There is a lot of information on Service Academy admissions on online forums and various websites, and our goal is to ensure you focus on the right areas for the Coast Guard Academy. Understanding the admissions process will help you apply effort to the areas that matter most in your application.
Here is an overview of the major sections in this guide:
Part 1: Mission of the Coast Guard
Are you interested in the Coast Guard, but curious as to what the typical day as a Coast Guard Officer looks like? It really varies a lot! The motto of the Coast Guard is Semper Paratus, or “always ready”. The Coast Guard prides itself on its Guardian ethos.
The Coast Guard is responsible for a variety of different types of missions. The mission statement of the Coast Guard is to ensure our Nation’s maritime safety, security, and stewardship.
You could be assisting Law Enforcement, conducting search and rescue missions, or responding to a natural disaster. Many of these fall under a port safety/security role. These are typically categorized into three categories:
1. Maritime safety
2. Maritime environmental protection
3. National defense
Basic Requirements – Who The Coast Guard Academy is Looking For
There are both legal requirements and additional requirements for admittance into The Coast Guard Academy. Legal Requirements:
- 17-22 years old
- U.S. Citizen
- Not pregnant; with no legal obligation to support a child
The standards are set high for admission into the Coast Guard Academy. Academics are the single most important factor, but athletics, extracurricular activities, leadership positions and overall character are all taken into account. The admissions team is looking to make sure you have what it takes to excel.
Part 2: How is the Coast Guard Academy Different?
Admission is Based Solely on Merit
The Coast Guard Academy is the only Service Academy that does not require any type of nomination, unlike the other four Service Academies and Congressional or service-connected nominations.
This means that the Coast Guard Academy admissions team directly chooses the most qualified applicants.
Smaller Class Size
At 300 cadets the incoming freshman, or swab class is about ¼ of that of the three core Service Academies.
Unlike the core three Service Academies, the Coast Guard Academy only offers nine academic majors:
- Civil engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Cyber systems
- Mechanical engineering
- Naval architecture and marine engineering
- Operations research and computer analysis
- Marine and environmental sciences
Different Admissions Fitness Test
The other four Service Academies use the Candidate Fitness Assessment, learn more about Coast Guard Academy’s Physical Fitness Exam below.
Part 3: Requirements for Admission
All the Service Academies require excellent academic performance, and the Coast Guard Academy is no exception. The best way to prepare for the Coast Guard Academy is to take challenging high school classes.
80% of all cadets had a 3.5 GPA or higher upon high school graduation and were in the top 25% of their class. About 50% of all cadets were in the top 10% of their class.
Coast Guard Academy SAT and ACT Requirements
The Coast Guard Academy recommends a combined score of at least 1120 for the SAT and 24 for the ACT. For the SAT, 50% of all students score from a composite 1240 to 1400. For the ACT, 50% score a composite of 26 to 32. If you are below these ranges, don’t count yourself out of the competition, just understand where you fall in the typical class.
In terms of taking the SAT or ACT, you should plan accordingly for the normal admission timeline in order to be reviewed by the application deadline of January 29th. We recommend that you plan at least six weeks from the date your test was taken for your scores to be sent to the Coast Guard Academy. This means you should plan to take your final SAT or ACT test no later than the beginning of December.
The Coast Guard Academy is looking for cadets who demonstrate leadership skills prior to attending the Coast Guard Academy. Although these skills will be developed while a cadet, the Academy wants well-rounded individuals who have shown a commitment to achieve students’ full potential. Taking on leadership roles in activities both through sports and in the community is important to begin to develop those leadership skills. After all, at the end of the day your student is looking to commission into the Coast Guard and lead Seamen!
Athletics are an important part of your application, with 85-90% of each class containing high school graduates with at least one varsity letter. 70% have been team captains of their sport.
The Coast Guard Academy Physical Fitness Exam (PFE) is not the same as the fitness test for the other four Service Academies. You can take the same “Candidate Fitness Assessment” for the other Service Academies once and use the results to apply to all schools, except for the Coast Guard Academy.
