Coast Guard Academy Acceptance Rate & How to Get in (2021 Edition)
It is an honor, beyond what you probably realize now, to be selected for an education at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Not only will a person earn a bachelor of science degree from one of the most respected institutions of higher education in the nation. But you’ll also earn a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard, leading to a promising career in service to our nation.
The USCGA motto, Scientiæ Cedit Mare, (The sea yields to knowledge), serves to highlight how important knowledge, and the application of it in a leadership role, can be to survival and success. In addition, the Academy’s Honor Concept aims to mold men and women into individuals who will neither lie, cheat, steal nor attempt to deceive. It is epitomized by a person who places loyalty to duty above loyalty to personal friendship or to selfish desire. No easy task, indeed.
But what does it really take to become a cadet at the service academy of the United States Coast Guard? One thing’s for certain — there is no “coasting” in the causal sense of the word. And no “skating” either. As one of about 1,000 total cadets enrolled annually, you’ll be expected to fully engage in the experience of everyday life at the USCGA.
Let’s take a look now at the ways you will challenge yourself during four years of transformation. The U.S. Coast Guard is the only military service with heritage as a life-saving organization — and life at the branch’s academy will certainly change, if not possibly save, your life as well.
1. Where is the Academy?
2. Map of the Campus
⚬ Entrance Requirements
⚬ Acceptance Rate
4. How to Take a Tour of the Academy
5. What it Takes to Be a Cadet
⚬ Typical Weekday Schedule
6. Majors Offered
7. Sports Program
8. All About Graduation
9. Coast Guard Academy History
Where Is the Coast Guard Academy?
Located on the banks of the Thames River in New London, Connecticut, the USCGA touts a historic, picturesque, waterfront campus — the idyllic New England college setting. The region has a rich maritime heritage, one that has embraced the sea, the military and higher education.
The 103-acre campus may seem smaller than other centers of higher learning, but its academic facilities and support services rival much larger institutions. Get to know the campus, nearby Mystic, Connecticut, and other local communities and attractions on the USCGA’s “explore” web page.
United States Coast Guard Academy
31 Mohegan Ave Pkwy.
New London, CT 06320
Phone: 1 (800) 883-8724
Coast Guard Academy Campus Map
Access to the Academy grounds is limited (and could still be subject to health recommendations due to COVID-19). However, you can download a map of the Academy Grounds online and get a head start on learning where the dining hall, parade field and more are. If anything, you’ll need to know how to arrive — via the main entrance at 31 Mohegan Ave.
Coast Guard Academy Admissions
You’re probably asking yourself, “How hard is it to get into the Coast Guard Academy?” We’ll tell you straight: It’s COMPETITIVE. According to U.S. News and World Report, Academy admissions are very selective. Half the applicants admitted have an SAT score between 1212 and 1400 or an ACT score between 25 and 30. However, about one-quarter of recently admitted applicants had scores above these ranges, and one-quarter scored below these ranges.
Getting into the Academy requires a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to applications (and physical fitness too). But one thing you won’t have to worry about is carrying a load of student debt after graduation. While the four-year education at this elite school has been valued at more than $280,000, there is no cost for tuition, room or board for cadets. The experience is fully paid for by the U.S. government.
In addition, all cadets are paid a salary while attending the Coast Guard Academy. Upon graduation from the Academy, there is a five-year commitment to serve as a commissioned Coast Guard officer, a guaranteed career in a leadership position. While five years is the minimum, 85 percent of graduates choose to serve longer, according to the Academy.
Coast Guard Academy Requirements
The USCGA is often cited as one of the most elite undergraduate colleges in the nation. It maintains a highly selective admission process — no walk in the park. So just what is the Academy looking for in potential candidates?
- Proven academic accomplishment, especially in math and the sciences.
- Leadership skills.
- An unwavering desire to serve the country and humanity.
- Physical fitness and athleticism.
- Well-rounded interests and experiences.
- Commitment to achieve one’s full potential.
The following steps are listed by the Academy as the general requirements for admission, but there’s no time like now to start striving for higher standards. Let’s start putting your best foot forward and proving your strengths! (Which we hope also include knowing how to swim! No worries, just add it to the list.)
To be considered for admission, you must submit all required application material by Jan. 29 of the year of entrance (Oct. 15 of the year prior to entry for Early Action consideration).
You are eligible to apply for the Coast Guard Academy if you are:
- A U.S. citizen of sound moral character.
- Unmarried with no dependents or financial debt.
- Age 17 to 22 on July 1 of the year of entry.
- A high school graduate or GED recipient (or will be prior to entry).
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may want to consider applying to be an International Cadet.
3. Online Application
The initial application data allows the Academy to start a file on you. Create a log-in and begin the process here.
