Students who excel at the Naval Academy have many opportunities to challenge and advance themselves through several special programs.
Midshipmen with excellent academic and leadership performance can apply for honors programs offered in history, English, political science, mathematics, oceanography, systems engineering, and economics. Honors students complete a thesis or research project and orally defend it before a panel of faculty members. Successful participants graduate with honors.
Trident Scholar Program
The Trident Scholar Program provides an opportunity for some exceptionally capable midshipmen to engage in independent study and research during their first class (senior) year. Following their selection to the program at the end of their junior year, Trident Scholars conduct year-long independent research in an area of their interest, working closely with a faculty advisor who is an expert in the area that the Scholar has chosen to investigate. Trident Scholars carry a reduced formal course load to give them sufficient time for in-depth research and for preparation of a published thesis. Trident Scholars often report their findings of national conferences related to their field.
Trident Scholars come from many different majors and research topics have ranged from “Analysis and Optimization of Vortex Oxidizer Injection in a Hybrid Rocket Motor System,” and “Search for Galactic Asymmetry: Developing a Star Count Model of the Galaxy,” to “Design, Synthesis and Testing of Anti-malarial Compounds Based Upon a Novel Chemical Lead.”
Bowman Scholar Program
The Bowman Scholar Program provides an opportunity for a small group of Naval Academy midshipmen who are seeking initial service assignments in the nuclear Navy to compete for appointments as Admiral Frank Bowman Scholars. Prior to their selection, candidates are screened for the Navy’s nuclear power program by the Director, Naval Reactors. If selected for nuclear power training and subsequently appointed as a Bowman Scholar, the Scholar participates in a tailored research internship during one of the summer training blocks preceding first class year and then participates in a special research-based learning opportunity during his or her last year as a midshipman. During the first year of commissioned service after graduation, Bowman Scholars are generally offered immediate, one-year graduate education resulting in a master’s degree in a technical discipline.
Class of 2009 Bowman Scholars tackled research projects that ranged from “Material Alternatives for Rapid Metal Prototyping of Military Components,” and “Analyzing the Mixed Radiation Field Environments of Naval Aviators and Aircrew,” to “Alternate Biometric Algorithm Processing Using Parallel Logic in Field-Programmable Gate Arrays.”
Voluntary Graduate Education Program (VGEP)
Midshipmen who have completed Academy course requirements early through any combination of validation and overloading can compete for selection and begin work toward master’s degrees at nearby civilian universities, such as the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Up to 20 midshipmen can participate annually, starting graduate work during their first class year and completing their master’s degree programs within seven months after graduation from the Naval Academy. Fields of study are selected from Navy-approved graduate education programs leading to Navy subspecialty qualification.