Career Satisfaction Program (CSP) FAQ's:
  • FAQ: General Questions

    • What is an ADSO?

      ADSO stands for Active Duty Service Obligation. This is the amount of time that an officer must serve on active duty. Below are the commissioning ADSOs by source of commission:
      • ROTC Non-Scholars have a 3-year commissioning ADSO
      • ROTC Scholars have a 4-year commissioning ADSO
      • West Point graduates have a 5 year commissioning ADSO
      Every officer incurs an 8-year MSO (Military Service Obligation) which can be served on either active duty or in the reserves. After serving your commissioning ADSO, your remaining obligation can be served either on active duty or in one of the reserve components, based on your requests and the needs of the Army. If you participate in one of the 3 CSP options you exchange 3 years of mandatory reserve service for an additional 3-year ADSO. This is what we call the CSP ADSO. All officer ADSOs are explained in AR 350-100.
    • If I serve on active duty up to or beyond my 8-year Military Service Obligation (MSO), do I owe any time in the reserve component if I elect to leave active duty?

      No.
    • If I sign up for one of the CSP options now, will I make myself ineligible for incentive bonuses offered to me as an officer?

      No.
    • If I don't sign up for one of the CSP options and I resign from active duty after completing my commissioning ADSO, what are my options for reserve service between the end of my time on active duty and year 8?

      You can serve in the Selected Reserve or, in some cases, the Individual Ready Reserve. Most officers are generally expected to fulfill their service obligations in the Selected Reserve. The Selected Reserve is the most readily available group of Army Reserve soldiers to the President. The Selected Reserve is comprised of Troop Program Units (TPUs) in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, Active Guard and Reserve (AGR), and Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMAs). Soldiers in a TPU typically train on selected weekends and perform annual training. AGR soldiers serve full time on active duty in units and organizations of the Army Reserve or that directly support the Army Reserve. IMAs are assigned to high-level headquarters where they would serve if mobilized. IMAs train annually for two weeks. Members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) are trained soldiers who may be called upon, when needed, to replace soldiers in Active and Army Reserve units. IRR Soldiers have been called upon to serve in the Global War on Terrorism.
    • Can I just wait and sign up for these programs after I graduate?

      No. These programs are only available to you while you are a cadet.
    • If I volunteer to participate in one of these programs but later change my mind, do I still have to serve my 3 year CSP option ADSO?

      Yes. Your preference statement is a real contract. If the Army selects you to participate in one of the three CSP options and you commission onto active duty, you will be obligated to that contract and must serve the 3-year CSP ADSO that runs consecutively (one-after-the-other in nearly all cases) with your commissioning ADSO.
  • FAQ: Graduate School Option (GRADSO)

    • If I want to be a Foreign Area Officer or teach at West Point and I think I'm good enough to get it, why should I participate in the CSP Graduate School option?

      Again, these programs are great programs but are highly selective. If you know you want to stay in the Army long enough to earn a spot in one of these programs, then you're most likely to be in through Company Command. If you participate in the CSP Graduate School option, you'll have a GUARANTEED grad school opportunity if you end up not getting selected for FAO or West Point. Bottom line: with the grad school option you have a guarantee in your pocket if the other options don't work out and you won't be in the Army any longer than you would have been otherwise.
    • If I get selected for one of the ACS programs like teaching at West Point or joining a Career Field, what happens to my CSP Graduate School contract?

      If you elect to participate in one of the ACS programs you will pursue your graduate school through that program and the Army will void your CSP Graduate School contract. You are essentially making the commitment to stay on active duty for a longer period of time to go to graduate school and how you do that is up to you.
    • If I get selected to participate in the CSP Graduate School option and later apply to and get accepted into the FLEP (law) program, medical programs, or one of the scholarship programs (like Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, etc.), will I be released from my CSP contract?

      Yes and No. If you get accepted into and choose to participate in the FLEP program, medical programs or similar Army ACS program, then your CSP contract will be voided and you will attend graduate school under that program. However, if you earn a scholarship such as a Rhodes, Truman, or Gates you are absolutely eligible for the Graduate School option and can pursue another degree later in your career.
    • If I don't sign up for the Graduate School option, will I still have the opportunity to attend a fully-funded graduate program through the Army?

      Yes. While the CSP Graduate School option is the only true guarantee, you may still compete for FLEP (law program), medical programs, or traditional ACS based upon your military record, timing, and the needs of the Army. But remember, these programs are highly competitive and your school and program choices will be guided and limited by the Army. Also, to participate in one of these programs you may be required to leave your basic branch.
    • Can I attend graduate school through my basic branch (like the Engineers) while I'm still on active duty? What about Tuition Assistance (TA)?

