OUSD Acquisition & Sustainment

Defense Civilian Training Corps (DCTC)


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Below we have separated the FAQs in to 2 categories (Students and Universities & DoD). Click to expand the questions or "Open All" to expand all or "Close All" to contract all of the questions for each particular category. If you do not see the answer to your questions, please contact us here. Additionally, you may download a copy of the FAQs by clicking the download links below.


The DCTC program is a talent pipeline to recruit top talent for the civilian workforce. Similar to the military ROTC program, the curriculum includes one classroom course each semester and a summer internship, and students joining in Fall 2024 and beyond will incur a service obligation with their scholarship. Upon graduation, DCTC Scholars will be placed in DoD labs or command organizations to begin their career in federal service. Civilians wear business or business casual dress in the workplace.

The DoD employs 950,000 civilians, many serving in critical positions worldwide. There are a multitude of opportunities requiring a diverse range of skills. If a competitive salary, great benefits, unsurpassed training, and the pride of defending our Nation interests you, then your future is with DoD. Across DoD the key principles of employee engagement, results-driven, honor, duty and integrity, teamwork, family-oriented, and diversity and inclusion foster a supportive and productive culture and environment. DoD civilian employees are committed to the national security mission and their cutting edge, innovative, and impactful work motivates them every day.

DCTC Cohort 0 scholarships are open to students who will begin their Junior year in Fall 2023 (or students with expected undergraduate graduation in Spring 2025) and are currently enrolled at one of the DCTC pilot universities. Students must be in good standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Proof of U.S. citizenship and the ability to obtain and maintain a DoD security clearance are required.

Please visit the below websites for additional information on eligibility guidelines for obtaining a security clearance:

To apply for a DCTC scholarship, you must submit a transcript, resume, and short statement of interest. The DCTC representative at each pilot university will provide an application.

Yes, DCTC is designed for students pursuing an undergraduate degree relating to acquisition or finance, as well as digital technologies, critical technologies, science, or engineering. Students in majors such as business, supply chain management, contracting, and pre-law are encouraged to apply. The DCTC curriculum is designed for interdisciplinary, project-based learning; an environment in which students from varied academic backgrounds will collaborate to solve complex, real-life problems.

Check with your university Financial Aid office to address questions concerning impact to existing tuition aid, housing, etc.

The process for evaluating the DCTC curriculum for consideration as a minor or certificate program will be university-specific.

No. As a DoD civilian, you may have the opportunity to serve overseas in a non-combat role to support deployed forces.  However, such temporary assignments are not mandatory.

No. An important element of the DCTC culture of care is to support students in their mental and physical wellness. We encourage all DCTC scholars to build a wellness practice into their daily routine. As a DoD civilian you will not have a physical fitness requirement. With regard to uniforms – DCTC has no uniform requirements. Students are expected to follow university dress code requirements.

Universities & DoD

SMART is focused on STEM skills specifically for employment in the DoD Science and Technology (S&T) workforce. DCTC is focused on both STEM and non-STEM degrees, with future employment throughout the DoD civilian workforce.

DCTC is complementary to – not duplicative of – the SMART Scholarship Program. Modeled after Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs, DCTC will provide coursework, curriculum, and internships that prepare college students for careers in DoD leadership roles. Once the first-year pilot concludes, DCTC will evolve into ROTC’s scholarship-for-service model and DCTC scholars will be placed in civilian positions within DoD organizations upon graduation.

The SMART program provides scholarships, internships, and DoD employment after graduation; however, it does not provide coursework and curriculum. DCTC will be embedded within public land grant universities, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority institutions (MIs). Each semester students will enroll in a DCTC course that complements their major with lessons on leadership, organizational behavior and ethics, and innovation within the DoD civilian workforce. During the summer, DCTC Scholars will be placed in internships within DoD organizations where they can apply their classroom learning on the job.

AIRC will launch a pilot of students in “Cohort 0” in Fall 2023. The Pilots launching in Fall 2024 and Fall 2025 will award scholarships, with placement in the civilian workforce and a service commitment upon graduation. Scholarships will be innovation-focused to develop next generation talent for the DoD to transition to civilian careers in acquisition, digital technology, science, engineering, finance, and other DoD-critical skills determined by the Secretary of Defense.

The pilot programs will be run at a minimum of three colleges/universities (including one HBCU/MI); with ten pilot scholars per school to be placed at three participating DoD sponsor field organizations.

The Department of Defense (DoD) did not choose the pilot schools. Congress encouraged DoD to leverage the resources and programs of the Acquisition Innovation Research Center (AIRC) to establish the DCTC Program. The AIRC, part of a university affiliated research center (UARC) managed by the Stevens Institute of Technology, created the selection criteria and performed analysis to determine the pilot universities for the DCTC program. In the interest of expediting launch of the DCTC pilot to test the program’s feasibility, AIRC’s selection process emphasized existing relationships with DoD hiring activities, established ROTC programs, and a DoD presence on campus through innovation labs etc.

There are many, diverse opportunities to get involved in launching DCTC. DoD organizations can provide detailees to support the Program Management Office, identify critical skill gaps, join the DCTC advisory board, and identify internship opportunities for students. DoD organizations can also identify future billets for DCTC cohorts to fill in your organization. The preferred placement model for the DCTC program is to hire talent pools, rather than engage in position-based hiring. Cohort hiring provides more opportunity for systemic career planning and rotational, career-building assignments. This model will benefit all DoD organizations by streamlining the process of hiring highly talented university graduates and creating challenging, developmental positions to ensure retention as the workforce becomes more skilled and experienced.

Once the pilot program yields lessons that can be used to scale up the DCTC program, the AIRC will establish and publish an invitation to state, public land grant, HBCU, and MI colleges and universities to submit proposals to participate as host schools. The goal is to grow DCTC to 20 colleges and universities. Future consideration will be given to tailoring the DCTC program to be hosted at community colleges to develop the skilled technical workforce of the future.