Squadron Officer School


Squadron Officer School
USAF - Squadron Officer School.png
Squadron Officer School emblem
Active1 November 1954 to present
CountryUnited States of America
BranchAir Force
TypeProfessional Military Education
Size4,200 students annually
Part ofSquadron Officer College, Air University, Air Education and Training Command
BaseMaxwell AFB, AL
Colorsblue and gold
DecorationsAir Force Outstanding Unit Award (4), Air Force Organizational Excellence Award (10)
Colonel Ricky Mills

Squadron Officer School (SOS), is a 5.5-week-long Professional Military Education (PME) course for U.S. Air Force and Space Force Captains, 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).[1] SOS is based at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and the in-residence version of the course is taught there. SOS is an element of the Air University.[2]

SOS 2.0 Online was launched in 2017, and takes approximately 6 months to complete based on the required courses.

Unlike the more senior courses at Air University (e.g., Air Command and Staff College and Air War College), "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.

Eligible senior members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the civilian U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, who hold the rank of captain or above are entitled to attend SOS. The curriculum is accessed by CAP student officers through the SOS distance learning platform.[3]

As of at least Class 21F (2 August - 2 September 2021), SOS has returned to in-residence learning, after having offered classes entirely virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.[4]


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.[2] In 2017, the program was streamlined again to its current duration of 6.5 weeks.

Since its activation, the Squadron Officer School has received the following awards and recognition:[5]

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (four times)

  • 1 January 1969 – 31 December 1970
  • 1 January 1973 – 31 December 1974
  • 1 May 1980 – 30 April 1982
  • 1 January 1983 – 31 December 1984

Air Force Organizational Excellence Award (ten times)

  • 1 January 1985 – 31 May 1986
  • 1 July 1993 – 30 June 1995
  • 1 July 1997 – 30 June 1998
  • 1 July 1998 – 7 February 2000
  • 8 February 2000 – 30 June 2001
  • 1 July 2002 – 30 June 2003
  • 1 July 2003 – 30 June 2004
  • 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006
  • 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007
  • 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008

Transfer Credit

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


  1. ^ AFI36-230 Archived 21 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Welcome to Squadron Officer School". Air University (AU).
  3. ^ "Distance learning". www.airuniversity.af.edu. Squadron Officer School.
  4. ^ "Squadron Officer School". www.airuniversity.af.edu. Squadron Officer School.
  5. ^ "Squadron Officer School historical factsheet".
  6. ^ "U.S. Air Force Squadron Officer School (SOS) & International Squadron Officer School (ISOS) Resident Programs – Graduate". www.apus.edu.
  7. ^ "Make Your Benefits Count | Central Michigan University". www.cmich.edu.
  8. ^ Transfer Credit | College of Arts and Sciences | The University of Oklahoma. Cas.ou.edu. Retrieved on 24 May 2014.

External links

  • Squadron Officer School home page