Updated on October 26th, 2023.
Marine Corps Boot Camp consists of four main phases. Recruit receiving, 1st phase, 2nd phase, and 3rd phase. Every single enlisted Marine who serves on active duty has to go through this rigorous training, and only those who make it through earn the title of United States Marine.
How Long is Marine Boot Camp?
Marine Corps Recruit Training is the longest, most demanding military basic training, consisting of more than 70 “training days” in a period of 13 weeks.
Unlike other military basic training, there are no weekends off and you cannot leave the base. Marine Corps Recruit Training consists of close-order drill, physical fitness, rifle marksmanship, Marine Corps history, customs and courtesies, Marine Corps rank structure, and combat tactical medical care — culminating in a 54-hour event called “The Crucible,” which is designed to put a recruit to the test while enduring sleep deprivation, long hikes, and little food.
Recruits are expected to hit the ground running and you will start training the moment you step onto the yellow footprints. Many Marines say that boot camp was the most challenging experience of their entire lives. It’s a culture shock and you will be cut off from the outside world and completely immersed in the Marine Corps way of life.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the Marine Boot Camp schedule (updated for 2024).
At the airport, you’ll be grouped together with other recruits. You’ll be put on a bus near 10 PM and you might even have to put your head between your knees as the bus drives from the airport to MCRD. You’ll very likely be confused as to how far you drive and how long you’re on the bus (by design).
When you get to MCRD, a Drill Instructor will rush you off the bus onto the famous yellow footprints. You are standing in the same place more than a million Marines have gone before — including Medal of Honor winners.
Once you step onto the yellow footprints, your education as a USMC recruit will begin. You will learn three articles from the Uniform Code of Military Justice which are standing orders.
Article 86 prohibits absence without leave (AWOL). Article 91 prohibits you from disobeying a lawful order, and Article 93 prohibits disrespecting a commanding officer. From this point on, you are now officially under military law.
The Complete Marine Corps Boot Camp Schedule
The Marine Corps Boot Camp schedule is broken into four distinct phases. San Diego and Parris Island schedules differ slightly, but the outcome is the same. The basic outline of recruit training is below — with a complete breakdown of each event in this article.
- Phase 1
- Recruit receiving
- Physical fitness
- Introduction to close-order drill
- Intro to Marine Corps Martial Arts Program
- Phase 2
- Swim Week
Team Week & Interior Guard
- Your first written exams.
- Swim Week
- Phase 3
- Field training
- Rifle marksmanship
- 3, 5 and 8-mile hikes
- Phase 4
- Gas chamber
- The Crucible
- Marine Week
- Gear turn-in & Graduation!
Marine Corps Boot Camp Phase One
Phase One is the longest phase of Marine Boot Camp and develops the physical fitness, basic knowledge, and unit cohesion expected of a basically trained Marine. Phase one is filled with physical conditioning, martial arts, and classes that cover everything from first aid to rank structure and Marine Corps history.
The primary goal of phase one is to distance you from your physical and psychological habits as a civilian. Your life will become military routines, doing basic tasks “by the numbers” and you won’t even be able to refer to yourself by name.
You will call yourself “this recruit,” and other recruits “those recruits.” When asking a drill instructor a question, you will be expected to use the format “Sir, this recruit would like to speak to Drill Instructor (rank) (last name), Sir!”
Recruits are taught everything from the ground up: how to brush their teeth, stand up straight, and even how to eat.
After taking an oath at the yellow footprints, the next stop is Recruit Receiving, where you will be allowed to call home and inform your loved ones that you have arrived safely. Then you are searched for contraband and issued basic uniforms and toiletries.
You will surrender your civilian possessions (including your underwear), because the Marine Corps will issue everything you need.
Your Drill Instructor might even tell you “if the Marine Corps wanted you to have a girlfriend, it’d have issued you one.”
All you really need to take with you to boot camp is your civilian ID. Next, you will get your first haircut, which is essentially bald for male recruits and close-cropped for females.
The remainder of receiving includes filling out a lot of paperwork, undergoing medical and dental screening, and receiving several vaccines (okay, this part can be nerve-wracking as you stand in line and receive five inoculations simultaneously! But don’t worry, you’ll make it.)
