A-levels or degree?

I want to join the Royal Marines as an officer and have been down to my local careers office and the matelot there said that it is almost impossible to get in without a degree. I don't really want to go to university and i want to get in as soon as i can. Is this true? I'm asking here because he also decided to lie to me and a friend about a presentation that was supposed to be on RM officers and was actually on navy ratings.
Also, are there any compulsory a-level subjects ie English? I just need to know soon as i am choosing the subjects soon.



War Hero
Book Reviewer
I don't think there is a bar on those without degrees joining - certainly not at Dartmouth and the two recruiting lines should be the same. I have a nephew in the same position who has joined the RMR while at school to get as much experience as he can.. he has decided to go to university and he is going to try for a bursary so that the pusser pays his beer money. Whilst at uni he is going to keep up the RMR track so that by the time he gets to CTCRM he will have a green lid etc and will be better prepared for officer training.

I know we should'nt be saying this about AFCO's but in my experience thay can do more harm than good and sometimes end up completely misleading people. I think you need to talkdirect to a Marine - you could try writing direct to CTC for example.
Ok, so write directly to CTC? My friend and i are going to book appointments with an RM officer soon...hopefully.
If i was to go to university i would definitely join the RMR but isn't there a minimum service of 4 years? That would delay my entry.


War Hero
silverfox said:
I know we should'nt be saying this about AFCO's but in my experience thay can do more harm than good and sometimes end up completely misleading people
I disagree, we should be saying it more because they are undoubtedly getting worse! I also note the careers website is now so overwhelmed with gucci little animations that it's not only impossible to find anything it's bloody irritating!

Sorry to hijack your thread :lol:

I would take the advice though, speak to a RM officer.


War Hero
I've got an oppo who is currently a Capt in the Corp. He hasn't got a degree and joined up relatively late at the age of 25. It's doable alright but I think that you'd be better off doing the whole uni thing as it will stand you in good heed in later life.
I'm in exactly the same situation Mitch. I've got replies from both of the universities I applied to, both accepted on a conditional basis. It would be to study BEng Communication Engineering.

I want to join as an officer, and would hope to specialise in Signals.

However, I have applied to join the Royal Marines and I'm aiming to join pre university. I'm keeping my university places open for now, until I get further along the application process.

I'm going to continue training and push really hard. From what I understand, although having a degree can help.. having a high level of fitness, good leadership skills, and determination (with A Levels) is fine.

I guess it depends on the individual, going to university will be a good experiance and allow you to get a lot fitter. Personally I want to get stuck in and feel joining the Royal Marines now is my best choice.
Mitch,try to arrange an appointment at your AFCO with a Royal, you will then get the gen story rather than a gash buzz from some fat PO Stoker waiting for lunch time so he can get down the pub. :mrgreen:
Mitch go here -


there is also a telephone number included. When I joined the RN I didn't live near a recruiting office. I recommend you cut out the middle man, recruiting offices are generally there to recruit marines and sailors, only the area recruiting officers will have joined as officers.

As far as A-levels vice uni goes...Ask if the RM have university cadetships IE when you join up, get a bursary to go to uni while serving and return to the corps after you have a degree. Worth a try, although they may not do it. In the old days I think you used to have to have 2 a-levels and o-level English Language and Maths. Aircrew could join the RN with just 5 o-levels. I personally think university years are the best years of your life. Now , however 40% of people go, degrees have been devalued as a result and employers like to see people with a Masters. Add on to that the expense of over 20K in debts at English and Welsh unis........

You could join today and probably still do well without a degree but you will be at a disadvantage in the promotion stakes. Alternatively you could join, serve (and save up) for a few years then go to uni as a mature student, join the RMR - undoubtedly the best students I saw at uni were not straight from school they were there because they wanted to be and knew what they wanted to achieve. After uni you could rejoin the regular Corps.

At any rate contact the right people to ask the questions.
Thanks for the replies, i just need to find out the opening times for my nearest careers office but the bit on the website is down. To arrange an interview do i phone them or the 0845 number?
To take the other position, the proportion of new entry Officers without degrees is reducing all the time, partly because degrees are ten a penny. A degree is no longer a differentiator in the job market, unless you've done something relevant to the line of work you want to go into, so the challenge for someone coming in without a degree is significantly higher. So it's not that you can't get in, but it is significantly more difficult to do so in competition with others who do have degrees.

In terms of in service utility, it really depends on what specilaisation you want to go down. For Signals Officer then it's certainly useful to have studied something appropriate; Comms Eng, Information Eng, for an ML it's probably not that important ;)

In terms of later career progression, what being at Uni should give you is the skills required to assimilate information quickly and coherently. It was noticable when I did Staff Course that those without first degrees took longer to come up to speed with the method of higher academic learning. Whilst Staff Course isn't a pre-requisite for higher rank it is useful, unless one does another higher degree like Logistics Management, Gun Systems Design, MBA or similar (which all require the same study skills).
That's great but i don't really want to pay for university so is there a bursary or cadetship scheme or is that something i need to ask in an interview?
There are options, but I don't know the details. Silver Fox might do but I've not worked in the training environment for about 10 years so I'm not up to date.


Lantern Swinger
I haven't bothered to read the rest of this thread as the answer is academic.

A-levels means slower promotion

Degree means quicker promotion to Capt, Better salary and better final pension.

Life experience is worth its weight in gold. Try AIB as a candidate with A-levels, if they say no but go to University then take the advice. If they say no then try the Army.

I tried without A-levels for RN entry, and got told to go to Uni and mature a bit. The advice whilst difficult to swallow at the time, was priceless. In 1998 not many candidates got through to Lympstone without a degree.

If you go without a degree, and wash out, then you're options for re-employment or University can be limited. There are promises of in-service degree which aren't worth the toilet paper they are written on.

Remember, gaining a degree isn't so much to do with the subject as it is to do with proof of intellect and the ability to learn.

By the way, i'm RN but the advice fits both sides of the coin.
Aye, all fair points.

I've already applied, and feel ready to join now. If however I don't meet the requirements for the Royal Marines I still have a conditional university place (which I have until August to decline).
Just out of interest how old are you darren?

And thanks to everyone who has replied, now all i can do is wait until i can get an appointment sorted. I have found out that i need to get to London to talk about officer careers, but the matelot i saw in Chatham forgot to mention that!
I wouldn't mind joining this year but i am only 15! Thanks anyway.

If you apply to a university how long can you hold onto that application before they just forget you, if you know what i mean? I'm asking so i can find out when to apply after my a-levels and when to get cracking on POC and AIB.
All the university applications are handled by UCAS but your college should go through all that when it's time.

Generally people apply at the start of their 2nd year at college, and the applications are reviewed towards the end of January. After you make your final decision you have until August to decline it (I'm pretty sure). But as I said your college will go through everything nearer the time. That's not stopping you looking around now ofcourse.

For GCSE the only subjects that are compulsory to pass are Maths and English. A level subject wise there's no compulsory subjects, but I'm pretty sure they prefer guys who have done Science, English or Maths over Media Studies and Film Studies :wink:

When you choose your A level subjects try to think of subjects that would suit you best in the field you want to specialise in i.e. If you enjoy engineering, good subjects would be Physics, Maths, and Engineering.

It's good that your very keen so early on, definitly speak to the people at the Officer Liasion centre and they will be able to help you tons more than I can. Goodluck!
Thanks. My problem is i don't really know what specialization i want to take but at the moment i think i want to go BPT. As i said though getting in is the first step!

As for a-level choices i am handing them in tomorrow and i am going for history, geography, french, government and politics, and PE though i am thinking of swapping PE fro DT.

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