What is a Navy or Marine ROTC Degree?

The Navy ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program combines a university undergraduate or graduate degree curriculum with the Navy ROTC (NROTC) curriculum. It is offered at more than 160 accredited schools and institutions throughout the US. Midshipmen who pursue and receive an NROTC scholarship must fulfill the requirements of both their selected degree program and the military studies and leadership labs administered by the Navy. The Marines do not have their own Marine ROTC program. Aspiring Marines take part in the Navy ROTC ‘Marine option.’

To be eligible for a Navy ROTC scholarship, aspiring navy officers must be US citizens between the ages of 17 and 27, must start their studies in their freshman year, must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and leadership qualities, and must agree to serve at least four years of active duty as an Officer in the Navy or Marine Corps following college graduation.

Program Options

The standard part of the Navy ROTC training program – the part that does not vary from midshipman to midshipman – is composed of Navy ROTC specified courses and naval science courses. Military-focused classes are taught by military faculty and qualified guest speakers.


Specified Courses

  • Calculus
  • Calculus-based Physics
  • College Algebra or Advanced Trigonometry
  • Physical Science
  • American Military History
  • Regional Studies / Cultural Awareness
  • Composition-based English
  • American Military History

Naval Science Courses

Introduction to Naval Science

  • Organizational structure, warfare components, and assigned roles and missions of the US Navy (USN) and the US Marine Corps (USMC)
  • USN and USMC leadership and core values
  • Naval culture

Sea Power and Maritime Affairs

  • History and tradition of the US Navy
  • National issues and imperatives in peacetime and in war
  • Maritime philosophies
  • Naval strategies and doctrines
  • Budgetary concerns which shaped the Navy
  • US diplomatic objectives
  • How the Navy changed at the end of the Cold War
  • How the Navy’s mission changed after September 11, 2001

Leadership and Management

  • Fundamentals of leading Sailors and Marines
  • Theories of leadership and management inside and beyond the Naval Service
  • Related case studies and laboratory discussions


  • Fundamentals of electronic navigation
  • Introduction to maneuvering boards
  • Piloting techniques
  • Use of charts
  • Use of visual and electronic aids
  • Theory and operation of magnetics and gyrocompasses
  • Tides, currents, effects of wind and weather
  • Voyage planning
  • Introduction to international and inland rules of navigation
  • Case studies, including related ethical issues

Naval Engineering Systems

  • Ship design
  • Hydrodynamic forces
  • Stability
  • Propulsion
  • Electrical theory and distribution
  • Hydraulic theory and ship control
  • Damage control
  • Theory and design of steam, gas turbine, diesel, and nuclear propulsion
  • Case studies, including related ethical issues

Weapons and Systems Analysis

  • Theory and use of weapons systems
  • Detection, evaluation, threat analysis, weapon selection, delivery, guidance, and explosives
  • Fire control systems
  • Major weapons types
  • Radar and underwater sound
  • Weapons systems integration – command, communications, computers, intelligence
  • Warfare and information warfare
  • Case studies, including related ethical issues

Naval Operations and Seamanship

  • Relative motion
  • Formation tactics
  • Ship employment
  • Naval operations and operations analysis
  • Ship behavior, maneuvering characteristics, and afloat communications
  • Naval command and control
  • Naval warfare areas
  • Joint warfare
  • Case studies, including related ethical issues

Leadership and Ethics

  • Preparation for Navy and Marine Corps service
  • Western moral traditions and ethical philosophy
  • Military leadership, core values, and professional ethics
  • Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
  • Navy regulations
  • Roles of enlisted members
  • Conduct of warfare


Specified Course

  • American Military

Naval Science Courses

Evolution of Warfare

  • Causes of change in the means and methods of warfare
  • Influence of political, economic, and societal factors on the conduct of war
  • Role of technological innovation in the evolution of warfare
  • The art and science of war

Amphibious Warfare

  • General warfare versus amphibious warfare
  • Historical analysis of amphibious operations
  • Doctrines, tactics, and technology of amphibious warfare
  • Evolution of the US Marine Corps as a specialized force
  • Development of Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare concepts

As noted, in addition to completing the above Navy/Marine Corps components of the NROTC program, midshipmen must earn a college degree. To help NROTC candidates with their application process, the Navy and Marine Corps maintain a very diverse list of academic majors eligible for scholarship.

