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Naval Engineering Degree Program Information

Naval engineering degree programs are rare. Instead, many students interested in naval engineering earn an degree in marine or ocean engineering at the undergraduate and graduate level. Explore program options and possible careers.

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Essential Information

Students interested in naval engineering can choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering, a master's degree in marine engineering or a Ph.D. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. At the bachelor's and master's degree levels, students will typically focus on core engineering coursework and advanced concepts like marine design and hydrology. At the doctoral level, students will typically conduct research and write a dissertation in addition to their class work.

There are several prerequisites for those enrolling in these programs. A high school diploma, high standardized test scores, background in the sciences, and leadership in extracurricular activities is recommended for the bachelor's program. Those interested in a master's program need a bachelor's degree in marine engineering, mechanical engineering, physics or a related discipline, GRE scores and prior lab or work experience. The doctoral program requires a master's degree with a research thesis and selection of an area of specialty prior to applying.


Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering

A bachelor's degree program in ocean engineering provides students with an education in the fundamental principles of math, science and applied oceanographic technology. In many programs, students will have the opportunity to work in the field or in a laboratory setting, learning how the skills they have learned in the classroom can be applied to real-world situations. Many ocean engineering degree programs are offered through university engineering departments, maritime colleges or naval academies.

Bachelor's degree programs in ocean engineering include a variety of courses in the humanities and social sciences as well as advanced engineering coursework. Students can also expect to take classes in topics like:

  • Technical writing and communications
  • Computer science and programming
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Coastal and offshore marine design

Master's Degrees in Marine Engineering

Students interested in studying marine engineering at the graduate level may pursue a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE), a Master of Science (M.S.) in Marine Engineering or a Master of Engineering (MEng) in Marine Engineering. While these programs generally require similar coursework, a MEng program often does not require a research thesis and graduates may not qualify for doctoral degree programs.

Master's degree programs are centered on studies of hydrodynamics, thermodynamics and chemical energy. In addition, they also include advanced coursework in marine design and environmental science. Typical classes include:

  • Coastal and marine ecosystems
  • Geology and oceanography
  • Marine research
  • Advanced statistical analysis methods
  • Hydrology

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Students interested in completing additional research in naval architecture and marine engineering may be interested in a Ph.D. program. These programs require completion of a dissertation based on original research in the field.

Ph.D. candidates complete a combination of coursework and independent research. The classes they take depend on their focus within marine engineering. In addition to classroom study, students will spend a great deal of time conducting research and writing their dissertation. In order to graduate, students must present and defend their dissertation in front of a panel of faculty members and industry experts. Depending on their area of interest, students in a doctoral-level degree program in marine engineering may study:

  • Seismology
  • Underwater topography
  • Kinematics
  • Environmental science
  • Alternative energy sources

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in ocean engineering are prepared for a variety of entry-level positions in the private, government and military sectors. Graduates may work in such diverse fields as:

  • Underwater construction
  • Submerged communications systems design
  • Boat and ship design

Graduates of a doctoral degree program in naval engineering and marine architecture are prepared for a variety of careers. Depending on the topic of their dissertation, they may be able to pursue research based careers in a laboratory or field setting. In addition, graduates may also be prepared to work as a college professor.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), marine engineers and naval architects should have better-than-average job prospects from 2014 through 2024 with a job growth of 9% over that decade, partly due to the rising demand for marine transportation to haul gas and oil from ocean drilling sites, as well as new pollution regulations that require existing cargo transportation to be modified. Salaries for marine engineers and naval architects ranged from $61,110 and lower for the bottom 10% to $149,330 and higher for the top 10% as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Students in a bachelor's or master's program in the naval engineering field focus on advanced coursework in engineering through work in the field, lab, and classroom. Doctoral students complete independent research to compile information for their dissertation in their area of interest.

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