Behavioral Sciences and Leadership - Prospective Faculty FAQs

Behavioral Sciences and Leadership - Prospective Faculty FAQs

The officers in our primary zone for selection to attend graduate school (Advanced Civil Schooling - ACS) are mid-grade CPTs. If you are outside the targeted year-groups and your career timeline allows for 3-5 years away from the operational Army without putting yourself at risk for promotion, we invite you to apply as well! When you do, please inform the selection board of your unique timeline/career considerations via your application. We are always in search of talented officers who can enrich our cadets and faculty through your unique and diverse backgrounds.

Officers who are accepted to join the BS&L faculty team will pursue a fully funded 2-year graduate degree at a top-tier university. Officers who are accepted to join the Tactical Officer program will pursue a fully funded 1-year graduate degree awarded by Columbia University, participating in the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP).

Faculty members earn graduate degrees in Business Administration (MBA), Psychology, Sociology, or Engineering Psychology. Within these disciplines, many officers choose to specialize or concentrate in specific areas of interest. Which degree you pursue depends in part on which of our four academic programs you are selected to serve in: Engineering Psychology, Management, Psychology, or Sociology. Any officer selected for the Tactical Officer program will receive a Masters in Social/Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.

At times, our department also has positions available for direct hire candidates who already possess an appropriate advanced degree. Availability of these positions varies from year to year; application for these positions can and should also be submitted via the TEACH platform - please indicate that you are applying for a "Direct Hire" when you apply!

Some of the commonly asked questions are answered below.

Questions About Eligibility

You must be a competitive category Army officer (typically a branch qualified Captain) and have your completed application submitted by the annual December 1st deadline to be given full consideration.  An application is not complete until you have qualifying GRE scores (153 V / 144 Q / 4.0 W at a minimum) or GMAT score (500).  Additionally, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  • BS&L Academic Instructor (a 5-year program)
  • Must be on schedule to successfully branch qualify by August of the year graduate school begins.
  • Should be in a Year Group that promotes to major in the primary zone NET than the second year of graduate school.

Eisenhower Leadership Development Program (a 12-month academic program beginning June annually).

  • Must be on schedule to successfully branch qualify NLT May of the year your assignment to USMA begins.
  • Target Year Groups for each cohort are officers in their 6th to 9th year of commissioned service.  Exceptions are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Note:  The intent is to ensure that officers who come to West Point will begin serving as an Academic Instructor or Tactical Officer NLT the start of their 10th year of commissioned service, which translates into them spending three years as an instructor, going to ILE (or equivalent duty), and then having a minimum of 18 months to branch qualify as a major prior to their primary zone LTC promotion board.   

Behavioral Sciences & Leadership Academic Instructors

The Engineering Psychology Program
Often referred to as Human Factors Engineering, or more pointedly, "E-Psych", this program directs and mentors cadets through the Engineering Psychology major.  Most instructors in the E-Psych program teach PL100 (General Psychology for Leaders) during their first year in BS&L and then transition to the program in their 2nd and/or 3rd year. Human Factors Engineering is the development and application of scientific principles and procedures for accomplishing optimum man/machine integration and utilization.  Among cadets, E-Psych is a highly desirable major and its popularity only continues to grow.

Some of the electives an instructor might teach include:           

  • PL386- Experimental Psychology
  • PL390- Biological Psychology
  • PL391- Sensation, Perception, and Psychophysics
  • PL394- Anthropometric and Biomechanics
  • PL475- Human-Computer Interface
  • PL485- Human-Factors Engineering
  • PL490- Engineering Psychology Design

Some of the current and in-bound E-Psych faculty members have pursued a Master's degree at the following programs:

  • Georgia Tech
  • George Washington University
  • North Carolina State University 

The Management Program
The Management program is designed to help prepare you to lead efficient and effective organizations by developing critical managerial skills. Management also teaches electives to large numbers of cadets in other academic majors across the academy due to cross-relevance of subject matter.  Most instructors in the management program begin their tour by teaching PL300 (Military Leadership) their first year at West Point, and then transition to teach management courses in their 2nd and/or 3rd year.
Some of the current electives that a management instructor could have the opportunity to teach include:

