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We Don't Need No Education: Effects Of Degree Masking On Air Force Officer Promotion Outcomes


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The United States Air Force (USAF) implemented an Advanced Academic Degree (AAD) maskingpolicy for officer promotion boards at the end of 2014. This policy prevented promotion boards fromviewing degree information in Officer Selection Records (OSRs) as part of an initiative to focus boardmembers on assessing job performance. This research analyzed how this policy affected promotionoutcomes for different subgroups of officers. Using data for active duty USAF officers from 2007 to 2019,we leveraged descriptive techniques and linear probability models to determine how promotion rateschanged over time for officers meeting O-4 and O-5 promotion boards while in-the-zone for promotion. Wedetermined that the promotion premium of an AAD reduced about 50 percent across O-4 and O-5 promotionboards. Additionally, we found that non-AAD holding rated officers became significantly more likely topromote to O-4 following policy implementation, relative to their counterparts in support career fields.These findings suggest that the AAD masking policy potentially affected the type and quality of officerspromoted by the USAF after 2014.



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