Getting A Graduate Degree: A Given?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by uniform 419, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. uniform 419

    uniform 419 GMU CDT

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    I've heard that the Army will often allow officers to head back to school to obtain a graduates degree, typically after promotion to Captain. Is this true?
     
  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    If you want to be promoted to the O4/O5 rank you will need a Masters. I say O4/O5 because the military has the ability to determine when it will unmask Grad school for promotion boards. I have seen it unmasked at O4 and at O5.

    Promotion boards are like ROTC boards, they look at the whole AD member. By not having your Masters and/or PME you will get less points. They draw a line and anyone above that line gets promoted, below and you are passed over.

    I think you may be under the assumption that if you make Captain, they will send you to a grad school in residence. That is not traditionally true for the majority of officers. Most take TA and go at night. Every Base/Post has an education office, and this is where satellite colleges like Webster, Troy, AERU, and UMD are located.

    They will try to do it at the Capt time frame, because by then they have already gotten their career footing down, and this is the time where they know if they un mask it for O4, they will be safe for promotion. Additionally, as you get older it becomes more difficult since you will have more responsibilities in your career, but most likely also in your private life too...wife and kids.

    I always suggest to get your Masters done ASAP because you would be amazed how fast time flies and all of the sudden you will be sitting up against the wall trying to get it done prior to the board meeting.
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Remember, independant of the Army allowing you to do it, the college must accept you, so try to do as well as you can in undergrad to make the grad school application process easier.
     
  4. uniform 419

    uniform 419 GMU CDT

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    I think you already addressed this point, but I'd like a bit of clarification. Does the Army ever allow active-duty officers an unpaid leave in order to pursue a Master's degree, or are officers expected to earn their Master's before/during their active duty career?
     
  5. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The short answer is NO, there is no sabbatical to attend Grad school. You are either in the military or not. You can't check out to do 2 yrs and pick up where you left off without going through a re-instatement process.

    If you want to attend as an assignment you compete for it against everyone else.

    For example, I believe only last yr a WP cadet was selected for Rhodes. He is an AD member, who is getting paid to go to grad school as an O1.

    There are several AFA grads here on this site that upon graduation went straight to grad school. They had to apply for it from a national level. They will complete their grad school and go to their follow on assignment. The follow on was given to them with their orders for attending grad school. In other words they know already where they will be going in 2-3 yrs.

    The military expects continuing education for the promotion process. It comes in many forms.

    1. Career ---for example, become a pilot, they will want to see you eventually become an INSTRUCTOR pilot

    2. PME ---Military education. This should not be confused with getting a Masters. This is their version of continuing education. It occurs at different ranks, most notably O3/4 and 5. Each PME is rank oriented. You are not going to go to CGSC at O3 or O5. It is an O4 school. You are not going to go to National War College at O3 or O4, it is an O5/6 school.

    3. Masters --- is expected to be earn somewhere during their career. Logic...you can't get into WP if you already have a Masters, based purely on the age issue(too old). Additionally, why would you go go back through undergrad if you had a grad?

    In the end if your goal is to get a Masters in residence, you can do it, BUT, there is no guarantee that you can attend the school of your choice when you choose to go. You will serve at the luxury of the Army.

    Just like the ROTC scholarship you will compete against your peers for that in residence spot. Just like life there is no guarantee.

    Right now as LITS has stated you need to A) get into ROTC and B) Graduate. From there in a few yrs you can address this path.
     
  6. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Maybe. By the time you get there. The Navy has commenced a four year pilot programm, CIPP, Career Intermission Pilot Program, where officers and enlisted can take a one to three year leave of absence in the IRR on 1/15 pay and retain Tricare. At present, it is limited to 20 officers per year. If it is successful and retained, it would not surprise me if the other services followed suit. Not sure I would recomment it though.
     
  7. uniform 419

    uniform 419 GMU CDT

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    Thanks for the info on military education Pima, I think that I initially confused the CGSC and/or the National War College with the residency spots, appreciate the clarification.

    Also, Mongo, thanks for the info on CIPP, definately hope that the program is a sucess.
     
  8. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    "Only last year"? More like every few years. Happens all the time. 33 times, at least. Only Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth have more.

    There are many Army programs through which one can obtain a masters. Some programs are simply continuing education programs, like ACS (Advanced Civil Schooling), some are command-driven (10th MTN DIV has a program to send officers to grad school and return them to the division), and the vasy majority are program-related. By that I mean, if you're accepted to be a USMA instructor, you go to grad school. If you're accepted to be a Tac Officer, you go to grad school at Columbia. If you're accepted as an XP, you go to grad school. Many chances at an advanced degree are linked to a follow-on assignment.

    You do not need a master's to make Major (O-4) or, currently, LTC (O-5).
     
