Programs in naval architecture 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. Program length varies according to program level.
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.
Prerequisites for bachelor's programs in naval architecture include a high school diploma and high standardized test scores. Some programs include internship opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience in the field.
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 and offshore structure design
- Engineering physics
- Meteorology for mariners
- General chemistry
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. Master's programs in naval architecture typically require a related bachelor's degree and GRE scores, and may include extensive laboratory and research components. Some naval architecture schools utilize computer-based design equipment as well as water tanks for hands-on experimentation.
Master's degree naval architecture programs primarily consist of marine engineering courses, including the following:
- Introduction to thermodynamics
- Ship hull strength
- Resistance and propulsion in ship design
- Hydrodynamics in ship design
- Structural vibration in marine craft
- Advanced offshore engineering
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.
Prerequisites include a relevant bachelor's, prior marine engineering experience, often including a master's degree and GRE scores for the doctoral program. 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
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
- Marine shipping
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
Career Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 8,300 positions held by naval architects and marine engineers in 2014. The number was expected to grow by 9% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the median annual wages for naval architects and marine engineers were $93,110.
A post-secondary degree in naval architecture can help prepare you for a career in the Naval and/or maritime fields. All levels of degrees are available, and courses include instruction on science and engineering topics.