Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP)

Are you looking for an opportunity to meet leaders in public health, gain valuable professional experience, and be paid for your work while you complete your health-related education?

JRCOSTEP Quick Facts
Number of Applications for JRCOSTEP in 2018: 227
Students selected an agency to be JRCOSTEP Participants in 2018:
9 Engineer
10 Environmental Health
23 Pharmacy
0 Nurse
Number of agencies hosting JRCOSTEP participants in 2018: 3
Incomplete application packets will not be processed.


Students participating in JRCOSTEP work in the same exciting Federal agencies and programs as active duty Commissioned Corps officers. Typical assignments vary from 31 to 120 days during official school breaks. Applicants are accepted from a variety of fields, including environmental health, pharmacy, engineering, and nursing.

Duty Station Locations

JRCOSTEP participants work in the various operating divisions (OPDIVs) that make up the agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (e.g., Food and Drug Administration, Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health) as well as several other Federal agencies (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Prisons, National Park Service).


JRCOSTEP participants receive:

  • JRCOSTEP participants receive the basic pay and allowances of an Ensign (pay grade 0-1) officer. Your base pay will be adjusted for prior service in any other uniformed service.
  • Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH): Tax-free allowance intended to be used on housing (e.g., rent, mortgage, etc.). All JRCOSTEP officers entering service will be paid BAH at the place from which called (or ordered) to active duty (PLEAD).
  • Certain costs of travel and transportation between your home and your program participation location.
  • Annual leave (vacation) accumulated at the rate of 2.5 days per month.
  • Sick leave (authorized as needed).
  • Health care for emergencies and space-available care at a military/medical treatment facility only.
  • If you go on to become a full-time Commissioned Corps officer, your JRCOSTEP service will count toward your time in service, which affects pay and promotion rates.


To be eligible for JRCOSTEP, you must have completed one of the following:

  • At least 2 years of study in a professionally accredited baccalaureate program in one of the following disciplines: environmental health, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistance, dental hygiene, dietetics, medical laboratory technology, medical record administration, or therapy (occupational, physical or respiratory). Each degree has a specific corresponding accreditation body.
  • At least 1 year of study in a professionally accredited master’s degree in nursing, physician assistance, environmental health, engineering, social work, public health, dietetics, healthcare administration, or therapy (occupational, physical, speech pathology, audiology or respiratory).
  • At least 1 year of study in a professionally accredited doctoral program in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, psychology, veterinary medicine, therapy (occupational, physical, speech-language pathology or audiology) or research science (that requires the completion of independent and original research).

In addition, you must:

  • Return to college or to a post-graduate training program in a commissionable profession immediately following participation in JRCOSTEP.
  • Be enrolled full-time in a commissionable degree program, accredited to specific professional discipline.
  • Be free of any obligation or responsibility that would conflict with your ability to serve in the Corps, such as membership in another uniformed service with or without a service obligation.
  • In addition, applicants for JRCOSTEP must meet certain physical, medical, and background requirements.
Applying to JRCOSTEP and Receiving an Assignment

To apply to JRCOSTEP, visit the How to Apply page and follow the information that is provided. Good luck on your continued studies and we hope to see you on tour for JRCOSTEP.

JRCOSTEP Testimonials

Read this series of testimonials from recent JRCOSTEP participants to learn what the program is all about.