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Enlisted Airmen

From Enlisted to Officer

The United States Air Force Academy and its Preparatory School offer opportunities for our sharpest enlisted Airmen and Guardians to enter the commissioned ranks of the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force. Enlisted Airmen and Guardians possess both military knowledge and proven reliability when showing up to the Air Force Academy, setting them up for success early on.

Turn Potential into Reality

Prior-enlisted cadets attending the Academy or its Preparatory School are among the best the U.S. Air Force and Space Force have to offer. We ask commanders, chiefs, and supervisors to find and recommend superior-performing Airmen or Guardians with high moral character, strong academic ability, leadership potential and outstanding physical fitness.

Leaders Encouraging Airman Development (LEAD) Program

The LEAD Program is an ongoing effort to give our best and brightest Airmen and Guardians (Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard) the opportunity to excel by offering them appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Academy Prep School. This program delegates authority to unit commanders to identify outstanding and deserving Airmen with officer potential for this commissioning program.

Our LEAD Program point of contact at the Academy can be reached at 719-661-8428 or and is available to answer any questions you may have.

Additional information about the Academy and the prep school may also be obtained by calling 1-800-443-9266.


Enlisted Personnel Applying from Other Services (Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve)

Enlisted personnel from other services may apply to USAFA; however, they are not eligible for a nomination under the LEAD Program and must secure a nomination like any civilian candidate. Additionally, the enlisted member must receive a positive recommendation from their unit commander and secure approval for release from their service. If appointed, a DD Form 368, Request for Conditional Release, must be completed by the individual’s unit commander (see DAFMAN 36-2032, Paragraph 8.4.4.). Inability to secure a release from their service prior to June 1 of the year of in-processing, incomplete or incorrect documentation of release, or the inability to report to USAFA in-processing by the stated date (typically the end of June) will result in cancellation of the appointment.

Enlisted members from other services seeking a commission through a service academy must first consult their service’s policies and programs.  The Army, Navy, and Coast Guard may have restrictions and limitations on applying to USAFA. The Army and Navy also have programs similar to the Air Force LEAD program that are designed to access enlisted members into the United States Military Academy and United States Naval Academy.  These programs may be more appropriate for enlisted members from other services.

How to Apply

Interested Airmen/Guardians should ensure they meet Enlisted Commissioning Program eligibility by reviewing DAFMAN 36-2032 Chapter 10, Enlisted Commissioning Programs. Pay special attention to Paragraph 10.5, Table 10.6, Paragraph 10.12 and Table 10.8. Airmen must meet the legal requirements listed below. If they are eligible and meet legal requirements, they must complete AF Form 1786 and complete and submit a Pre-candidate Questionnaire.

Eligibility Requirements

As with any applicant, enlisted Airmen/Guardians must ensure they meet the eligibility requirements for appointment to the Academy or prep school.

You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or be able to obtain citizenship before entry into the Academy.
  • Be 17 years of age for direct entry but cannot be past your 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year of entry.
  • Be 17 years of age for prep school cannot be past your 22nd birthday on July 1 of year of entry.
  • Be unmarried.
  • Bear no legal obligation to support a child or other individual.
  • Not be pregnant.
  • Be of high moral character.

AF Form 1786

AF Form 1786 is the Application for Appointment to the USAF Academy Under Quota Allotted to Enlisted Members of the Regular and Reserve Components of the Air Force. To compete for appointment, you must complete and submit the Pre-candidate Questionnaire and an AF Form 1786.

The AF Form 1786 is the formal paperwork required to obtain individual nomination.

The AF Form 1786 should:

  • Be completed by the member.
  • Be endorsed by the squadron commander.
    The squadron commander—not wing commander—will review your records and endorse your application as part of the 1786 process.
  • Be processed by the military personnel flight.

If an Airman has already submitted an online application earlier in the year, the application package would have already identified the need for transcripts; therefore, transcripts are only required as part of the AF Form 1786 package if this is the first correspondence with the Academy.

Submission Deadline

  • Complete your Pre-candidate Questionnaire (available March 1 through December 31).
  • Send AF Form 1786 to U.S. Air Force Academy Admissions Counselor (no earlier than July 1 of the year prior to entry and no later than January 31 of the year of entry).

Submit the form and commander statement through your unit commander and military personnel flight and forward it to:

Office of Admissions
2304 Cadet Drive, Suite 2300
USAF Academy, CO 80840-5025


  • March 1

    Application opens (year prior to entry)

  • January 31

    AF Form 1786 submission deadline

  • January 15

    Completed candidate package due

Previous Performance

We’ll evaluate your leadership potential through your record of participation in athletic activities, including team or individual sports and nonathletic activities, such as class offices, public speaking, Civil Air Patrol or scouting.

Your grade transcripts from high school and from any preparatory school or college you may have attended after high school will determine your academic potential.

We’ll also consider your performance on active duty and recommendations from supervisors.

Selection Criteria

We consider all candidates (regular or reserve) on a competitive basis for appointment to the Academy and the preparatory school. Examination results and previous performance determine selections.

We’ll notify you of your qualification and selection status in early May. Airmen or Guardians not accepted for direct entrance into the Academy are automatically considered for the prep school.

  • Experience the Birthplace of Leaders

    How does it feel to trace the footsteps of some of our nation’s most revered leaders? Come see the United States Air Force Academy for yourself and find out.

  • If You Have Questions, Get Answers

    Our outreach programs can help you determine whether the U.S. Air Force Academy is right for you as well as help you make your application as complete and competitive as possible.

  • How Can You Learn More?

    The majority of our events are held in the fall and spring, with fewer events in the summer months. To learn more about the U.S. Air Force Academy, check for an event that may be convenient for you.