  9. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    Same for the Navy but it is good to have it for O-5.
     
  10. sprog

    sprog Member

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    Pima's response was based on (I assume) her experience as an Air Force dependent. As a former active duty Air Force guy, I concur with her assessments as they pertain to USAF personnel. As the OP is interested in the Army, scout's post is clearly the correct one to listen to here. If interested in the Navy, Mongo is the go-to guy.

    A good lesson here, is that there is not a single one answer to many of the questions on this forum for all of the branches of the service.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Sprog,

    You are correct part of that answer is because Bullet was AF. The other part is because as CGSC (Army = to AF ACSC = O4 PME), the officers in the program that did not have their Masters yet were going to night school to get it for their O5 board.

    I took the incorrect assumption, that the Army is like the AF where Masters is unmasked for this board.

    NOBODY in the AF is forced to get their Masters or to attend PME (correspondence, seminar or in residence) to make it to O5. However, I don't know ONE O5 that got O6 without having a Masters or PME in their files.

    This may be an AF only thing, however it did not appear that way at CGSC. Actually, the majority of the officers there had gone to California for an earlier PME. I can't recall the name of it, but it was an assignment as a Captain, not a TDY like the AF. I think it was a language school?!?!

    Again, you don't HAVE to get a Masters to make O4/O5, but that doesn't mean you will be competitive if you don't.
     
  12. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    The military of 10 or 15 years ago is not the military of today.

    One benefit that many Army officers have now is that while deployments preclude grad school in many cases, their career is punctuated by leadership opportunities in combat. In a branch that tends toward the "leaf-eater" specialties, that may not be the case even in the current environment.

    Getting a masters was much easier 10 or 15 years ago. Nowadays you'd be hard-pressed to find a mid-grade army captain who hasn't spent 2-4 years overseas in OIF or OEF. Those big gaps make getting a degree much more difficult, especially when you factor in the 1-2 months of offsite collective training that accompanies each deployment.
     
  13. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Scout,

    I agree with you the military today is not the military of 5,10 or 15 yrs ago. There are alot more deployments. HOWEVER, that being said, the AF never left the sandbox since 1990. It was in the 90's very common to do a 4 month rotation every 16 months. Bullet never made it out of one operational base of 30 months without doing at least 1/3 of that deployed to the sandbox, plus other TDY's like Red Flag and WSEP. The AF operational was not you get to eat bon bons on base for 365 days a yr, and only go to good deal TDYs at Vegas or Hill. Their butts were gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July to the sandbox. Do not confuse that with cry me a river, it is only meant to say, that people tend to forget the AF and Navy did the ONW/OSW missions, and they still were able to get their Masters. The AF members knew that there was almost no chance of getting O5 without it. They knew that and PME were needed for career promotion. Not required, just needed. Two different things.

    The Army may feel this way about Masters and PME, but even in today's AF, that degree means something. 2 yrs ago 2 of our friends were passed over for O5 and forced to retire at 20 on the dot. Why? Because they never got their Masters, instead all they had on their OPR was flying, with leadership positions. That was only 2 yrs ago. We had a 3rd friend who was an AFA grad also forced to retire because he did not do PME even in correspondence.

    As I have said many times before, none of us are psychic. Nobody can predict the future of promotion boards, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that promotion boards at the O5 level want the WHOLE officer, that is the one who can juggle their career and still get a grad degree, especially in this day and age of Masters degrees not caring the weight that it did 15 yrs ago in the corporate world.

    How many officers as O5 do you know in a % that do not have a Masters? How many O4's that got CGSC do you know (% wise) without having at least started their Masters? Remember 15 yrs ago online Masters did not exist, that means they actually were in classrooms at night or on the weekends. Bullet got his when he was with the 82nd AB during the Haiti invasion while he also had to visit lovely Ft Polk about 4 times a yr for a month.

    Grad schools on base are very aware of the high stress that the AD member is living. They understand TDY's, and they work with the member.

    To me be smart not only for your career, but your career after the military, get your Masters on the military's dime. 75% TA with a 3 yr commitment is a bargain. You may think you have forever to do it, but life has a funny habit of getting in the way. Start at your 1st chance possible. If that means 1 class a semester, so be it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  14. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Incredible. Overstatement.

    Common for whom? For those who jobs were tied in to the operation, perhaps. To try to pretend like the AF was tasked out in the 90s because they were manning two contingents that didn't amount to even 8,000 people is disingenuous at best. Sadly, that's not an uncommon way of thinking in the Air Force culture.

    Do you expect me to believe that 4 months every 16 was the norm for 95% of the Air Force? How about 50%? 25%? Nope. Not even close. Not even REMOTELY close to the pace of Army/Marine deployments over the past 8 years. Especially since the ONW contingent was only about 1000+ Americans at any one time. ONW, by the way, didn't start until 1997. Prior to that, it was only OSW.