You will not get any sleep for the first night, and you will probably lie in bed the next, wondering what you are doing here in the world. You’ll spend more time polishing the floors and cleaning the bathroom than you ever have before. Then, you will be given your first physical fitness test.
The Initial Strength Test includes a mile-and-a-half run, max pull-ups, and max crunches in two minutes. This is a scaled-down version of the Marine Physical Fitness Test, or PFT, to ensure that recruits are ready to begin training. Learning how to do more pull-ups is one of the easiest ways to achieve a higher score.
Train to more than the minimum standards! Otherwise, it will be difficult to score well because of sleep deprivation.
On Black Friday, you meet your Drill Instructors.
Marine Corps Drill Instructors are relentless. There is no turning back once you are “picked up” into your boot camp platoon. At this point, earning the title is easier than getting kicked out of boot camp.
You will remember Black Friday for the rest of your life — few men will ever experience this moment, so remember that you’re about to begin a transformation. This is when Marine Corps Boot Camp truly begins.
You will learn about Incentive Training, or IT. Drill Instructors are allowed to use incentive training to instill discipline and correct mistakes. Basically, a Drill Instructor or three takes you to one of the sand pits located around the recruit depot (known as IT pits). There, you’ll do calisthenics non-stop.
Outside, they are limited to five minutes of IT at a time. Inside, on the “quarter deck,” there are no limits. Expect to do more jumping jacks, pushups, mountain climbers, and other exercises than you ever thought possible.
Everything your drill instructors do to stress you out is designed to simulate the stress of combat and elicit immediate responses to orders. From someone who has been there, trust me, it’s very effective.
You will be given your final “out” to come clean about drug use and other disqualifying conditions to your enlistment. From then on, you have no choice but to become a Marine!
Training Week One
On Monday, expect a rude awakening. Drill Instructors are fierce and will address every mistake a recruit makes at this point. You will be instructed on Marine Corps Core Values: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
You’ll meet your new best friend—your M16A4 rifle. And you’ll learn the Rifleman’s Creed. You will disassemble, clean, assemble and drill with your rifle until handling it becomes second nature. Additionally, you’ll memorize the 4 weapons safety rules.
You will run everywhere you go. You’ll “sound off” until your voice is hoarse.
When you’re not running, you’ll be practicing drill in formation with the platoon.
For the rest of the week, you can expect physical training every day. Usually running in platoon formation with a cadence call. Lots of pull-ups, pushups, mountain climbers, and calisthenics. You’ll also spend a lot of time in the classroom learning combat first aid and Marine Corps History.
On Friday, you’ll be introduced to the obstacle course and walk through each obstacle before running through it with your platoon.
You will also be introduced to MCMAP — the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. It’s a combination of karate strikes, jiu-jitsu, and of course, bayonet fighting.
Saturday, recruits are introduced to the Combat Fitness Test, which is more specifically geared to test a Marine on basic physical combat skills like sprinting, fireman’s carry, and handling heavy ammo cans.
Luckily, you’ll have four hours of free time where you can go to church, hit the chow hall, or hit the PX. You’ll spend the rest of the day cleaning the squad bay and your M16.
After a rest day on Sunday, you’ll be back at it Monday morning with more MCMAP. After morning PT, of course!
Expect physical training to get more intense as boot camp is in full swing. You’ll do 4×400 meter intervals. Finish first? You get rewarded with calisthenics! Finish last? Even more calisthenics! These are just some of the games Drill Instructors play.
You’ll be tested against other recruits in pugil stick fighting, where you’ll utilize the techniques you learned in MCMAP. Our advice? Be aggressive. Drill Instructors thoroughly enjoy watching recruits to see who are the real fighters — and it’s a chance to take out your frustrations safely. That other recruit? They’re the enemy.
It will feel like you spend countless hours drilling with your platoon. Close order drill is one of the most significant parts of Marine Boot Camp. It builds unit cohesiveness and discipline. And it makes you feel like your rifle is an extension of your body.