Some things to have handy as you start the online application include:
- The names, email and phone numbers of teachers who will submit your recommendations.
- The name, email and phone number of the adult who will submit your Physical Fitness Exam results.
- The names of the colleges your parents and siblings have attended (if any).
Unlike the other U.S. service academies, the Coast Guard Academy does not require a Congressional nomination for admission.
Written essays will be part of the online application.
5. Required Forms
You’ll submit these forms online as you complete the online application. They include:
- High school transcript(s).
- Math instructor letter of recommendation.
- English instructor letter of recommendation.
- Guidance counselor letter of recommendation.
- Physical Fitness Examination (PFE).
You are responsible to arrange for the PFE. Find an adult to administer the PFE, and submit your scores. The Academy will email instructions to this person after you submit your online application.
Download the PFE Instruction Manual and audio file to prepare in advance.
6. Medical Exam
Though not required for review of your application, a qualifying DoDMERB Medical Exam must be on file before an appointment to the Academy can be offered.
7. Supplemental Forms
These could include:
- Commanding Officer recommendation (if currently serving in the military).
- College transcript(s) (if you are or were in college).
- Resume (optional).
- Up to two extra letters of recommendation.
8. SAT/ACT Results
The Academy is continually reviewing its testing policy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check its official site for updates or contact your Admissions Officer.
- Early Action candidates must submit at least one set of SAT or ACT scores by Nov. 1 to be reviewed.
- All candidates, including those applying Early Action, who have submitted all other required application items but not an SAT or ACT exam by Feb. 1 will be reviewed in Regular Admission.
- Test scores may be submitted until Feb. 15 for consideration in Regular Admission.
- Candidates unable to take the SAT or ACT exam, despite a concerted effort to do so, may apply for Regular Admission and their applications will be reviewed after February 15.
There is no minimum test score requirement to apply. However, successful candidates usually score at least 1120 combined Evidence-Based Reading/Writing and Math on the SAT or have an ACT Composite of at least 24. Scores reported must be achieved without the benefit of testing accommodations.
To send your scores from the testing agency, list the USCGA’s code when you take the test.
- SAT code is 5807
- ACT code is 0600.
Admissions may interview applicants and prospective applicants to best meet your needs and the Academy’s enrollment goals. If so, a representative of Admissions will contact you. If selected for an interview, participation is required. The format of the interview — online, by phone or face-to-face — will be based on the consent of all parties, with health and safety paramount.
Keep these important dates in mind as you complete your application:
- Oct. 15 — Early Action deadline.
- By Dec. 23 — Early Action decisions released.
- Jan. 29 — Regular Admission deadline.
- By April 1 — Regular Admission decisions released.
- April 15 — Medical Examination deadline.
- May 1 — Appointment acceptance deadline.
- May 15 — Medical Exam qualification/waiver deadline.
- June 1 — Enrollment paperwork due.
- June 28 — Swab Summer starts for the Class of 2025.
- July 15 — Application opens for the Class of 2026.
Coast Guard Academy Acceptance Rate
Sometimes the waiting for that admissions letter — no matter what decision it contains — is the hardest part of the application process. If you get that much coveted invitation to attend the Coast Guard Academy, CONGRATULATIONS! You’re within the 20 percent of applicants who are accepted, according to U.S. News and World Report.
More than 2,000 students apply to Academy annually, and appointments are offered until the number accepting appointments to the incoming class numbers reaches about 400; the average entering class size is 300 cadets.
Those who have received appointments report to the USCGA in late June or early July for “Swab Summer,” a basic military training program that prepares you for the rigors of your Fourth Class year. After four years of study and training, about 200 of the cadets will graduate. In any given year, about 35 percent of cadets are women.
Coast Guard Academy Tours
There’s no better way for prospective students and their families to get a feel for the Academy than from a tour of the grounds. Group tours, which last about an hour, are free but must be pre-arranged. A curious mind and good walking shoes will suit you well as you get a good taste of the local history and hills. Go to the Academy’s website to schedule an admissions visit or request a group tour spot.
In-person guests must present a REAL ID Act photo ID. Minors without their own identification must be accompanied by an adult with identification. All vehicles are subject inspection as a condition of entry. The main gate is at 31 Mohegan Ave. Visitor and open parking is marked and available for free.
Want to get the experience of a tour but can’t make it there in person? The Academy offers a virtual tour experience online that can be catered to whether you’re a prospective student, parent or other visitor. Check out highly detailed visual sites to explore, along with a pre-recorded video guide, online here.
Note: At the time of this writing, tours of the USCGA grounds were suspended during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the status of tours and in-person meetings with advisors may be subject to change. Check the Academy’s visitor web page for updated information about access to campus tours and other special events.
