Marine Architecture Degree Program Overviews

Students interested in marine architecture careers typically pursue degrees in the closely related areas of naval architecture and marine engineering. Programs generally result in a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science or Ph.D. degree.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs for marine architecture are offered through the engineering departments at universities and specialized four-year schools. Studies at the bachelor's and master's levels usually include hands-on learning through group design projects and internships, in addition to classroom instruction in topics such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and ocean engineering. A master's degree typically requires the additional completion of a thesis project.

A bachelor's degree in a related area like marine, aerospace or mechanical engineering and preferably work experience in marine operations are needed for admissions in a master's program.

Ph.D. students also complete research projects, ship design projects, oral exams and a dissertation, while taking advanced coursework addressing the analysis of ship structures and mechanics. Courses in engineering, math and science are common at each level of study. Before starting a program, students often need to have already earned a master's degree in naval architecture or marine engineering.


Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

This bachelor's degree program focuses on the principles of naval architecture, and how to design ocean vessels such as cargo ships, submarines, tugboats, aircraft carriers, tankers and sailboats. Through courses that emphasize marine engineering, students examine propulsion, navigation, electrical, steering and mechanical systems. Baccalaureate candidates are usually required to complete at least one group design project and serve internships with companies in the marine industry. Programs require incoming students to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Courses cover a range of complex engineering and architecture concepts specific to ship building. Classes commonly offered include the following:

  • Propulsion system design
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Manufacturing of marine systems
  • Electrical engineering in marine vessels
  • Naval architecture

Master of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Candidates enrolled in a master's degree program for naval architecture and marine engineering may have the option to complete a thesis or take additional courses instead. Students hone their knowledge of marine architecture by studying the materials used to build ships, learning to integrate ship systems and components, and examining marine manufacturing systems. Students typically work in teams to complete design projects.

Master-level marine architecture classes thoroughly integrate the concepts of naval architecture and marine engineering. Courses may cover:

  • Marine dynamics
  • Wave loads
  • Ocean engineering
  • Advanced marine design
  • Quality control
  • Marine construction materials

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Ph.D. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Doctoral candidates are trained to apply advanced engineering, math and science principles to the design, construction and performance of ships. Candidates examine methods to evaluate and resolve marine architecture and engineering issues, including hull efficiency, power transfer, corrosion, stress and environmental factors. The Ph.D. program typically requires completion of a dissertation, research project, oral exam and ship design project.

Ph.D. students of naval architecture and marine engineering take courses that complement the intensive research and design work required. Doctoral programs may offer the following courses:

  • Advanced marine design
  • Marine CAD design
  • Marine engineering analysis
  • Structural mechanics
  • Ship structures
  • Structural analysis

Popular Career Options

Graduates who hold a bachelor's degree in naval architecture and marine engineering may pursue ship design, construction and maintenance positions at shipping companies, ship construction firms and within the military. Career options include the following:

  • Naval architect
  • Marine architect
  • Marine engineer
  • Marine structural designer
  • Technical consulting
  • Ship repair and safety

Those who hold a master's degree in the field of marine architecture and engineering may pursue design and management positions in the marine industry. Some of the positions are listed below.

  • Engineering manager
  • Technical manager
  • Naval architect
  • Marine operations specialist
  • Manager of marine safety systems

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Those who earn a Ph.D. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering may teach and conduct research at college and universities. They may head marine architecture and design departments, and work as consultants to maritime companies and the military. Those with a doctorate and requisite experience can expect to earn salaries at the higher end of the pay scale.

As of May 2015, the median annual wage for marine engineers and naval architects was $93,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The occupational outlook for marine engineers and naval architects is expected to increase by 9% during the 2014-2024 decade, according to the same website.

Continuing Education Information

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, some students enroll in the Navy or Coast Guard for a tour of duty to obtain sea-going experience before entering a graduate program.

Joint degree programs, including those that combine the Master of Business Administration with marine architecture and engineering studies are available for students with master's degrees.

Through hands-on experience and in-class learning students in a Bachelor of Science in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering prepare for careers designing, constructing and maintaining ships. Graduate programs may prepare students for managerial and even university research careers.

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