It won’t feel like it at first, of course, but you’ll grow stronger. You’ll be introduced to the obstacle course and taught how to run through it.
Classroom instruction this week includes Combat Care and Marine Corps History. The general plan for each day is physical fitness and MCMAP in the morning and classroom instruction after lunch. Drink water to stay awake during class!
You may be instructed to slap the back of a recruit’s head if they begin falling asleep during class. And rest assured you’ll be IT’d til you drop if you fall asleep!
Monday morning, you’ll be introduced to the confidence course, the obstacle course that you’ve seen on TV and in photographs. It includes the A-frame, ladder to heaven, and more fun stuff.
Physical Training this week will be the circuit course, running 2×400 sprints and doing more strength exercises and calisthenics like military press, dips, and pull-ups, of course.
You’ll get your ID cards this week and do a lot of administrative paperwork. You’ll also probably see the dentist at least twice during boot camp. If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth out, they’re going to do it here.
We strongly advise future Marines to have their wisdom teeth out before boot camp because the recovery will be much easier. With only 70 training days, every day must be scrutinized and pushed to the limit. Missing three of them is going to set you back.
Senior Drill Instructors will inspect their platoon during drill this week. This is a lead-up to the Initial Drill competition on Saturday. Platoons that do well will be rewarded with calisthenics. Platoons that do poorly will get rewarded with…you guessed it, even more calisthenics!
Do you see a pattern emerging?
On Friday, you’ll do a big strength and endurance run as a unit. These are 800-meter runs (1/2 mile) with strength stations in between. They will be squats, mountain climbers, pull-ups, ammo can lifts, and push-ups.
This is why we suggest running often before boot camp!
On Saturday, it’s the Initial Drill Competition. Your platoon’s performance is directly related to your Drill Instructors, and they are graded on their own performance by more senior Drill Instructors.
Expect to spend a lot of time in the IT pit and quarterdeck this day. Even if you do well!
Marine Corps Boot Camp Phase Two
Phase two begins with swim qualification and the confidence course! Building on the skills you learned in phase one, you’ll start to see some recruits getting sent back in training for not performing. Although the pass rate for Marine Corps Recruit Training is above 80% — most likely the platoon you graduate with will be quite different than who you started with.
Do your best, and you’ll make it through.
It’s the first week that underperforming recruits can be “dropped” to another platoon. Typically, this is a two-week setback. So recruits dropped on training day 21 will return to training day 7.
Swim qualification is one of the big events that recruits face this week. After morning PT, you’ll start Swim Week. Everything you go through will be demonstrated by Drill Instructors, including drown-proofing, which you won’t have to do unless you go to the Recon screening at SOI.
You’ll be expected to swim 50 yards with a ruck. And tread water in your cammies for 15 minutes.
Some recruits can’t swim when they come to boot camp. They’ll be in the shallow end learning. Don’t worry, the swim instructors are there to help you, not drown you. But… it might feel like they’re trying to drown you. It’s best to learn how to swim prior to joining the Marines.
You’ll pose for boot camp photos at the end of the week.
On Friday, it’s off to MCMAP and pugil stick fighting again. These are some of the more enjoyable events during boot camp. You’ll also conduct body sparring, which is like boxing but only hits to the body are legal. Have fun and be aggressive!
Saturday, you’ll take your first Physical Fitness Test. It’s a 3-mile run, max set of pull-ups, and max crunches in 2 minutes. You’ll have to push hard. You may not be getting your best scores now from being so tired from fire watch, swim quals, drill, and constantly running everywhere you go.
Recruits who don’t pass will get dropped. Follow our tips in the USMC Boot Camp Preparation Guide to train before you get there.
On Saturday you’ll attack the obstacle course once more.
It’s Team Week and Interior Guard. Physical training this week consists of intense log drills where recruits must work as a team to carry the load.
Strength and Endurance runs get longer and tougher. You’ll also be fitted for the uniforms that you will be issued near the end of Marine Boot Camp for graduation.
Team Week means that recruits will be breaking from standard training to various jobs around the depot, including maintaining a 24-hour guard at sensitive installations and operating the barracks like a patrol base.
