Practical Experience

An integral part of all Maine Maritime majors is the practical knowledge that students gain by actual work experience. A major component of all MMA programs is learning by doing. The approach to experiential learning or cooperative education varies from major to major and may include at-sea experience on training or commercial ships, Ocean Studies cruises aboard research vessels, VOT/SVO training aboard the tug Pentagoet and the schooner Bowdoin, Power Engineering Technology training in operating power plants, International Business and Logistics experience in businesses, companies and logistics providers, and design engineering experience for Marine Systems Engineering students.


The following guidelines apply to all MMA students seeking work experience related to their studies:

  1. Each cooperative education experience is an academic course. All academic policies of the college that apply to on-campus courses also apply to off-campus practical experience courses.
  2. Students planning to co-op must have their practical experience plans approved by the Faculty Co-op Coordinator of their program or their Department Chair prior to registering for the course.
  3. Students must register for their practical experience course with the Registrar to receive academic credit.
  4. Matriculating students in good academic standing who have satisfactorily completed the required course prerequisites and have the approval of their Faculty Co-op Coordinator or Department Chair are eligible to participate.
  5. Students will be considered for practical experience positions with a particular company based upon the employer’s specific needs or requirements. In competitive hiring situations, the employer’s choice is the final determining employment factor.
  6. Students have the responsibility of finding their own housing when employers do not offer it.
  7. Maine Maritime Academy is under no obligation to refer or assist students who voluntarily withdraw from consideration or who refuse a job at an approved co-op site.
  8. The college and its representatives follow all equal employment opportunity guidelines in assisting students to find appropriate jobs to gain practical experience.
  9. A pre-employment drug test through the Academy’s Student Health Services will be required of all students before they participate in a co-op experience.

Marine Practical Training Programs

Candidates for a Third Officer U. S. Coast Guard unlimited license are required to complete the following practical training programs to be eligible for graduation. They must be in training a minimum of three years according to Federal Regulation.

  1. Ship Laboratory (maintenance) and watch standing
  2. Two cruises aboard a training ship (at least 135 days total)
  3. The Cadet Shipping Program (minimum of 60 days for engine cadets; minimum of 90 days for deck cadets)
  4. The Fire Training Program
  5. Lifeboat Training
  6. All Regimental requirements
  7. All Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) required courses

Students majoring in the five-year Marine Systems Engineering program will be allowed to sit for the license exams, if otherwise eligible, at the end of the first semester of the fourth year of their program.

Federal legislation provides that to be eligible for graduation, state maritime students enrolled in the four-year (and five-year) unlimited license majors must have passed the examination for Third Mate or Third Assistant Engineer.

Watch Standing and Ship Laboratory

During non-cruise periods, students in the Regiment are expected to satisfy the watch standing requirements of the Academy. Students are also required to participate in the Ship Laboratory Program to maintain the training vessel and to gain practical shipboard experience.

Training Ship Cruises

Training cruises aboard a training ship are scheduled annually. Students in majors leading to U.S. Coast Guard Third Assistant Engineer/Third Mate licenses are required to participate in these training cruises during the first and third years. Students in non-license majors may elect to do the First Year Cruise as long as they meet the prerequisites listed in the course description for First Year Cruise, and subject to discretion of the Commandant. A U.S. passport and TWIC card are required in order to go on cruises.

For unlimited license students, successful completion of these training cruises, including a sea project and STCW assessments for each cruise, is required for graduation. Four credit hours are awarded for each successfully completed cruise. Cruises aboard the training ships are designed to develop practical skills required of a Third Mate or a Third Assistant Engineer. These skills are developed through watch standing, operating and maintaining the ship, and adapting to life aboard. Successful completion of the first-year cruise is a prerequisite to participation in Cadet Shipping in the sophomore year. Failure of the junior-year cruise must be made up at the completion of the senior year. Students who repeat either cruise will be charged for room, board, and cruise fee.

Requirement to Complete License Exams

Federal legislation requires that to be eligible for graduation, students enrolled in the four-year and five-year unlimited license majors must have passed the examination for Third Mate or Third Assistant Engineer.

US Coast Guard Certifications and License Requirements

Successful completion of the Marine Practical Training Programs and specific courses as prescribed for unlimited license program majors satisfies the prerequisites for U.S. Coast Guard licenses. Training certificates will only be issued to cadets who complete a U.S. Coast Guard approved academic program. This is consistent with academy approval letters issued by the U.S. Coast Guard which indicate that cadets are not entitled to the various endorsements approved under the program, unless the cadets “successfully completes the entire program.” These include:

  • Basic Safety Training
  • Basic and Advanced Firefighting Training
  • USCG Lifeboat Endorsement
  • USCG Radar Observer Certification and ARPA
  • FCC and GMDSS Certification
  • STCW 2010 (Standards of Training Certification and Watch Keeping)

Cadet Shipping Program

During the summer after the sophomore year, in lieu of a cruise aboard a training ship, USCG license students may be assigned to merchant vessels as cadets for further familiarization in shipboard procedures.

In addition to the practical experience gained, students have the opportunity to visit ports of call in the United States and foreign countries. In several cases, students have circumnavigated the globe. Many students find this experience to be a major advantage in finding employment following graduation. It should be pointed out that many students on Cadet Shipping assignments received cadet wage and reimbursement for travel expenses, but compensation for cadet shipping cannot be guaranteed. For engine cadets, a minimum of 60 days is required for this training, which is credited toward the sea service required for an original license in the Merchant Marine. For deck cadets, a minimum of 90 days is required to meet sea-time requirements.

Maine Maritime Academy was the first state maritime academy to incorporate this popular program into its curriculum. It now includes an extensive preparation program aimed at maximizing the learning experience in the real world of shipping. Because of the popularity of the Cadet Shipping program, some of the other state academies have adopted it, with the result being increased competition for available cadet billets. Accordingly, availability of a billet for every student cannot be guaranteed. Any student who does not receive a billet may be assigned to a training ship for cadet shipping.

Each student must submit a satisfactory Sea Project, Cadet Shipping Report, Ship’s Officer’s Evaluation Report, and evidence of sea time to be awarded course credits. Successful completion of the Cadet Shipping program, or sophomore Cadet Shipping on a training ship, is required to be eligible for the junior cruise. Any student failing the Cadet Shipping Program will be required to make up cruise credit by participating in a second Cadet Shipping assignment, if offered, or aboard the Academy training ship.

Lifeboatman Exam

Maine Maritime Academy is authorized by the United States Coast Guard to administer the lifeboatman examination. The comprehensive 70-question, multiple choice examination covers the topics of lifeboats, life rafts, safety and survival at sea.

This examination:

  1. Is required for all USCG license program students.
  2. Is normally scheduled early in the second semester of the students’ first year.
  3. Requires successful completion of NS101 (Nautical Science) as a prerequisite.
  4. Requires the student to register for USCG3 (lifeboatman exam) from their academic plan when registering for spring courses.
  5. Is required in order to participate in CD103 (First Year Cruise-Deck) or CE103 (First Year Cruise-Engine).

Students failing the examination will need to contact the STCW office to sign up for a makeup exam.

Regimental Requirements

Part of the training requirements imposed by federal legislation is the wearing of uniforms and a demerit discipline system. Successful adherence to these requirements as defined in the Regimental Manual is required for graduation. The mission of the Regiment is to help prepare men and women for successful careers as officers in the Maritime Service as well as for careers in science, business, and industry by providing them with leadership and management opportunities in a structured training environment.