Armed Forces News

Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen can earn the sea services’ equivalent of an associate degree, a naval studies certificate, and a professional certificate in one of seven areas of concentration free of charge, under the new Pilot II program offered by the U.S. Naval Community College.

Courses are available online and in an asynchronous format, which allows students the flexibility to earn college credits and see to their mission duties at the same time.


The community college plans to accommodate some 5,500 active duty enlisteds from the three services by the time Pilot II ends.

“Part of or covenant with sailors when we recruit them is that in appreciation for their willingness to defend our nation, we return them to society better postured to find success in any endeavor,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith. “More importantly during their time in service, this advances our fleet performance, provides warfighting advantages, and ensures that the development of our naval leaders remains a priority.”

While enrolled in Pilot II, students can earn credits in military studies, cybersecurity, nuclear engineering, data analytics, aviation maintenance, organizational leadership, and logistics. Each program entails five courses for 15 college credits, each of which makes up a quarter of the associate degree.

“The naval core provides context so they know how their new skill fits into the job they are going to be doing as a military member,” said retired Navy Cmdr. Russ Evans, the community college’s associate dean of naval studies. “We are trying to find an advantage over our adversary. You may know how to do the thing you are trained to do. We’re going to give you the critical thinking skills to translate that new skill you got from school, and leverage it academically for your unit or organization.”

The institution began accepting applications Oct. 1, with the first courses beginning in January. Online applications are available at the community college’s web site,