All you need to know about the U.S. Naval Academy

Making the choice to go to any military academy is an excellent step for any young person for life and career advancement. However, not all the military academies are the same, with some differences between the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy (Army), U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy. To help you with your decision here are some facts on the U.S. Naval Academy.


U.S. Naval Academy Fast Facts

Official Name: United States Naval Academy (USNA)

Founded: October 10, 1845

Location: Annapolis, Maryland

Number of Midshipmen: Roughly 4,500

School Colors: Navy Blue and Gold

Mascot: “Billy” the Goat

Education: 4 years

U.S. Naval Academy Location

The U.S. Naval Academy is located in Annapolis, Maryland just off Chesapeake Bay and covers a 338 acre site, making it a smaller campus than the other service academies. It is the only service academy based just outside of a city. It was founded on its current site in 1845 by George Bancroft. Bancroft Hall named after the academy’s founder, is the dormitory for all midshipmen and the largest dormitory in the world, occupying it’s own zip code. It is located around the ruins of Fort Severn and is designated as a National Historical Landmark District.

United States Naval Academy Annapolis USNA Sandboxx

U.S. Naval Academy Eligibility & How to Apply

USNA admissions are highly competitive with acceptance rate averaging around 8.5%. Applicants must apply to the Academy as well as receive a nomination from their local Congress member, Senator or the Vice President. These nominations are awarded on a competitive basis.  All applicants must be:

  • Citizens of the United States
  • Over 17 and under 23
  • Unmarried with no dependents and not pregnant

ACT and SAT scores must then be sent to the Naval Academy as well as an official high school transcript. Medical examinations, fitness assessments and an interview are all conducted before an offer is sent out.


The Naval Academy offer a full scholarship to all its students, known as midshipmen as accepting a place into the Academy means automatic induction into the military. This includes tuition, room and board, as well as medical. Midshipmen also receive just over $1000 a month, which changes annually based on class and military wide pay increases to cover the cost of other services of the Naval Academy along with $100 in cash. As result of being considered an active part of the military, midshipmen are also given access to the commissaries and exchanges, commercial military discounts and Space A Travel. Read more about applying to military academies from a successful applicant to the Air Force Academy.

U.S. Naval Academy Academics

The USNA is not just a military academy. It is a full accredited university and is highly ranked. Its student-faculty ratio is 8:1 with the average median starting salary within 5 years of graduation just over $80,000, the 2nd highest in the country. It ranks among the top division of public schools.

The USNA offers majors in a wide range of disciplines which are grouped into 3 main categories of  Division of Engineering & Weapons, Division of Math and Science and Division of Humanities and Social Science. All graduates receive a Bachelor of Science in their chosen discipline and can get minors in a variety of other subjects.

Plebe Summer_short

There are mandatory courses in naval science, engineering and navigation as well as leadership, ethics and military law to prepare them for their military careers. There are also 8 weeks of summer courses each year which are spent introducing you to the more practical side of becoming a part of the United States Navy and Marine Corps with responsibilities increasing over each year of the Academy.

These 8 weeks are typically spent at a variety of Naval bases and ships performing a variety of duties with responsibility increasing with time spent at the Naval Academy. Also on offer is the Study Abroad program which is available for all language courses and for selected students to develop cross-cultural awareness.

Sports and Fitness at the U.S. Naval Academy

Physical education and sports play a huge part of any midshipmen’s life DO MORE. Swim tests occur over each of the 4 years as do a variety of combat sports and physical readiness testing to ensure all naval graduates are at their highest level of fitness . The USNA also offers a huge selection of sports clubs across all disciplines.


Its most famous sporting rivalry is that with the US Military Academy at West Point, the Army-Navy game. Currently, Navy hold the all time record with 61 – 50. The series is often seen as one of the greatest football rivalries as the conditions attached to attending the military academies means that none of its players usually have the opportunity to play in the NFL and play purely for the love of the game. The USNA are middle in terms of Commander in Chief Trophy wins with 15 as the Air Force Academy hold 20. The Commander in Chief Trophy is an annual 3 match series between the 3 military service academies.

Lesser known sporting rivalries include an unofficial croquet game against St. John’s College, Annapolis and football against Notre Dame, an annual invitation since the Navy designated the campus of Notre Dame as a training ground during World War II and kept Notre Dame financially afloat.

As well as sports, U.S.N.A offers a wide range of other extra curricular programs varying from theatre and Glee clubs to marketing and journalism and music, ensuring that all midshipmen have a chance to excel with their individual talents.

Day to day life at the U.S. Naval Academy

The US Naval Academy is different to civilian schooling in terms of a highly scheduled daily life, covering everything from meal times to classes to personal fitness and lights out. Weekdays, everyone is out of bed by 06:30 and lights out is at midnight with the day broken into sections. Click here for an overview of day to day life at USNA.


It also operates over a long time span than the average college semester due to the intensity and wide range of knowledge needed to impart onto the future officers however, leave time increase with time spent in the Academy and all midshipmen get leave for Summer, Thanksgiving, end of Semester and mid term leave in the Spring.

U.S. Naval Academy Notable Alumni

As the official Academy of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, it is unsurprising that many of it’s graduates have excelled within the military community.  5 Secretaries of the Navy, 29 Chiefs of Naval Operations and 9 Commandants of the Marine Corps have walked the “Yard”. U.S.N.A has also educated Former President, Jimmy Carter, 49 Rhodes Scholars and 54 astronauts.

U.S. Naval Academy School Traditions

As with any historical school, the U.S.N.A has a variety of odd traditions.


The Herndon Climb is one of the more famous with the 21 ft obelisk greased with lard and the underclassmen attempt to change the Dixie cup hat of their plebe year with the Upperclassmen hat. It takes roughly 2 hours for each class to complete it and is considered a monuments occasion in a Midshipmen’s naval academy career.

The Army Navy game has also brought some extra traditions with each marking new plots to get at the Army Cadets. The stealing of West Point’s mascot, the mule has become one of the main goals of midshipmen coming up to the game with the Army Cadets attempting to sabotage the USNA’s mascot, Billy the Goat.

U.S. Naval Academy Graduates

Admission to the US Naval Academy is based upon a 5 year military service post graduation with the US Navy or the US Marine Corps so all graduates go straight into employment post-academy. Graduates enter the Navy as Ensigns and serve in one of the following:

  1. Surface Warfare
  2. Aviation Warfare
  3. Marine Corps
  4. Special Operations
  5. EOD Warfare
  6. Submarine Warfare

For more information on all things USNA, check out their website. Know someone heading to USNA or currently there? Send a Letter to your midshipmen!

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