The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s academic policies and procedures are stated in the Academic Policies Handbook. Each Midshipman receives a copy of this guide upon entry to the Academy and is responsible for understanding its contents. The following is a summary of the Handbook’s most important provisions.
The Academy uses a letter-grade system with each letter grade assigned a numerical quality-point equivalent. The scholastic significance of the grades and related quality point equivalents are reflected in the following table:
A Midshipman is considered to be proficient for a grading period if no F grade is received, and the trimester quality point average is 2.000 or greater. A Midshipman achieves overall proficiency if these requirements are met and the cumulative quality point average is 2.000 or greater with no unresolved F grades. If these criteria are not satisfied, a Midshipman is considered deficient. A fourth class Midshipman is permitted to adjust to the academic and regimental requisites through a special scale of academic requirements that increase in each succeeding trimester of plebe year.
Midshipmen who do not fully satisfy the proficiency requirements may be placed on academic warning, academic probation or in some other more significant deficiency status by the Dean. Normally, a Midshipman who is academically deficient has one grading period to regain proficiency.
A Midshipman failing to meet the academic standards of the Academy may be recommended by the Dean to the Superintendent for disenrollment. The Academic Dean prepares his recommendation in conjunction with the Academic Review Board.
Midshipmen may earn Scholastic Quarterly Honor Stars on the following basis:
- Gold Stars are awarded to all Midshipmen who achieve a quality point average of 3.500 or above for one trimester with no course failures during that term.
- Silver Stars are awarded to Midshipmen who achieve a quality point average of 3.250 to 3.494 for one trimester with no course failures during that term.
Scholastic Honor Ribbons for Outstanding Sea Year Performance are given as follows:
An Honor Ribbon with Bronze Star is awarded to Midshipmen with a quality point average of at least 3.500 for the sea year, no failing grades and above average Sea Year performance reports. An Honor Ribbon is awarded to Midshipmen with a quality-point average of 3.250 up to and including 3.494 for the Sea Year, no failing grades and above average Sea Year performance reports. Midshipmen who have earned Sea Year ribbons for the first sea period and become eligible for such ribbons after the second sea period wear a silver star with the ribbon in lieu of a second bronze star; or wear a bronze star if only a ribbon was previously awarded.
Scholastic Honors at graduation are awarded on the following basis:
- Summa Cum Laude - A Midshipman must have a cumulative average of at least 3.750 and finish in the top three percent of the graduating class.
- Magna Cum Laude - A Midshipman must have a cumulative average of at least 3.500 and be in the upper ten percent of the graduating class.
- Cum Laude - A Midshipman must have a cumulative average of at least 3.000 and be in the top 20 percent of the graduating class. Honors designations on the diploma will be based on the cumulative quality-point average at the completion of senior year.
All Academy undergraduate students are considered full-time students. Midshipmen must carry the trimester credit hour load required by their academic curriculum for each resident trimester and Sea Year period. Special circumstances may require that a Midshipman take less than the normal load. A Midshipman may “overload” and take additional credit hours in a trimester, but this will not reduce the need to take the normal load in all future trimesters. Consent of the Dean is required to overload.
A Midshipman who fails a course must either repeat the course in its entirety (the preferred method of resolving a failure) or undertake a remedial program.
Exclusion from Extracurricular Activities
The Academic Dean may restrict any Midshipman not academically proficient from participation in sports or extracurricular activities.
A Midshipman may be set back to a succeeding year group by the Superintendent upon the recommendation of the Academic Dean. Setbacks are granted only when there is a compelling medical, compassionate or academic circumstance.
Federal law requires that a Midshipman complete a four-year course of study at the Academy. Under exceptional circumstances, a Midshipman who has finished at least one full year of the program is proficient under the academic standards prescribed in the Academic Policies Handbook, and who resigns and later reapplies for admission, may be granted advanced standing. In such cases, the coursework done at the Academy prior to resignation and subsequently at other colleges and universities will be considered in assigning a returning Midshipman to an appropriate year group. Upon reentry, the Midshipman is bound by the curriculum, catalog, and regulation in effect at the time of return.
Class Attendance and Excused Absences
Attendance at all classes at the Academy is required unless a Midshipman is ill, in a special duty status, or otherwise granted leave or liberty by the Commandant.
Coursework Taken at Other Institutions
The Academy does not normally award transfer credits for courses taken elsewhere. However, a student who has completed equivalent coursework may apply for exemption from courses at the Academy. No student may exempt from more than 12 credits.
