All students are referred to as cadets, and their tuition is entirely funded by the Coast Guard. They also receive a stipend to cover books and other expenses. In turn, students are required to commit to a five year active-duty service term after graduation. During their education, cadets must always remain in uniform.
US Coast Guard Academy students can complete Bachelor of Science degrees in one of eight majors. The most popular majors are engineering; marine biology and biological oceanography; political science and government; business administration and management; and mathematics and statistics. Other courses include topics like Strategic Intelligence and Homeland Security, Detection of Radioactive Materials, and Polar Operations. Classes remain small with a student to faculty ratio of 8 to 1. More than 71% of classes have less than 20 students in them. Incoming freshmen are required to complete the Swab Summer program, which consists of seven weeks of basic training and a week-long trip on the Barque Eagle (a 295-foot tall ship).Third-class students spend five weeks aboard the Eagle and five weeks on a Coast Guard cutter serving as helmsmen, lookouts, or on engineering watch. Second class students train in damage control, weapons qualifications, navigation rules, a sail training program, and spend three weeks as the cadre (who train the incoming freshmen). First class students spend 10 weeks on an operational cutter as junior officers. Every week, cadets participate in a Regimental Review, which is a formal military drill.
Students are required to balance their classes, military training, and athletics during their time at the academy. Each day, they are mandated to spend two hours devoted to athletics (either on varsity or club teams). The school offers 23 intercollegiate sports teams that participate mostly in the NCAA Division III. The US Coast Guard Academy also offers other clubs and music groups, including the Glee Club, Gospel Choir and a jazz band.