The PFE is comprised of three events:
- 1.5 mile run
This is the same test that is given to each cadet at the Coast Guard Academy at the beginning of each semester. For reference, here is a table of average performance for a recent Freshman (Swab) class:
The average PFE score for cadets accepted into the Coast Guard Academy is 225.
You can find the latest scoring chart at the Coast Guard Academy website here.
Part 4: The Coast Guard Academy Admissions Timeline
Application Timeline and Requirements
Here is a brief overview of the admissions timeline. We recommend starting the process as soon as the application opens during spring of your junior year of high school. We break down the specific requirements in more detail below the general timeline.
Focus on getting good grades in school and taking challenging academic classes
Junior Year – Begin Preparing for Application
- Winter/Spring – take the SAT/ACT for the first time
- Summer – Attend AIM
Senior Year – Start the Application Items
- July 15, 2021 – USCGA applications open through January 15, 2022
- July 15, 2021+ – Complete application items
- Letters of Recommendation
- Physical Fitness Exam
- Summer/Fall – Begin DoDMERB exam qualification
- January 29, 2022 – Application completion deadline
- April 1, 2022 – Candidates typically notified of admission
- April 15, 2022 – Deadline for DoDMERB exam completion
- May 1, 2022 – Deadline to notify Coast Guard Academy of decision to accept/decline admission
Early Action is an opportunity unique to the Coast Guard Academy. This gives students the ability to finalize their admissions decisions earlier than the traditional college decision timeline of Mid-Feb to Mid-May. You must complete all requirements by October 15th.
SAT or ACT scores must be submitted by November 1st for Early Action consideration.
You will be required to submit official high school transcripts to the Coast Guard Academy.
Letters of Recommendation
You’ll need three letters of recommendation – from a math and english teacher as well as a guidance counselor. You can also include up to two optional additional letters of recommendation.
For tips on letters of recommendation, read our article on how to ask for letters of recommendation with samples to give to your teachers.
DoDMERB Medical Exam
Your student will need to complete their medical examination in order to receive an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. We’ve written a guide on understanding how the whole process works, which you can read here. We also offer DoDMERB specific consulting services if you would like a personalized consultation.
You can find a list of common medical disqualifiers for the Coast Guard Academy on their website.
How to Apply
The Bears Den is the name of the application portal. You can create a login for the Bears Den here.
How to Find Out If the Coast Guard Academy is Right for You
Attend the Coast Guard Academy Summer Program – Academy Introductory Mission (AIM)
AIM is a 1-week summer program, so your student will get a really good sense of life at the Coast Guard Academy.
Just like the other Service Academies, AIM takes place the summer before Senior year of high school.
You’ll get immersed in all aspects of the Coast Guard Academy: mental, physical, and experience the military mindset. Expect long days from about 0600 to 2200 every day students attend.
This is one of the best ways to truly understand the Coast Guard mission (along with visiting Coast Guard locations and talking directly with members of the Coast Guard) and if you are a good fit.
Applications for AIM typically open in February and closes mid-April. Tuition is $600 not including travel costs, but scholarships are available for both through the Coast Guard Academy. You can find out more information and how to apply for AIM on the Coast Guard Academy website.
Schedule a Visit (Attend an Online Admissions Brief)
If you have already missed the AIM deadline or want to visit before the summer before your Senior year, you can schedule a campus visit.
Currently visits are virtual. You can get an admissions brief every Tuesday and some Saturdays. Cadets will be there to answer questions! Find out how to register here.
Hear Directly from Cadets
Cadets at the Coast Guard Academy have their own blogs! You can read more from cadets in all 4 classes to see what life is like at the Coast Guard Academy website.
Take a Virtual Tour of the Coast Guard Academy
You can take a virtual tour here, available anytime.
Talk to a Coast Guard Officer
Visit a Coast Guard Base
You can find your regional Coast Guard Academy Admissions Officers here.