This used to mean doing odd jobs like laundry and helping at the chow hall, but nowadays it is often a more tactical focus to get recruits thinking like fleet Marines. You’ll also receive your first “high and tight” haircut and start looking more like a Marine.
At the end of the week, it’s time for the first Combat Fitness Test, a test of the recruit’s endurance and strength. While in camouflage utilities, a recruit must sprint 880 yards, lift a 30lb ammo can from shoulder height to overhead as many times as possible in two minutes, and perform a timed shuttle run called the “maneuver under fire” where recruits are paired up and conduct a series of combat-related tasks like the fireman’s carry.
Marine Boot Camp training week six consists of another PFT, the bayonet assault course, pugil stick fighting, martial arts training, and a written test on Marine Corps Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions.
There is also ongoing instruction and testing on Marine Corps history. A large part of recruit training, besides physical fitness, is understanding the history of the Marine Corps, which the recruit will soon be joining.
If recruits are training at San Diego, they will take buses to Camp Pendleton to Weapons and Field Training Battalion. Up next? Firing the M16 rifle.
Marine Corps Boot Camp Phase Three
Phase three of the Marine Boot Camp schedule sees things slow down a bit during grass week, but there are longer marches, heavier packs, and at the end of phase three, the Crucible—a 54-hour event designed to test a recruit’s physical and mental stamina.
It’s grass week. Morning PT continues to grow in intensity, but recruits will now find their Drill Instructors backing off so they can focus on learning the foundations of marksmanship.
Grass week is an entire week spent learning about the basic rifle positions, and how bullets work and spending a lot of time “snapping in.” This is basically holding the shooting positions and practicing trigger pulls without any ammunition.
Most of this time is spent in the grass looking at firing barrels. Hence the name “grass week.”
The hikes, or “humps” as Marines know them, will be tougher here. At the end of the week is an 8km hike, and the packs get even heavier.
With body armor, rifle, kevlar helmet, and pack, recruits are wearing close to 45lbs of gear. Drill Instructors will keep your feet moving and have you reach out and touch the recruit in front of you. This will be your first taste of what it’s like to be an infantry Marine.
Your Primary Marksmanship Instructors will treat you very differently than your drill instructors. This helps you learn that being behind your rifle is a comfortable place — a place where you’re not constantly getting yelled at or IT’d. And the calmness helps you become a better Marksman.
Marines qualify at the longest distance of any U.S. service member and truly live up to the term “every Marine a rifleman.” Morning physical training continues, then recruits take to the rifle range for live fire of the M16 rifle. There are three days of live fire and two days of qualification.
Big changes came to the rifle range in 2022. Instead of starting at the 200-yard line and moving backward, recruits now start at the 500-yard line and move closer to the “enemy” to emulate tactical conditions better.
Instead of pulling targets down and scoring each shot, recruits take all their 500-yard shots (10 of them) at once, and then be scored.
From there, you’ll move to the 300-yard line, then the 200. The seated shooting position is now removed in favor of a barricaded position, and you’ll be wearing flak and kevlar the entire time.
At the barricade, you can use whatever firing position you feel is the most stable.
On Saturday, you will take your longest hike at 13 km — that’s 8 miles.
Recruits who fail to complete the hike or don’t stay with the unit may be rolled back to another training platoon, where they will have to take the last two weeks of training over again! The hikes are a defining feature of the Weapons and Field Training Battalion and a regular event in the Fleet Marine Force.
Don’t be fooled by the short distances. With the added weight of your pack, flak jacket, helmet, and weapon, it’s tough. Not to mention the fatigue from two months of intense training!
Field week is where the transformation into a Marine truly begins. Recruits are hardened from the physical training, and they have developed unit cohesion, which will now be tested on combat simulations and field operations.
Drill Instructors will be back in the swing of things and really challenge recruits on the field courses, which include a combat assault, low crawl, barbed wire, and everything you see in the boot camp commercials and on TV. You’ll be camping out in “the field” with other recruits and be expected to hold fire watch over the camp at night to simulate battlefield conditions.
