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Merchant Marine Deck & Engineering Officer Programs and Deegree Programs in Maritime Technology at GLMA, Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City

great lakes maritime academy nmc

Located on West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA) will prepare you for the challenge of operating commercial ships as a deck or engineering officer. A core maritime curriculum for students who enter the Academy with a Bachelor's degree is also available. Upon completion of all requirements, you are prepared to write the US Coast Guard examination for licensing as deck or engineering officers.

You'll learn seamanship, navigation and piloting or steam and diesel engineering with up to 276 days of sea time. The training ship State of Michigan is used daily as a floating classroom, a hands-on learning environment and sets sail several times a year to reinforce skills taught shore side. Upon graduation, you’ll discover exceptional employment opportunities and salaries.

Founded in 1951, Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) is a community college located at Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan. NMC serves more than 50,000 learners annually. NMC offers associate degrees and professional certificates, and bachelor's degrees through the Great Lakes Maritime Academy and Great Lakes Water Studies Institute. Apart from these programs, the University Center offers bachelors, graduate and doctoral degree programs through its partner universities. NMC's extensive Extended Education program offers a wide array of non-credit classes to more than 10,000 local residents annually.

state of michigan nmc

Cadet & Officer Programs

Deck Programs


  • Deck Officer (4 years): The Great Lakes Maritime Academy prepares students for the challenge of operating commercial ships of unlimited tonnage on the Great Lakes and oceans as merchant marine officers and business professionals. Deck officers train to become pilots and mates, navigating ships through open waters and narrow harbors — ships which may stretch to one thousand feet in length. Deck Officers manage the deck department and oversee loading and discharging of cargo, and are responsible for the ship’s business.
  • Deck Officer (3 years): For those entering with a completed bachelor's degree

Engineering Programs

  • Engineering Officer (4 years): The Great Lakes Maritime Academy prepares students for the challenge of operating commercial ships of unlimited tonnage on the Great Lakes and oceans as merchant marine officers. Engineering officers are responsible for the efficient operation and maintenance of engines and support machinery aboard ship. The vessel may be diesel powered with multiple engines or turbine powered operating on high pressure steam, capable of generating thousands of horsepower. The Marine Engineer must understand these systems and keep them operating 24/7. Engineering Officers are also responsible for the ship’s business as associated with all onboard equipment and mechanical aspects of the vessel.
  • Power Plant Facilities Operator: The Power Plant Facilities Operator Program is designed to prepare individuals for the maintenance and power production industries such as power plants, hospitals, industrial plants, and manufacturing plants. Students will have hands-on experience through labs and internships for practical training that is beneficial to the application and understanding of the career path they have chosen.
  • Strategic Sealift Officer Program (SSOP): This is not a separate academic program, but rather a series of coursework that supplements your cadet experience. This program is open to all students who are participating in a Coast Guard unlimited license program. Students normally apply and start Naval Science training at the beginning of their freshman year.

Marine Technology Degree Programs

  • BS in Maritime Technology (Deck Officer): This program prepares future merchant marine officers/business professionals for the challenge of operating commercial ships of unlimited tonnage on the Great Lakes and oceans. Deck officers train to become pilots and mates, navigating ships through open waters and narrow harbors - ships which may stretch to one thousand feet in length and displace thousands of tons. Deck Officers manage the deck department, oversee loading and discharging of cargo and are responsible for the ship’s business. All qualified deck cadets write the U.S. Coast Guard examination for licensing as a Third Mate Great Lakes and any Oceans Unlimited Tonnage and First Class Great Lakes Pilot. Graduates are fully compliant with STCW International Quality Standards. The four-year curriculum awards a Bachelor of Science Degree in Maritime Technology. For those entering with a bachelor's degree, an accelerated three-year program also awards the bachelor's degreeCadets in the Deck Officer Program complete three onboard projects while completing their academic curriculum.
  • BS in Maritime Technology (Engineering Officer): Engineering officers are responsible for the efficient operation and maintenance of engines and support machinery aboard ship. The vessel may be diesel powered with multiple engines or turbine powered operating on high pressure steam, capable of generating thousands of horsepower. The Marine Engineer must understand these systems and keep them operating 24/7. Engineering Officers are also responsible for the ship’s business as associated with all onboard equipment and mechanical aspects of the vessel. All qualified engineering cadets write the U.S. Coast Guard examination for licensing as a Third Assistant Engineer, Steam and Motor Vessels of any Horsepower. Graduates are fully compliant with STCW International Quality Standards. Marine Engineers are also qualified to maintain land-based power plant facilities. The curriculum awards a Bachelor of Science degree in Maritime Technology. For those entering with a bachelor's degree, an accelerated program may be available dependent upon transferable credits. Cadets in the Engineering Officer Program complete three sea projects while completing their academic curriculum.