  • MG380- Marketing
  • MG381- Introduction to Management
  • MG390- Negotiations and Bargaining
  • MG421- Strategic Management

Some of our current and inbound faculty teammates have pursued a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the following programs:

  • Dartmouth University - Tuck School of Business
  • Duke University - Fuqua School of Business
  • Harvard Business School
  • Northwestern - Kellogg School of Management
  • University of California-Berkeley - Haas School of Business

The Psychology Program
The Psychology program directs and mentors cadets through the Psychology Major. Program officers teach electives to a large number of cadets in BS&L and other majors across the academy due to the direct cross-relevance of the subject matter.  Most instructors in the Psychology program begin their tour by teaching PL100 (General Psychology for Leaders) during their first year in BS&L and then transition to the Psychology major program in their 2nd and/or 3rd year.
Competent leaders develop through an unending process of self-examination, education and experience.  To lead successfully, you need to know what makes your soldiers "tick," and before you can understand others, you must understand yourself.  People and human nature are the subject matter of a field of study or major in psychology.  Such a program of study therefore, will provide a firm foundation on which to build as you continue to develop as a leader throughout a lifetime of service to the nation.  Leaders teach, train and counsel.  Good teaching and training enhance proficiency and build the self-confidence necessary to confront difficult tasks.  Sensitive and insightful counseling insures discipline, lifts morale and promotes the cohesion essential to keep going under the most stressful conditions. The Psychology Program helps cadets acquire these skills.
Some of the current electives that a psychology instructor could have the opportunity to teach include:

  • PL361- Research Methods I
  • PL373- Life Cycle & Human Development
  • PL376- Abnormal Psychology
  • PL383- Social Psychology
  • PL387- Foundations of Counseling
  • PL392- Cognitive Psychology
  • PL488- Psychology Colloquium (Positive Psychology)

Some of our current and inbound faculty teammates have pursued a Masters in Psychology, of varying disciplines and concentrations, at the following programs:

  • Columbia University - Social and Organizational Psychology
  • George Washington University - Human & Organizational Learning, Counseling
  • Texas Christian University - Experimental Psychology
  • Tufts University - Human Development

The Sociology Program
Sociology is the scientific study of human society and culture.  Program officers teach electives to a large number of cadets not just in BS&L, but also in numerous other majors across the academy due to the direct cross-relevance of the subject matter.  Most instructors in the Sociology program teach PL300 (Military Leadership) their first year at West Point and then transition to Sociology in their 2nd and/or 3rd year.  The Sociology Program at West Point is the most broad-based of BS&L majors. Courses range from the study of both the causes and consequences of human social behavior in small groups to examining the basic organizing principles of entire societies. Specific courses represent the core of sociology. As a result they examine a variety of topics including social inequality, crime, the family, organizational systems, and the institution of the military.  To be effective leaders, all officers must understand the society they are serving, as well as the various social backgrounds from which their soldiers come. Increasingly, they must also understand the beliefs, values, and institutions of foreign societies. The goal of the sociology program at USMA is to develop the cadets’ ability to make sense of the entire cultural range of social behavior in order to be better leaders.
Some of the current electives that a Sociology instructor could have the opportunity to teach include:

  • PL371- Introduction to Sociology
  • PL372- Marriage and the Family
  • PL377- Social Inequality
  • PL384- Sociological Theory
  • PL393- Criminology and the Criminal Justice System
  • PL482- Armed Forces and Society

Some of our current and inbound faculty teammates have pursued a Masters in Sociology at R1 institutions across the country, including the following programs:

  • Duke University
  • Kansas State University
  • Nebraska University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Maryland  

First and foremost, our instructors are proven first-class leaders of operational units who are dedicated to careers in the US Army. They have demonstrated a passion for leading their organizations by building and developing their people into dedicated leaders and training their units to be combat-ready teams. BS&L instructors historically are extremely competitive with their peers throughout their career. A brief profile of our typical cohort of selected officers:

