SSMP Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Is there an opportunity to qualify for a scholarship if I get accepted into the Strategic Sealift Midshipman Program (SSMP)?  
Answer:  SSMP Midshipmen do not qualify for ROTC scholarships.  However, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) offers the Student Incentive Pay (SIP) Program.  Please review the SIP page for more information.

Question:  What is the difference between SSMP and NROTC?

Answer:  NROTC produces active duty officers in the Navy and Marine Corps and gives academic scholarships to qualified Midshipmen.  The SSMP produces Navy Reserve officers in the SSOP and does not provide the opportunity for scholarships.

Question:  I would like to join the SSMP at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA).  How do I proceed?
Answer:  If you are interested in the SSMP and want to start the application process, you can contact the MMA Department of Naval Science (DNS) via phone or e-mail (e-mail is preferable), or you can stop by the MMA DNS office.  Please also see the application process.

Question:  I am an incoming freshman and concerned about adding extra commitments to an already busy schedule.  How much extra time is required and how can I prepare for this?

Answer:  This is a very common concern for incoming freshmen.  Participation in our program requires 4 hours per week outside of normal academic schedule on a regular basis.  There may be an occasional week with an extra time commitment, however, we plan well ahead and you will be made aware in advance so that you can plan and communicate accordingly.  Most of our Midshipmen have found that their time management skills improved greatly and actually ‘found more time’ in their week for other activities.  DNS Staff also work with the Commandant of Cadets, Faculty, and other departments to mitigate overlapping time requirements.  Many of our Midshipmen are also members of at least one sport and are able to manage their time and commitments easily.  Again, DNS staff provide years of experience and many ‘tools’ to help those that may need to improve their time management and prioritization skills.

Question:  How does the DoDMERB medical examination work? 
Answer:  You must be cleared by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) in order to be accepted into the MMA SSMP.  You will receive information on how to complete this exam by DNS staff once you start the SSMP application process.  Seniors in high school may and are encouraged to complete the DODMERB exam before the start of their first term at MMA.

Question:  Do we have to pass a physical fitness test?
Answer:  In order to be accepted into the MMA SSMP, prospective Midshipmen must pass (“Good-Low” for 20-24 age group or better) the Navy Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA), which consists of the Body Composition Assessment (BCA) and Physical Readiness Test (PRT).  High school seniors who have started the SSMP application process will be contacted by DNS staff towards the end of their senior year to schedule a PFA before the start of their first term at MMA.  Those high school seniors who are not able to complete a PFA before their first term at MMA will be able to complete a PFA during the first few weeks of their first term.  Current SSMP Midshipmen will be tested by DNS staff on a recurring basis.

Question:  How can I prepare for the physical fitness test?

Answer:  To get the best information, contact the DNS Interested Applicant Coordinator using the information found on the SSMP Eligibilty and Application page, who will provide you with accurate and up-to-date material.  In short, you need to practice performing the PFA.  There is a short warm-up (about ten exercises to warm up the muscles and cardiovascular system); followed by performing maximum curl-ups within 2 minutes.  You will then get a 2 minute break, followed by performing maximum push-ups within 2 minutes.  You will then get a 5 minute break, followed by running 1.5 miles within the prescribed time period.  The test may not appear that demanding, however, many individuals struggle with the PFA if they are not prepared.  There are also rules regarding form and execution of curl-ups and push-ups that, if not performed correctly, will not count.  Depending on your current level of physical activity and fitness, you may need more time to prepare for this.  Proper diet and nutrition are also important to ensure that you are within the prescribed height and weight standards.

Question:  Will there be an interview?
Answer:  DNS staff will interview all prospective midshipmen.  The interview is generally the final step in the MMA SSMP application process, and can be conducted before a student starts his/her first term at MMA.  The interview is a face-to face assessment method used to determine a candidate’s potential as a future Naval Officer.

Question:  Is there a GPA requirement to enter/stay in the program?
Answer:  Yes.  For entrance into the program, your high school/college GPA is weighed heavily.  Current midshipmen must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and a 2.5 term GPA to be in “good standing”.  Failure to maintain academic standards will result in disciplinary action up to and including disenrollment from the MMA SSMP.    

Question:  This program is only offered to Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering majors.  What happens if I enter the program and later decide to switch out of one of these two majors?
Answer:  If at any point you decide to pursue a major other than Marine Transportation or Marine Engineering, you will no longer be eligible for the program.

Question:  Can I participate in the SSMP and go active duty upon graduation?
Answer:  This is a Reserve Officer program, but there are limited opportunities to apply for active duty.  There are a finite number of billets available to MMA (as well as the other maritime schools), and the selection process is highly competitive.  Because an active duty commission is not guaranteed,  it is recommended that you pursue other avenues if you strongly desire to go active duty.

Question:  What are some of the activities that the SSMP Battalion performs?

Answer:  SSMP activities are very similar to that of NROTC.  Military Labs are conducted on Monday afternoons for two hours.  Physical training is conducted Wednesday mornings before class.  Rifle Drill is conducted on Friday mornings before class.  There is typically one community service event and one social event per semester.  Additionally, Battalion staff (senior midshipmen) and DNS staff provide General Military Training and instruction on the Navy Core Values during regularly scheduled meetings.

Question:  What academic courses are SSMP Midshipmen required to complete?

Answer:  Midshipmen are required to complete four Naval Science courses: Naval Science for Strategic Sealift Officer, Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO) I, Leadership and Ethics, and SSO II (Commissioning Seminar).  The first two courses are offered every semester and the last two are offered in the fall and spring of Senior year.  All courses taught by the Department of Naval Science are treated as normal courses by the Academy and most are worth 3 credit hours.

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