Higher-Level Course Validation and Overload in Engineering Major

asaren

New Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2021
Messages
9
I am in 10th grade and planning to apply to USNA in a next few years. I am interested to study in Engineering major and if possible, I would like to take all pre-med courses and do some research during 4 years at USNA. I understand that USNA student is obligation to attend classes, unlike civilian college that one can just take an exam without attending classes in some courses. To take all of the courses and research would be too overload without course validation. Unfotunately, most of validatable courses during plebe summer are pre-med required courses, which must be taken in college. Most of the pre-med courses are also not required courses for Engineering major. The only solution that I think is to validate 200 or 300-level or Engineering major courses, but I have not found much useful info about it. The questions I would like to discuss:
- Are those courses validatable? Espcially, Statics, Dynamics, HH215, Chinese3, and Calc3?
- Does anyone validate them before?
- Does the higher-level course validation need college level experience of the same course elsewhere?
- Does community college's course count?
- I am not sure if I have AP Calc BC=5, will I be allow to take Calc3 validation test?
- Is overloading courses like 21-22 credits or 7-8 courses per semester doable? Has anyone done it?
Any suggestion?
 
Last edited:

MidCakePa

DD Oorah! / DS Hooah!
Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
4,098
@asaren, I admire your ambition and foresight. You are to be commended for aiming high and looking ahead. And you seem to have done some due diligence already — wow! That’s a great foundation for a successful mid and naval officer.

Now take a moment for a bit of reality check: USNA is a very grueling place, where you’ll be challenged mentally, physically and emotionally. Unlike civilian college, you’ll have obligations that span academics, athletics and military. As @THParent says above, mids take an unusually heavy load each semester, which includes courses of their own choosing (i.e. their major) and courses required of all mids (i.e. STEM plus military). There’s not a lot of wiggle room beyond that.

In addition, the lower-level required courses set up subsequent upper-level courses, and are themselves no walk in the park. DD aced AP Calc as a 10th grader and got an 800 in SAT math, but succeeded in validating only the first two required Calc courses, having to take the third. She aced AP Chem as an 11th grader and got a 5 in the AP exam, but succeeded in validating only the first required Chem course. Now you may be more accomplished and capable than she is, but I share all that to give you a hint of the validation challenge. Looking back, she knows it benefited her to take Calc 3 and Modern Chem, rather than validating, because they primed her for more STEM challenges ahead.

Unlike top-tier civilian STEM colleges (say, MIT or Caltech), you cannot get away with being purely an academic egghead who studies all day and all night. More is expected of you to be a successful mid. Academics are incredibly valuable and account for the bulk of your OOM that helps dictate mid billets and then warfare community assignments, but you must also show up everyday as a shipmate, leader and athlete. USNA is also a time for building personal relationships, doing silly and stupid things to blow off steam, attending football games, and exploring DTA. Ask yourself if that’s possible with the workload you’re anticipating.

Please know that none of this is meant to discourage you. If you can pull it off — and your primary goal is to become a naval or Marine officer — then more power to you. Just know that success and satisfaction at USNA are all about managing expectations and your precious time. USNA has had more than its fair share of Rhodes and Fulbright and Marshall scholars. But I don’t know how many of them validated 200- or 300-level courses while essentially double-majoring. They seem to be the exception that proves the rule. (Obviously.)

Continue to aim high, but also ensure that your time at USNA is focused on becoming a well-rounded officer who’s ready to lead our finest warriors into battle.
 
Last edited:

HopefulDad2026

No longer hopeful - USNA, USMA 2026 Appointee Dad
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
275
It's an interesting combination you seek, engineering and potentially a medical degree in the future. What is it that you seek to do in the future with that combination? Some sort of research scientist doctor?

I'm not familiar with the medical area, but I would think you might be better picking a degree that gives you a mix. Maybe Chem degree or General Science. Then use the electives to take areas of engineering that you might be more interested in, instead of a whole degree in engineering.

Just my two cents. I'm just a parent hopeful here, many others have more info on the specifics of USNA and what you can or can't accomplish.
 

HopefulDad2026

No longer hopeful - USNA, USMA 2026 Appointee Dad
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
275
Thank for your reply. I have looked at the page. There is no info for 300-level courses.
I'd assume that means you cannot validate them. That's been my experience when reviewing with my son.
 

Don't Give Up the Ship

BGO, USNA 2023 Dad & Former Navy/Merchant Officer
Joined
Jun 21, 2018
Messages
842
OP: take a step back and examine what you want to do AFTER graduation, think of what you want to do as a career. Do you want to be a US Naval or USMC officer? Thats the primary reason to go to USNA. Very few MIDN go to MED school after graduation-very few. Keep reading and asking about USNA on this forum and other sources. Look at the career opportunities that USNA is promoting HERE. Try to discuss this with some current Naval Officers if you can. Get in touch with your BGO and ask for advice.
 
