Special Academic Program Opportunities
Students who excel at the Naval Academy have many opportunities to challenge and advance themselves through several special academic programs.
Special Academic Programs Conducted at USNA
Honors Programs - Midshipmen with excellent academic and leadership performance can apply for honors programs offered in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, Ocean Engineering, Systems Engineering, Mathematics, Oceanography, Economics, English, History and Political Science. 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.
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.
Other Special Academic Opportunities at USNA - Midshipmen should contact their academic advisers for more information about additional special academic opportunities, including independent research, summer internships and more.
USNA offers the opportunity for a midshipman to study for an entire semester at one of our other service academies, at another institution abroad or even in a graduate school program. Note that selection for these programs is highly competitive and a midshipman may participate in at most one of these programs; that is, a midshipman may not spend more than one semester away from USNA.
- Service Academy Exchange Program (SAEP) - This program allows a midshipman to study for a semester at one of our sister federal service academies: either USAFA, USCGA or USMA. The Service Academy Exchange Program Table of Course Equivalents can be found here.
- Semester Study Abroad (SSA) Program (USNA only)- This program provides the opportunity for a midshipman to study at a military or a civilian institution in another country. Note that language proficiency may not be required, depending on the program details.The Semester Study Abroad Table of Course Equivalents can be found here.
- Voluntary Graduate Education Program (VGEP) (USNA only) - A midshipman approved for our VGEP program applies for admission to one of our nearby graduate schools and begins taking Masters degree level coursework at that institution during his/her first class (senior year) spring semester. At the end of the spring, the midshipman earns his/her Bachelor's degree from USNA and his/her commission in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps, but then continues on with his/her coursework at the graduate school and completes the Master's degree typically at the end of the calendar year.