About the USNCC
The mission of the Department of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. It is a formidable goal. Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen have an incredibly important responsibility to keep our nation safe, while being prepared to dominate the battlespace in conflict. Training, preparation, and hard work is unceasing and substantial.
In order to further the mission of having the best prepared and most effective maritime fighting force in the world, the Department of the Navy has decided to pilot and develop a community college specifically supporting naval education for enlisted service members.
The concept of the US Naval Community College or USNCC, came out of a study seeking to identify opportunities to better prepare our exceptional enlisted service members and to support them throughout their career. Naval leadership directed the USNCC to begin pilot programs to identify the best way to help our enlisted naval service members to access naval-relevant education opportunities that will both make them better warfighters, and support lifelong learning.
Pilot I was a series of two courses offered through five participating institutions from January 2021 through June 2021. These courses and this pilot were designed to provide an opportunity for the USNCC to collect data to evaluate and assess program design, institutional partnerships, student outcomes, and impacts for service readiness. The program focus areas were designated as follows, with the following participating institutions:
Student selection for participation in the Pilot I program was completed by each service (Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) in the Fall of 2020 and resulted in approximately 550 students from the three services. The USNCC stood up several working groups in conjunction with service leadership to establish foundational policies and effective administration of the USNCC and programs offered. These policies, along with service policies, identify the process for future enrollment and participation following Pilot II.
Pilot I courses were delivered one at a time and were 8-12 weeks in duration. Instruction was designed in an asynchronous fashion, which did not require the student to be online at any certain point but did require interaction and participation throughout the week and course to support successful course completion. Student course load required participation in a similar fashion to online schools, allowing Service members to complete courses during nights and weekends; not during the work day.
Pilot I (Bridge)
Following the completion of the two designated Pilot I courses, the USNCC offered a bridge program: an additional four courses for students who desired to continue with the USNCC and our current partner institutions. These four courses bridge the gap between Pilot I and Pilot II. To continue in the USNCC bridge program, students were required to apply and be accepted into the USNCC designated degree program. Students who currently remained in the USNCC as part of the bridge program have had their JST and any prior college experience (via official college transcripts) evaluated by the partner institution for the school to apply prior college credit or credit for prior learning towards the enrolled degree program.
The USNCC Pilot program is separately funded from other service related educational opportunities. Pilot I participants did not need to use their service-related tuition assistance (TA) or personally pay to attend these pilot courses. The USNCC funded all tuition, mandatory course fees, and digital course materials for these courses and funded application fees when applicable.
The USNCC Pilot II program launched in Fall 2021 and will spread across four separate enrollment and start date periods based on the degree program. Student selection for Pilot II began in October 2021 and will continue through 2022 in phases based on the degree program.
On October 1, 2021, the USNCC opened a limited application and enrollment window for eligible enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen (new students) interested in the USNCC Naval Studies Certificate. The USNCC will enroll 125 students to begin USNCC Naval Studies classes in January 2022. The USNCC will deliver these courses which will then be transferred to our Military Studies partner institution as part of the associate degree program.
In the spring of 2022, the USNCC will open an application and enrollment window for new students who are interested in the USNCC associate of science in military studies; those student in the Naval Studies Certificate program to enroll in the Military Studies degree program; and those Bridge students who would like to continue their studies in the partner institution Military Studies degree program. These students will either finish their USNCC Naval Studies courses prior to taking partner institution courses or start taking courses directly at the partner institution.
In the summer, the USNCC will open an application and enrollment period for those eligible (new) students who have an interest in an associate of science or associate of applied science in cybersecurity, and associate of science in nuclear engineering technology programs. Classes will begin in the fall of 2022.
In the fall of 2022, the USNCC will open an application and enrollment window for new students who are interested in the USNCC associate of science in data analytics, associate of science in aviation maintenance technology, associate of science or associate of arts in organizational leadership and associate of science in logistics with a maritime focus programs. Classes will begin in Winter/Spring 2023.
What makes the USNCC unique?
The U.S. Naval Community College works with active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and CoastGuardsmen to apply credits earned from military training and prior education toward their associatedegree. The USNCC provides a five-course Naval Studies Certificate that counts as 15 of the 60 creditsrequired for associate degrees. The USNCC program is separate from tuition assistance and voluntary education programs, which means the lifetime limit on TA/VOLED credits for service members can be applied towards a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. This helps set active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen on a path of lifelong learning.
Additionally, there are a number of facets that make the USNCC unique:
● Naval-relevant degree programs – The USNCC envisions offering 14-15 different associate of science (AS) pathways that are relevant to our Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen - regardless of their rating or MOS - and cover both technical fields (e.g. nuclear, engineering, cyber) and generalist programs (e.g. organizational leadership, military studies). These programs help ensure that a service member improves in their responsibilities today, while building their capacity to take on challenges of tomorrow.
● Naval Studies Certificate – The program is centered around a Naval/Maritime relevant curriculum that includes coursework providing all participants a similar grounding within the Naval Services and is based in part on the USNA and NROTC programs future officers receive. The Naval Studies Certificate supports ethical leadership development, an understanding of Naval History, Geopolitics, Civil/Military context, and force structure and organization. This Certificate, plus classes in English and Math and other sciences, will provide a strong educational foundation for all enlisted service members.
● Stackable Certificates – While the ultimate goal will be an Associate of Science (AS) degree, students have an opportunity to gain recognition and be awarded certificates in pursuit of that goal. USNCC students can earn a Naval Studies Certificate and a Professional Certificate, which are made up of the ‘major’ (or concentration) classwork for their given pathway (e.g. military studies, nuclear fields, organizational leadership, etc.)
● Online, flexible delivery – Coursework will be delivered online, asynchronously allowing USNCC students to use their own time, ashore and at sea. Coursework will be shorter in most cases (8 weeks) to accommodate our service member’s schedules. Because the courses are delivered online, there is no requirement for time away from one’s duties.
● High Quality Academic Partners and Consortium – Although the USNCC will directly facilitate and deliver coursework for the Naval Studies Certificate, we are partnering with a select group of the best colleges and universities (via consortium) for working adults, who are experts in the particular concentration or professional area.
● Military Friendly – All Consortium partner institutions are exceptional at providing high-quality education to our enlisted service members, with a track record of positive results for the military and policies that recognize the challenges of military service.
● Connection to Lifelong Learning – As an institution and Consortium one of our primary commitments is to connect the service member to lifelong learning. As part of this commitment we ensure and maximize appropriate transfer credit for our service members, based on their military training and responsibilities, prior credit, and ACE review. Moreover, we are committed to building partnerships for USNCC students that allow seamless access/transferability for four year pathways into bachelor’s degrees with little to no loss of credit.
● Financial Benefits – Finally, as these funded programs have the potential to allow service members to access associate level education at no cost, they can save their military TA, GI Bill, and other education benefits for higher-level degree programs.