us merchant marine academy

Aerial view of the US Merchant Marine Academy.

The US Merchant Marine Academy serves just under 1,000 students a year. Located in Kings Point, New York, the institution was established in 1943. Students can receive Bachelor of Science degrees, an unlimited United States Coast Guard License as a Merchant Marine Officer (either Third Mate or Third Assistant Engineer), and a commission as an Ensign in the US Navy Reserve.

They can also apply for acceptance as an Ensign in the US Navy, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Army, or Air Force. Upon graduation, students are required to complete a five-year active duty term. Students can gain admission to the academy with strong GPAs and SAT/ACT scores. They must be between the ages of 17 and 25, be a citizen of the US, and receive a Congressional nomination. Applicants must also pass the DoDMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) physical and the Candidate Fitness Assessment.

Incoming US Merchant Marine Academy students are known as plebes, and they must complete a two-week indoctrination program called ‘Indoc’ (which involves intense physical training and marching). Students are then referred to as the Regiment of Midshipmen, and they are divided into two battalions and five companies. They are trained in marine engineering, navigation, ship’s administration, maritime law, personnel management, international law, customs, and other subjects. There are six academic programs, including marine engineering; humanities; marine transportation; mathematics and science; naval science; and physical education and athletics.

us merchant marine academy

Licensing exams underway at the US Merchant Marine Academy.

A midshipman’s sophomore and junior years consist of working as cadets on merchant ships. They function as crew members and gain essential hands-on experience. During this time, students often travel to more than 18 countries in the span of only about 300 days. The end of senior year is dedicated to exams to be licensed as Third Assistant Engineers, or Third Mates. Students are required to participate in varsity, club, or intramural sports. The Academy’s Mariners compete in the NCAA Division III games in sports like baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, and tennis. Some choose to join clubs and organizations (like Glee Club or Regimental Band).

About one third of the graduating class goes to work as officers in the United States Merchant Marine on ships involved in overseas trade, inland and near-coastal transportation, or research vessels. Another one third works in the maritime industry in commercial shipping, ship broking, intermodal logistics, marine engineering, or maritime law. Some students enter the military as active duty Commissioned Officers. US Merchant Marine Academy graduates going into the civilian workforce are mandated to maintain their Naval Reserve commission for at least 8 years.