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Degree Programs at the United States Coast Guard Academy

The United States Coast Guard Academy appears in our ranking of the 50 Most Technologically Advanced Small Colleges.

The United States Coast Guard Academy offers just nine majors for undergraduate students. Those programs help them develop the skills that they will need to work for the Coast Guard or the government. The naval architect and marine engineering program is popular because it teaches students how to design and construct the ships and other vehicles used by the Coast Guard. Students have access to 3D printers and other machinery. Majors in the program will take Introduction to Computing, Electric Circuits and Machines, Applications in Navigation, Mechanics of Materials and Ship Structures.

Undergrads attending the academy will take some of the same classes each year too. They take History of the USCG, Principles of Fitness and Wellness, Lifetime Sports I and II and Global Studies. The lifetime sports courses give students credit as they learn the fundamentals of tennis, golf, and other sports. Undergrads will also need to complete programs in the summer to show that they are physically fit and have strong swimming skills. Those who cannot pass the physical exams risk getting dropped from the academy. Other majors for undergrads include mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, cyber systems, operations research and computer analysis, government, management and marine and environmental sciences.

Though the United States Coast Guard Academy offers more than 40 majors for graduate students, those programs are only open for students who earned their undergrad degrees from the academy. It may make exceptions for students who have military experience or degrees from other service academies. The marine science program includes several oceanography courses. Students learn the fundamentals of charting ship locations and using environmental landmarks. In the marine affairs program, students focus on how the Coast Guard can protect natural resources and marine animals in daily operations. Students who want to work for the government may opt for the academy’s homeland security program to learn about that department and its operations. Other programs for grad students include those in information operations and cyber intelligence, human resources management, information technology management, and surface systems safety.

About the United States Coast Guard Academy

The United States Coast Guard Academy is a service academy affiliated with the Coast Guard. It is one of only five academies in the country affiliated with a branch of the military. Established in 1876, the academy was originally the School of Instruction of the Revenue Cutter Service. The school had a small campus in Massachusetts and offered training exercises on a military ship docked nearby. Courses were available in math, English, French, maritime law, astronomy, and steam engineering among others. After becoming the Coast Guard Academy in 1915, the government looked for a new location and purchased land in New London, Connecticut. The academy still uses that campus today.

Often called USCGA or the Coast Guard Academy, it receives more than 2,000 applications each year but accepts 400 students or less. Students must go through training in the summer, which can drop the enrollment number to 300 or less by the fall. Each summer includes special programs that students complete. They must pass those programs to remain in the academy. Graduates of the Coast Guard Academy receive officer appointments in the Coast Guard at the end of their studies.

The United States Coast Guard Academy Accreditation Details

All the engineering programs offered by the United States Coast Guard Academy have accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This includes the programs in mechanical and electrical engineering as well as the academy’s naval architecture and marine engineering program. The USCGA also holds regional accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

The United States Coast Guard Academy Application Requirements

The USCGA looks at the character of an applicant and other information when looking over applications each year. Students need to apply by January 15, but the academy has an early action deadline of October 15. The requirements for entering the academy include:

  • Being an American citizen
  • Having no dependents and being unmarried
  • Having a high school diploma or a GED

Students can enter if they are divorced but not if they are separated or legally married. The academy only admits students who are at least 17 years old and no older than 22 on July first of the year the begin classes.

To apply, students need to start an online application and complete each box on the form. They will also need to respond to several essay questions at the beginning of the application. These essays ask them about their past experiences, their connections to the National Guard and other branches of the military and why they chose the academy over other colleges. USCGA requires high school transcripts and letters of recommendation from the applicant’s math teacher, English teacher, and high school guidance counselor. They will also need to present an official standardized test score and pass a physical fitness exam. Before enrolling, students must submit the results of an official medical exam too. USCGA will accept a resume, college transcripts and letters of recommendation too, including those from a commanding officer for students currently in the military.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Though similar schools charge up to $280,000 for four years of education, students attending the United States Coast Guard Academy do not pay anything for tuition. The government pays for the cost of their tuition as well as their room and board costs. This allows students to graduate without owing a dime in student loans. The low cost of attendance means that the academy is highly selective and only picks the students it believes will do the best in the academy and the National Guard.

One thing that students should know before they apply is that the academy requires they commit to spending at least five years in the Coast Guard. Their time at the USCGA allows them to enter the military as an officer and skip the basic training that others must do. Around 85 percent of the academy’s graduates work for the Coast Guard for more than five years. Full scholarships cover the total cost of attendance for graduate students too. The United States Coast Guard Academy encourages students to look at the commitment obligation and all other requirements before they apply to any of its degree programs.