U.S. Naval Reserves

  • Strategic Sealift Midshipmen Program (SSMP): This is not a separate academic program, but rather a series of coursework that supplements your cadet experience. Select students of the SSMP program are eligible to receive Student Incentive Pay (SIP) towards their education. In addition to your academic courses, midshipmen take two additional Naval Science courses, MNS 200 and 250. You wear prescribed Navy uniforms during military labs, drills, military science presentations and other practical training activities. These programs offer a taste of military life, and round out your military training.

Professional & Continuing Education

  • Radar Observer Unlimited (5 days)
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) (12 days)
  • Able Seaman (AB) & Proficiency In Survival Craft (PSC-Lifeboat) (12 days)
  • Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED FOWT) (12 days)
  • Electronic Chart Display And Information System (ECDIS) (5 days)
  • Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) (4 days)
  • Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting (This course is offered by the Northwest Regional Fire Training Center located in Traverse City, Michigan)

GLMA Features


The Great Lakes Maritime Academy is more than a college experience: As the state maritime academy of Michigan, The college educates and trains the finest deck and engineering officers available to the commercial shipping industry.The Academy also prepares college students to become merchant marine officers and business professionals in the global marketplace. The training ship State of Michigan is utilized daily as a floating classroom and hands-on learning environment. The ship set sail at various times throughout the academic year to reinforce the skills taught shoreside. As cadets progress through the Academy, they learn industry first hand by completing essential sea time aboard commercial ships of the Great Lakes and oceans.

  • Campus Location: The Academy is located on West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, Michigan.
  • Accreditation: Graduates are fully compliant with STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping). The college is approved by the U.S. Maritime Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Michigan Department of Education.
  • Undergraduate Major Areas: Maritime Technology, Maritime Engineering Technology, Power Systems and Business Administration
  • Educational Partners: As part of Northwestern Michigan College, the Academy holds its classes in Traverse City, Michigan. With the partnership of Ferris State University, cadets simultaneously earn their maritime credentials and a bachelor's degree in business administration. This combination enables graduates to better compete for management level positions in any area of employment.
  • Co-ops/Internships: Students have opportunities for hands-on experience through labs, internships and sea projects apart from on board sea training.
  • The Shipboard Training Program: The training ship State of Michigan is utilized daily as a floating classroom and hands-on learning environment.
  • Marine Facilities: The Maritime Academy is home to the 224-foot former Navy submarine surveillance ship Persistent, which is now T/S State of Michigan. The vessel is relatively new, having been built in 1986 as part of a series of 18 Stalwart-class T-AGOS vessels designed to tow highly sensitive sonar arrays for the tracking of Soviet submarines. As the Soviet threat diminished in the 1990s, the Navy decided to decommission the T-AGOS fleet, and in 1998 Persistent and sister ship Vindicator were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard for primary use in drug interdiction. Apart from the above, GLMA has a 41-foot utility boat, a 56-foot aluminum hull twin-engine research vessel, and 45-f00t vessel the Anchor Bay
  • Cadet Housing: Living arrangements are at the discretion of the cadet, unless you are under 20 years of age. This group of cadets will be required to live one year in a residence hall. Cadets over 20 years of age may also request to live in a residence hall or campus apartment if you desire. Living on campus promotes group study among the cadets. Many of the cadets choose the convenience of on-campus housing at Northwestern Michigan College. NMC has both residence hall and apartment living options.

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