Table II rifle qualification, the last 2 days of the week, adds to the skills recruits learned in week eight, where you put on flak and Kevlar and shoot your rifle in more combat-oriented scenarios and closer to your target. Their scores will be finalized in your rifle qualification, and those who earn the Expert Rifle Badge will be truly proud.
On Saturday, you will take your final written exam and conduct another Combat Fitness Test.
Week Ten: The Crucible
This week is when the recruit finally becomes a United States Marine.
On Monday, you’ll face the Confidence Chamber, otherwise known as the Gas Chamber.
In the Gas Chamber, you will learn how your gas mask works and gain confidence in using it. You will also probably inhale some CS gas, or tear gas.
This is so the recruit knows that the gas is only irritating and that you can actually fight through the experience. But it is tough! It’s probably one of the most nerve-wracking experiences as a Marine recruit. That night, you’ll take a 5km hike to your camping site to begin the Crucible.
The Crucible is the culminating event of the Marine Corps Boot Camp schedule.
The 54-hour event will deprive you of sleep while you live in the field, operating on a 24-hour operations cycle and completing team-building tasks in your squads. Food is also limited, so expect to be tired, worn out, and still be expected to perform.
You will be given two and a half MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for the entire two-and-a-half-day event. If training at Camp Pendleton, you will endure over 45 miles of marching, including a hike up The Reaper.
When done with the Crucible, you will officially earn the title of United States Marine, and will be issued your Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. This is one of the proudest moments in a Marine’s life, so cherish it!
The new Marines will then have a Warrior Breakfast, where you can eat as much of anything in the chow hall that you like. Take it easy on the ice cream. You’ll see other recruits vomit.
Phase Four: Being a Marine
Now, you have officially earned the title United States Marine and finalize your transition into a military way of life.
The penultimate week of Marine Boot Camp. Marines will spend their time learning how to be a Marine in the Fleet Marine Force.
It’s called Marine Week. You’ll continue MCMAP, Physical Training and learn more about the Marine Corps with a trip to the museum. You will earn your tan belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
You will finally face the rappelling and fast-roping tower, gaining confidence in safely exiting a helicopter.
You’ll also undergo the Company Commanders inspection in order to get ready for graduation. This is a hot four hours out on the parade deck, standing at attention. The company commanders walk and inspect each Marine’s rifle and uniform.
But by this time, you’re a hardened Marine ready for anything.
Graduation is finally here. This is often an emotional moment for new Marines and their families.
Graduation practice commences on Monday, and on Tuesday there is a liberty brief and “Warrior Preservation.” This is a seminar on preserving the history and traditions of the Marine Corps.
It talks about accepting the risk inherent in being a modern warrior and acting in a manner consistent with Marine values.
Wednesday is the Battalion Commander’s inspection, another long day of standing at attention. This could last several hours while the Battlaion Commander walks the companies and inspects random Marines. Weapons will then be cleaned one last time and turned in.
On Thursday, it’s the morning moto run and family day! The last run of Marine Boot Camp with your platoon. It’s the first time Marines have seen their families since they left for boot camp. Many family members will be surprised at the muscular, lean Marines now being presented to them.
And they will be amazed at the loud, in-step Marine platoons presented before them.
The final night before graduation you may host a “gong-show” where you will be allowed to joke around with your drill instructors. Even at their expense.
Friday is graduation day. You’ll be released on liberty with their families. This is one of the proudest moments of a young Marine’s life, and your family should be proud that you have entered an elite warrior culture and are serving your country.
Congratulations! You’ve made it into the most elite fighting force on the face of the planet.
Are you headed to boot camp or thinking about it? Check out our Boot Camp Preparation Guide by clicking the link below. It’s less than $10 and contains all the information you need in order to run faster, do more pull-ups, and brush up on Marine Corps knowledge and rank structure before heading to Marine Boot Camp.
After Marine Corps Boot Camp
After completing Marine Corps basic training, you will be given 10 days of leave before you must report to the School of Infantry. Infantry Marines will undergo two months of training at SOI, and other Marines will undergo just two weeks before transferring to their MOS school.