Best maritime school to attend in U.S.- Need opinions/experiences

A friend of mines kid is looking to attend one of the several maritime schools in the country. He doesn’t know very much about the schools, let alone the industry itself. Wanted to get some opinions and let him know, so I can help steer his son in the right direction. Anything will help.

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Well NY is a complete shit hole…

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Can you be more specific?

All the schools are quite similar with pretty much the same end result. Often, it’s mostly a geographic or in-state tuition type of choice.


do you feel like there is different advantages of choosing one over another?

that’s what I figured. They are from north east so I’d say its between SUNY or Mass. KP if he gets in but not sure how competitive its been…

My stock answer used to be Mass for three reasons: 1) I went there; 2) I’ve done well since graduating; 3) They used to let you chose your major after freshman sea term.

Now with #3 not being the case anymore I think that takes them down a peg. Still not a bad choice.

That being said, I’ve yet to meet a Maine engineer who wasn’t competent. Seems like they have their shit together up there. Beyond that I agree with @tugsailor , check them out and pick your region/cost.


KP has very competitive admissions because it’s “free.” The other schools admit almost everyone.

If he’s a budding engineer, the 5 year program at Maine is worth a hard look. If he’s a deckie, especially if he’s a little older, Great Lakes is worth a look. If he aspires to live or work on the West Coast, CMA is worth a look. If he hates all things military and the idea of being in a regiment, he might want to skip KP, SUNY, and Texas.


He wants to go Deck… I’ve also heard Mass has a harder regiment since it is completely regimented if I am not mistaken… @shipengr can you second that?

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I’m out of date, but I hear that the typical academy now graduates about 200 kids per year. And, typically, 70-80% are engineers.

The job prospects, both ashore and afloat, are much better for engineers. A deckie with engineering knowledge and skills often has an advantage in the job market. To a lesser extent, the situation is similar for engineers with deck skills.

I’ve known a number of tugboat captains that started out as academy trained engineers.

Shoreside, the engineers have a big advantage.

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Cal is fairly easy to get into and in-state tuition is not too expensive. The regiment aspect of it is very minimal, but there is a new commandant staff that is trying to change things up a bit. There have been a few gripes over the way things are run. As far as being deck the biggest challenge is the billet list for a cadetship. It seems the other academies are better at getting cadetships, but that is just my experience as being a student at Cal. Overall its not a bad school, you just put your head down and get out in the four years and it won’t make a difference.

Like they said before all the academies produce the same results so the tuition aspect of it is the deciding factor in my opinion.

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Yes, pretty sure Mass is still fully regimented. Whether it’s “harder” or if that’s necessarily a bad thing I don’t know.


Where one wants to live for four years, and what they want their college social life to be, might be the most important factor.

Drop out rates are quite high at most academies. The overall atmosphere, social life, and the unpleasant aspects of a serious regiment and overly restrictive campus rules are big contributors to poor atmosphere and high drop out rates. A city kid might not like life at a small town school, like Maine or Great Lakes. A rural kid might not like a city school like SUNY or CMA.

The tuition and student loans should be very minor considerations for someone who stays and graduates, especially engineers.

A deckie might want to acquire some alternative skills that he can put to use shoreside while waiting between seagoing jobs, such as construction, truck driving, welding, or whatever.


Mainiacs doing pretty good:

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In a nutshell…they are all good and will get your friend’s son to where he wants to be if that is a maritime career. (as @tugsailor said). To a large extent it will boil down to the schools he will be accepted at and the cost. Some of the State schools give in-state tuition to surrounding states so keep that in mind.

I would recommend appling to all of them. From there start evaluating what are the available options as well as the potential strengths (or perceived weakness of each) of the schools that accepted him/her.

USMMA (Kings Point)
Maine Maritime
Mass Maritime
NY Maritime
Texas Maritme
California Maritime
Great Lakes Maritime

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I would say they’re all serviceable but have different reputations. On ships I’ve been on the C/M and Captain usually prefer deck grads from Mass or SUNY. The chief engineers like Maine grads. Nobody likes KP, not even the captains that graduated from there. Nobody talks about Great Lakes or Cal much. I think the most important thing is GO ENGINE. It’s very, very hard to get a 3/M job. I got lucky, but hindsight I would’ve gone engine.


I have sailed with graduates from all the schools and they were generally good, some individuals better than others.

Once out I looked at the person, not the school that they graduated from. Same went with those that came up the pipe.

To say one school produces better engineers or mates is BS in my opinion.


@Chief_Seadog said it better so I deleted my snarky reply. But you are allowed to think for yourself and not just repeat “what you heard”.

No I wouldn’t, I know next to nothing about engineering other than accepting the engines when the Chief sends control to the wheelhouse. Just saying thats what I’ve heard, not that its true or false. I also assume the differences in actual training are negligible since its standardized and each person graduates with the same license.

I don’t evaluate mates, so I’ll leave that alone. But, while my opinion of engineers based on academy may be anecdotal it’s based on working with well over 60 engineers in my career from them all over. I see trends in skills and attitude, both I think are important.

If you pass the exams and graduate with the license you’ll be equally employable no matter where you’re from. How quickly you move up after that is certainly only partly based on your education, but it’s still a factor.