The United States Coast Guard Academy is one of five federally funded military academies dedicated to educating and training young men and women for careers as officers in a service known for its work in search and rescue, maritime defense and humanitarian missions. Located in New London, Connecticut, the academy offers four years of rigorous coursework in the sciences, engineering and maritime-border defense. Cadets pay no tuition and receive a small stipend while enrolled, but they are obligated to serve in the Coast Guard for five years after graduation.

Before You Apply

Students interested in applying to the academy should understand they will be expected to excel in a tightly regimented, disciplined environment. Most entering cadets graduate in the top half of their high school class with average SAT math scores between 610 and 680 and reading and writing scores between 570 and 670. Each July, the academy offers a one-week Academy Introduction Mission, or AIM, to rising high school seniors who are considering applying for admission. The program gives students a taste of daily life at the academy with access to teachers and current cadets who are serving at sea and aboard aircraft. According to the academy’s website, success in this program "is a good indicator of success at the Coast Guard Academy.”

Prerequisites

Academy admissions officers desire prospective cadets to demonstrate academic achievement, particularly in math, science and technology; they also look for athletic ability. A demonstrated record of community service and an interest in assuming leadership roles are also weighed when assessing applicants. Candidates must be unmarried U.S. citizens with no dependents or financial debt, be between the ages of 17 and 22 and have a high school diploma or its equivalent before entering the academy. The Coast Guard Academy does not require congressional sponsorship for admission.

Application Steps

An online application is available from the academy’s website and includes all forms necessary to complete the process. Forms that require completion will provide recommendations from a math and English teacher, a letter of reference from a guidance counselor, a physical fitness examination, a personal essay, SAT or ACT scores and a complete high school transcript. Application deadlines are Oct. 15 for a nonbinding early action decision and Jan. 15 for a regular action decision. Admission interviews are optional, and interview appointments can be made after a candidate has submitted an online application.

Admissions Decisions

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy selects only about 300 cadets each year from the thousands of applications for admission. A Cadet Candidate Evaluation Board fully reviews each application and gives its recommendations to the director of admissions. Decisions are generally made on the basis of how well the board feels a candidate will use her experiences and skills in positions of leadership and service to the Coast Guard and the country. Notifications of decisions are delivered by Dec. 24 to early action candidates and by April 1 to those applying through regular admission.