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About the Curriculum


The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy provides you with a four-year academic program leading to a bachelor of science degree, a license as a merchant marine officer (issued by the U.S. Coast Guard), and an appointment as a commissioned officer in a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces (including the Merchant Marine Reserve of the U.S. Navy). The curriculum is demanding, comprehensive and stimulating. It has been carefully designed to ensure that you graduate professionally competent, trained for leadership and responsibility, and well-rounded intellectually.


As a midshipman, you will be required to complete a series of required courses which comprise the core curriculum. These courses provide a nucleus of knowledge in key academic and professional subjects. In the second trimester of the fourth class year, you begin your major course of study, which will determine the type of merchant marine license you receive. You will also spend approximately one year at sea regardless of which major you select.

The academic year at the Academy is divided into three academic terms or trimesters which span 13 weeks each, for an 11-month academic year running from late July to late June. Credit for courses is given in semester credit hours.

Core Curriculum

This core curriculum has several components (specific courses meeting these requirements are identified later in the course description section):

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • English
  • Leadership and Ethics
  • Comparative Literature and History
  • Naval Science
  • Physical Education and Ship’s Medicine
  • Internship
  • Sea Year
  • Major Programs


When applying to the Academy, you will be asked to list a tentative major. In the second trimester, you will be required to affirm your selection or choose another major. An extensive orientation program and introductory professional course-work in the first trimester will assist you in making that decision. All major programs are described in this section. The courses you take at the Academy following fourth class year will vary greatly depending on the major you select. The following is a detailed description of the major curricula and the course of study each entails. The exact sequence of the course offerings in some cases may be modified by the sea year split.

Midshipmen select their major course of study from among five programs:

License Programs

In the last trimester of first class year, midshipmen take a comprehensive written examination, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard, for their licenses as merchant marine officers. Those who have selected the Marine Transportation major or the Logistics and Intermodal Transportation major receive training in nautical science to prepare for the third mate (deck officer) license examination. Marine Engineering, Marine Engineering Systems, and Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management majors receive marine engineering training to prepare for the third assistant engineer (engineering officer) license examination.

Sea-Year Training

At the end of the fourth class year in late June, half of the students will go to sea for one term, return for residential courses for the second term of their third class year, then return to sea for the third term plus the first term of their second class year. They will return to campus for the second trimester of the second class year and remain on campus through graduation.
The other half of the class will remain in residence for the first trimester of the third class year, will go to sea for the second trimester and return to campus for the third trimester. Then they will go to sea for the second and third trimesters of their second class year, return for the first trimester of their first class year and remain on campus until graduation.

Elective Courses

Elective courses are a means by which midshipmen may enhance their professional training and satisfy their intellectual curiosity. The number of elective courses varies by major.  All midshipmen are encouraged to take additional elective courses when academically possible. Some programs offer sufficient electives to allow for a formal concentration of study, or minors.

Graduation Requirements

The minimum requirements for graduation are:

  • Pass the required resident and sea project courses. (A four-year course of study is required by 46USC310.52.) A maximum of 5- 1/2 years in attendance is permitted to complete degree requirements.
  • Earn the number of semester credit hours required by the curriculum in which you are enrolled. Exemptions from courses completed at other accredited institutions or waived due to physical disability may lower the number of credits required for some students.
  • Earn a Cumulative Quality Point Average (CQPA) of at least 2.000 for all courses taken.
  • Earn a Cumulative Grade Point Average of at least 2.000 for all courses specifically required in your major.
  • Pass all required license competencies.
  • Pass the examination and receive a USCG third mate or third assistant engineer license. Those not eligible to receive the license, e.g., foreign national, medical disqualification for a duty-related injury, etc., must, nevertheless, pass the examination. Midshipmen enrolled in the Maritime Operations and Technology curriculum are also required to pass all designated portions of the QMED examination administered by the USCG.
  • Satisfy all necessary certifications as required by the USCG as specified for your program.
  • Pass all required Naval Science courses prescribed by the Department of the Navy.
  • Apply for and accept, if offered, an appointment as a commissioned officer in a Reserve Component of the U.S. Armed Forces (including the Merchant Marine Reserve of the U.S.Navy).
  • Pass the Academy Physical Fitness Test.

Class Curriculum

Curriculum for Class 2021-2022

Curriculum for Class of 2023




Now Accepting Applications for the Class of 2029