Skip Navigation

Enlisted Airmen

From Enlisted to Officer

The United States Air Force Academy and its preparatory school offer opportunities for our sharpest enlisted Airmen to enter the commissioned ranks of the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force. Airmen possess both military knowledge and proven reliability, making them the ideal cadets.

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 and chiefs to find and recommend superior-performing Airmen 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 (Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard Airmen) 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 719-333-8811 (DSN 333) 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.

How to Apply

Interested Airmen should ensure they meet Enlisted Commissioning Program eligibility by reviewing AFMAN36-2032 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 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 not have reached your 23rd birthday by July 1 of year of entry.
  • Be 17 years of age for prep school but not have reached your 22nd birthday by 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 along with 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)

  • December 31

    AF Form 1786 submission deadline

  • January 31

    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 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 to you.