Bachelor’s Degree in an Academic Discipline – Four Year Duration

Master’s Degree in an Academic Discipline – Two Year Duration (for most majors)
The Navy ROTC program is commonly structured around a bachelor’s degree. While it is possible to earn a master’s degree under the program, NROTC guidelines do place some restrictions on graduate students.

The following are the Navy’s tiers of academic majors. Note that approximately 85% of Navy Option Navy ROTC scholarships are awarded to students interested in completing a Tier 1 or Tier 2 program.

Tier 1 Academic Majors – Engineering programs of Navy interest

  • Aerospace, Aeronautical, Astronautical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Naval Architecture and Marine/Naval Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Systems Engineering

Tier 2 Academic Majors – Other engineering, math, and science programs

  • Agricultural/Biological Engineering and Bioengineering
  • Architectural Engineering / Architectural Engineering Technologies
  • Astrophysics
  • Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology
  • Biomathematics and Bioinformatics
  • Biomedical/Medical Engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell/Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
  • Ceramic Sciences and Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Science / Information Technology
  • Construction Engineering
  • Electronics and Communication Engineering
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Engineering Physics
  • Engineering Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Science
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Microbiological Sciences and Immunology
  • Mining and Mineral Engineering
  • Nuclear and Industrial Radiologic Technology
  • Oceanography
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Physics
  • Physiology, Pathology, and Related Sciences
  • Polymer/Plastics Engineering
  • Quantitative Economics
  • Statistics
  • Textile Sciences and Engineering

Tier 3 Academic Majors – Foreign languages and all other academic majors not listed in Tier 1 or Tier 2

These are the languages in the NROTC Language Skills, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness (LREC) Program:

  • Arabic
  • Cambodian
  • Central Asian Languages
  • Chinese
  • Dari
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Kurdish
  • Malay
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Serbo-Croatian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

These are the regional/cultural areas in the NROTC Language Skills Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness (LREC) Program:

  • Africa – Sub-Sahara
  • Africa – North Africa
  • Central Asia
  • East Asia / China
  • Middle / Central / Latin America
  • Middle East
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Southwest Asia
  • Russia / Eastern Europe

Degrees Similar to Navy or Marine ROTC

Because of their distinct nature, only other ROTC programs, such as Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC, are truly similar to the Navy ROTC degree/curriculum. The information below, however, summarizes some of the degrees that the Navy lists in its tiers of academic majors:

Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace engineering degree programs teach the analytical, computational, and engineering and design skills needed to work in the aerospace industry. Students learn how to apply this knowledge to the manufacturing, testing, and monitoring of civil or commercial aircraft, military aircraft, missiles, rockets, spacecraft, lunar vehicles, and space stations.

Chemical Engineering
This degree field is focused on how the chemical, biochemical, and physical properties of substances can be changed to turn them into something else. Examples of this work are making plastic from oil, developing synthetic fibers for clothing, identifying ways to mass-produce drugs, and finding ways to solve environmental problems.

Chemistry is the science that deals with identifying the substances that make up matter. Degree programs in chemistry focus on investigating these substances: their properties; how they interact, combine, and change; and how scientists can use chemical processes to form new substances.

Civil Engineering
This degree field is focused on the processes of design and planning of civil infrastructure like roads, tunnels, bridges, dams, railroads, and airports. In their work, civil engineers are concerned with such things as how much weight a structure can support and the environmental issues presented by construction. The emphasis of civil engineering degree programs is math, statistics, engineering systems and mechanics, building codes, and statistical analysis.

