Master's Program in International Transportation Management at SUNY Worth it?

Hello Everyone,

I will be entering the Master’s Program in International Transportation Management w/ U.S. Coast Guard License at SUNY Maritime College. A little summary of me: I graduated with a bachelors of science degree in Kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton with several years of work experience under my belt. I have decided to make a career change to the maritime industry. I plan to sail for at least 5 years. After that, I will gauge whether I want to go shore-side or continue onward to a captain role.

  1. What are the advantages of graduating with an M.S. w/ license verses someone with a bachelor’s degree w/ license?
  2. Is it difficult to obtain deck officer job after graduation or does the school help provide connections to your first job into the industry?
  3. Is there advantage to having a master’s degree when working shore-side? or is sea time experience the only factor?
  4. What kind of resources are available at SUNY to maximize my employability and student experience? What should I expect upon graduation?
  5. Is it difficult to juggle a part time job with the curriculum workload?
  6. Is there a faster or less expensive method to becoming a third mate officer?

Apologies in advance for the cluster of questions or if any of the terminologies are butchered. I am new to this field and website so any helpful input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  1. Not much advantage with a MS as opposed to a BS when it comes to sailing. Your first few sailing jobs all that matters is whether you have a license.

  2. The school does have a decent Career Center, that being said, the labor market is kinda shitty right now.

  3. When it comes to shoreside work in the Maritime Industry the masters’s will help. Sailing experience is also highly desirable though.

  4. There’s a Career Center and Job Fairs each semester. It still depends on you and what you put into searching though. It’s a small industry.

  5. Yes, it’s dificult. If you’re a full-time student it’s almost impossible, even as a Grad student. Also hard to find decent part time employment opportunities in the area. I was able to fit in working at a family owned store when I was a part time student though.

  6. This is actually probably the fastest, least expensive, and easiest method to obtain an Unlimited 3rd Mate’s License. Might not seem like it, but it is probably one of the best opportunities to get one. “Hawsepiping”, meaning working your way up to it, starting as a deckhand and gaining sea time, promotions, experience and bigger licenses as you go, is possible, but much more dificult and can take years to accomplish. While you make money the entire time, many of the certifications, classes, etc required to upgrade will still cost thousands of dollars.

I think it’s a great program and a good opportunity, but the industry is also in a bad way right now. Maybe by the time you graduate jobs will pick back up again. Stick around here and read the past threads thoroughly, you’ll learn a lot about it.

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@LI_Domer pretty much gave the same answers I would give. I would say you could probably find a part time job as the grad students seem to be able to bunch their classes into fewer days, but you would probably need somewhere that was flexible with the schedule.

What will the industry look like in 3 years? Who knows. Price of oil is going back up again, so that’s always good for us.

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Thank you Ll_Domer, this was some very helpful information!

What should one expect to make coming out of graduate school (including overtime)?

SUNY is holding onto its near 100% job placement in three months statement. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think this is due to people being UNDERemployed?

Also, I heard that with the baby boomer generation retiring and the expected rise of fuel cost, it may lead to more job opportunities in the future. Fingers crossed…

Absolutely. Also they only count the people who respond to whatever survey they send out so take that number with a grain of salt. New 3/M can expect to make around $100k.


Agree with both for the most part. A few things to note:

  1. Spending your extra time studying for the license classes will be much more valuable in the end than a part time job, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

  2. Many of the graduate classes can be taken online and as a graduate student you don’t have to live on campus. Many grad students do not, but keep in mind NYC area is expensive and the dorms are a real bargain comparatively. I’d opt to stay in a dorm if I were you, and after your first year you can apply to live on the ship in exchange for 20 hours a week of work on the ship. You’re not going to get many dates living under a bridge, but that’s not why you’re there.

  3. You’ll most likely be gone for (2) 90 day cruises during the summer as a grad license student, unless you cadet ship for your 2nd cruise or don’t take cel nav your second semester. Cadet shipping is a great option but will prolong your studies and there is a significant project involved.

