Marine Design Degrees: Bachelor's & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a bachelor's degree in marine design? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and marine design degrees.
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Studying Marine Design: Degrees at a Glance

A naval architect transforms ideas into workable designs for submarines, boats, tankers and other marine crafts. They work closely with marine engineers in creating, sketching and building phases of the design process. A bachelor's degree program in naval architecture can provide the training needed to enter this field. This major may also be taught alongside marine engineering.

ABET, the agency that accredits engineering, applied science, engineering technology and computing programs, has accredited eight naval architecture and marine engineering bachelor's degree programs as of October 1, 2012. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 17% rise in the number of marine engineer and naval architect jobs from 2010-2020. The BLS noted that after securing a bachelor's degree, graduates could apply for the mariner's license, offered by the U.S. Coast Guard, by passing an exam.

Who Is This Degree For? Aspiring naval architects seeking entry-level ship design positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Naval architect ($92,000)*
- Federal marine engineer ($103,000)*
Time to Completion 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Design project
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma
Online Availability Some courses might be available online

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Bachelor's in Marine Design

Naval architect and marine engineering programs are typically found at schools along coastal states, such as Connecticut, Louisiana and New York. Many of these programs are offered through military academies, allowing graduates to transition into military careers. You'll complete general education classes, core design and engineering content and may choose from electives for specialized study. In addition to acquiring a basic understanding of the mechanics involved in ship design, students will also become skilled at drawing and modeling, creative thinking and teamwork.

Pros and Cons


  • Growth in the industry may come because of emissions and pollution regulations, causing new modifications of existing ships*
  • Hands-on experience can be gained through summer engineering experiences
  • There are numerous military and non-military career paths available with a degree in naval architecture and marine engineering, such as consulting and technology


  • The number of schools offering education in this field is limited to coastal states
  • Naval architecture programs aren't found as a standalone options
  • Sea travel is often necessary to monitor and test ships

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Individuals must master certain concepts before becoming eligible for graduation. You'll develop a keen understanding of how vessels operate in the sea, the level of stability ships need to perform and the materials needed in ship design. Courses typically include basic and advanced ship design, science and math. Fundamental naval architecture classes address engineering graphics, propulsion systems, buoyancy and structures. In addition to coursework, you may gain hands-on training by working at sea. You'll become adept at calculus, technical writing and marine engineering. While course names vary, typical classes in the bachelor's degree curriculum include the following:

  • Ship structures
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Ship design
  • Marine engineering

Online Course Info

Learning how to design sea vessels online isn't something widely available. Distance learning may be an option as part of a degree program in a related field such as ocean engineering. Alternatively, you could learn naval architecture fundamentals through a school library's electronic book or through a university's free repository of course materials, such as the OpenCourseWare.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Hands-on experience is crucial while studying marine design. Certain courses may require an end-of-class project designing a vessel. There are also likely to be capstones available that enable you to complete a team project of designing a boat, ship or similar structure. These experiences may last for a year and simulate the process to create a water vessel. Your team may be asked to incorporate costs, materials, structural components and crewmembers into your planning.

Popular Schools

  • Ann Arbor, MI

    University of Michigan

  • Madison, WI

    University of Wisconsin

  • Glen Cove, NY

    Webb Institute

  • New Orleans, LA

    University of New Orleans

  • Annapolis, MD

    United States Naval Academy

  • Kings Point, NY

    United States Merchant Marine Academy

  • New London, CT

    United States Coast Guard Academy

  • Throggs Neck, NY

    SUNY Maritime College

  • Hoboken, NJ

    Stevens Institute of Technology

  • Buzzards Bay, MA

    Massachusetts Maritime Academy

Featured Schools

Webb Institute

University of New Orleans

United States Naval Academy

United States Merchant Marine Academy

United States Coast Guard Academy

SUNY Maritime College