      Yes. There are instances where basic branches have established graduate school opportunities for officers in conjunction with the Captain's Career Course. For example, the Engineer School offers a joint masters degree in Engineering Management through the local college. Also, ROTC faculty members often enroll in degree granting programs while serving as Professors or Assistant Professors in the ROTC program. Participants must pay for the schooling out of their own pocket; however, many will qualify for tuition assistance (TA) from the Army. Participation in one of these types of programs does not preclude you from also participating in ACS, FLEP, or the CSP Graduate School option, as long as you pursue a different program of study when you attend the fully-funded program.
    • If I participate in the CSP Graduate School option, can I remain in my basic branch?

      YES! Under the CSP Graduate School option officers will be able to attend graduate school and then return immediately to operational assignments. Under the current ACS program, most officers complete functional area utilization tours upon completion of graduate school.
    • Under the Graduate School option can I go to graduate school "early" and who determines how "early" I could go?

      Yes. Your contract says that the window for graduate school is between year 6 and 11 years of service. However, it is possible to go to graduate school early under this. The exact timing of your graduate school will depend on your preferences, your career objectives, and the needs of the Army through coordination with your branch manager. Between your 5th and 6th year of service, you should actively engage your branch/assignment manager to develop your specific plan for graduate school attendance. Based on the needs of the Army, some participants might begin at year 6 or even earlier. Based on personal preferences and career development objectives, some might begin at year 9 or even later. There are a few exceptions where branch managers may grant early attendance as early as at the fourth year of service.
    • If I choose the Graduate School option does the Army help negotiate my admission?

      No. You must complete your applications and gain admission to the graduate program and university of your choosing. Remember you have something that most other applicants do not, 5-6 years of unparalleled leadership experience and full tuition. You are probably able to gain admission to a better school than you would without this program.
    • If I participate in the Graduate School option, is it really a "guarantee" to attend a fully-funded graduate program of my choosing within the US?

      Yes. First, you have to volunteer for the program and sign a contract. Second, the Army will validate your option during your captain promotion board (sometime between your 3rd & 4th year of active commissioned service). Thus, if the Army does not select you for promotion to captain, you will not be required to serve the additional 3-year active duty service obligation. Once you are selected for promotion to Captain (and are not undergoing punishment under the UCMJ or other unfavorable action) you have the guarantee to attend graduate school. However, to ensure that you go to graduate school at a time that works for you and your branch, you must keep an open dialogue with your branch manager at HRC!
    • Is it really only 10% of a class that receives graduate education from the Army?

      While any officer can pursue a graduate degree on his/her own time and there are many tuition assistance opportunities, the Army only sends approximately 10% of a year group to graduate school in a FULLY-FUNDED program. Fully-funded means, you receive full pay and benefits, your tuition is paid for, and you do not wear a uniform to class.
    • If I already have a master's degree, can the two years be used for a Ph.D or a law degree?

      You must first gain approval from your assignment manager and HRC to use CSP towards a Ph.D. The purpose of the program is to give you up to 24 months towards a master's degree. Depending on the program and your individual circumstances, it may be possible to use the 24 months towards a Ph.D. You may also pursue a law degree, but you can only do so within the 24 months under an accelerated law school program. A limited number of law schools offer these accelerated programs. If you pursue this route and attain a law degree, you may not enter the JAG Corps or practice law on behalf of the Army. The only way to enter the JAG Corps is via the FLEP program.
    • If I sign up for the Graduate School option, will I be directed by the Army to a degree program that the Army wants me to attend?

      No. Under this program, you choose any discipline of study from the Army's approved list. The Army's list encompasses a wide array of programs to include most graduate disciplines except those related to medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and theology.
    • If I branch Medical Service Corps, can I elect this CSP option?

      No. The medical command branches do not participate in this option under the CSP. Army Nurses, Medical Corps, Veterinary Corps, Dental Corps, and Medical Specialist officers cannot participate in this program either. However, these branches do have opportunities to attend a fully-funded graduate program under a different program and as part of their specialized branch.
    • It seems like this program is asking me to commit the next 14/15/16 years of my life to the Army. Aren't you asking me to make a big commitment?

      This is a common misconception but is a great question. The short answer is: you are only committing to serve an additional 3-year ADSO; then you get to make a choice. The Graduate School option is just that, an OPTION, or the guaranteed RIGHT to go to graduate school. By securing this option you can make the decision to stay in the Army and go to graduate school or leave the Army and pursue other things.


      You are only agreeing to serve the additional 3 year CSP ADSO on active duty. Instead of serving 3, 4 or 5 years on active duty (depending on source of commission) and the remainder in the reserves, you will simply serve 6, 7 or 8 years on active duty. While you are serving this CSP ADSO you will command a company and be the proud owner of 100% of the Post 9/11 GI Bill for use by you or for transfer to your spouse or children.


      If you choose to continue on active duty and exercise the graduate school option, you are guaranteed fully-funded graduate school at the school of your choice. Or, you can leave active duty at the end of your commissioning and CSP ADSOs.