  4. Weak hiring at job fairs the last several years. Most people getting jobs through cadet ship referrals (internships) or on their own.

  5. Put in the work, attend every event you
    can and introduce yourself to the professionals at these events without being annoying. If you take it seriously and are persistent, you should fare well.

  6. Possibility to graduate in 2.5 years if you double the first 2 cruises. Take all extra classes you can, like fast rescue boat and the chartering certificate. The classes are expensive to take afterwards. You could coast through the program, but you’re going to be paying a premium as an out of state grad student, so make the most of it.

  7. Don’t take the regiment too seriously. It’s not bad at all, really, especially as a Day Student. Don’t drink on campus, don’t do drugs (ever in this industry. you’ll screw yourself out of a license), don’t act like an idiot, and you should be fine.


@saltyseamen @New3M @LI_Domer

Thank you so much much guys! I’m getting great responses from everybody and I am looking forward to this fall semester. I will definitely be taking those extra certification classes.

I do have some follow up questions though:

Is cadet shipping sorta like an internship?

Who can I contact at SUNY about living on the ship in exchange for work? I would seriously be interested in this!

Lastly, I know this may be a little off topic, but I wanted to get your thoughts about the future automation of cargo ships and how this affects potential newly-grads like myself who will be entering the industry as deck officers.

Cadet shipping is an internship. You may do this in place of your 2nd class cruise, however it’s longer (90 days vs 45) and the sea project is significant. There are pros and cons to it and no guarantee that you get a ship. You may learn a lot or you may learn close to nothing from the crew.

You have zero chance of living on the ship until after your first cruise. I wouldn’t worry about this until after you have spent your first cruise there. It’s not a cruise ship.
Did you visit the school? It’s kind of late to go now, but that would answer most of your questions.

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I live in Southern California and I’m currently working so I have not had the time to visit the school yet :frowning:

I’m a grad license student now and don’t find it to challenging to balance a part time job with the course load, you just have to be disciplined with your study/work habits. that balance shouldn’t be too hard to find as you have already done the undergrad thing and gotten the “college experience” out of your system…not that Maritime is a real college experience. Depending on how easily the license classes come to you, you won’t have an issue because the grad courses aren’t exactly MIT level.

there was one first year grad student (who had not completed his first cruise) living on the ship. board is in exchange for 20hrs work per week

I graduated from the program a while ago. I honestly found little value in the substance of the M.S. itself; however, I was able to complete the entire program in two years time, by overloading two semesters (one with 28 credits and another with 22 (or so) credits). Many of the classes seemed to me nothing more than general business school classes.

And at the day it is an expensive option, especially as an out-of-state student. Cost me right at about the 100k mark with the cruises as an out-of-state student. You really have to want the end result and realize that it isn’t going to be an easy road. You likely are not going to graduate and immediately land a third mate unlimited job. My first job several months out was six-month run as an AB.

It always seems a lot of folks go into the industry thinking that upon graduation, they’ll immediately begin earning big salaries. This isn’t always the case, and right now, I’d say this definitely isn’t typical, but in fact a rarity. I would try, if I were you, to gain more exposure into the industry before pulling the trigger and investing the time and money into the program.

If you go, my advice is to just play the game, live on campus, try to obtain some manner of having your housing covered, and I’d also suggest playing the regiment game. My close contacts now were all my fellow undergraduate colleagues, they seemed to fare better than most of the graduate students (when I was there).

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I lived aboard the ship for the bulk my of time in the grad license program. Generally, they let you do that if you contacted the Master or Chief Mate for permission and gave them your class schedule with your hours of availability highlighted. The requirement was minimum 16 hours per week in exchange for the free housing.

Most of us had to first work for the Mate for a semester while living on land so he could make sure you were worth having onboard. At one time we had a pretty solid core of hard chargers who got a lot done. Lately there seems to be few students interested in this opportunity or they are looking to move aboard just to have their own little clubhouse.