how to get into the US Naval Academy

How To Get Into The US Naval Academy: 5 Steps To Getting In

When I was about 16 years old, I was very interested in getting into the US Naval Academy.

The problem was, when I was 16 years old, the internet wasn’t really a “thing.”

Most of my research was limited to talking to my guidance counselor, who unfortunately left me with more questions than answers.

So how exactly do you get into the Naval Academy?

In short, you need to do the following:

  • Attend a summer seminar or stem program
  • Do a campus visit and tour
  • Get really good grades, SAT / ACT scores, and rank highly in your class
  • Participate in athletics and community service, and demonstrate leadership qualities
  • Confirm your eligibility
  • Fill out a preliminary application
  • Once you’re officially a candidate, apply as an official US Naval Academy candidate
  • Apply for a nomination from a US State Senator, Congressman / Congresswomen, or other official nomination sources
  • Pass the Medical Exam and Fitness Assessment
  • Interview with a Blue and Gold Officer

Piece of cake, right? 🙂

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Of course, getting into the Naval Academy can be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.

With that said, if you follow the tips below, you will dramatically increase your chances of getting in.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about getting into the US Naval Academy, including:

  • How much it costs
  • The basic eligibility requirements
  • What the ACT / SAT requirements are
  • Physical requirements
  • Admissions statistics
  • How to get a nomination
  • and much more

If you’ve been looking to get into the USNA, you’ve come to the right place… let’s dive in!

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What is the United States Naval Academy?

us naval academy dome

USNA is more than a typical university. Students, called Midshipmen, graduate with a four-year degree and a commission in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps.

Midshipmen attend completely free of charge — tuition is included, room and board are included, and summer training opportunities are included.

After graduation, they go on to serve for a minimum of five years in the military all over the world.

Classes are very rigorous, with all students receiving a basic course load of leadership, naval science, and engineering classes.

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After their first year, they are able to pursue a specific major, such as English, Electrical Engineering, or Math.

All Midshipmen participate in sports and extracurricular activities.

Football is an especially celebrated tradition, with the annual Army v. Navy rivalry game as the highlight of the season.

army vs navy football game

Taking The First Step – Things To Do Before You Apply

If this sounds like the place for you, the first step is to do some research to determine if USNA is a good fit for you and your goals.

The Naval Academy offers a variety of visit and immersion programs for interested candidates.

  • Campus Visit and Tour: USNA has an open campus and invites the public to visit at any opportunity. Certain areas are unavailable for the public, such as most of the single dorm building, Bancroft Hall. But tours include seeing a sample room, visiting notable sights around campus, and learning about Navy traditions.
  • Take in a game: Nothing gets the Navy spirit going like football. All Midshipmen attend home games and march onto the field before kick-off in an impressive display of school spirit. Other popular sporting events include Navy basketball, boxing, and swimming.
  • Candidate Visit Weekend: For those seriously interested in attending, apply to visit for a full weekend visit, complete with an overnight in the dorm with your Midshipman host. You will be able to attend classes, participate in sports, and share meals with current students to really get a taste of student life.
  • Summer Seminar: For full immersion, USNA offers summer programs for rising high school seniors to experience a full week of life as a Mid. They begin with academic workshops and conclude the week with a full-day physical fitness team challenge reminiscent of the one that Academy freshmen, or plebes, complete.  Learn more about the US Naval Academy Summer Seminar in this article.
  • Summer STEM Program: USNA now offers a STEM exploration camp for high school students to take advantage of their state-of-the-art facilities and faculty. Students will get to see and experience life on campus while participating in hands-on research in the science, technology, engineering, and math realms.

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How Hard Is It To Get In / What Are The Basic Requirements?

USNA is a competitive program. Less than 10% of all applicants are accepted and enter as part of the new class each year. The application process takes weeks, months, or even years of careful thought and planning to present your very best self to the admissions committee.

But first, let’s see what basic qualifications are needed to even complete the application.

The United States Naval Academy is part of the larger military community and has very specific eligibility criteria for applicants to even become a Midshipman candidates.

