Path of a JAG Officer


If selected, you are recommended for a commission with the U.S. Navy. You will have time to decide if you wish to join and move forward with a JAG Corps program. If you accept the commission, you will sign an "Oath and Acceptance of Office."

  • If you were selected under the Student Program, you will be commissioned as an Ensign in the inactive Navy Reserves (non-paid, non-drilling status).
  • If you were selected under the Direct Appointment Program, you will be commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade.

Officer Development School

Before becoming a Navy judge advocate, you must become an officer first. You will not undergo basic training in the traditional sense, but will attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI.

  • ODS is a five-week course of instruction designed to acquaint newly commissioned staff corps officers with the customs and traditions of the naval service. ODS is less demanding than Officer Candidate School (OCS), which is used to screen applicants who want to serve in traditional naval officer communities like aviation and surface warfare. As an ODS student, you will receive extensive leadership training and learn what it means to be a naval officer. You will be required to march to and from classes, participate in physical fitness training, and stand personnel and room inspections. Also included is instruction on the basic principles of damage control (firefighting, flood measures, and first aid), Navy administration, and disciplinary measures. For more information, visit ODS.
  • As a Student Program selectee, you will be activated from the Inactive Ready Reserve and start ODS on active duty as a lieutenant junior grade. After ODS, you will report to your first duty station until you receive orders to Naval Justice School.
  • As a Direct Appointment selectee, you will be a lieutenant junior grade on active duty starting at ODS. After ODS, you will report to your first duty station until you receive orders to Naval Justice School.

Naval Justice School

The Naval Justice School (NJS) in Newport, RI provides intensive instruction to officers in the fundamental principles of military justice, civil and administrative law, and procedure, with practical application of those principles.

  • NJS students attend the Basic Lawyer Course and, upon successful completion of this course, become certified as Navy judge advocates. The course of instruction is nine-ten weeks and covers civil and military law, as well as intensive trial advocacy training.
  • Once you begin active duty at NJS, you will be required to serve four years. After a four-year active duty obligation, your name will remain on a list of inactive reserve officers for four additional years if you choose to leave active duty.

Judge Advocate Training Program

Throughout your first two years as a Navy judge advocate, you will rotate between the three major areas of services: legal assistance, command services, and military justice.

Promotion Path of a Navy Judge Advocate

Pay Grade Average Number of Years in Rank
Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG/O-2) 1 year
Lieutenant (LT/O-3) 5-6 years
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR/O-4) 5 years
Commander (CDR/O-5) 6 years
Captain/Flag (CAPT/O-6, Flag/O-8 or O-9) Varies based on retirement

Career Paths

National Security Law

Environmental Law

Military Justice