    • What is the difference between the Graduate School option under the CSP and the regular ACS program?

      There are many similarities between the Graduate School option and the Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) program. For example, during graduate school under either program, you will remain on active duty as an officer. Thus, the Army will pay full tuition and fees and you will continue to receive all basic pay and entitlements. Under both programs you will typically attend graduate school after successful company command or your branch's key and developmental captain position. Further, any time you go to graduate school, through ACS or the Grad School option under the CSP, you will owe three days for every one day you spend in school. That's where the similarities stop.


      There are a number of programs within the ACS program: West Point instructor, Congressional Fellows Program, Joint Chief of Staff Internship, and the graduate programs associated with individual career fields or branches like Operations Research & Systems Analysis (ORSA) or Foreign Area Officer (FAO). Selection for these programs is highly competitive and depends on your military service record, undergraduate GPA, and GRE or GMAT scores. Within each of these programs you are confined by the degree you can study and the cost of the institution. The Graduate School option under the CSP differs greatly from ACS along a number of dimensions. As long as you are selected for promotion to Captain you retain your option as a guarantee to participate in the program regardless of your undergraduate academic performance. Unlike ACS, where the Army imposes many restrictions on your program of study, institution, and the cost of tuition, the Graduate School option puts you in the driver's seat and allows you to choose both the institution and the degree. Even more, there is absolutely NO COST CAP that will limit where you go to school. There is also no utilization assignment following graduate school under the CSP Graduate School option. Following graduate school, you will return to your branch or career field to serve in the Major key and developmental positions that will prepare you for promotion in that branch or CFD.

    • If I graduate near the top of my class, won't I be selected for the fully-funded ACS program?

      Not Necessarily. Selection for fully-funded ACS is a very competitive process, the results of which are greatly influenced by the timing of your assignments and promotion windows. Typically, only 10% of a graduating class will ever attend a fully-funded graduate program sponsored by the Army (of those who stay on active duty long enough to be promoted to major, the participation rate is about 20%). Again, selection for ACS is highly competitive and based in large part upon your military performance record, timing, and the needs of the Army. The great advantage of the CSP Graduate School option is that you will get the guarantee of a fully-funded graduate education.
  • FAQ: Branch of Choice Program (BRADSO)

    • If I participate in the Branch for Choice program to receive Aviation branch, how is my ADSO calculated?

      ADSO still remains three years to be served consecutively following your initial commissioning obligation as an aviator, which differs from all other branches. Aviators incur a 6-year obligation from the date of their successful completion of flight school regardless of source of commission. The 3-year ADSO for receiving aviation as a branch of choice is then added to that flight school obligation and served consecutively.
    • Do I have to participate in the Branch of Choice program if I want my first branch choice?

      No. However, participating in the Branch of Choice option improves your chances of getting your first branch choice. Because ROTC and West Point have different branching methodologies, please see the slides under the Branch of Choice tab in the left side toolbar for specifics on each program. At both commissioning sources, there are a percentage of cadets who will receive their branch choice based solely on their strong standing on the OML. For those who aren't above that threshold, you can signal your willingness to serve in that branch by electing to participate in the Branch of Choice option within the CSP. This gives you a much better chance of getting your first branch choice and essentially moves you ahead of someone higher on the OML who isn't willing to serve three additional years on active duty to secure that branch.
    • If I say that I want to participate in the Branch of Choice option and I end up not needing it because I am high enough on the OML, will the 3-year CSP ADSO be charged?

      No. If you do not need the Branch of Choice option to get your desired branch the CSP ADSO will not be charged.
  • FAQ: Post of Choice Program (PADSO)

    • If I participate in the Post of Choice option and the Army changes my assignment, will I still be obligated to serve the additional 3-year CSP ADSO?

      No. When you sign the Post of Choice contract the Army agrees to send you to that post or country for your first duty assignment. You will serve at your initial post for between 24 and 48 months depending on your basic branch and follow-on professional military education (PME) course. If the Army changes your assignment, your contract will be invalidated and you will not be required to serve the additional 3-year CSP ADSO. However, if you are a participant in this program and you request a post change and the Army finds a way to accommodate your desire, you will retain the 3-year CSP ADSO.

    • If I participate in the Post of Choice option, does that mean that I will get to stay at my post of choice for my entire active duty service obligation?

      No. Participating in the Post of Choice program gives you certainty about where you will serve your first tour of duty upon completion of your basic officer course and any follow-on courses like Ranger or Airborne School. Once you complete your first assignment, typically a three-year lifecycle under current manning guidance, you may be reassigned to a new unit and post or elect to attend your branch's captain's career course.
    • If I branch Aviation can I select my post of choice?

      No. Aviation branch does not participate in the Post of Choice option because your post depends on the airframe that you fly. You will not know this until you complete Aviation flight school.