  • Commissioning Source: ROTC, USMA, OCS
  • Branch: AG, AR, AV, CY, EN, FA, IN, MI, SC, SF *this is not an inclusive list, just our most recently hired cohorts
  • OER Profile: 4.35 of 5 OER's "Most Qualified" with strong enumeration
  • Mean Undergrad GPA: 3.21 (2.5 is the ACS minimum)
  • Mean GRE: 155 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, 4.5 Analytical Writing
  • Mean APFT: 290

Current BS&L instructors have been promoted early (BZ) to major at higher than average rates. Current and incoming BS&L instructors have combat/operational-deployment leadership experience in all recent operations.
Some of the recognition that recent BS&L instructors have received includes: the Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award (one of the top company grade officers in the Army), the Draper Award (top Cavalry/Armor Company in a Division), US Army Best Ranger Competition Top-10 Finisher, the Emerson-Itschner Award (top Engineer company in the US Army), being Student Body President of a major university with over 40,000 students, and being the Distinguished Honor/Leadership Graduate of numerous military schools and courses (including US Army Flight School, Ranger School, AOBC, EOBC, IOBC, SFOQC, and Sapper School).

On your application you’ll have spots to list preferences for the program in which you would like to teach (to include the option to apply for consideration as a Tactical Officer). Your input is taken into account when the annual selection board meets. Typically, hiring offers also include what particular program you’re slotted against (E-Psych, Management/Psychology/Sociology/Tactical Officer). Furthermore, offers typically include the degree type(s) and recommended schools to which the department would like you to apply. The vast majority of officers are extremely satisfied with these suggestions and offers, but your input is always taken into account prior to any final decisions.

The board values letters from individuals who know you well from a professional performance standpoint and can speak to your potential in an academic setting. Letters from your time as an undergraduate student are welcome. In addition, the board appreciates letters from former supervisors who know you personally and can therefore write knowledgeably about your character, performance, and potential. Letters from people who don't know you well, regardless of rank, often make little impact as they do not give the board members any additional insight into you as an officer and future instructor. If you know a former USMA instructor who knows you well, particularly a former BS&L faculty member, we recommend contacting them for a letter of recommendation.

Officers typically have several other responsibilities, many of them voluntary. Current officers are serving as the officers-in-charge or officer-representatives on numerous cadet teams and clubs (such as Basketball, Football, Soccer, Diversity and Inclusion, Spectrum, for example) and members of cadet company professional military education teams. In BS&L, we host the following recurring events: the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character, the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Conference, the Hudson Valley Special Olympics, and others. Instructors can expect to join our team in making a substantial impact in our community, beyond the classroom. 

Most incoming instructors have a mid-June arrival date at West Point. After in-processing, you will go through “Faculty Development Workshop (FDW)”. During FDW you will undergo a challenging and interactive program designed to familiarize you with the course you will be teaching in the fall in order to give you an intensive experience at practice teaching. It is also designed to build the incoming cohort of instructors into a solid team. During the second and third summers there are literally endless possibilities.

The Dean's policy is that only 2-year masters programs will be supported for academic instructors. The Tactical Officer program (ELDP) is an authorized 1-year program. 

A captain/major is eligible for the title of “assistant professor” after two successful years as an “instructor”. Officers earn this academic promotion based on merit as determined by criteria established by the senior faculty. These criteria often include demonstrated pursuit of excellence in teaching, in cadet development, in service, and in scholarship. 

It depends. We usually encourage officers to take the second command - even if it means your timeline will prevent you from joining us at USMA. In command you have the greatest potential influence on our soldiers and our country, and we encourage you to do it for as long as possible. That said, there are also incredible opportunities to develop the next generation of leaders here at USMA. Contact us and we will help you decide if asked.