Last edited:

THParent

Founder - Service Academy Bacon Forums (SABF)
Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
5,958
Thank for your reply. I have looked at the page. There is no info for 300-level courses.
I read "Interview/Test" as being quite broad, under Mechanical Engineering. Calculus 1,2, & 3 are also "Interview/Test".
300-level courses are listed here: https://www.usna.edu/MechEngDept/degrees/index.php#fndtn-panel5CourseList

You can validate a bunch of courses if you're some kind of wunderkind - but you can't graduate in less than 4 years - so I'm not sure what the point is here.

From what I understand of the system, college credits earned previously will not transfer. Those credits may get you an interview with a professor however, to possibly take a test and validate a class or two.

As @Don't Give Up the Ship says above, the goal of USNA is to make an officer out of you. You get a bachelor's degree in the process - but make no mistake - being an officer is the goal here. You will be required to serve at least five (5) years of active duty after graduation, and several more years if you manage to get more education (like graduate school) out of the military. If the so-called "free education" is your goal, any service academy is the wrong place for you.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Messages
508
Validating at USNA is a weird game. They let me validate some courses because I went to college beforehand, but most of the classes they are forcing me to retake.
 

NavyHoops

Super Moderator
10-Year Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
7,373
Can you validate many of those courses you listed, yes, but none of us can tell you what USNA will let you validate until you are appointed and there. USNA will look at your high school book of work, there will be some exams, and discussions with an academic advisor to determine all this. Most Mids who are pursuing the Medical Corps path major in Chemistry as it allows the Mids to knock out the pre-reqs needed for med school. Can you major in Engineering and pursue this path, yes. Please ensure to take a look at older threads on Med School. About 10-12 Mids a year are selected for this path. I would say 40-50 start on this path and it slowly takes it toll and most choose another path. If Medical School is the only thing you want to do in the Navy, I would recommend another path. 20-22 credit course load is pretty standard at USNA. Many pursuing Med School will try to knock out a class in summer school as well to lighten a semester. Throw in summer training, a medical internship for another block of summer training (and needed for med school apps), and summer school and no leave. It is possible... ~12 Mids a year prove its possible. I had many friends who went this path, but it is not easy. I had many more friends who started the path and are now many other things than Doctors. Ensure you understand the entire path to becoming a doctor in the military and what "needs of the Navy" means in that context. If you want to be a surgeon and the Navy needs more General Doctors, surgeon won't happen. Would you be happy on a sub, flying or as a SWO... ensure to understand your options. Good luck.
 

justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
6,035
All good stuff already. Here is my bullet point add: what happens if you don’t get selected for the med track? Will you be happy with your plan B? Which could be in a Sub? And NOT going to med school? For 5 years, or more, beyond your schooling??

Something to ponder. Kids think they have everything planned and figured out…then life happens. It’s normal. My own data points, of probably close to 25 of my own kiddos, exchange students, and all their friend groups, is that none of them are doing what they thought they would as far as academic majors. Not one.

Especially at a SA, you have to be OK with plan B’s and even beyond. Oh, and serve our nation. There’s that.

Adding this: you also aren’t GUARANTEED your major selection. You request it, and it’s approved (or not, it does happen). And an ‘overload’ of 21-22 credits is normal. There is also summer school. If spots are available. The thing to keep in mind, is that you aren’t in charge of all of this. USNA is. Yes it can work…but it also may not. And you have to be OK with that.
 
Last edited:

Old Navy BGO

10-Year Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
3,723
I admire your ambition and foresight. You are to be commended for aiming high and looking ahead. And you seem to have done some due diligence already — wow! That’s a great foundation for a successful mid and naval officer.
It's an interesting combination you seek, engineering and potentially a medical degree in the future. What is it that you seek to do in the future with that combination? Some sort of research scientist doctor?

The OP begs the quesiton -- why do you want to attend USNA ? How is the heavy course load going to make you a better Naval Officer ? If OP's objective is to be a rocket scientist or Dr. , there are better path's to achieve these goals. The original post screams "this is about me", but the Mission of the Naval Academy is to "develop Midshipman as officers in the Naval Service. "

I admire the ambition and foresight, and USNA certainly provides a good platform for whatever you want to do in life, but there is some good advice above. First, identify your objective and why you want to attend USNA, second identify what you need to do to make your application competitive, straight A's, high SAT's and community college course alone aren't going to do it- USNA is looking for academic achievement, athletics, leadership and commitment to service. Then, once admitted you can start charting your path toward your academic objectives.

