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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How was I selected to receive an invitation to apply?
 
The Department of Systems Engineering searches for officers with a diverse background. To accomplish this, we use the Army's electronic Total Officer Personnel Management Information System to develop a candidate database. We provide three criterions for the search. We are looking for specific year groups, degree completion type (M.S. or MBA for PhDs), and degree codes. The degree codes include classical engineering degrees, systems engineering, operations research, industrial engineering, decision sciences, math, economics, and business management. Yes, we are interested in business management backgrounds!
 
 
Q: What are the qualifications for a faculty assignment?

To be approved for Advanced Civil Schooling and a subsequent USMA faculty assignment, you must be branch-qualified as a captain. We look for officers with undergraduate degrees in systems engineering, engineering management, operations research, mathematics, traditional engineering (civil, mechanical, environmental, etc.), computer science, management, economics or a closely related field. Our diverse background as a faculty is the strength of our department as we teach cadets the full spectrum from classical engineering to business management. Our selection criteria include undergraduate academic performance (based on your transcript), military performance (based on letters of recommendation, OER’s, etc.), and professional experience.
 
 
Q: How many applicants typically apply each year?
 
We typically receive sixty applicants for the master’s program. Only 50% (about 30) of the applicants fully complete their packets to be competitive for positions. The number of available positions varies from year to year but we average five rotating master’s positions each year. We typically receive 30 PhD packets each year. About 75% of the PhD applicants fully complete their packets. We average one to two rotating PhD positions per year
 
 
Q: What criteria should I use to screen myself for competition?
 
If you are interested in us we are most likely interested in you. We are looking for successful officers with strong military and academic backgrounds. Remember that we do not have all of your personal information. The personnel officer does not know your grades or the type of classes that you have taken. The eTopmis screening is not very selective since it filters out candidates by programs of interest and not quality of completion. Therefore, here are some screening criteria provided by the Advanced Civilian Schooling division at HRC. 
  • Not more than a total of 17 years Active Federal Service (AFS) upon entry into the ACS Program.
  • Undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or better.
  • For those students who took the GRE prior to 1 Aug 2011, minimum GRE score of 500, 500 and 4.0. GRE scores must be a minimum of 500, 500 and 4.0. GRE scores below the criteria must be accompanied by a waiver request with justification from the officer’s Career Division or Functional Area Manager. The minimum waiverable GRE score is 350 and 2.0. Advanced Education Programs Branch will not approve any officer who scores less than 350 or 2.0, even if the applicant has been accepted into school.
  • For those candidates who took the GRE after 1 Aug 2011 (following the restructure of scoring of the GRE), minimum GRE scores must be a minimum of 153 (Verbal Reasoning), 144 (Quantitative Reasoning) and 4.0 (Analytical).
  • The Chief, Advanced Education Programs Branch, may grant waivers on a case-by-case basis for examination or GPAs, but not both.
  • Minimum GMAT score of 500 (for management related degrees only, e.g. Comptrollers, Acquisition Management, and MBA). GMAT score below the criteria must be accompanied by a waiver request with justification from the officer’s Career Division or Functional Area Manager. The minimum waiverable GMAT score is 350.
  • Meet most of the pre-requisites for graduate school. Some pre-requisites you can take during the summer or in conjunction with the first semester of classes.
 
Q: What OERs and AERs should I post?

It is recommended you post all OERs and AERs for both Master’s and PhD candidates. The selection committee is extremely interested in the progression and performance at different stages of your career. Remember that you will be mentoring future company grade officers. They want to know how you performed as a company grade officer.
 
 
Q: Should I upload a personal photo or my DA Photo?
 
You may upload a personal photo to the WEST system; we can view your DA Photo on your ORB.
 
 
Q: What should I write for the personal statement (referred to as “Statement” in WEST)?

The focus of this document is to tell the selection committee about you. Why do you want to teach Systems Engineering to cadets? What are your career goals? How will achieving a degree in Systems Engineering, Operations Research, or Engineering Management followed by mentoring cadets assist you in achieving your career goals? What are your hobbies and interests? How do you intend to get involved with cadets outside of the classroom? What is your family life like?
 
 
Q: What format should we use for letters of recommendation?

