Naval Architecture Graduate Program Options

Oct 09, 2019

Graduate programs in naval architecture can be found at the master's and doctoral levels in which students learn to design, create and maintain marine vehicles and systems. Discover information about the field and career statistics.

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Essential Information

Students of master's degree programs learn about the interior layout and design of water vessels. They study advanced ocean dynamics and participate in lab experiences. Some programs offer areas of concentration. Doctoral-level students might explore small craft design, coastal processes and offshore engineering. They might choose an area of focus and conduct extensive research that culminates in a dissertation.

Master of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Master's degree programs in naval architecture and marine engineering supply students with advanced study and research in the design and development of waterborne vehicles, from small cruise liners to large aircraft carriers. Within the program, students may choose to concentrate in the area of naval architecture or marine engineering.

Prospective naval architects complete an in-depth scholarly study of marine structure design, including layout design of interior spaces and hull form. They conduct advanced hands-on laboratory tests of ship stability, strength, resistance and dynamics with the use of scale models. The program typically includes a thesis and non-thesis track.

Applicants to a master's degree program must hold a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline, including naval and marine, mechanical, civil, aerospace or an equivalent. They must also complete and submit graduate test scores. Some colleges and universities also have GPA requirements that must be met. Additionally, some schools allow non-engineering bachelor's degree holders partial entrance into the program; prerequisite courses in science and math are required for full entrance.

Master's degree programs typically provide advanced core courses in marine design, ship strength, resistance and propulsion, form stability and structure dynamics. Additional classes may include:

  • Hydrodynamics
  • Management of marine systems
  • Ocean dynamics
  • Wave loads on ships
  • Safety and reliability of marine structures

Doctor of Philosophy in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Ph.D. students study advanced topics in the design and creation of boating structures and subsystems. They generally focus their coursework and research in a particular area, including marine and marine systems design, marine structures, coastal processes, hydrodynamics and offshore engineering. Ph.D. candidates must complete coursework and comprehensive exams, as well as propose a Ph.D. dissertation in front of a school-appointed doctoral committee. The Ph.D. dissertation consists of original and potentially useful research in the student's area of expertise.

Ph.D. candidates must hold a bachelor's and master's degree in naval architecture and marine engineering or a related field. They may also be required to complete qualifying exams and obtain a dissertation advisor prior to enrollment in the Ph.D. program.

The coursework in a Ph.D. program varies, depending on a student's specialization and research. Available courses may include:

  • Small craft design
  • Ship hydrodynamics
  • Systems engineering
  • Hull modeling and shape optimization
  • Advanced platform motions

Popular Career Options

A Ph.D. is the highest level of education offered in the field of naval architecture and marine engineering. Ph.D. holders possess the practical expertise and advanced knowledge required in senior level academic and research positions. These positions may include:

  • Tenured professor - naval architecture and marine engineering
  • Naval design specialist
  • Senior naval architect

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 9% growth for marine engineers and naval architects for the 2018-2028 time period ( The BLS also reported annual median wages of $92,560 for marine engineers and naval architects in May 2018.

Master's degree programs in naval architecture and marine engineering provide courses in marine design, form stability, structure dynamic, and other engineering topics. Doctoral programs focus on what a student chooses to specialize in for their research in the field.

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