    While you're laying out your list of the trials and tribulations of the Air Force in the 90s, don't you forget about the Army's long-term presence in the Balkans, Somalia, Haiti, etc. EVERY service can point to small contingency operations they conducted in the 90s. That's no trick. But the last ten years and the ten years prior could not be more different in terms of tempo, involvement, and intensity.

    Every service has yearly long-term TDY training on a yearly basis. The Air Force has no claim to some difficult training schedule that the other services do not also endure.

    Yes, the Army's a bunch of inbred morons who care not about something so silly as advanced education, and thus any of the great unwashed can make rank in the Army, right? You know that's what you want to say so just say it.

    There's no correspondence CGSC anymore. And it's called ILE now.

    More than 50%. Most ILE students spent their "degree earning" post-command years deployed for 10, 12, 15 months.

    Maybe AF officers have more time to get their degree as captains or majors, since the majority still haven't deviated from the 4-month deployments (every now and then they'll pull a "long tour" for 6). And no, tours at al-Udeid don't count.
     
  15. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    Scout,

    I respect you alot. I will state without a doubt that you have a much better inner working with the Army today as an O3 than I do, or for that fact than I ever had. I am not trying to offend you in any manner.

    However, stop for a second with which branch has paid more in dues than the other. They all have paid the same.

    Balkans? Who got the Army's but over there? Who HELPED carried out the air strikes? The AF and Navy. Do you believe that the AF flew CAS from Ramstein? No, their butts were in theatre. Services are sisters because they are family.

    Haiti? Who was the 82nd hitching a ride with? The AF. Pope had the runways filled for the troops, as they were in lock down somewhere in the 82nd (Bullet could tell me, but than have to kill me) he as an AF officer was in lock down with AF personnel to jump with the 82nd.

    Notice I said OPERATIONAL. Yes, you are correct there are alot of military personnel that are not OPERATIONAL. AEF means that they go with support. That means, SP, Intel, A&F, Medical, Maintenance, etc. They go as a group from the base. If the base goes, so does support. Let's also both acknowledge that out of the Army, Navy and AF. The AF is the smallest branch, so when they do AEF they have less personnel and assets to pull. There are less to go around.

    Why do most AF bases have rent a cops for guard duty? Because the SPs are deployed and they need rent a cops.

    I also agree every base has long term TDY, did you not read Bullet going to Ft Polk 4 times a yr for a month? That is on top of them doing their monthly exercises of night drops into the field.

    I am in no way what so ever saying the AF is better, I have been one person who has always said that the Army is the one that takes it in the teeth, especially when it comes to housing and incentive pay. (FYI jump pay is the same amt. as it was 40 yrs ago). I have always said that the AF is known as the Chair Force or the Corporate Branch. I have had the luxury of living on 2 Army posts during Bullets AF career. Trust me, I saw it up front and personal the amount of sacrifices families made and without a doubt I was happy my ID said AF/AD/DW. HOWEVER, the AF personnel should not be seen as not carrying the load. DoD decides which branch carries the burden. From 91-01 it was the AF and Navy for the sandbox. Their butts were being shot at it and as that was occurring they were also giving rides to the Army to get them to places like Haiti and Somalia.

    The AF is no better then the Army. The Navy is no better than the AF. The Army is no better than the other two. They all need each other to complete the mission. They are all the best thing that our country has to offer.

    I think you took a comment that I made way over the top.
    I absolutely do not feel this way at all. My point was, if this is the Army's decision, that is the Army's decision. I actually have amazing respect for the Army leadership, and have had it for yrs. I still wish Colin Powell would run for President. I think Petreaus is amazing. My boss is a retired O6, that I admire as a leader and love like a father.

    I was purely stating that this is the AF POV. AF.

    Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Again, that was never my point. My point was, before you know it you will be thinking of separating from the military. Start your Masters ASAP. I remember Bullet getting in and seeing O5's thinking OMG they are so old. I went to bed one night next to an O2 and woke up next to the O5. It flies by fast. It really does.

    I think you would agree, how fast it it has flown by for you. Add in money, marriage, kids, deployments, TDY's, and PCSing there will always be a reason of why to put off getting that Masters.

    This was not ever meant to be AF is better than Army or Navy. I am sorry if you felt that way. It was meant to say, the military on the best day will be 30 yrs of your life, you will still want a 2nd career. It was meant to say, we are not psychic. You can't say that the military will not have a 50% PR for O4/5 and the grad degree won't be an issue.

    You are correct, this is not 10/15 yrs ago. Yet, you can't predict 10/15 yrs from now where we will stand in the 2 war fronts. I am hoping that it will go back to fun tdy's and that the way the decision is made is not because the member has a Bronze star, or air combat medal, but they have a Masters.