As a final thought, keep in mind, the best plans don't survive first contact with the enemy. Plenty of Midshipman enter USNA with grandiose plans of academic achievement, then run into Plebe Calculus and Chemistry. USNA academics aren't the same as HS, and there are plenty of other activities that draw away from academics. While its great to have plans and ambitions, resilience and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is absolutely necessary at USNA and as a Naval Officer.
 

A1Janitor

Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2018
Messages
3,308
My son had a similar goal entering USNA. He decided to major in Chemistry and add engineering courses. He wanted to become a doctor.

During his plebe academic year, he realized he didn’t like chemistry (despite straight As). So he asked to switch his major to aeronautic engineering. He continues to do very well academically and with the military requirements 2C. The difference now is he is much happier.

Things change. Don’t box yourself in.
 

HopefulDad2026

No longer hopeful - USNA, USMA 2026 Appointee Dad
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
275
All good stuff already. Here is my bullet point add: what happens if you don’t get selected for the med track? Will you be happy with your plan B? Which could be in a Sub? And NOT going to med school? For 5 years, or more, beyond your schooling??

Something to ponder. Kids think they have everything planned and figured out…then life happens. It’s normal. My own data points, of probably close to 25 of my own kiddos, exchange students, and all their friend groups, is that none of them are doing what they thought they would as far as academic majors. Not one.

Especially at a SA, you have to be OK with plan B’s and even beyond. Oh, and serve our nation. There’s that.

Adding this: you also aren’t GUARANTEED your major selection. You request it, and it’s approved (or not, it does happen). And an ‘overload’ of 21-22 credits is normal. There is also summer school. If spots are available. The thing to keep in mind, is that you aren’t in charge of all of this. USNA is. Yes it can work…but it also may not. And you have to be OK with that.
Kind of along this track, is there anywhere that they announce or track what degrees people graduate with from the academy. I understand that you may be an astrophysicist and go Marine ground, or major in History and go Aviation, so they're not tied together. We get the info on service selection, but is there anything where they talk about the graduating classes broken down my degree earned?
 

justdoit19

Proud parent of an ANG, USNA X2, and a MidSib
5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
6,035
Kind of along this track, is there anywhere that they announce or track what degrees people graduate with from the academy. I understand that you may be an astrophysicist and go Marine ground, or major in History and go Aviation, so they're not tied together. We get the info on service selection, but is there anything where they talk about the graduating classes broken down my degree earned?
I’ve not seen that myself. Not sure.
 

nuensis

10-Year Member
Joined
May 23, 2011
Messages
888
I am in 10th grade and planning to apply to USNA in a next few years. I am interested to study in Engineering major and if possible, I would like to take all pre-med courses and do some research during 4 years at USNA. I understand that USNA student is obligation to attend classes, unlike civilian college that one can just take an exam without attending classes in some courses. To take all of the courses and research would be too overload without course validation. Unfotunately, most of validatable courses during plebe summer are pre-med required courses, which must be taken in college. Most of the pre-med courses are also not required courses for Engineering major. The only solution that I think is to validate 200 or 300-level or Engineering major courses, but I have not found much useful info about it. The questions I would like to discuss:
- Are those courses validatable? Espcially, Statics, Dynamics, HH215, Chinese3, and Calc3?
- Does anyone validate them before?
- Does the higher-level course validation need college level experience of the same course elsewhere?
- Does community college's course count?
- I am not sure if I have AP Calc BC=5, will I be allow to take Calc3 validation test?
- Is overloading courses like 21-22 credits or 7-8 courses per semester doable? Has anyone done it?
Any suggestion?
Not going to beat a dead horse; I'll answer the question directly. This was five years ago, so policy may have changed.

Validation policy (outside of what's posted on the website already) depends on the department that owns the course. You will have to ask when you get there. Some departments will take college credit directly. Some will require you to test out. Some will validate the lecture portion of a course, but not the lab.

Language validation exams will happen during Plebe Summer. The exams allow you to validate higher than the AP tests (and are far more difficult than the AP exams). Highest validation for Chinese I saw was up to FC411. Validated courses do not award credit, but may be used to complete core HUM/SS elective requirements and will count towards a minor for Chinese and Arabic only.

Overloading is possible and relatively common. That is something you work out with an academic advisor, and may require academic dean review and approval.

Pre-med at USNA means Chemistry major with biology electives--if you do pretty much anything else, you will not be competitive for Med Corps. If I understand your post correctly, you want to throw an engineering major in there. You're correct in that you would have to validate most of that engineering major before coming to USNA, but engineering department policy may not allow for that. Even if you validate lecture hours, they may not allow you to validate labs, and you'll run into a scheduling problem between engineering lab time and chemistry lab time.

