How Long Is Marine Basic Training? A Full Timeline and FAQs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 26, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated July 26, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marine basic training, also known as the United States Marine Corps Boot Camp, prepares recruits for careers as Marines. Training takes place over several weeks in which recruits build their strength, stamina and knowledge of various military tactics. If you're considering a stint or career as a U.S. Marine, understanding both the physical and the temporal demands of basic training can help you make an informed decision. 

In this article, we discuss the length of Marine basic training and provide a comprehensive timeline of events, with a detailed breakdown of camp phases and activities.

How long is Marine basic training?

Marine basic training lasts 13 weeks. The weeks divide into four phases, each involving specific training activities that prepare Marine recruits for duty. Here's a breakdown of the four phases:

Phase One

Phase One of Marine basic training spans the first four weeks of boot camp. During this period, you can expect to undergo the following activities:

  • Receiving week: Marine basic training starts with Recruit Receiving. Immediately on arrival at the training depot, recruits get their hair cut. undergo dental and medical screenings, complete an initial strength test to verify preparedness for training and then collect their uniform, gear, correspondence supplies and toiletries.

  • Forming: During the forming, recruits meet their drill instructor for the first time and get a sense of how what to expect in the following 13 weeks. They also learn basic tasks such as how to dress, make their beds, secure their weapons and march.

  • Classes: Recruits take classes on Marine Corps history and first aid and learn principles such as team spirit and leadership. They also learn the core values of the Marine Corps—honor, courage and commitment—which form the basis of a Marine's character and guide them to act with integrity, make decisions under stress and show determination.

  • Physical training: Physical training, which takes place at every phase of boot camp, builds up recruits' strength and stamina to Marine Corps standards. It consists of obstacle courses, circuit courses, conditioning marches of varying lengths and Table PT, during which a drill instructor leads recruits through a series of demanding exercises on a table.

  • Drills: The objective of drills, which also take place at every phase of basic training, is to teach discipline, unit cohesion and team pride. During close-order drills, Marines practice marching and handling arms while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other recruits.

  • Swim week: Swim qualifications are the main event in week four. Recruits receive combat water survival training, practice various swimming techniques in uniform and gear and learn when to remove gear to stay afloat.

Related: U.S. Marine Corps Ranks Explained

Phase Two

Phase Two takes place from week five to week seven. The activities during this phase include:

  • Team week: During the fifth week of basic training, recruits work in teams to perform tasks such as doing laundry, cleaning buildings and assisting in supply warehouses. These tasks, performed without supervision, help to build team spirit and teach useful duties to the future Marines. 

  • Grass week: The U.S. Marines refer to the sixth week as snap-in week or grass week because most of the tasks occur in the grass, practicing trigger pulls and holding shooting positions, snapping-in. In addition to the fundamentals of marksmanship with a service rifle—such as adjusting rifle sights, firing at a target and analyzing the effects of the weather on a shot—they also practice on the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Training machine, firing on a course with ranges of 200, 300 and 500 yards.

  • Firing week: During Field Fire Range (FFR) training, recruits learn how to fire at multiple moving targets. They also master firing under low-light conditions and with a field protective (gas) mask.

Related: Transferable Skills: Definitions and Examples

Phase Three

Phase Three of Marine basic training lasts from week eight to week 10:

  • Basic warrior training: In week eight, recruits learn survival skills relating to combat, the use of a gas mask and field activities such as setting up a tent, sanitation and camouflage. They also navigate areas using only a map and compass.

  • Testing week: In week nine, recruits undergo practical and academic evaluations like the combat fitness test and the confidence test. The latter entails an 11-station obstacle course that involves a 1.5-mile run, sit-ups and pull-ups, all of which are meant to develop upper-body strength and self-assuredness.

  • The Confidence Chamber: The Confidence Chamber happens during the last week before the final evaluation. Wearing a gas mask, recruits enter an enclosed structure filled with CS gas and perform various tasks, including removing the gas mask, with the aim of remaining calm.

  • The Crucible: The Crucible is a final 54-hour field event that tests recruits on the knowledge, values and skills they learned throughout Marine basic training. Upon completion of the challenge—which involves exercises, a 48-mile march and simulated combat situations under the deprivation of food and sleep—they earn the Eagle, Globe and Anchors, symbolizing their transformation from recruits to Marines.

Related: Core Values in the Workplace: 84 Powerful Examples

Phase Four

Phase Four contains the last steps to graduation and concludes Marine basic training. These final steps are:

  • Inspection: Commanding officers inspect the new Marines. The Marines also complete any required administrative tasks before graduation.

  • Family day: On the last Thursday of Marine basic training, recruits get to see their family for the first time since they started the boot camp.

  • Graduation: The graduation ceremony happens on the last day of training. Friends and family can attend the celebration and enjoy a parade.

Related: 14 Leadership Traits for Success in the U.S. Marines

Frequently asked questions about Marine basic training

The following are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Marine basic training: 

Where does Marine basic training occur?

Marine recruits start their basic training in a Marine Corps Recruit Depot, or MCRD. Depending on where they enlist, they go to one of two locations: the depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, or San Diego, California. Recruits who join west of the Mississippi tend to train in San Diego, while those who engage in the East attend boot camp at Parris Island. In the second phase of their training, all recruits go north to Edson Range, which is the weapons field training battalion. They finish their instruction and graduate in their original MCRD.

Related: U.S. Marine Corps Promotions: How To Advance in Enlisted USMC Ranks

Can recruits contact friends and family members during Marine basic training?

Recruits can make one phone call on their date of arrival to notify a relation that they've successfully reached their recruit depot. From that point, they can contact their friends and family members via posted correspondence. After completion of the Crucible, recruits have multiple opportunities to make phone calls and use the internet.

Related: How To Write a Letter: Format and Types (With Example)

What happens after Marine basic training?

After graduation from Marine basic training, new Marines enjoy at least 10 days of leave before reporting to the School of Infantry. Those with an infantry military occupational specialty (MOS) receive 52 days of additional training at Infantry Training Battalion, while those with a non-infantry MOS get 29 days at Marine Combat Training Battalion. Afterward, the Marines receive their unit assignments.

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