Maritime Academy Graduate (MARGRAD)

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Overview, Initial Assignments and Career Path:  Cadets and graduates from the nation's seven maritime academies are recognized by our service as excellent potential future Coast Guard officers due to their rigorous maritime training and exposure, profound sensitivity to maritime industry stakeholders, extensive degree programs that align with Coast Guard missions, and licensing opportunities integrated with academics. The MARGRAD program, therefore, seeks to commission maritime academy graduates into critical service need specialties appropriate to their training and experience. Traditionally, the service needs most commonly filled by maritime academy graduates have been assignments in the prevention community. MARGRADS have also been assigned to, and successful in, the broad spectrum of Coast Guard mission communities, both afloat and ashore. The assignment officer responsible for that particular group of selectees typically begins working with the selectees for first unit assignments following selection, and prior to attending DCO training.

Program selectees initially attend the Coast Guard's DCO course, where they receive indoctrination, and training on service specific administration essential to their success as a junior officer immediatley after unit assignment.

Prevention officers execute the Coast Guard's prevention program, consisting of maritime safety, maritime security, maritime mobility, and environmental stewardship.  Specific responsibilities included within this arena are inspection of commercial vessels, ports and facilities, foreign flag vessel inspections (port state control) oversight of uninspected vessels, marine casualty investigation, waterways management, navigation and boating safety, bridge administration, and vessel documentation. An initial assignment in the prevention community is typically manifested at a Coast Guard sector, working within one of the three divisions (inspections, investigations, and waterways management) for the sector prevention department head.  A junior officer reporting to any one of these types of divisions would focus on obtaining competencies through attending Coast Guard formal training, completing personal qualification standards (PQS) job training, and completing requirements under a qualified individual.  Depending on the division in which that officer is assigned, he or she would be pursuing competencies, knowledge and experience as follows:

  • Inspections: managing regulatory and inspection aspects of safety, security, and environmental protection for vessels and facilities.
  • Investigations: inquiries into marine casualties, pollution, and boating violations.
  • Waterways Management: controlling aids to navigation (ATON) safety and security zones, regulated navigation areas, ice breaking, the vessel traffic system, and the automatic identification system.

Marine Safety Unit

MARGRAD Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Age:  Have reached your 21st but not your 41st birthday as of September 30 of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes.
  2. Character Standards: 
    • All applicants must be of outstanding moral character
  3. Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  4. Clearance: Must be eligible for a secret clearance
  5. Dependency:
    • ​​If single, may not have sole or primary custody of dependents
    • May not have more than three dependents
  6. ​Education:
    • ​​Be a graduate of one of the seven maritime academies:
      • Maine Maritime Academy
      • Massachusetts Maritime Academy
      • United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point
      • State University of New York Maritime College
      • Great Lakes Maritime Academy
      • Texas Maritime Academy
      • California Maritime Academy
    • ​​(and)
      • Have a degree from one of the above seven academies, and hold a third mate (unlimited) ocean or coastwise, or third assistant engineer (any horsepower) license or higher, or
      • Major in marine environmental protection or a related field.
      • GPA: all applicants must have at least a 2.2 GPA on a 4.0 scale. This requirement was changed on March 21, 2008.
  7. Financial:
    • ​​May not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 10 years
  8. ​​Interview:  MARGRAD applicants must receive the recommendation of a Coast Guard interview board, administered by three Coast Guard officers.
  9. Military Service:
    • Cannot exceed 10 years of non-Coast Guard active-duty military service as of the selection panel convening date.
    • Current military members in another service or the Coast Guard Reserves must furnish as signed/approved DD368 (conditional release).
    • Note 1: Commissioned officers separated or removed from active-duty from any service as a result of non-selection for promotion, extension, or integration may not apply for any Coast Guard commissioning program.
  10. Physical (Medical): Must pass a commissioning physical (including):
    • Normal color vision
    • Meet height/weight standards
    • Must be able to pass a physical fitness test and swim test prior to graduation from DCO school
  11. Test Score:  There is no test score requirement for MARGRAD applicants
  12. Program-Specific Experience:
    • For applicants with licenses, your level of experience may correlate with an advanced appointment grade, as articulated below.

MARGRAD Terms of Service and Appointment Grade

  1. On commissioning, applications will receive a three-year extended active-duty (EAD) contract.
  2. The selection panel determines the appointment grade of each selectee.
  3. Selectees will receive a commission as an ensign (O1) or lieutenant junior grade (O-2, Lt. j.g.) in the Coast Guard Reserve.  Lieutenant junior grade may be offered to selectees who:
    • Have served one or more years on board U.S. vessels in the capacity of a licensed officer, and
    • Hold at least a third mate (unlimited) ocean or coastwise or
    • Third assistant engineer (any horsepower) license or
    • Majored in a marine environmental protection field
  4. All others not indicated above will be offered commission as an ensign.

MARGRAD Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. If I attended a maritime academy and meet the degree and/or license requirements, but I am currently enlisted in the Coast Guard, may I still apply to be an officer through the MARGRAD program?
    • Yes, presuming that you have met all other eligibility criteria
  2. ​Could a MARGRAD applicant also qualify for the DCSS program?
    • ​​Yes; however, depending on the fiscal year and service needs in question, it may not be of any benefit to that applicant to apply to both programs. Before applying, your recruiter should check with the Coast Guard Recruiting Command officer programs staff.

Application Process:

If you are ready to apply, you must visit the Plan Your Next Move page and follow the application process, which includes downloading the forms and all necessary application elements appropriate for the MARGRAD program.