Military chaplains offer a broadly based ministry aimed at meeting the diverse pastoral needs of the pluralistic military community. All chaplains are responsible for supporting both directly and indirectly the Constitutionally mandated free exercise of religion for all members of the Military Services, their family members, and other authorized persons. (Referenced from Department of Defense Directive 1304.19) Every Active Duty, Guard, Reserve or Civil Air Patrol Chaplain is required to receive an ecclesiastical endorsement from his or her own religious organization, no matter which branch of military service is desired. Each chaplain is expected to remain faithful to the tenets of the religious group granting one’s ecclesiastical endorsement. Selection to become a chaplain is competitive and based on the needs of the particular Service Branch to which a person applies.
The basic requirements to become an Active Duty, Reserve, Guard or Civil Air Patrol Chaplain include:
- Ecclesiastical endorsement (certifies experience and degree requirements meet the standards of the respective ecclesiastical group)
- Two years religious leadership consistent with clergy in applicant’s tradition (strongly recommended)
- United States citizenship (No dual citizenship)
- Bachelor’s degree (120 semester hours or 180 quarter hours)
- A graduate degree to include a minimum of 72 semester hours (or equivalent) from a qualifying (accredited) institution. Not less than 36 hours must be in theological/ministry and related studies, consistent with the respective religious tradition of the applicant. Endorsers are free to exceed the DoD standard per ecclesiastical requirements, but cannot go below the minimal DoD requirements, e.g. many endorsers specifically require the Master of Divinity degree.
Active Duty Chaplains:
- Army: Commissioned prior to age 40 (Age waiver availability may vary from year to year)
- Air Force and Navy: Commissioned and on active duty by age 42 (Some consideration may be made for prior service)
- Pass a military commissioning physical
- Pass a security background investigation
- Ability to work in the DoD directed religious accommodation environment.
For further questions, contact the Service Branch Chaplaincy you are interested in serving with.