Army Military Education Promotion PointsUpdated: May 2, 2021
Getting promoted in the United State Army is a bit complicated. There are standards that every soldier is required to meet to stay in uniform, and they include being qualified for promotion.
You read that correctly, soldiers are required to maintain standards in order to get promoted regardless of whether or not they are qualified for promotion in that given moment.
The Army has refined its promotion system. The “classic” Army promotion system includes the creation of a list called an Order of Merit List, commonly abbreviated OML. Previously, the OML has been used to select soldiers for promotion.
The process included assigning promotees a number that basically created a waiting list for promotion to the next rank. Those who have served the longest in uniform (and in their current pay grade) are promoted earliest.
The Army OML
Under the revised promotion rules, that waiting list is reorganized and populated based on data from the OML, but OML is NOT used to create the promotion waiting list. What happens instead?
The OML is used to determine which soldiers are qualified for promotion (see above) and assign a merit-based system for assigning places in the promotion waiting list.
Being promotion-qualified means the soldier is considered eligible to reenlist, it’s not used only as a benchmark to get promoted to the next rank. Under the revised system, promotion points are still used to help determine who is the most qualified to get their next higher rank and pay grade. And Education Promotion Points are part of that.
Remember that the promotion requirements for junior enlisted troops is different than being promoted to a non-commissioned officer rank. Much of what follows is for NCO promotions but junior enlisted will find their own requirements to be similar in spirit to what is required to become an NCO.
The U.S. Army Promotion Points System
A soldier can earn a maximum of 800 promotion points across a variety of areas including training, fitness testing, deployments, and weapons qualification, just to name a few. The one thing not mentioned in that list? Education, which is a very important source of promotion points.
There are some rules soldiers quickly learn about this points system. The first thing? Points alone do not count. You must serve the minimum time in grade, time in service, and pass a promotions board where applicable.
You must also pass an Army Warrior Leader Course. Without those prerequisites, you can earn all the promotion points you like but will not be considered for promotion without the prerequisites.
Army Education Promotion Points
There are education promotion points for Army professional military education as well as civilian college or off-duty education courses. Points are capped for most categories including education. Some professional education courses earn zero promotion points while other education efforts can be worth as many as 80 promotion points.
Why are some professional military education classes awarded zero points? In many case because they are requirements to become promoted rather than something you do “above and beyond” your daily military duties.
For example, the Army’s Structured Self Development courses and the Army Basic Leader Course have no promotion points offered. The Army official site says of the Basic Leader Course, “Any Soldier who would like to move up in rank is required to take this course” indicating that you won’t be awarded extra points simply for having met the minimum standard.
Promotion Points For Army Leader Courses
That said, it IS possible to earn promotion points while at the Basic Leader Course for outstanding academic work. If you are starting to see a pattern emerging here, it’s because the Army wants to reward those who go the extra mile with points toward promotion for doing more than the requirement.
How many promotion points can a motivated soldier earn at Basic Leader Course? A maximum of 60–you can earn 20 points for getting on the Commandant’s List (think of getting on the Dean’s List in a civilian college) and a whopping 40 points for those who earn Distinguished Honor Graduate. The same is true of the Army Advanced Leader Course.
Promotion Points For ATRRS
Soldiers know ATRRS stands for Army Training Requirements and Resources System and there is an opportunity to earn as much as four promotion points a week over 40 training hours for classes that are listed in the system. In this particular case you may be able to earn points even for required coursework.
Army Warrior Leader Course
This is a good opportunity to earn up to 80 promotion points for typical attendance. The Army Warrior Leader Course is three weeks long and offers a chance to earn even more promotion points by graduating in the upper 10% of the class and more points for those who graduate as a member of the Commandant’s List. A maximum of 102 points are possible under such conditions.
Ranger, Special Forces, and Sapper Courses
Soldiers can earn up to 40 promotion points for completion of Sapper, Ranger, or Special Forces training but the soldier must complete every phase of the program to earn the points.
Army Correspondence Courses
Taking Army classes online can earn as much as 78 promotion points. Each five-hour course is worth a single promotion point, and some sources report that the “five hour” commitment is in reality much lower depending on the nature of the course and how fast the student can process the information.
Some Programs Don’t Offer Promotion Points
As mentioned above, there are Army programs that do not offer or allow promotion points for completion. These include but are not limited to:
- Basic Training
- Advanced Individual Training (AIT)
- Officer Candidate School
- Warrant Officer Candidate courses
- New equipment training
- Military Academy coursework
- On-the-job training
- Classes required to maintain an MOS
- FEMA coursework
Army Promotion Points For Civilian Education
The first thing to do when trying for civilian education promotion points? Use any acceptable college courses you have already taken. The Army accepts college coursework on a one-for-one basis. One college credit = one promotion point. The nature of your courses may determine whether or not they are acceptable for promotion points.
You may be able to earn promotion points not only for taking classes but also for earning a degree. If you use Army Tuition Assistance and complete a degree by taking a class paid for by Army TA, you could earn as much as 10 promotion points.
The Army allows promotion points for using CLEP or DANTES to earn college credit via examination. You may be permitted to earn as many as three promotion points for successfully completing such tests.
Taking civilian college classes can also earn you up to a maximum of 75 promotion points.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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