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    How to Get Into the US Naval Academy

    By Zach Skillings

    Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: March 14th, 2024
    How to Get Into the US Naval Academy

    The U.S. Naval Academy trains students to become officers in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. While this is an excellent school for anyone dreaming of a military career, gaining admission to the USNA is a long and rigorous process. Candidates are required to complete two applications and secure a nomination from a U.S. Senator or Representative. But even though the application process is challenging, it can be accomplished with enough preparation and perseverance. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get into the Naval Academy!

    What is the U.S. Naval Academy? 

    The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) is the second oldest of the five U.S. military service academies. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Academy trains students (referred to as Midshipmen) to serve as officers either in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps. The U.S. Navy fully pays for tuition in exchange for five years of active duty service after graduation. Admission to the Academy is extremely competitive, with an average of less than 10% of applicants accepted. 

    Although the competition is fierce, those who gain acceptance are guaranteed an officer position in the Navy or Marine Corps upon graduation. This makes your decision to apply to the Academy a career choice instead of just an educational one. For those who have a passion for leadership and service, the USNA is a surefire way to launch a career in the military. 

    Basic requirements 

    The first step to getting into the Naval Academy is making sure you meet all the basic requirements. You’re eligible to apply if you meet the following criteria: 

    • A U.S. citizen by July 1 of the year of entry
    • At least 17 years old and must not have passed 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year of entry
    • Unmarried
    • Not pregnant and no dependents
    • Have a valid Social Security Number (If you do not have a Social Security number you can apply for a card on the government website)

    Preliminary application 

    Candidates must submit a preliminary application before official admission consideration. The purpose of this application is to screen applicants based on basic eligibility requirements. Fortunately, this application takes only 15 – 30 minutes to complete. You can submit a preliminary application if you…

    • will be a senior in high school next year
    • are currently in your senior year of high school
    • are a current college student looking to transfer

    You’ll need the following information to complete the preliminary application: 

    • Social Security Number
    • High School Educational Testing Service (ETS) Code
    • High school class rank
    • Congressional state and district
    • Full zip code
    • SAT, ACT or PSAT scores

    The Academy assigns you an official candidate number if you move on to the next level. Note that if you’ve applied for a USNA Summer Seminar in the past, you don’t need to submit a preliminary application. 

    Official application 

    Once you’re officially a candidate, this is when the bulk of the application process takes place. The USNA official application includes many of the components required by traditional colleges, including: 

    Let’s talk about each of these components to get a sense of what a competitive application looks like. 

    School transcript

    The USNA is seeking students who have earned high grades in challenging courses, particularly ones involving advanced math and science. There’s no minimum GPA requirement, but you should strive for mostly A’s and B’s and aim for a rank near the top of your class. If possible, take AP, Honors, and International Baccalaureate classes. To boost your chances of admission, your high school course load should include the following:

    Mathematics 

    Take four years of mathematics courses and develop a strong foundation in geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. Courses in precalculus and calculus are also highly recommended.

    Science 

    Take one year of chemistry and one year of physics, with a lab in each if possible. 

    English

    Take four years of English coursework with an emphasis on the study and practice of effective writing. Studying English and American literature is especially helpful.

    Although not required, the Academy also recommends students take at least two years of foreign language studies, one year of U.S. history and one year of European or world history, and introductory computer and typing courses. Learn more about the USNA’s academic advice on their site

    SAT and ACT scores

    For the official application, you’ll have to submit either SAT or ACT scores.* PSAT scores are only sufficient for the preliminary application. To give you a sense of what to aim for, check out the most recent class profile. The average range of scores will vary by class. Earning a score within or above this range can go a long way in boosting your application.

    Take both exams beginning in December of your junior year. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to retake them if needed. 

    *Students applying for admission to the Class of 2028 will do so under a test-flexible policy. 

