The academic course requirements for midshipmen include both Core Courses (coursework required of all midshipmen regardless of academic major) plus Majors Course specific to each midshipman's selected academic major.
Most midshipmen's academic courses are the same in their first (fourth class or plebe) year at the Naval Academy. The courses taken in plebe year are part of the core program. Selection of a major then takes place near the end of the plebe year. Midshipmen begin formal course work in their majors in the second (third class or youngster) year at the Academy. Majors programs may vary somewhat from one class year to the next.
The upper class years involve a mixture of core and majors courses. The core courses comprise the common center of the academic program. They provide the basis for a sound general education and strong professional development. It is the core program that allows any midshipman, regardless of major, to prepare for any warfare community in the Naval Service.
Some midshipmen, on the basis of work done elsewhere, may qualify to validate or place out of one or more of these or other, more advanced, courses. Validation credit is awarded only after a test or interview on the subject matter administered at the Naval Academy.