My advice is to pick med or engineering, not both, and be mentally prepared to be a SWO or Submariner at the graduation anyway despite your best efforts.
 

Old Navy BGO

10-Year Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
3,723
I understand that you may be an astrophysicist and go Marine ground, or major in History and go Aviation, so they're not tied together. We get the info on service selection, but is there anything where they talk about the graduating classes broken down my degree earned?
Yes.. you can go into any Service Community from any Major (although I suspect there are preferences in the Service Assignment process , e.g. one of the Cyber majors is probably prefered for the Info Warfare (or whatever it is called) field. There is also a requirement (I think it is statutory , but perhaps less formal) requirement that each graduating class have a certain percentage (I think 70%) of Math ,Science or Engineering majors, so that gives some breakdown. I don't recall seeing a public breakdown of specific majors but my recollection is that it was either listed in the Graduation program or the program for the Commissioning Week Awards event.
 

Heatherg21

USNA mom Bacon Lover Dog Lover
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
3,667
My DS validated a few math courses. USNA did not allow him to validate English, he took them in high school as dual credits, and they reviewed his syllabus and said no. He was approved to take a summer class to make room for a minor. He is an aero major and is doing a research project.

Great advice in this thread.

There are so many opportunities during summers in addition to mandatory training. LREC’s, internships, scholarship travel options etc. I think trying for some of those would be a great choice as well. Have fun while at N*ot college.
 

asaren

New Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2021
Messages
9
It's an interesting combination you seek, engineering and potentially a medical degree in the future. What is it that you seek to do in the future with that combination? Some sort of research scientist doctor?

I'm not familiar with the medical area, but I would think you might be better picking a degree that gives you a mix. Maybe Chem degree or General Science. Then use the electives to take areas of engineering that you might be more interested in, instead of a whole degree in engineering.

Just my two cents. I'm just a parent hopeful here, many others have more info on the specifics of USNA and what you can or can't accomplish
My final goal is to be Physician-Scientist. The reason I would like to do engineering major because I love STEM and engineering courses.

I read "Interview/Test" as being quite broad, under Mechanical Engineering. Calculus 1,2, & 3 are also "Interview/Test".
300-level courses are listed here: https://www.usna.edu/MechEngDept/degrees/index.php#fndtn-panel5CourseList

You can validate a bunch of courses if you're some kind of wunderkind - but you can't graduate in less than 4 years - so I'm not sure what the point is here.

From what I understand of the system, college credits earned previously will not transfer. Those credits may get you an interview with a professor however, to possibly take a test and validate a class or two.

As @Don't Give Up the Ship says above, the goal of USNA is to make an officer out of you. You get a bachelor's degree in the process - but make no mistake - being an officer is the goal here. You will be required to serve at least five (5) years of active duty after graduation, and several more years if you manage to get more education (like graduate school) out of the military. If the so-called "free education" is your goal, any service academy is the wrong place for you.
The OP begs the quesiton -- why do you want to attend USNA ? How is the heavy course load going to make you a better Naval Officer ? If OP's objective is to be a rocket scientist or Dr. , there are better path's to achieve these goals. The original post screams "this is about me", but the Mission of the Naval Academy is to "develop Midshipman as officers in the Naval Service. "

I admire the ambition and foresight, and USNA certainly provides a good platform for whatever you want to do in life, but there is some good advice above. First, identify your objective and why you want to attend USNA, second identify what you need to do to make your application competitive, straight A's, high SAT's and community college course alone aren't going to do it- USNA is looking for academic achievement, athletics, leadership and commitment to service. Then, once admitted you can start charting your path toward your academic objectives.

As a final thought, keep in mind, the best plans don't survive first contact with the enemy. Plenty of Midshipman enter USNA with grandiose plans of academic achievement, then run into Plebe Calculus and Chemistry. USNA academics aren't the same as HS, and there are plenty of other activities that draw away from academics. While its great to have plans and ambitions, resilience and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is absolutely necessary at USNA and as a Naval Officer.
Thank you for your advice. The reasons I tried to validate those course is to have free time to do reseach in the final year. I also want to serve in Navy.
 
Last edited:

HopefulDad2026

No longer hopeful - USNA, USMA 2026 Appointee Dad
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
275
My goal is to be Physician-Scientist. The reason I would like to do engineering major because I love STEM and engineering courses.
Many insights are provided that lead me to believe both are NOT impossible, but likely NOT probable. Also that USNA or any academy may not be the best choice. Many postings in here about the medical option and how long it takes to get through it after your 9 yr academy + service commitment. Then you could start med school, at approximately age 27 at the earliest. Stuff like that. Make sure you research it.

Seems like you have great ambition and goals. Whatever you decide to do I wish you all the best.
 
Top