It depends. Most of our resident-select officers attend ILE in residence following their USMA tours. Others complete ILE via satellite or distance learning during their time in BS&L. West Point also offers a blended option for the AOC portion of ILE in which officers assigned to West Point conduct classes and planning exercises here at USMA with an instructor from CGSC. The limiting factor is that you must have a minimum of 30 months between leaving USMA or resident ILE and your Primary Zone LTC board (currently occurs at YG + 16 years). If you can fit resident ILE into your timeline and still have 30 months before your LTC PZ board, you can attend in residence. If your timeline precludes this, you must complete ILE via satellite or distance learning. This is something we are happy to talk to you about and invite you to discuss with your branch manager as well!

Tactical Officers program (Eisenhower Leader Development Program - ELDP)

That's a loaded question! In short - immeasurably.  A Tactical Officer (TAC) is the primary cadet developer and the legal commander of a cadet company (approximately 125 cadets).  A Tactical Officer is, without a doubt, one of the most important positions at the Academy in terms of shaping and influencing the cadet developmental experience.  TACs assist cadets in balancing the requirements of physical, military, and academic development.  TACs mentor the cadet chain of command to establish high unit standards essential to a cohesive company environment.  They inspire cadets to develop effective leadership styles through role-modeling, counseling, and training.  A Tactical Officer also presents formal and informal instruction to the company, implements special development programs for individual cadets as needed, and is responsible for all company administration.  As such, they have incredible influence over their cadet’s development towards becoming a leader of character who is dedicated to a lifetime of service to our nation.

Some current Tactical Officers’ comments about their experiences:
"I treasure being able to work with these incredibly gifted soldiers (cadets).  They truly are America’s best and brightest.  They amaze me daily with their insight, enthusiasm, and pure leadership ability." 

"It is great to focus on individual and team development – helping cadets become better people and leaders."
"Sharing my Army and deployment experiences in a variety of formats (one-on-one, classroom, OPDs, and field training) is very fulfilling in developing future leaders."
"The greatest gift a leader can give is the opportunity, mentorship, and training to create other leaders. Tactical Officers are in the business of doing just that.  Cadets believe in doing what is right, we are here to show them what right looks like. I continue to learn what soldiers and future leaders are capable of when they are given the chance to lead and explore new possibilities."

The Eisenhower Leader Development Program (aka “ELDP”) is a comprehensive, full-time, graduate-level educational experience specifically designed to prepare Army officers for service as Company Tactical Officers at the U.S. Military Academy. The program contributes more broadly to officer professional development by intellectually preparing officers for higher-level leadership and command positions in the Army. The academic program begins each June and participants graduate the following May with Master of Arts degree in Social-Organizational Psychology (Leader Development) from Columbia University. The program is co-taught and co-administered by the BS&L and Teachers College (Columbia) faculties. The civilian faculty from Columbia travels to USMA to teach the core of the program, but they also teach some of the courses on the New York City campus. Selected senior members from BS&L and Department of History serve as adjunct faculty for the program. There are also specific USMA based courses that serve as the bridge between the Columbia curriculum and USMA Tactical Officer requirements. ELDP participants find the program to be challenging and very much in-line with the preparation they need to lead as TACs. Most also enjoy having the time to reflect and focus on their individual intellectual and leader development. Officers in the program are generally exempted from all additional duties beyond their educational experience.

The Teachers College, Columbia University degree program includes Human Resource Management, Leadership, Leadership Development, Group Dynamics, Organizational Culture and Socialization, Organizational Change, Preparation for Individual Counseling, Preparation for Coaching, Adult Development, Organizational Psychology, Psychological Aspects of Organizations, Conflict Resolution, and Military History.

