The US Coast Guard Academy was established in 1876, and is the smallest of the five federal service academies. The school has just over 1,000 students, with graduates and commissions of more than 200 Ensigns every year. Located in New London, Connecticut, the academy is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, ABET, and AACSB. Unlike the other service academies, admission to the US Coast Guard Academy does not require a congressional nomination.
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 nine 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 7 to 1. More than 77% 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 28 sports teams (15 mens and 13 womens) 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.