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How does grad school work for USCGA graduates? Does it count as a tour? Does the USCG pay for it, or do graduates pay out of pocket? Or do they use the GI Bill instead? Are USCGA graduates even eligible for any GI Bill benefits? Does the USCG have a say in what you will study, or are you given free reign to choose? Lastly, how does name recognition play into getting into grad school at other top tier institutions? Is it comparable to USNA/USMA/USAFA in the eyes of admissions? Lastly, does anyone have direct experience with grad school from a service academy? Feel free to share!
 

Capt MJ

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While awaiting answers to your veritable monsoon of questions (but all good ones), use the Search function to browse all the SA forums and the Life After the Academy. There are dozens of threads on graduate education.

All the services have multiple programs for officers to get a funded post-grad degree in a service-approved field, either as a full-time AD tour, or after-hours during a regular duty tour.

Very generally speaking, most SA/ROTC/OCS/OTS grads go to their field/operational/professional/training pipeline tours first, and a few years later, have an opportunity for full-time grad school. There is also distance learning and on-base locations of university extension classes, which is funded through Tuition Assistance. Most programs require some years of obligated service time, which may run concurrently or consecutively with SA obligated service time.

You can read all about the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at va.gov. SA grads get 100% eligibility 36 months of AD service after their SA obligated service ends.

SA grads usually don’t have a problem getting into grad school programs. Grad schools are familiar with SA rigor and the mature, disciplined students they produce who have shouldered real-world responsibilities in operational settings.

I am sure someone will pop up with specifics on post-USCGA options; my comments are only broad brush strokes. Having a Master’s by mid-career is the norm for officers.
 
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trackandfield08

USCGA 2014
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How does grad school work for USCGA graduates? Does it count as a tour? Does the USCG pay for it, or do graduates pay out of pocket? Or do they use the GI Bill instead? Are USCGA graduates even eligible for any GI Bill benefits? Does the USCG have a say in what you will study, or are you given free reign to choose? Lastly, how does name recognition play into getting into grad school at other top tier institutions? Is it comparable to USNA/USMA/USAFA in the eyes of admissions? Lastly, does anyone have direct experience with grad school from a service academy? Feel free to share!

OP, great questions - I'll try to answer them the best I can.

There are three ways a USCGA graduate attends graduate school - as a Coast Guard tour, as a "side gig" during a tour, or after they leave the Coast Guard. There are also three ways to pay for the grad school - the Coast Guard foots the entire bill (if you're doing grad school as tour), Tuition Assistance (Coast Guard pays up to a certain amount per credit hour), or the GI Bill. Right now, I am working while also attending grad school using the GI Bill. I have several classmates that have completed or enrolled in CG-funded grad school programs, to include law school. The only reason why I am using the GI Bill is my program is typically awarded to O-4s for the Coast Guard tour option and I didn't want to wait longer to go.

So yes, the Coast Guard is eligible for GI Bill benefits - but as a CGA graduate, you must serve your five year commitment first, and then accrue another 36 months of service to get your 100% eligibility. That was not the case for my class and earlier as the original GI Bill legislation forgot to write in USCGA graduates as people who needed to serve their five year commitment first - sometimes there are benefits to being forgotten!

You can choose anything you like, unless you want to do a CG tour - then. you choose from this list: https://www.uscga.edu/graduate-programs/

I can't speak to how comparable the "name brand of CGA" is to institutions but I had no problem with applying to schools and I know of several people attending very good schools, including Ivy League institutions.

Edit: An important caveat I neglected to mention - if you go to grad school or use Tuition Assistance, you also need to pay that money back in additional service time. I think the payback for a Coast Guard grad school tour is roughly another 3-4 years.
 
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Bash On

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I saw a lot of Coasties when I was at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Mostly O-3s, a few O-2s and O-4s, and a rare O-1. BTW, NPS is a great gig in beautiful Monterey, Calif., and tuition-free!
 

USCGAFL

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Like other SAs, you will have grad school opportunities once you serve in required leadership positions (4-6 years) and achieve the rank of O-3. As a West Point grad, I had to serve as a Platoon Leader and Company Commander so that I would be competitive with my peers for future promotion before moving on to grad school opportunities. I knew that I wanted to make the Army a career so I chose to use Tuition Assistance because I was not worried about incurring an additional service obligation. As a result, I was able to transfer my GI Bill to my daughter who utilized it to pay for her 4 year nursing degree.
 
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trackandfield08

USCGA 2014
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Like other SAs, you will have grad school opportunities once you serve your initial tour (4-5 years) and achieve the rank of O-3.

You do not have to wait that long - it is possible to apply and be accepted to a Coast Guard graduate school program as a O2 and use your 3rd and 4th year of grad school to get your degree. The ones who did it from my class were mostly engineering majors. You can also use Tuition Assistance as soon as you want - you just have to be okay with accruing more payback time while you're doing it and paying for some of the costs out of pocket.

Also, your initial tour is not 4-5 years. At most, it is three years - and that's if you get an Operations Ashore or Cyber gig. All cutter tours are 2 years unless you request to extend and flight school is roughly 2 years if the wait to start isn't too long.
 

Bash On

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I forgot to add: you could even get a graduate degree while you are on your tour. My NPS degree (MA in Security Studies--Homeland Security and Defense) was a combined online/in-residence program. There were three Coasties in the class who maintained their CG assignments during the program. IIRC, one was a TACLET officer, one worked at the CG HQ in DC, and I forgot what the third did.
 
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