Courses may be evaluated and may be deemed as an appropriate substitute for an existing course. The Midshipman may be required to substitute an appropriate course to complete the number of credits required for a term. All decisions made by the appropriate academic department are final.
Prior approval for a course to be used for an exemption is required for all but incoming 4th class midshipmen. Midshipmen should apply for an exemption at the start of an academic year, or immediately following a leave of absence. All petitions for course exemption require an official transcript and a course description be provided to the Registrar and appropriate department heads for evaluation.
Quality points, or grade for work accomplished elsewhere, are not included in the Midshipman’s Academy academic record. A maximum of twelve credits, including Advanced Placement (AP) credits, may be posted to a Midshipman’s record.
The Academy has a four-year residency requirement that cannot be shortened. There are no exceptions to this policy and its requirements.
Kings Point Scholar Program
The Kings Point Scholar Program affords Midshipmen an opportunity to explore a topic in depth beyond the degree to which it is represented in the curriculum. Midshipmen who wish to undertake a major research project through the Kings Point Scholar Program should obtain the sponsorship of a faculty member for their project. The Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs can explain the program in detail to interested students.
The research paper completed through the Kings Point Scholar Program should make an important contribution to the chosen field of study. The research papers are maintained by the Academy in its Library. Past topics have included oil pollution, deep ocean mining, sub-marine tankers and the German intermodal transportation system, and the cruise industry.
Completion of the Kings Point Scholar Program can satisfy a Midshipman’s credit hour elective requirement for Marine Engineering and Marine Transportation majors, while Maritime Logistics and Security majors may apply the project as the Humanities elective.
Each plebe is assigned a mentor, who is available through appointment to discuss a broad range of academic issues with a Midshipman.
There is a Midshipman academic officer in each company who is specifically responsible to work with students who are experiencing academic difficulty and to apply the various support systems to specific cases. The academic officers work closely with the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). The ACE provides Midshipmen with the support they may need to achieve their goals and be successful in their educational pursuit. At the Center, Midshipmen can develop effective learning habits that will prove to be beneficial, not only during their time at the Academy, but during their Sea Year and beyond graduation as well. Faculty members and mentors can refer a Midshipman to the ACE when they have concerns about their academic performance. Midshipmen are also encouraged to seek help for self-identified problems and concerns that they feel might hinder their academic success.
Each Midshipman who comes to the ACE is given individual attention to create a personal success program based on his or her needs. In addition, through the Center, tutorial sessions may be set up for both group and individual sessions. The Center promotes effective, independent learning to achieve high academic goals at a school where good time management skills are essential to achieve educational success.
The Academic Board
The Academic Dean, Assistant Deans, heads of the academic departments, Commandant, Athletic Director, Director of the ACE, Director of the Waterfront, and Head, Department of Professional Development and Career Services comprise the Academic Board. The Board advises the Superintendent on all academic matters, making recommendations concerning academic policy, standards, honors and curriculum.
The Privacy Act of 1974 and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 prohibit the disclosure of educational records to other persons or organizations without written consent. Grade reports, transcripts and other information cannot be released to anyone, including parents, other academic institutions and employers, without such written consent. Notice of consent must be filed with the Office of the Registrar for each release of information.
Access to Academic Records
Midshipmen have access to their own academic records, and may request copies. These transcripts are “unofficial” copies and do not bear the impressed seal of the Academy. Official, sealed copies are not released to Midshipmen under any circumstances. An individual review of an official record maintained by the Office of the Registrar may be made by appointment. The Office of the Dean makes final decisions on questions arising from such reviews.
The following statistics indicate the rate of graduation at the Academy for classes of 2008 to 2021:
Academic Departments, Faculty, and Course Descriptions
Note: For all faculty listings in this section of the catalog, the year when a faculty member joined the Academy staff follows each name. Other information includes the individual’s faculty rank, degrees earned, where obtained, professional licenses held, and military affiliation. In a department that includes more than one discipline, the faculty member’s area of specialization is indicated.
Superscripts used in this listing are:
1 faculty member has received the Academy’s Vice Admiral Gordon McLintock Award for Exemplary Leadership
2 faculty member has received the Academy’s Sue Alice McNulty Award for Distinguished Teaching.
3 faculty member has received the Captain C.A. Prosser Award for Student Service.
4 faculty member has held command at sea of an unlimited tonnage vessel.
This list is current as of July 31, 2021. The courses and descriptions in this section are subject to change
Index to This Section
Mathematics and Science
Physical Education and Athletics
Professional Development and Career Services