Coast Guard Academy Cadets
Cadets at the USCGA get a college experience like no other — striving for a superior academic, military and athletic experience in a close-knit environment. Should your path lead you here, you’ll receive an elite, professional education, you’ll participate in competitive sports (a requirement for every cadet), and your days on the campus will be highly structured and driven by shared commitments to honor, respect and service above self.
Typical Weekday Schedule
A typical weekday for a cadet looks something like this:
- 6 a.m. — Reveille
- 6:20 a.m. — Morning formation/breakfast
- 7 a.m. — Military training
- 8 a.m. — Morning classes
- noon — Lunch
- 1 p.m. — Afternoon classes
- 4 p.m. — Athletics
- 6 p.m. — Dinner
- 7 p.m. — Evening study period
- 10 p.m. — Taps
Demands on your time will be considerable, but a commitment to your commitments and exceptional time-management skills will quickly become a regular part of your life.
Coast Guard Academy Cadet Uniforms
Like all other cadets at the United States service academies, Coast Guard cadets are considered on active duty in the military and wear uniforms at all times. And while cadets receive a monthly stipend to pay for books, uniforms and other necessities, the cost of uniforms is automatically deducted from the stipend. Leadership will advise which uniforms are required for each season and situation.
Coast Guard Academy Cadet Ranks
Students at the Academy are not classified as freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors like at a typical university. They advance each year as Fourth Class cadets, Third Class cadets, Second Class cadets and First Class cadets, respectively.
The student body Corps is structured as one regiment divided into eight companies, each composed of about 120 cadets of all classes. The Corps of Cadets is largely a self-directed organization that follows a standard military chain of command:
- First Class cadets lead the Corps.
- Second Class cadets are cadre in Swab Summer training and are primarily responsible for leading and developing Fourth Class cadets. They serve as mentors.
- Third Class cadets are role models to Fourth Class cadets.
- Fourth Class cadets are responsible for learning and applying Coast Guard core values such as leadership, teamwork, attention to detail, accountability, etc.
While each company has some leeway in its practices, every company commander reports to the Regimental Staff, who oversee all aspects of cadet life. At the top of the cadet chain of command is the Regimental Commander, the highest-ranking cadet. Command positions, both in companies and on Regimental Staff, are highly competitive, and a cadet’s overall class rank is often a deciding factor in who is awarded the position.
Get a better idea of what to expect during your Fourth Class Year, Third Class Year, Second Class Year and First Class Year on the USCGA website. You can learn more about the cadet experience — including clubs and societies, religious programs, cadet blogs, formals and more — on the USCGA website too.
Coast Guard Academy Majors
All cadets pursue a liberal arts-based core curriculum, providing a broad academic foundation to complement the specialized learning within nine available majors. The Coast Guard Academy majors include:
- Civil Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Cyber Systems
- Mechanical Engineering
- Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
- Operations Research and Computer Analysis
- Marine and Environmental Sciences
An Honors Program encourages academic achievement across all majors and rewards scholarly excellence.
High-performing Fourth and Third Class cadets may be eligible for the following:
- Special sections of core classes.
- Validation and placement in advanced courses.
Some Second and First Class cadets are selected to the Honors Colloquium to prepare to compete for:
- Scholarships for graduate study such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman and more.
- International summer internships.
Visit the USCGA Honors Program web page for more information on internships, fellowships, and honor and professional societies.
Coast Guard Academy Athletics
Whether you kick, throw, grapple or run, there’s something for everyone at the Academy’s Athletic Department. More than 20 intercollegiate sports are represented at the USCGA, and teams typically compete in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Whether as a participant or fan, you should prepare to roar for the Bears, the Academy’s sports nickname! This mighty mascot was selected after the steam-powered ship USRC Bear made a heroic rescue in Alaska in 1897, shortly after the opening of the academy.
Cadets usually spend two hours per academic day at athletic activities, either on varsity teams, club teams or other physical pursuits. The following sports are represented at the USCGA:
- Men’s Varsity
- Women’s Varsity
You can get all the details on the program’s mission, team selection standards, policies about prohibited substances and more by downloading the Cadet Athlete Handbook online. Learn more about USCGA sports — including tickets, schedules, scores, the fan zone and more — at the official USCGA Sports website. You can also follow the Bears on Facebook and Twitter.
Coast Guard Academy Sports Clubs
Four chartered club sports at USCGA compete against equivalent club programs at other colleges and universities. Participation in the chartered club sports is voluntary, but the level of participation is usually strong with great fan support. Coaching and administrative oversight is usually provided by community volunteers or Coast Guard officers who are members of the CGA faculty and staff.
- Club Sports
The Club Sport Cadet Athlete Handbook has information about the programs, facilities, expectations and more.
