Puneet Varma (Editor)

Squadron Officer School

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Active  1 Nov 1954 to present
Branch  Air Force
Squadron Officer School
Country  United States of America
Type  Professional Military Education
Size  3,000 students annually
Part of  Squadron Officer College, Air University, Air Education and Training Command

Squadron Officer School (SOS), is a five-week-long Professional Military Education (PME) course for U.S. Air Force Captains, 1st Lieutenants selected for Captain, Department of the Air Force Civilian (DAFC) equivalents and International Officers. It fulfills the U.S. Air Force's requirement for primary developmental education (PDE). SOS is based at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and the in-residence version of the course is taught there. SOS is part of the Squadron Officer College (SOC), an element of the Air University.


Unlike Air University's intermediate and senior level PME courses, there is no seminar program for SOS. In addition, "in residence" attendance at SOS does not include any U.S. officers from sister services, although those officers are eligible to take SOS via correspondence or distance learning formats.


Squadron Officer School traces its roots to the Air Corps Tactical School, which was founded in 1926 and closed in 1946. When SOS was established at Maxwell AFB in 1950, it became an arm of Air Command and Staff College. Colonel Russell V. Ritchey, USAF, was the founder of SOS and its first commandant. In 1959, SOS became a separate Air University school reporting directly to the Air University commander.

Originally established as a 12-week in-residence program at Maxwell AFB, SOS was shortened to an 8-week program in the early 1990s due, in part, to post-Cold War budgetary pressures.

In 1997, in an effort to emulate The Basic School (TBS) program of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Air Force established the Air and Space Basic Course (ASBC) for all newly commissioned Second Lieutenants in the Regular Air Force, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, regardless of commissioning source (e.g., USAFA, AFROTC, Air Force OTS, Academy of Military Science, direct commission, etc.), graduating its first class of Second Lieutenants in early 1998. Concurrent with this action, the Air Force shortened the in-residence SOS curriculum to 5 weeks. ASBC shared Building 1403 at Maxwell AFB with SOS until military construction at Maxwell AFB later expanded classroom space for both schools. In 2000, both ASBC and SOS merged to form an integrated Squadron Officer College (SOC), with both schools sharing a common curriculum directorate and mission support staff.

SOC's mission changed again in 2011 with a decision by the Air Force to eliminate ASBC, extend SOS from 5 weeks back to 8 weeks, change SOC's name back to SOS, and pursue 100% SOS resident attendance opportunity for all Line-of-the-Air Force captains.

Since its activation, the Squadron Officer School has received the following awards and recognition:

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (four times)

  • 1 Jan 1969 - 31 Dec 1970
  • 1 Jan 1973 - 31 Dec 1974
  • 1 May 1980 - 30 Apr 1982
  • 1 Jan 1983 - 31 Dec 1984
  • Air Force Organizational Excellence Award (ten times)

  • 1 Jan 1985 - 31 May 1986
  • 1 Jul 1993 - 30 Jun 1995
  • 1 Jul 1997 - 30 Jun 1998
  • 1 Jul 1998 - 7 Feb 2000
  • 8 Feb 2000 - 30 Jun 2001
  • 1 Jul 2002 - 30 Jun 2003
  • 1 Jul 2003 - 30 Jun 2004
  • 1 Jul 2005 - 30 Jun 2006
  • 1 Jul 2006 - 30 Jun 2007
  • 1 Jul 2007 - 30 Jun 2008
  • Transfer Credit

    Some colleges and universities recognize Squadron Officer School graduates with graduate-level transfer credits. Some of these programs include:

  • American Military University and American Public University allow three semester hours of transfer credits to SOS graduates to be applied for a graduate degree.
  • Central Michigan University allows for three semester hours of transfer credit to be applied by SOS graduates to a graduate degree.
  • University of Oklahoma allows for three semester hours of transfer credit to be applied by SOS in-residence graduates to a graduate degree.
  • References

    Squadron Officer School Wikipedia