Basic eligibility:

  • US citizen
  • Age 17-23 on July 1 of the year of entry
  • Unmarried
  • Not pregnant and no dependents
  • Have a valid Social Security Number

Applications officially open in the spring for high school Juniors interested in attending after their high school graduation.

The application process can be broken down into 3 steps.

The Preliminary Application

USNA requests all applicants submit a preliminary application to determine their competitiveness. In this application, you will need to provide:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • High School Educational Testing Service (ETS) Code from your counselor
  • High School Class Rank
  • Congressional State and District
  • Full Zip Code
  • College Admissions Test Scores (SAT, ACT, or PSAT)

If you participated in one of USNA’s summer programs, you will already have completed your preliminary application and can submit it should you choose to pursue an appointment.

After a review, the Academy will assign all those accepted to the next level with an official Candidate number. Those serving on active duty and international students have a slightly different process, outlined on the USNA Admissions website.

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Applying as an Official USNA Candidate

Once you are officially a candidate, the hard work begins.

Candidates are required to submit additional details outlining their academic background, physical abilities, and leadership potential.

The application includes:

  • SAT or ACT scores (PSAT is sufficient for the preliminary application only)
    • Average SAT score of 1210 (composite)
    • Average ACT score of 25-32 (composite)
  • High School transcripts
    • Average GPA of 3.66
    • Many applicants take AP or IB courses
  • College transcripts (if applicable)
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • A medical exam scheduled through USNA and completed by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board
  • Candidate Fitness Assessment of a 1-mile run, a shuttle run, a kneeling basketball throw, crunches, push-ups, and pull-ups (men) or flexed-arm hang (women)
  • A personal essay detailing your reasons for wanting to attend
  • An in-person interview with your assigned USNA Blue & Gold Officer

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What does a competitive application look like?

The competition for an appointment at the United States Naval Academy is incredibly fierce.

It is important that all candidates take the time to really work on the “story” that their application tells to the admissions team.

USNA recommends that interested high school students start learning more about the Academy and participate in campus visits or summer programs early in their high school careers.

USNA Summer Seminar participants crawl along a rope during Sea Trials. Image:

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This way they have time to enroll in challenging courses, explore their interests, and cultivate leadership skills that will be critical in a successful application.

On the academic side, successful applicants take rigorous courses.

Almost all incoming Midshipmen have advanced science and math courses in high school, including Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics.

Many take Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or college credit courses as high school students.

USNA wants to know that applicants have a strong academic foundation for their course load ahead.

All Midshipmen take advanced math, engineering, and science classes as part of the core curriculum.

Successful applicants show not only high academic standards but leadership potential as well. USNA is in the business of producing top-tier military leaders.

A US Naval Academy summer seminar team building exercise. Image:

Every graduate goes on to lead a group of enlisted Sailors or Marines immediately after graduation.

USNA wants to see an interest in taking charge in your application.

90% of the Class of 2026 competed in high school varsity sports with 67% of the class being Captains or Co-Captains of their team. 82% participated in community service.

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Other common activities among successful applicants include:

  • National Honor Society
  • Drama, Public Speaking, or Debate
  • Student Body Leader
  • Church Group
  • Tutoring

A Successful Application

Here is a sample application profile of a high school senior who would be competitive for an appointment at the United States Naval Academy

  • Name: J. Mid
  • GPA: 4.0 (transcripts show outstanding performance in AP Calculus and AP Physics, as well as other challenging courses)
  • ACT: 32
  • Extracurricular activities: National Honor Society, Student Government, Volunteer through church programs
  • Athletics: JV Basketball for 2 years, Varsity Basketball for 2 years (Team Captain as a Senior), Varsity Track & Field for 4 years
  • Leadership experience: President of Student Government and Basketball Team Captain as a senior, also took on a leadership role at church by organizing a holiday toy drive for past 2 years
  • Strong personal statement about how meaningful leadership and service experiences have been and how they plan to continue that life of service in the United States Navy

Keep in mind that all applicants are competing with each other for an appointment but only with other applicants from their state or district for the required nomination.