Computer Engineering
This degree field teaches students how to develop computer hardware and software. The curriculum includes course in calculus, physics, computer system architecture and networking, digital-logic design, data structures, and programming languages.

Computer Programming
Majors in computer programming learn how to write programming languages, how to create the code needed to run software based on specifications received from software engineers. The core curriculum covers program testing, debugging, and customization.

Electrical Engineering
Students of electrical engineering learn how to use physics, electronics, and electromagnetism to design devices that are powered by or produce electricity. Most degree programs in the field start with foundational classes in calculus, physics, and chemistry.

Foreign Languages and Literatures
Foreign languages and literatures degree programs teach students how to speak, read, and write foreign languages. Some programs focus on the linguistic structure of the studied language and others on its major written literary works. Many programs cover both of these components.

Industrial Engineering
Industrial engineering majors learn how to improve the way that industries and organizations, such as hospitals and factories, operate. They draw on their knowledge in math, science, business, and psychology to consider factors like materials, equipment, and people.

Degree programs in mathematics typically teach both the theory and abstract of pure mathematics and its practical application to the world, known as applied mathematics. In other words, math majors study algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics; but most pair this mathematics concentration with classes that reveal how math concepts are used in business management, computer science, economics, finance, music, philosophy, physics, and sports science.

Mechanical Engineering
Students of mechanical engineering learn how to research, design, develop, and test mechanical and thermal devices, including tools, sensors, engines, and machines. These devices serve many industries, including the aerospace, medical, energy, and manufacturing sectors. In addition to coursework in engineering and design, degree programs in the field include classes in mathematics, life sciences, and physical sciences.

Petroleum Engineering
Degree programs in petroleum engineering teach students how to find and safely and environmentally remove petroleum and natural gas from the earth.

Physics is a field that keeps changing as discoveries are made. This means that the field asks at least as many questions as it answers. Students of physics degree programs study matter and energy. They learn about the relationships between the measurable quantities in the universe, which include velocity, electric field, and kinetic energy.

The degree field of statistics is focused on the study of probability theory and sampling theory. Students use techniques like sample survey theory and variance analysis (the quantitative investigation of the difference between actual and planned behavior) to examine the relationships between groups and measurements. In simple terms, statistics is about collecting data, organizing it, analyzing it, and interpreting it in practical ways that guide decision making in both business sectors and politics.

Skills You’ll Learn

Experience in the military leaves ROTC grads with an impressive set of transferable skills:

  • Leadership
  • Budgeting / financial management / resource allocation
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Communication
  • Honor / trustworthiness / dependability
  • Technology skills
  • Teamwork
  • Capacity to perform under stressful circumstances
  • Ability to adapt and shift priorities
  • Ability to think quickly and solve problems
  • Physical fitness

What Can You Do with a Navy or Marine ROTC Degree?

The answer to this question depends on the degree earned within the Navy ROTC education program. Also, potential roles and jobs available outside the military, in civilian life, will likely be somewhat or significantly different from related positions inside the military. Here are some of the occupational categories in that may be open to ROTC graduates during and/or after their service in the Navy or Marine Corps:

  • Allied Health
  • Arts and Humanity
  • Computers and Computer Science
  • Cruise Line Officer
  • Dentistry
  • Electronics and Electrical
  • Emergency Management and Response
  • Engineering and Applied Science
  • Facilities
  • Future Technologies
  • Ground Vehicles
  • Health and Medicine
  • Health Administration
  • Health Technicians and Specialists
  • Intelligence
  • Law and Enforcement
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Marine Engineering and Mechanics
  • Marine Surveying
  • Mental Health
  • Missile and Space
  • Natural Science
  • Naval and Marine Operations
  • Nursing
  • Operations and Administration
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Special Warfare
  • Weaponry and Military Materials & Equipment


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