    Extracurricular activities 

    Since the mission of the USNA is to produce strong military leaders, applicants should participate in extracurricular activities that demonstrate their leadership potential. If you look at the USNA Class of 2027, you’ll find that 68% of students were captain/co-captain of a sports team in high school and 51% were student body leaders at some point. This just goes to show that to get into the Academy, superficial involvement in activities is not enough. Strong candidates have a meaningful impact on the activities in which they’re involved. 

    Letters of recommendation 

    The Academy also requires multiple letters of recommendation, typically from teachers and athletic coaches. These letters provide insight into your character, so you should ask someone who can speak to your strengths. For this part of the application, it helps to have strong relationships with several of your teachers, coaches, or mentors. Be sure to ask for your recommendations ahead of time so that nobody feels rushed to write their letter. 

    Personal essay

    A key part of your application is your personal essay, in which you’re asked to describe why you want to attend the USNA. A strong essay details a personal experience that shaped your interest in the Academy, and how attending the USNA will help you achieve your long-term goals. Throughout your essay, emphasize your desire to serve and lead others. 

    Medical exam 

    Because the Naval Academy is a physically demanding program, there are certain medical standards that candidates must meet. For instance, candidates must be between 58 – 80 inches tall, and have vision that is correctable to 20/20 in both eyes. Learn more about the medical examination on the US Naval Academy’s site.

    Fitness test

    Candidates must also complete a fitness assessment that evaluates their coordination, strength, speed, agility, and endurance. The test consists of a one-mile run, a shuttle run, a kneeling basketball throw, abdominal crunches, push-ups, and pull-ups. Those who exercise regularly should have no trouble completing the assessment. 

    In-person interview

    The final step in completing your application is conducting an official interview. You’ll be interviewed by a Blue and Gold Officer, who are volunteers composed of USNA graduates, parents of midshipmen or graduates, and civilians. Contact your assigned officer as soon as possible after receiving your official candidate letter to schedule a time for your interview. 

    Apply for nomination 

    Along with completing your official application, you’ll also need a nomination for acceptance to the USNA. The nomination process is independent of the official application, and should be completed simultaneously. Nominations are usually secured from one of the following sources:

    • Congressional Representative
    • U.S. Senator
    • Vice President of the United States
    • President of the United States (only open to children of active duty, reserve, or retired military parents)

    Senators and Representatives are limited to five nominees in a given year, meaning competition for nomination can be steep. Most nominees are required to submit documentation demonstrating their academic skill, sports and extracurricular participation, and leadership abilities. An in-person interview with the nominator or their staff is also common. Keep in mind that you don’t have to know your nominator personally, so you should apply for all the nomination sources you’re eligible for. Learn more about the nomination process on the Naval Academy site.

    Next steps…

    If your application is approved and you receive a nomination, you’ll be officially appointed to the Naval Academy. Only a select few make it into the ranks of the USNA, so you should be proud of your accomplishment! The next four years of your life as a Midshipman will be academically and physically demanding, but they’ll also be incredibly rewarding. You’ll learn a lot and come out the other side ready to begin your service as a Navy or Marine Corps officer!

    Related: All about Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • The US Naval Academy trains students for successful careers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps
    • Applying to the Naval Academy is no short process and should be started well in advance to allow for ample application time
    • All applications have several parts that include information about your academic record, letters of recommendation, and more
    • Getting into the Naval Academy is certainly competitive, but don’t let that discourage you from applying and trying your hardest

    Frequently asked questions about how to get into the US Naval Academy

    What GPA do you need for the Naval Academy?

    The Naval Academy does not have a specific GPA that students must have. However, because the Naval Academy is so competitive, you should aim to keep a very high GPA, as your GPA is a reflection of your overall grades.

    What is the hardest military academy to get into?

    The Naval Academy, West Point and the Air Force academy all have very competitive acceptance rates that can range between nine and twelve percent depending on the year. Because the number of applicants changes each year, the acceptance rate can change slightly each year.

    How long do you serve if you go to the Naval Academy?

    After graduating from the academy students will serve as officers for five years in either the Navy or in the Marine Corps.

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