Use a letter or memorandum format. Address the letters of recommendation to the Department Head. The current Department Head is COL Robert Kewley. If you are applying to multiple departments, please feel free to address these letters to the broader ”Faculty Selection Committee”.
 
 
Q: How many letters of recommendation should I include?

You may include in your packet as many letters of recommendation as you feel are necessary. Typically candidates include two to three letters. The selection board encourages candidates to include letters from an instructor or mentor who knew you in school and can speak about your ability to teach at USMA, a current superior who can speak to your performance and someone who can discuss how teaching at USMA will provide a stepping stone for future endeavors.
 
 
Q: I already have a master’s or PhD. Can I still apply?

If you already have a resident master’s degree or PhD, you have several options. First, you can apply without graduate school enroute for a direct hire position using the same process. We cannot predict when we will have an opening for a direct hire. Personnel management is a dynamic process, which requires direct hire officers from time to time. We are averaging one direct hire position per year and that position is not selected as part of this board. Secondly, it is possible to apply for an additional master’s or PhD depending on how you received funding for your previous degrees. Bottom line is that if the ACS program funded your M.S. or PhD, then they will not fund an additional M.S. or PhD. A master’s degree is a prerequisite for application to attend a doctorate program and ACS will fund the PhD regardless if they paid for your M.S.
 

Q: Can I apply for both the PhD and Master’s Program?
 
Candidates will be considered for either the PhD or Master’s programs, but not both. Current GRE scores are required for consideration in either program.
 
 
Q: I’m not a USMA graduate. Can I still apply for a faculty position?

Yes! It is very important that our faculty include officers from all commissioning sources.
 
 
Q: What is the appropriate point in my career timeline to attend graduate school and teach at USMA?
 
We send officers to a master’s degree program in their 6th, 7th, or 8th year of service. This year (2018) our target population includes Year Groups 2011, 2012, and 2013; selected officers will start graduate school in 2019. Due to pressures caused by Human Resource Command policies, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to get approval for 8th-year school starts (YG 2011). Thus being available to start school in the 6th or 7th year is strongly preferred. We select officers for a doctorate program to coincide with completion of their MEL 4 requirements. This typically includes officers in their tenth year of service through their fifteenth year of service. The last year group would complete their last year of ADSO in their 27th year of service or mandatory retirement date for LTC. Our target population for this selection includes Year Groups 2003 through 2007.
 
 
Q: What are my options for graduate schooling?
 
All of our master’s candidates attend graduate school for two years, fully funded by the Army. You may attend the school of your choice, subject to two constraints. First, we ask that you attend a highly rated school. Second, we ask that you apply to three different graduate schools, two of which must be in the Army’s "low cost" category. The good news is that many of the finest engineering graduate programs in the U.S. are low-cost. Faculty attend programs across the country that include but are not limited to Systems Engineering, Engineering Management, Decision Analysis, Systems Design and Management, Operational Research, Industrial Engineering, Mathematics, Management Science and Engineering as well as MBA programs.
 
 
Q: Will a USMA faculty assignment damage my career?

No. Our officers are promoted to major at a significantly higher rate than the Army as a whole. Many of our faculty alumni are current General Officers. True, a USMA faculty assignment entails five years away from troops; for this reason, serving at the Academy is probably not as career enhancing as, say, a second company command. However, compared with the types of assignments you are most likely to have during this period of your career, a USMA assignment will do you no harm. More importantly, the intellectual abilities that you develop, both in graduate school and as a teacher in a world-class engineering program, will serve you very well as an adaptable leader in our technology-rich Army.
 
 
Q: What if I am deployed and cannot take the GRE?
 
Although it is preferred to have GRE scores included in your application submission, it is not the only indication of your ability to be successful in graduate school. Please continue to apply and annotate in your personal statement letter the reason for not including your GRE scores and the first available date for you to complete the exam. HRC requires all advanced civilian schooling candidates to submit a copy of their GRE scores as an enclosure to the graduate school packet.
 
 
Q: Do I need GRE scores?

