License BEFORE graduation

I have been looking at Maritime Academies and noticed that SUNY Maritime requires it’s students to be licensed before being handed their degree. Is it common among other maritime academies to do this practice? I do not understand a college intentionally holding back a degree after a student successfully complets their curriculum. The college can no longer assist in the process of licensing. Are their a bunch of SUNY students walking around in hopes of passing the licensing exam? I started looking at other professions offered by SUNY and couldn’t find the same string attached. Teachers, Aviation/pilot, Dr, Nurses are all handed their degrees upon completion of their coursework, then sit for their exams. Especially lawyers! Many lawyers never pass the bar but still have law degees. I think the coast guard exam is only Offerd twice a year so these “graduates” that could be applying to shore side jobs that only require a bachelor’s degree are ghosted. In this situation the 4-year non-license intern program offered by SUNY would be better because they do the 120 credit and get a bachelor’s while the 150 credit license guy gets nothing, unless he can pass the license exam! He’s way more qualified than the latter. Another point is that it’s a federal exam, not even an entity of State of New York. Do the other maritime colleges work the same way? Situations like this have been a contributing factor among people with huge student loan debt but can’t pay it back because they never got their degree that would help in landing a better paying job.SUNY Maritime US Coast Guard requirements

They’re all the same.

Graduation is a requirement of the accelerated program that you sign up for with the license track.

No license, no degree. Or you cop out and switch to a non-license degree the last semester because you can’t pass license.

And the intern option guy is most definitely not a better candidate for any job than the guy who took the extra 30 credits and spent a bunch of time at sea.


I think so, yeah. The requirement isn’t to have the license, it’s to pass the license exam. It’s essentially a massive final exam for the entire degree.

Passing the licensing exam IS a part of the curriculum.

Why not?

It’s offered almost every week of the year.

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Standard practice. At Texas, you don’t get the degree without passing license or license without the degree. Unless you took license early in Jan (a practice I think is being phased out) when you walked at graduation you got an empty tube or a tube with a piece of paper that more or less said you’ll get your degree when you pass license.

There was 1 guy in my class that could not pass license for the life of him with multiple retests, and then I think got a DUI, complicating thing further. His parents and lawyers got involved and the school wound up giving him his degree.

When I went through, there was only 1 person at the school that knew the licensing paperwork in and out. Thankfully she was amazing and helped us through the process, both academically and paperwork wise, without any issues to make sure everything was in order.

I can see where academic administrations may not have someone fluent and up to date in the more finer points of submitting for license (med issues, dui/drug test issues, sea time, academics, etc) that can hang people up….and have had blowback where approvals don’t happen soon enough, delaying degree conferment, approve to test letters, etc.

Unless the Academies have someone specific and knowledgeable in the paperwork to get cadets approved to test, I can see how they want to wash their hands of any liability and put that on cadets.

Only speaking from my experience at TMA…the coast guard would come down to campus twice a year and administer the license test on campus over the course of 5 days. Once in Jan the last week of winter break (if enough cadets qualified) and then again the week after graduation.

If you passed license in Jan, then you got your degree and license when you walked across the stage in May to graduate.

Otherwise you do the walk and then take license the following week. Once you pass, you get the degree and license in the mail once respective paperwork has worked its way through the systems.

Being said, once you have the approve to test letter, there was nothing stopping you from going to an REC to test. The coast guard didn’t administer re-tests for failed sections on campus. You had to go up to Houston REC to retest as needed.

I think you’re over thinking this. I went to SUNY and graduated about a decade ago. I was far from perfect, but have gone on to what I consider to be a decently successful career with my degree and license, so I’ll tell you my experience with it.

By the time the license student reaches the USCG Exam, they’re are fully educated and qualified to pass it. Much of the maritime related course work is essentially practicing for this exam, so it’s basically 4 years of studying for it. Usualy if you’re not up for passing, you wash out of the program before making it to the License exam. Your final semester before taking license you take a class called “license seminar” which is basically taking practice exams with attention from the Marine Transportation faculty to strengthen areas that you are weak in, once you consistently pass the practice exams in seminar, you take “qualifying exams”, pass those, then the school lets you sit for the real exam. It doesn’t always go perfectly but the school wants everyone to pass exams when they sit for real, because if they don’t it would be indicative of a problem with their curriculum. They do case about those stats. Some students do end up in a bind and are not able to pass it the first try, myself included. However, your options are to keep sticking it out and pass it(which I did the next try) or change majors to a non-license major.

