Naval Architecture Degree and Certificate Programs with Course Info

Explore undergraduate and graduate degree programs in naval architecture here. Read about educational prerequisites, program coursework, popular career options and employment outlook statistics.

Essential Information

While there are no certificate programs in naval architecture, degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels and can be found at a few coastal schools. Programs may feature coursework in marine and offshore structure design, thermodynamics and ocean engineering practices as well as internship and dissertation requirements. Graduates might pursue careers as naval architects or marine engineers who work in shipbuilding, shipping, oil development, coastal erosion protection and offshore engineering.

Bachelor's Degree in Naval Architecture

Naval architecture programs at the bachelor's level are typically offered at coastal schools holding affiliations with the Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, shipbuilding firms or other offshore industries. In some naval architecture schools, students can use this relationship to further their career goals. For example, some programs with U.S. Coast Guard affiliations offer students the opportunity to gain Coast Guard licensure while completing their degree. Some programs include internship opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience in the field.

Educational Prerequisites

Bachelor's degree programs in naval architecture are available at only a handful of 4-year colleges and universities around the United States. Applicants must possess a high school diploma or the equivalent. The submission of ACT or SAT scores is typically required.

Program Coursework

Naval architecture is a field that draws heavily upon the fields of engineering, mathematics and science. Common courses include the following:

  • Marine engineering
  • Marine design
  • Offshore structure design
  • Engineering physics
  • Meteorology for mariners
  • General chemistry
  • Calculus

Popular Career Options

Graduates with bachelor's degrees from naval architecture colleges can work in a variety of maritime industries, including the following:

  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Oil and gas development
  • Shipbuilding
  • Marine shipping

Master's Degree in Naval Architecture

Naval architecture programs at the master's level provide advanced training in marine engineering. Students often concentrate their studies in an area of interest, such as offshore engineering, marine systems design or marine research. Programs typically include extensive laboratory and research components. Some naval architecture schools utilize computer-based design equipment as well as water tanks for hands-on experimentation.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to master's degree programs in naval architecture must possess a bachelor's degree. Most programs require applicants to have studied at the bachelor's level in a mechanical engineering field, such as naval architecture, marine engineering or civil engineering. The submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is usually required. Some programs require professional experience in addition to academic prerequisites.

Program Coursework

Master's degree naval architecture programs primarily consist of marine engineering courses, including the following:

  • Introduction to thermodynamics
  • Advanced marine design
  • Ship hull strength
  • Resistance and propulsion in ship design
  • Hydrodynamics in ship design
  • Structural vibration in marine craft
  • Advanced offshore engineering

Popular Career Options

Graduates with master's degrees in naval architecture are prepared for work as skilled engineers with organizations including the following:

  • U.S. Navy
  • Naval architecture research and development firms
  • Marine regulatory agencies
  • Offshore engineering design firms
  • Shipbuilders

Ph.D. in Naval Architecture

In Naval architecture programs at the Ph.D. level, students complete extensive research in areas such as hydrodynamics, environmental engineering, coastal processes or concurrent marine design. Ph.D. programs in naval architecture typically culminate in the writing and defense of a dissertation.

Educational Prerequisites

Ph.D. programs in naval architecture require applicants to possess a bachelor's degree in naval architecture or a related mechanical engineering field. It is a common requirement that applicants have significant prior marine engineering experience, often including a master's degree and professional work experience. Most programs require applicants to submit GRE scores.

Program Coursework

Most naval architecture Ph.D. programs do not have specific course requirements. However, many students take courses to supplement prior education in the field, including courses such as the following:

  • Advanced marine design
  • Advanced marine dynamics
  • Ocean engineering practices
  • Safety in marine systems
  • Fluid dynamics in marine design
  • Manufacturing simulation

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 5,900 positions held by naval architects and marine engineers in 2010 ( That number was expected to grow to 7,000 by 2020, a growth rate of 17%. As of May 2012, the median annual wages for naval architects and marine engineers were $88,100. The highest earners in the field were employed as managers of companies, where the annual mean wage was $124,560.

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