Yes! Packets missing a current (within 5 years) GRE score will not be considered unless due to extenuating circumstances such as a deployment. This requirement also applies for PhD candidates. The GRE score is an additional data point for the selection committee to evaluate if you will succeed in a top tier PhD program. The selection committee values your overall performance in your undergraduate and master’s program and use the GRE as an additional indicator of your potential. Copies of GRE scores will be accepted for initial packet submissions. In the event you are selected, you will be required to submit official copies of your GRE scores.
 
 
Q: What kind of GRE scores do I need to have to be competitive?
 
Higher the better! At a minimum, you have to score over 500 in each section of the GRE. Fewer than 500 points require a waiver to HRC with no less than 400 in any section. The selection committee would like to see over 650 points in the quantitative section.
 
 
Q: What if I have a cooperative master’s degree from Missouri Science and Technology or another program during my advance course? 
 
The selection committee looks for officers that excel in their military career and continue their education and your master's degree program reinforces your commitment to excel. However, we still require officers to complete a resident program to qualify as an instructor in the Department of Systems Engineering.
 
 
Q: What if I have a deployment and cannot complete a 2-year master’s degree program starting in 2018?
 
We prefer that you attend a 2-year resident master’s degree program. However, we understand operational constraints. By exception, the Department Head authorizes 18-month master's programs to officers that need to meet operational requirements. Officers may also communicate directly with the Department Head to defer selection by a year to fulfill operational assignments.
 
 
Q: How should I assemble and upload my packet to W.E.S.T.?

Faculty candidates are responsible for compiling, organizing, and uploading their own completed packets to the W.E.S.T. system. You must upload the completed packet as a .pdf file with bookmarks delineating each section. Title the file as “Last Name, First Name (YG)”. An example would be “Gabrhel, Michael (05)”. The order of the consolidated packet and bookmark names is as follows:
  1. "Cover Sheet” (upload from W.E.S.T. once an account has been created).Cover Sheet” (upload from W.E.S.T. once an account has been created).
  2. “Photograph”
  3. “Personal Statement”
  4. “Officer Record Brief”
  5. “CV or Resume” (Optional)
  6. “Transcripts” (sequentially ordered from oldest to most recent, copies are acceptable)
  7. “GRE Score Report” (copies are acceptable)
  8. “Letters of Recommendation”
  9. “Officer Evaluation Reports” (sequentially ordered from most recent to oldest, may include AERs)
  10. “Army Physical Fitness Test Scores” (Optional)
Candidates may upload individual documents (GRE, ORBs, LORs, etc.) to each corresponding folder in W.E.S.T.; however, candidates must consolidate, properly name and upload the completed packet to the “STMT” tab for consideration.
 
 
Q: I created a W.E.S.T. account before and forgot my password. How do I log into my file?

Send an email to WEST Technical Support.
 
 
Q: What should I do if I experience problems with the WEST system?
 
Send an email to: WEST Technical Support.
 
 
Q: How do I get my USMA transcripts?

The following information should be provided on each request:
  •  Download, print out, and use this form: USMA Transcript Request form
  •  Full name (include maiden or name used while attending USMA)
  •  Graduation class year
  •  Social security number
  •  Current mailing address
  •  Complete mailing address to which transcripts are to be sent (including zip code)
  •  Your signature (Due to confidentiality concerns, requests CANNOT be processed without a signature)
Mail or FAX the completed form along with any appropriate fees (see details below) to:

O/Dean AARS (MADN-AARS)
ATTN: Graduate Records
United States Military Academy
Official Mail & Distribution Center
646 Swift Road
West Point, New York 10996-1905
Phone: 845-938-3708

NOTE: The Registrar's office cannot accept requests for transcripts over the telephone and transcripts requests cannot be faxed into or out of the office. Further, transcripts cannot be sent to requestors via e-mail unless military email address is provided on the transcript request. Federal Express transcript requests can be sent by email with the completed form enclosed to USMATranscripts@usma.edu.
 
 
Q: How do I contact the registrar’s office to get feedback on my transcripts?

Call 845-938-3708. 

If you have questions about your application or the application process, contact CPT Julia Lensing, the Department Personnel Officer. If you need to send us anything in hard-copy, use the following address:

Department of Systems Engineering
Attention: Personnel Officer
Building 752, Mahan Hall, 4th Floor
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York 10996
 
 
Department of Systems Engineering
Mahan Hall
West Point, NY 10996
All Systems GO!