    FWIW, I know about ILE, it came into play back in 02/03. I just did not address it because it muddies the water for CGSC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  16. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    One time, I took a taxi to work. After I got out of the car, he drove away. He didn't sit there until the end of the day and wait for me to be done. He said "call when you need a lift."

    We're talking about big numbers here, Pima, as in service-wide numbers because we are talking about careers. It's great that the Air Force gives rides to Haiti. That's not a deployment.

    Every service has contract guards at almost all bases. Not quite sure why you think that's an AF peculiarity. It's been that why for about 8 years now. Maybe the AF was the last one on-board. It's a cost-saving and manpower measure. Even overseas the guards on FOBs are contracted (look up Triple Canopy and EODT).

    Yes, it's called JRTC or, derisively, the "Jert-see" or "Hell's Anus." That was my point...it's nothing out of the ordinary, except that most units do JRTC and NTC instead of all JRTC. Same effect.

    Perhaps so. What I saw in your post was this:

    It's hard not to draw the conclusion that the unspoken half of that thought is "...but even in today's AF, that degree means something, though it clearly doesn't mean anything in the Army since you can make O-5 without one."

    I plan to hand out towels at the gym.

    I would rather see someone promoted based on performance and experience. A piece of paper from East Bird**** State University Graduate School of Checking-the-block is a piss-poor reason to put a man in charge of a combat formation.
     
  17. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Joining the party a bit late here . . . in my day in the USN (which, granted, ended about 15 yrs ago), there were two basic options for officers to obtain graduate degrees -- and, realistically, you needed one to make 0-5:

    Option 1 was to get a "real" degree by getting the USN to send you to grad school at Monterrey (PG school) or a civilian university. There were various ways this could work, depending on your warfare (or restricted line) specialty, your rank, your assignment history, etc.

    The upsides of this approach were: (1) you could study full-time and not have to balance work and study, (2) the USN would pay for it, and (3) you would get your degree in something the USN found useful and thus it might actually help you in your career.

    The downsides were: (1) you were not doing "real" work for 18-24 mos, meaning no fitreps, etc, (2) you had to pay back time -- usually 2x the time spent at grad school -- for 24 mos, you'd pay back 4 yrs, (3) the USN decided on your post-school tour, which was supposed to be relevant to your degree but which may or may not have career enhancing, and (4) the USN decided the subject in which you'd get your degree.

    Option 2 was to get a degree on your own, which typically meant the quickest, cheapest Masters degree you could find. You did this on your own time and, often (this could vary) at your own cost or with some USN tuition assistance.

    The upsides of this approach were that: (1) you didn't have to take time away from your real work to go to school, thus keeping you in the mix of things, (2) you didn't owe any payback, and (3) you could pick the subject of your degree, and (4) you didn't have to pay back time, giving you more flexibility if you wanted to leave the USN.

    The downsides were that : (1) you had to squeeze this into an already busy schedule, meaning more time away from family, (2) the degree was often a "paper" degree in things such as personnel administration, etc., and (3) you had to pay for some or all of the cost.

    In my specialty, the overwhelming majority went for Option 2. Quite honestly, it was one of the reasons I got out -- I figured that if I were going to spend the time and money to pursue a graduate degree, I wanted actually to learn something that was marketable.

    Now, having said the above, a couple of caveats . . . First, this was 15 yrs ago and I'm certain some things have changed and, second, we were not a nation at war. That alone, I'm sure, has resulted in some changes to approach. Third, every warfare specialty is different -- as is every service -- so what goes for one person in one situation may not be at all the same for someone else.
     
  18. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    I'm a devoted fan of USNA1985, but want to add a small subset to Option 1 (since this site includes a lot of service academy folks): VGEP. It allows about 20 Mids/class to pursue a master's @ a DC-area college/university, starting in the 2nd semester of their 1/C year, and postponing true active duty. Navy helps pay (around $7500) and some schools offer USNA scholarships that further reduce cost.

    Despite what others have said on this site, my Mid was told this year, in 2010, that VGEP would NOT add years to his service obligation. He starts @ Johns Hopkins in January.
     
  19. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Thanks for the compliment!:smile: My post was intended to refer to those who were on active duty well removed from the SAs or other commissioning sources. I think the OP asked about Captains or Majors, if I recall correctly, and their ability to take time off to get their Master's.

    However, you are correct that VGEP is an option for certain SA candidates, at least at USNA. I assume other SAs have similar programs but don't know. That degree would, obviously, "count" for most officers. There may be some warfare or other specialties that are looking for particular courses of study in the Master's program and getting a VGEP degree might or might not be in the "right" subject to help ensure promotion -- however, I'll admit that I'm too far removed from the USN (let alone other services) to provide guidance on that.
     

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