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Coast Guard Academy

The Coast Guard Academy, founded in 1876 and located in New London, Connecticut, is the smallest of the five service academies. 

Those who attend the Coast Guard Academy are called cadets and go through a four-year course of study to earn a Bachelor of Science in one of the nine majors that are offered. Keep in mind that the number of majors here is much lower than in the other military service academies.

Table 1: Comparison of Majors Offered

Coast Guard AcademyOther Academies
9 MajorsMore than 9 majors

Cadet Life and Training

Much like what was covered previously, cadets will receive a college education while undergoing various military training to prepare them to be commissioned as ensigns in the US Coast Guard. 

As you’d expect by now if you’ve been with us the whole way through, a majority of their military training is conducted in the summers, which is intended to aid in getting them the experience and character they need to lead

Cadet Ranks

And again, if you’ve been with us the whole way through, you might be able to guess what the ranks of the cadets are from their freshman to senior years. 

At the Coast Guard Academy, they go from:

  • Fourth class
  • Third class
  • Second class
  • First-class cadets, respectively.

The boot camp that newly minted cadets go through in their first summer before they begin their studies is known as Swab Summer. 

This is an eight-week basic training program that culminates in a weeklong underway voyage aboard the tall ship Eagle. 

From obstacle courses to PT events, teamwork exercises, and general introductions to the military way of life, Swab Summer is nothing to sneeze at.

First Year as a Swab

For your whole first year, you’ll be informally known as a Swab, by the way. The summers at the academy are spent aboard operational Coast Guard units, most commonly cutters. 

Additionally, some cadets can go to air stations to learn more about being a pilot, and others can work at specialized units. 

During your time with the operational commands as a cadet, you’ll integrate with the enlisted crew and learn the ways of the Coast Guard. You’ll stand watch, conduct damage control training and weapon qualifications, do the sail training program, and spend a few weeks as a member of the Cadre who trains the incoming swabs. 

Your last summer will be 10 weeks of serving in the role of a junior officer because you’ll soon be on your way to actually being commissioned. As far as where you want to work once you graduate, you typically find out during your last year. You will officially learn where you’re going at what is known as Billet Night, which can be a fun and exciting time for some.

Coast Guard Academy Post-Graduation Roles

Ninety percent of new ensigns go to sea as deck watch officers or engineers in training, and the remainder head straight to flight school or operational shore units.

Sports at the Academy

And one random note before we wrap up with the basic requirements: If sports are a big deal to you, the Coast Guard Academy is Division 3, whereas West Point, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy are Division 1.

Coast Guard Academy Basic Requirements for Admission

The basic requirements to be admitted into the Coast Guard Academy are:

  • You must be a US citizen of sound moral character.
  • You must be unmarried with no dependents or financial debt.
  • You should be 17 to 22 years of age on the last Monday of June in the year you enter.
  • You should have a high school diploma or GED.

Additionally, unlike the other service academies, admission to the Coast Guard Academy does not require a congressional nomination, so you won’t have to worry about that in your application.

With the Coast Guard Academy covered, let’s move on to our last but certainly not least service academy, the Merchant Marine Academy.

George N.