Many of the kids that can’t hack the license program change majors to non-licnese track. In my time there that included Marine Business and Commerce or International Trade and Transportation(for deckies anyway). Both are offered as degrees either with or without license. The common term is “dropping license”. Much of the curriculum between Marine Transportation, Marine Business and Commerce, and International Trade and Transportation cross over, so you may just end up needing and extra semester or year to finish up your degree if you change that late. Marine Transportation as a major does not have a “non-license” option, I usually consider it a more rigorous degree because of this, and has so many more credits because of all those license classes.

I do recall once a cadet passed license and the requirements for a degree, but had accrued considerable demerits and owed copious amounts of ED, so the school said “nuh uh!” until he paid the piper.

He went around them by applying for a duplicate, saying he lost his license… and the USCG reissued it. That loophole got closed pretty quickly! :joy:

But to the original point — it’s all tied in and one program, you can’t have one without the other and this is something everyone knows from the get go. If you make it to license (meaning you passed classes, cruises, seminar and qualifiers) the only reason I can think that you wouldn’t pass license is because you’ve been cheating that whole time to get where you are — and license exams themselves become a judgement day of sorts.

I passed and qualified for my degree before sitting for license. At no point did I feel entitled to that diploma until it also came with my license clipped to it.

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Maybe all the other professions need to change where colleges hold back degrees until licensed in their profession but then their would be a mutiny in the other colleges.

Graduation from a Maritime college is contingent on passing your Coasties. Believe it or not a maritime college was considered a shortcut from actually going to sea, with less sea time requirements. That’s why you must graduate the college to get the license. It sounds like a catch 22 but you get both ( license/degree) or neither.

To answer part of your question;

When I was at SUNY there were a bunch of students that could not pass license. One guy was there a year and half trying to pass the exam. Typically the C students will go 5 for 7 at the big exam and then retake the two they failed.

There are also qualifiers and assessments that you must pass before they even let you take a shot at the big exam. I know one notorious female cadet that was a star in the regiment that could not pass Jim McCoy’s (RIP) assessments for rules of the road. She was there an entire year with seminar as her only class.

On the Limited side after you pass all your required classes, you coordinate with the “license guy” and you get a letter from NMC that you are approved to test. You study on your own, and take the license exam at the Batttery when you are ready.

The real retards are usually there 5,6 sometimes 7 years usually for disciplinary reasons. Getting kicked off or failing “cruise” is usually the culprit. Because some of the classes like medical provider “expire” per statute, and you have to take them over again.


I wonder what harm it would create to the martime industry giving those people who qualified to sit for the exam their bachelor’s degree? They still wouldn’t be able to pilot a ship but could apply for any career requiring a bachelor’s degree.

It’s part of the deal when you sign up for a Marad approved program.

If you cannot pass license you can easily “drop license” and pick up another degree. Back in the day you could not do that. They only had a few majors and they all came with a license. The “civilian” students and degrees are a relatively new invention. It was the only way to expand the school as the training ship is only so big.

Being an officer on a ship isn’t like most other professions, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the academic requirements of a maritime academy are markedly different than other SUNY schools.

The 3/M exam isn’t hard–it just isn’t. Put your faith in practice, take pride in learning your professional skill set, study hard, and you will pass. Anecdotally, I can think of only one cadet at Schuyler who was unable to pass license and didn’t graduate, and the exams certainly weren’t their primary encumbrance.

Study hard, cruise through exam week, get your cool beer stein, have a nice career, and be grateful that you did it.

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It’s been at least 20 years man lol

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The exam ain’t that hard if you study diligently and with purpose. I passed it without going to an academy a ways back. It’s a bit more complicated now, all academies have the tools to help you through it. Just make sure you use those tools.

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The school has been around since 1874

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Yes, and it was a very good year.

More like at least 40

So I guess “Baylis Hall” is still the “new dorms…?”

That’s a good trivia question;

What year did SUNY first allow un uniformed students on the campus?