During the summer, you typically serve as a Cadet Basic Training (CBT), Cadet Field Training (CFT), or Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT) company TAC.   During this time, TACs fulfill the same roles as in the academic year, but with more of a focus on military skills.  The cadet cadre consists of upperclassmen in leadership positions.  New Cadets (rising freshmen) attend CBT, rising “yearlings” (Third Class Cadets / sophomores) attend CFT, and rising "cows" (Second Class Cadets / juniors) and "Firsties" (First Class Cadets / seniors) attend CLDT.  The summers are physically challenging, fast-paced, and focused on military skills training.
CBT has a dual role of turning New Cadets (approximately 1,300 each year) into members of the United States Corps of Cadets and training them in many of the soldier-skills expected of future platoon leaders.  Tactical Officers and Tactical Non-commissioned Officers oversee all training, from drill and ceremony to basic rifle marksmanship.  
CFT, on the other hand, places more focus on pre-commissioning skills.  It has a distinct “soldier skills - crawl, walk, run” atmosphere.  All rising cadet-sophomores are trained on such subjects as leading physical training, extensive land navigation, synchronizing indirect fires, conducting performance counseling, and executing confidence courses. Cadets are exposed to multiple branches of the Army during this time as well, helping them begin to think critically about where they believe they may best "fit" when they preference their desired branches during their senior year. CLDT has a unique "deploy to the field" environment. The majority of this training is focused on platoon level operations, with each cadet being observed and rated in platoon sergeant and platoon leader roles. The CLDT FTX is dedicated to a JRTC-like training event in which the cadets conduct dismounted force on force and live-fire operations from squad to company level in a patrolling environment.

Applying as a MAJ / LTC

The application requirements are generally the same- please build a packet like that described for a captain in the previous section.  There is not an annual selection board date for majors or lieutenant colonels- they are considered as positions become available throughout the year.  On average- we hire 1-2 MAJ/LTCs a year to go to 3-yr PhD program and then return to USMA and teach for a minimum of three years. Officers who are selected for this program incur a 6-year ADSO after completion of the degree program.   

Both slots typically include three years of ACS (for a PhD).  The major differences between the two are:  The FA 47 slot is tenured. This means that you can stay at USMA until 30 years of commissioned federal service as a COL, and 28 years as a LTC.  The FA47 positions are USMA advertised and selected positions.  They really belong to the Dean, and a special selection committee is established, usually chaired by a Professor, USMA, normally a Department Head or Vice Dean. It is very competitive with an average of 30-50 very qualified personnel competing for 1-2 positions in each advertisement (in the Army Times).  Rotating PhD positions are controlled by individual department heads, who establish internal procedures to conduct the selection process. Rotators have a three-year utilization (teaching) tour in BS&L.

Yes, you will need to be branch qualified (completed a key and developmental assignment) as a major or LTC to ensure that you are competitive for promotion to the next grade.  On a limited case by case basis, if you are selected as a MAJ, and desire to compete for battalion command the department head may allow you to do both, command and complete the PhD, with the assignment to the department being deferred until after command.  This decision is based on individual circumstances balanced with the teaching and accreditation needs of the department. 

No, just have the potential to get a PhD, within three years, at a top-tier academic institution. This means that one should have a solid master's degree and have demonstrated academic scholarship.  Additionally, an applicant should have a current set of GRE scores at the time of application. 

Yes.  In creating a file with us, you will be asked to specify an academic preference based on your interest and educational background.  This is important, since our positions are generally degree specific.

Application Considerations

You can begin anytime, and we recommend building your file as you gather information and complete tasks. You will manage your own file - just ensure it's complete before the deadline for the application board you are competing for! 

Generally speaking, having a masters degree does not affect your chances of being selected for any of these programs. You are just as competitive, no more or no less. Officers who want to be an academic instructor are typically not eligible to come straight to USMA (even with a prior Master’s degree) because BS&L wants each officer to have a full-time “immersion” experience at a top graduate institution to best prepare them to educate and inspire cadets. All officers wishing to be tactical officers must complete the ELDP program- even if they already have a Master’s degree. PhD Fellowships for CPTs are exceedingly rare- typically only branch qualified MAJs and LTCs with a masters degree are eligible for PhD fellowships.

Historically, most officers who are promoted below-the-zone (BZ) to major have been given the option to PCS after two years as an instructor or tactical officer (not including the year in ELDP). This option is subject to yearly change based on the needs of the Army, the Academy, the department, and the individual officer’s career timeline.

USMA housing is managed by Balfour Beatty communities under the Residential Community Initiative. Most members of the community live on-post, while several opt to live in the local surrounding area. Tactical Officers are designated as "Key and Essential" personnel and receive priority for an on-post housing assignment if they desire. For more information on housing, see