Some areas are more competitive than others, especially those with a higher concentration of military families or those closer to USNA itself.

There is not a minimum GPA, SAT/ACT, or transcript requirement but the more that you challenge yourself as a high school student, the better prepared you will be for USNA if you get accepted.

Applying To The United States Naval Academy

All application materials provided by candidates are done through an online portal.

You can visit the official online portal here.

Applications open in the Spring of a high school student’s junior year and are due by the end of January in their senior year.

Admissions are rolling, so accepted candidates will receive notification as soon as the admissions board makes a decision.

Highly competitive candidates may receive a Letter of Assurance, or LOA, as early as September in their senior year.

This is not an official Offer of Appointment but indicates the US Naval Academy’s intention to do so.

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Applying for a Nomination

You’ve started the US Naval Academy application, so you’re all set, right?

USNA is no ordinary institution, and the admissions process is not ordinary either.

All Midshipmen must receive a personal nomination from their Congressperson or Senator to attend.

meeting with a senator for a us naval academy nomination

Official nomination sources include:

  • State Senators: Open to all applicants in their state.
  • State Congressmen: Open to all applicants in their district.
  • Vice President of the United States: Open to all applicants, including those residing outside of the U.S.
  • President of the United States: Open to children of active duty, reserve, or retired military parents.
  • ROTC, JROTC, or Naval, Marine, Army, Air Force Honor School: Open to all candidates participating in the program.
  • Governor of Puerto Rico, Delegates to Congress from Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, or Northern Marianas Islands: Open to all candidates from these areas.
  • Children of POW, MIA, Deceased/Disabled Vets: Open to children of military parents who were killed in action or died or have a service-connected disability rating of 100% or whose parent is currently a POW or MIA.
  • Children of Medal of Honor Recipients: Children of Medal of Honor recipients are automatically appointed to USNA if they are fully qualified.

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Senators and Representatives are limited to 5 nominees in attendance at USNA at one time.

This means that competition for nomination can be steep, especially in highly populated areas or areas with strong ties to the military.

These nomination sources require similar documentation showing your academic skill, sports and extracurricular participation, and leadership abilities. Most require an in-person interview with the nominator or their staff.

interview with a congressman for a US Naval Academy nomination

The Nomination Process

The Nomination process is independent of the USNA Admissions process and should be done simultaneously.

This means two applications, two personal essays, and two interviews. Some documents, such as Letters of Recommendation, may be used for both applications but will still need to be submitted to both USNA and your nominator.

Keep in mind that official nominators each have their own application deadlines, which may not mirror those of USNA.

You should apply to all potential nomination sources that you are eligible for. It does not hurt to apply to multiple nominators and have a higher chance of successfully obtaining a primary nomination.

Life As A Midshipman

Received an appointment to USNA and a nomination?

Congratulations! What happens now?

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Plebe Summer

USNA Plebes take their oath of office on Induction Day of plebe summer. Image:

Make sure to keep yourself in top physical and mental shape to prepare for the rigors of Academy life.

Your time as a Midshipman will start with Plebe Summer, a 7-week indoctrination summer program to teach you the discipline and teamwork you will need to succeed at the US Naval Academy.

From pre-dawn physical training to team-building challenges on the obstacle course, every day is packed full of challenging work.

Once the rest of the Brigade of Midshipmen returns for the academic year in the fall, the challenges continue with a full schedule of rigorous courses, specific tasks assigned to plebes, and additional study of Navy and Marine Corps technology and history.

Plebe Year

what its like to be a plebe at the US Naval Academy

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Freshmen are expected to adhere to strict standards of discipline. These include addressing all other Midshipmen as Sir or Ma’am, keeping their rooms inspection ready at all times, and memorizing daily and weekly facts about the news, Naval history, and current Navy technology.

They can’t listen to music, watch movies, or wear normal civilian clothes. Their off-campus time is limited to just a few hours each weekend.

They keep up with these professional responsibilities while also juggling challenging core courses, such as Calculus, Chemistry, and Introduction to Literature.

