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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Naval Architecture

Majors Overview September 12, 2015

This article talks about graduate programs in naval architecture and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Naval Architecture Degree Programs

Naval architects take assistance from marine engineers in designing, creating and maintaining a broad array of marine systems and vehicles. These include submarines, cruise liners, cargo ships, passenger vessels, and naval vessels. Schools offer master’s and doctoral-level graduate programs in naval architecture, admitting incoming students who have respectively earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Students of master’s degree programs learn about the interior design and layout of water vessels. They learn about advanced ocean dynamics and take part in lab experiences. Areas of concentration are available in some programs. In doctoral-level programs, coursework incorporates coastal processes, small craft design, and offshore engineering. An area of focus may be available and extensive research conducted by students culminating in a dissertation.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

Enrollees in master’s degree programs in naval architecture and marine engineering do research and advanced study in the design and development of waterborne vehicles, including large aircraft carriers and small cruise liners. The program may allow students the option of concentration in the area of marine engineering or naval architecture. An in-depth scholarly study of marine structure design is completed by students, this includes layout design of hull form and interior spaces. They use scale models in conducting advanced hands-on laboratory tests of ship stability, resistance, strength, and dynamics. Non-thesis and thesis tracks are typically in the program.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, including mechanical, naval and marine, aerospace, civil, or an equivalent. Completion and submission of graduate test scores are also requirements. In some schools, incoming students also have to meet GPA requirements. Depending on the school, partial entrance is also allowed to non-engineering bachelor’s degree holders; full entrance is available through completion of prerequisite courses in math and science.


Core coursework includes topic areas such as ship strength, marine design, form stability, resistance and propulsion, and structure dynamics. Students may have to complete additional classes such as:

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

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, marine engineers and naval architects are expected to see an average job growth rate of ten percent (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $88,100 (BLS).

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

Ph.D. students learn advanced topics relating to designing and creating boating structures and subsystems. Their coursework and research emphasize a particular area, including marine structures, marine and marine systems design, hydrodynamics, coastal processes, and offshore engineering. Apart from completion of comprehensive exams and coursework, a Ph.D. dissertation must be presented to a school appointed doctoral committee. The dissertation must comprise original and potentially useful research in the area of expertise chosen by the student.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a related field such as naval architecture and marine engineering. Enrollment into the Ph.D. program will be allowed only after passing qualifying exams and obtaining a dissertation advisor.


Coursework can vary according to a student’s specialization and research. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

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

Career Choices

A Ph.D. is a terminal level of education in the field of naval architecture and marine engineering. Armed with the advanced knowledge and practical expertise needed, Ph.D. program graduates can seek senior level research and academic positions, including:

•Senior naval architect
•Naval design specialist
•Tenured professor (Marine engineering and naval architecture)

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