The is also the fact that even with that degree, you would have to complete minimum STCW requirements which have come in since that ‘exception’ was put in the CFR. This means STCW schools, firefighting 1&2, basic safety, lifesaving, medical care provider, first aid, lifeboatman, and enough sea service as QMED, and to get the onboard assessments.
Unless one already has such a degree, a person might as well go to an academy, which gives you a good general Engineering degree, and get the marine specific training including all STCW requirements.
In your case, you would do well to go through the wiper/QMED route. The wages for QMED are around $60,000/year. To get to QMED takes 180 days(12 hour days mean this will be 125 days) as wiper/OS. This way you get paid, and usually the company pays for the STCW classes and maybe even study materials for your license. better than going to school and losing income, right?
You can figure the rest, but the 3rd asst is the license you want, it gives you the most options. This will take 720 12 hour days. Your income can double, a lifechanging event.
I know this because I graduated from Texas Maritime Academy in 1977, did engineering shore work for 30 years, then came back in 2006, had to do the STCW/QMED before I was allowed to test for 3rd Asst.
2 weeks later I started sailing Chief OSV.