defined in DoD Instruction 1304.28, is endorsed to represent an RO and may conduct the RO's religious observances or ceremonies. A RMP is a fully qualified member of the clergy for those ROs that have a tradition of professional clergy or their equivalents.

Moral Character

Applicants must disclose any disqualifying adverse matters. Disqualifying adverse matters may include, but are not limited to, an admission to or conviction for an academic honor code violation, non-judicial punishment, misdemeanor or felony conviction in either civil or military court, a history of personal financial difficulties, or excessive numbers of traffic or other legal violations.

Must be of good moral character and of unquestioned loyalty to the U.S. as determined by interview and investigation. No person who is alcohol or drug dependent, who currently abuses alcohol or drugs, whose pre-service abuse of alcohol or drugs indicates a proclivity to continue abuse in the Service, or who has a record of any trafficking offenses shall be permitted to enter or be retained in the Chaplain Corps.

Source of Applicants


Navy and Marine Corps personnel, officer and enlisted of the reserve component with an approved conditional resignation/release.

Officer and enlisted personnel of the reserve component of other armed services with an approved conditional resignation/release.

Chaplains of other armed services may enter by inter-service transfer, provided a conditional resignation/release (other services only) is approved by member's service component (DD Form 368). Non-chaplain members of the other armed services cannot enter the Navy Chaplain Corps by inter-service transfer.

Appointment and Obligation

Active duty selectees will serve 3 years from the date of initial orders. The balance of service, sufficient to complete 8-years total obligated service, may be served in an Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) status.

Reservists will incur an 8-year obligation, the first 3 of which must be completed as a Selected Reserve (a drilling reservist) followed by 5 years ready reserve (voluntary training unit or IRR). The obligation commences upon commissioning.

Pay and Allowances

Applicants commissioned as an active duty chaplain (designator 4100), upon commencing applicable training on active duty will receive pay and benefits based on paygrade assigned.

Applicants commissioned as a chaplain in the reserve component will receive pay and benefits based on paygrade according to the reserve component military pay tables.

Developed by NCCM Thomas Goering USN (RET).

Page published on December 18, 2012.

Page modified on December 27, 2019.