Academics are a very important factor in the evaluation process. The admissions team is looking for a well-rounded academic record with strong class rank, GPA, and SAT/ACT test results. The majority of students rank in top 20% of their high school class.
Minimum SAT and ACT Scores for the Merchant Marine Academy
The minimum scores for the Merchant Marine Academy for the SAT are 580 for Math. The minimum scores for the ACT are 24 for Math and 23 for English. These are minimums!
Here are the average SAT test scores from recent classes:
The minimum GPA is 2.5.
You’ll be required to submit both your 6th semester and 7th-semester transcripts to MMA. It’s important to put forth effort into academics until graduation, as MMA considers all grades and could revoke admission if you perform poorly in your final semester.
Taking challenging high school courses is the best way to prepare yourself for the academic rigors of any Service Academy, and this is the same for the Merchant Marine Academy. The courses at MMA are engineering-based. A strong knowledge of mathematics and science will help candidates succeed at MMA.
The minimums for academics for high school are:
- 3 English classes
- 3 Math classes (algebra, geometry and trigonometry minimum)
- One physics or chemistry class with a lab component
Keep in mind these are the minimums and most midshipmen who receive appointments to the Merchant Marine Academy have taken more intensive challenging courses – including Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and honors courses. Calculus and physics classes are highly encouraged in high school.
Getting involved in your high school and community early on in your high school career is a great way to build leadership skills. The admissions team looks at your community service, work, and high school involvement.
There are many different activities to choose from, we recommend getting involved in something you are actually interested in and doing it for the right reasons – not just for admissions purposes.
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 – Start the Application Process
- Winter/Spring – take the SAT/ACT for the first time
- May 1st – USMMA applications open
- Complete the 3 part application package
- Part I – Basic information
- Part II – Extracurricular activities and essay
- Part III – Letters of recommendation, school official evaluation with transcripts, and SAT/ACT scores
- Start the DoDMERB qualification process
- June 1st – take the Candidate Fitness Assessment
- September/October – interview for a congressional nomination
Senior Year – Finish Remaining Application Items
- February 1st – application completion deadline
- March – April – Candidates typically notified of admission
- April 1st – Candidates from National Waiting List or “hold” typically begin receiving offers of appointment
- April 16th – DoDMERB qualification deadline
- 1 May – deadline to notify USMMA of decision to accept/decline appointment
You’ll fill out basic information through the online portal.
The admissions team is looking for you to describe who you are and show the unique aspects and experiences of your life. Critical thinking, organizational, and grammar abilities are among the top aspects the panel is looking for.
You’ll need to submit a minimum of 500 word essay on the following:
- Your reasons for wanting to attend the Merchant Marine Academy
- Your curriculum preference
- How your high school classes, hobbies, and activities have developed your career interests
- Any sailing or military experience
Looking for help with the admissions process? Help with your writing samples is included in our consulting services.
Part III – High School Profile
Candidate Activities Record
The candidate fills out a form that details sports, non-sports, and other activities that are then verified by a school official, usually a college counselor. For high school students this is grades 9-12 and includes planned activities through grade 12, or current college year for college students. It’s important to get the email and phone number of the college counselor who is verifying your information correct.
School Official Evaluations
You’ll need to submit three teachers for the School Official Evaluations: math, science, and english. The admissions team prefers a math and english teacher from the student’s junior or senior year of high school and a science teacher of either chemistry or physics. They will receive an email with a form to fill out on the student.
Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA)
Fitness is a major part of the application process. The physical test, known as the Candidate Fitness Assessment, is a series of 6 exercises that you can practice before the test, and we highly recommend doing just that!
You can calculate your score using our Candidate Fitness Assessment Score Calculator. We recommend using this calculator to see where you stand and how minor improvements will change your score.
Your CFA can be administered by a gym teacher, JROTC instructor, Academy field rep, or and commissioned or non-commissioned officer. The CFA must be taken on or after June 1st.
You will see a pass or fail for your CFA in the candidate portal once submitted. You can only take the CFA twice, so it’s important to both pass each event and get an overall passing score.
You’ll also want to make sure you meet the height and weight requirements for the Merchant Marine Academy.
Optional Letters of Recommendation
If enrolled in college, applicants must provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation from current or past college professors.
Although these are optional for high school students, we highly recommend adding these to your application. High school coaches and other mentors in your life have great insight into your leadership abilities, integrity, and character.
You can email letters of recommendation to email@example.com or mail them to:
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
300 Steamboat Road
Kings Point, NY 11024
Get In Touch with the Merchant Marine Academy
There are 5 zones for admissions, 4 of which are geographic. Each zone has an officer and an admissions assistant
FInd your admissions officer here.
How to Get a Nomination
A nomination gives the Merchant Marine Academy the legal authority to consider a candidate for appointment. The appointment itself is the offer of admission from the MMA. So you need a nomination first in order to be eligible to receive an appointment.
Merchant Marine Academy nominations work differently than the other three Service Academies in several ways.
The Merchant Marine Academy concentrates on nominations from each State, instead of each Congressional district.
This can be a positive because it expands the number of Members of Congress a candidate can receive a nomination from (any State Representative can nominate anyone in their state – they don’t have to be from the same Congressional district).
Unlike other Service Academies, the Merchant Marine Academy does not accept military-service connected nominations or Vice Presidential nominations. You’ll be required to receive a nomination through Congress – either a State Senator or a local Congressional Representative.
Who are you eligible to receive a nomination from?
You are eligible for at least ANY U.S. Congressional Representative from your state, and your 2 U.S. Senators. These usually increase in competition as you increase from the local to national level. Note that unlike other Service Academies, any Congressional Representative from your state can nominate you!
Each Member of Congress is authorized to have 5 candidates at any one-time. Typically Senators and House Representatives will have 4 candidates and 1 open slot. They will usually use one open slot per year. Each slot can be filled by up to 10 nominations from the Senator/House Representative.
Bottom line: You are competing for one of those 10 nomination slots. There are different methods for the Member of Congress to use for nominations, but typically the 10 nominees are not ranked by the Member of Congress. The nominating authority will usually leave that up to the Service Academy to decide who is the most qualified.
You should apply to every nomination source you are qualified for in order to increase your chances of selection for nomination.
Find your local Senator or Representative here.
DoDMERB manages the medical qualification process. Make sure to take care of any appointments as soon as possible to meet the April 16th deadline. Read more about the process here.
Letter of Assurance from Merchant Marine Academy – Receive “Pre-Approval”
A Letter of Assurance is a reservation of an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy contingent upon medical qualification, physical qualification, Height/Weight and continued excellent work in school, and file completion. Letters of Assurance are conditional and subject to review throughout the entire application process. Candidates receive Letters of Assurance based upon excellent scholar, athlete, leader credentials as noted in this post.
Is the Merchant Marine Academy Right for You?
This is a great question. There are many perks to attending the Merchant Marine Academy, but you really want to make sure that this is the right place for you. One of the best ways to figure that out is to spend time at the MMA and talk to graduates.
Schedule a Visit
There are a few different types of visits available for students: day visits and overnight visits. You will get a better idea of midshipman life if you choose an overnight visit, which lasts a full 24 hours. You’ll get to see what classes are like along with sports practices and club meetings. You’ll eat meals in the dining hall and stay in the escorting midshipman’s room.
You can call the Merchant Marine Academy at 516-726-5643 to schedule a visit.
Congressional Academy Days
You can find out more about the Service Academies by attending events hosted by Members of Congress. These are often virtual.
Ready to Apply?
You can apply through the USMMA website here.