marine transportation cadet steering a small tug

Marine Transportation

Undergraduate Degree


The Marine Transportation (MTRA) program prepares cadets for careers as licensed ship deck officers. Cadets build a foundation to transfer into management and operations positions within the intermodal, transporta- tion, and petroleum industries.

Skills are learned through extensive theoretical education that is applied practically via navigation, seamanship, ship construction, ship handling, and stability. Cadets graduate with an ability to stand proper and safe navigational and deck watches at the Third Mate level per STCW requirements. Cadets train on campus in state-of-the-art ship simulators as well as aboard commercial vessels and Academy training vessels.

Four sea terms are required and graduates must pass examinations conducted by the United States Coast Guard in order to qualify as third mate, steam, and motor vessels of unlimited tonnage on the oceans. Licensure also requires completing Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) requirements.


When students study Marine Transportation, they can embark upon an exciting career onboard or on land, well prepared to navigate the winds of change in today’s maritime environment and apply what they’ve learned to real life situations. With our unique combination of hands-on, onboard and classroom learning, exciting possibilities are available.

Required coursework for this program is as follows:

  • Students receive extensive theoretical and practical training in navigation, seamanship, ship construction, design and damage control
  • Training on state-of-the-art ship and tugboat simulators and hands-on experience aboard Academy training vessels
  • Four terms at sea, including one aboard a commercial vessel

View Curriculum 

Career Paths are numerous. Many of our majors go on to work in the civilian maritime industry both afloat and ashore. Graduating with an Unlimited Tonnage, any Oceans License allows you to work on any type of vessel as a navigation watch officer and in charge of cargo loading and deck operations.

You could choose to work on the largest container vessel or cruise ship sailing the world’s oceans or stay closer to home aboard a tugboat, yacht, or ferry. Choosing to stay ashore your B.S. of Marine Transportation degree and shipboard knowledge prepares you for management and operations positions within the transportation, intermodal and petroleum industries.

 Possible positions for a Marine Transportation major include:

  • Third Mate or navigation officer on oceangoing ships
  • Mate on a tugboat
  • Many of our graduates have gone on to work for organizations such Military Sealift Command, Maersk, American Maritime Officers, Kirby Corporation, Moran Towing or McDonough Marine.

Onboard our ship or tug boats, cadets put their classroom knowledge right to work, improving their vessel handling and decision-making skills along the way.

Simulation is one of the most significant innovations in maritime training and Marine Transportation majors have ample opportunity to practice a variety of technical skills such as navigation, rules of the road and shiphandling on our full spectrum of simulators, including radar, electronic chart display and full-mission bridge simulators. The exercises are challenging, feedback is immediate, and cadets can participate in scenarios at or above their skill level to practice for the real world.

The MTRA program includes approximately 50 days of practical shipboard training each year to satisfy STCW requirements for sea service. Shipboard training typically takes place during the annual sea term. Students gain practical experience either aboard the USTS Kennedy or aboard commercial merchant ships to experience the maritime industry first-hand. The MTRA major requires students to complete four sea terms.



  1. Acquired knowledge, experience and training needed to obtain the necessary licenses, certificates and documentation for a Third Mate's position on any U.S. Flag vessel sailing upon Oceans.
  2. Ability to stand proper and safe Navigational and Deck watches at the Third Mate level.
  3. An inculcated sense of honor, decency and ethics that will allow our graduates to bring credit to Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Upon completion of your Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation degree, you will earn a US Coast Guard Unlimited Tonnage Third Officer and 100 Ton Master Credential with International STCW Certifications.