Coast Guard Academy Mascot
Last but not at all least, you’ll want to learn all about Objee the Bear, a live embodiment of the Academy’s mascot. The name, short for “objectionable presence,” is a cheeky response to the city of New London’s popular objection to the presence of a live bear. Read ’bout the string of bears who have broken out of pens, have showered with cadets and have been retired to nature preserves at the Academy’s Objee web page.
Coast Guard Academy Graduation
After four years of study and military training, graduating from the Coast Guard Academy is an incredible achievement. It’s your time to shine for all the struggles and successes of your academic and athletic path. Parents, family members and guests are invited to share this momentous occasion. Graduation, typically during May, usually follows special events for cadets — such as luncheons, dances and receptions — while events such as parades, classroom tours and of course the ceremony are open to the public.
It’s here that you get to experience one of the most memorable moments of your military life, if not your entire life: the Cover Toss. During this tradition, the combination hat — a symbol of cadet life — is tossed away as soon as cadets are commissioned as new officers. Graduating ensigns also carry two silver dollars in their pockets. One goes to the Anchor Cadet (the lowest ranking cadet graduating) and the other goes to the first person to render a salute. The new ensign’s shoulder boards are commonly put on by their loved ones after commencement.
Note: The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2021 graduated with a virtual ceremony due to COVID restrictions. As always, health regulations may affect future events. Follow the Academy’s commencement web page for updates as needed.
Coast Guard Academy History
According to the Academy itself, here are some of the highlights from its unique and intriguing history.
- 1790: The roots of today’s Coast Guard are by Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton proposed the formation of the Revenue Marine, a seagoing military service that would enforce customs and navigation laws, collect tariffs, hail in-bound ships, make inspections and certify manifests.
- 1876: The first Coast Guard Academy, then called the Revenue Cutter School of Instruction, is held aboard the two-masted topsail schooner Dobbin. The first class of nine cadets boards the Dobbin in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1876 for a two-year training mission.
- 1900: The Coast Guard Academy was a shipboard operation until 1900 when the first land-based campus was established in Curtis Bay, Maryland.
- 1910: After completing a summer cruise, the Corps of Cadets sails the Itasca to Fort Trumbull, a Revolutionary War fort in New London, Connecticut. Fort Trumbull becomes the new location of the Academy until 1932.
- 1915: Congress consolidates a number of maritime agencies to create the modern U.S. Coast Guard and the School of Instruction is renamed the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
- 1932: The citizens of New London donate land to the Treasury Department for the present site of the Academy.
- 1941: The Academy receives authority to grant a Bachelor of Science degree in addition to a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard.
- 1946: The Barque Eagle arrives in New London. The ship was originally named the Horst Wessel and was constructed by Adolf Hitler to train German naval engineers. The United States seized Eagle as a war reparation following WWII. Eagle has served ever since as a sail training platform for cadets of the U.S. Coast Guard.
- 1966: The Academy marks the date of full racial integration with the graduation of Merle Smith, the first African-American cadet to graduate as an ensign. CDR Smith commanded two patrol boats in the South China Sea during the Vietnam War, earning the Bronze Star with Valor.
- 1976: Thirty-six women joined the Corps of Cadets for the first time, the result of congressional legislation passed in October 1975 at the Coast Guard’s request. Fourteen graduate, all heading to sea for their first assignment.
- 1980: The first international cadet, Miguel Sanchez, graduates from the Coast Guard Academy and returns home to the Philippines to serve his country.
When Was the Coast Guard Academy Founded?
Founded in 1876, the Coast Guard Academy is the smallest and most specialized of the five U.S. service academies, providing an education to future Coast Guard officers. Though conceived as part of the Treasury Department, the original Revenue Cutter Service (and its successor, the Coast Guard) has played a role in every war in the nation’s history, serving alongside the U.S. Navy. Today, the Coast Guard is a lead agency in the Department of Homeland Security.
The United States Coast Guard Academy’s mission is to “graduate young men and women with sound bodies, stout hearts and alert minds, with a liking for the sea and its lore, and with that high sense of honor, loyalty and obedience which goes with trained initiative and leadership; well-grounded in seamanship, the sciences and amenities, and strong in the resolve to be worthy of the traditions of commissioned officers in the United States Coast Guard in the service of their country and humanity.”
We can think of few better ways to serve the United States while earning an unparalleled education and stepping into adulthood. Should you chart a course to this historic Academy, we wish you all the brains and brawn you’ll need to complete a well-earned degree there.
Want to step up your knowledge of the Academy? Download the official USCGA Cadet Handbook online for answers to every kind of FAQ you can think of. You can also visit the MyBaseGuide installation site for the USCGA, where you’ll find details about the community, homes and other insider information.
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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.