Core Curriculum - Same for Marine Option?


Nov 8, 2017
DS is pursuing a career in the Marines via the USNA or NROTC. USNA is first choice. Let's assume he gets in:

With Marine option, does one still have to take all of the Core Curriculum classes (3 years of Calc, 2 years of Physics, etc.) He will be applying for a tier 3 major - and fully understands that this puts him in the 15% pool - however, he is not at all interested in STEM.
Short answer: Yes for USNA. I don't know enough about ROTC to comment on that so the below is ONLY for USNA.

EVERYONE at USNA takes the core curriculum, regardless of major. There are (or were) some tweaks in that Groups 2 and 3 (math/science and humanities majors) take an "easier" version of certain math, science and engineering courses than Group 1 (engineering majors). Or conversely, Group 1 takes a harder track. To be clear, that doesn't mean the courses are "easy," merely that Groups 1 does sort of an AP version compared to everyone else.

And, folks may validate out of certain courses. But everyone must take or validate two years (not 3) of calc + another high level math course, a year of chem, a year (not two) of physics, a year of cyber, a semester of EE, a semester of systems engineering and probably some more STEM that I'm forgetting. Plus navigation courses for (I think) 3 semesters.

USNA has a STEM-oriented curriculum. You don't have to love STEM but you need to be able to be successful at it, even as a Group 3 major. The reason is that, especially in your first two years, STEM courses comprise the majority of your course load. That means they are weighted heavily in your overall grade. So, if you can't/don't do well, your grades will really suffer b/c you don't have enough humanities courses in the first two years to balance out poor STEM grades.

Also, if you don't have any interest in STEM, your first couple of years at USNA will be kind of miserable b/c, again, that's most of your course load. After that, if you're a Group 3 major, the majority of your courses will be in your major/other humanities courses, but you will still have STEM courses throughout your four years.

One other note: There's no such thing as "Marine Option" for USNA. Service assignment is made first class year; until then, there are no guarantees.
Thank you for this. I will pass along.
He is taking AP Physics, AP Calc AB, AP Chem - and does well (Solid B's or A-) He finds these classes quite challenging - which is fine, but is strongly opposed to pursuing a degree in STEM.
The answer is "No" for ROTC students unless it is required by their choice of major.
It is my understanding that USMC cadre will evaluate each Mid applying Marine at USNA. The Major doesn't matter. DD is now Captain USMC as a Chinese Major. Go for it if he wants it whatever the Major.
To follow up on what AF6872 said (which is totally correct), USNA is required to graduate at least 65% STEM majors (Groups 1 and 2 at USNA). The reason is that the USN wants officers with technical degrees b/c the USN is becoming more technical and it's important for officers to understand the technology (in part so they can effectively supervise the enlisted experts). As AF6872 said, the USMC is indifferent to your major.

As an aside, you don't need a STEM major to go into the USN unrestricted line communities. However, if you plan to select nuke (surface or sub), it really helps to be a Group 1/2 major. There are many tales of Group 3 majors who successfully complete the nuke program (I know several), but it's tougher to be selected and those folks probably find the nuclear curriculum more challenging -- not b/c they're less smart but b/c they've had less preparation at USNA.

While unrelated to your major, when you enter USNA, you can't be sure you will be able to go USMC. It's an involved process that includes the screening AF6872 described as well as (successful) completion of Leatherneck (or a SEAL/EDO program). The percentage and number of those able to select USMC each year is pre-determined and has decreased slightly in recent years (after many years of increase). As a general rule, if you do really well at Leatherneck, stand reasonably high in your class, get a strong rec from the USMC cadre, and put down USMC as your first choice, you should receive USMC as your service assignment [it's no longer a "selection" but an "assignment"]. However, that's a lot of "ifs" and needs of the USN/USMC always come first.
Since the OP indicated their son is a h.s. senior just now applying, good to know you don't chose a major or service assignment as part of the application process. All of those things come well after receiving/accepting an appointment. As mentioned above, there is no guarantee you will get your first choice of service selection (various hurdles along the way) and USNA has a STEM-oriented curriculum regardless of which Group you choose.