All of their hard work culminates in an all-day Sea Trials at the end of the year and a team climb to the top of the Herndon monument on campus.

Once one member of the class replaces the Plebe hat, or cover, with the official Midshipman cover at the top of the monument, they are officially “plebes no more.”

Youngster Year

US Naval Academy youngster year

Sophomores at the US Naval Academy are called “youngsters.”

This is generally the most relaxed year at USNA, although students are still expected to maintain high grades, keep their rooms and uniforms inspection-ready, and adhere to other codes of discipline.

They are granted additional time off-campus during the weekends but are still required to be in uniform while on campus or out in town.

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Second Class, or 2/C, Year

US Naval Academy Juniors, or 2/C Midshipmen, are the trainers in the Brigade. They are responsible for teaching and training the new Plebe class and maintaining high standards.

2-c midshipmen at usna

This is often the first time that these students are put in a leadership role, and they use the opportunity to really hone their leadership style.

The 2/C are known as the tough Midshipmen, as they can often be seen correcting Plebes, both in the dorm and around campus.

2/C “correcting” a plebe. Image:

2/C year marks a monumental time for Midshipmen. At the beginning of the year, they are required to sign a commitment to serve in the Navy or Marine Corps after graduation.

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During the first 2 years at the US Naval Academy, Midshipmen are able to leave if they decide the path is not right for them.

After signing on the dotted line, however, they are officially committed to serving in the military.

If they resign or get separated after that signing, they will owe time or money to the Navy for their education at the US Naval Academy.

2/C also enjoy a lot of new liberties.

They are able to have cars (although are required to park off-campus), wear civilian clothes when off-campus, and have additional free time.

At the end of the year, they receive their class rings, which they ceremonially dunk in waters from the Seven Seas at the formal US Naval Academy 2/C Ring Dance.

Firstie Year

Seniors are called Firsties, or First Class Midshipmen. During their final year at USNA, Firsties focus on leadership development.

The entire student body is organized into Battalions, Companies, and Squads, similar to the larger military structure.

Firsties lead each of these units and are responsible for the performance and training of those under them.

Firstie year is also full of a lot of other important events.

During this year, students find out what service and specialty they will be joining after graduation, where they will be stationed, and complete all graduation requirements.

They also enjoy the perks of being upperclassmen, with on-campus parking privileges, the ability to wear civilian clothes when leaving campus, and additional free time during the week.

When they throw their cover in the air at graduation, it is the ending to 4 difficult but rewarding years.

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Quick FAQ

Is the U.S. Naval Academy free?

Naval Academy Midshipmen get a free college education in exchange for a five-year military commitment after graduation.

Are Midshipmen paid while they attend the U.S. Naval Academy?

Naval Academy Midshipmen receive a base pay of about $1,100 a month, but service charges are deducted and actual cash pay is $100 per month during the first year.

Which military academy is the hardest to get into?

With an acceptance rate of only 8.5 percent, many say that it’s harder to get into the Naval Academy than it is to get into West Point (with an acceptance rate of 10.7 percent).

Do Naval Academy students go to boot camp?

Instead of boot camp, Naval Academy Midshipmen attend Plebe Summer, which is required of all freshmen. It consists of seven weeks of physical and mental training.

What GPA do you need to get into the U.S. Naval Academy?

The average GPA for current Midshipmen is 3.66. The average SAT score at the Academy is 1260, with an average of 590 in Math and 560 in Reading and Writing. The average ACT for accepted candidates is 31.


how to get into the US Naval Academy

The camaraderie and spirit at the United States Naval Academy is second-to-none.

Applying is not an easy feat and requires extra steps to join the ranks of this elite group of students. The admissions standards are high, and the expectations once you arrive are even higher.

But USNA will help you reach your highest potential and truly excel.

If you are looking for a life of service to your country and an institution that will be a partner in preparing you to become your very best, look no further than the United States Naval Academy.


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Learn more about the process of getting into the Naval Academy, including the preliminary application, summer seminar, prep school, official application, and obtaining a nomination.
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