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U.S. Naval Community College Begins Pilot II; Accepts Applications Starting Oct. 1

29 September 2021

From Story by Chief Petty Officer Alexander Gamble, U.S. Naval Community College 

QUANTICO, Va. — The U.S. Naval Community College is set to take applications for the first phase of its Pilot II program starting Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

The USNCC Pilot II program offers active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen an opportunity to earn a naval-relevant associate degree, a naval studies certificate, and a professional certificate in one of seven concentration areas at no cost to the service member.

“The U.S. Naval Community College enables our enlisted members to be life-long learners, growing both personally and professionally,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason M. Vanderhaven. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have Coast Guard members participate with the USNCC and I look forward to an enduring successful partnership.”

The courses for the USNCC are offered in an online and asynchronous format, allowing the service member the flexibility to earn their degree while still focusing on their mission.

“This is something that I wish I had when I was a young Marine,” said Sgt. Maj. Mike Hensley, sergeant major for the Marine Corps’ Education Command and Marine Corps University. “When Lance Cpl. Hensley wanted to go to school, someone would have to drive out to the training field, pick me up, take me to my class, and then drive me back out to the field to finish training. Requests like that were not often approved.”

Now, as long as the service member has access to the internet, these educational opportunities can be done during off-duty hours without having to meet at a specific time or location. This flexibility makes active duty enlisted education more accessible.

“Part of our covenant with Sailors when we recruit them is that in appreciation for their willingness to defend our nation, we return them to society better postured to find success in any endeavor,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith. “More importantly during their time in service, this advances our fleet performance, provides warfighting advantages, and ensures that the development of our naval leaders remains a priority.”

The USNCC plans to accept and enroll up to 5,500 active duty enlisted Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard students by the end of Pilot II. This will include associate degree programs in coordination with our partnership schools in Military Studies, Cybersecurity, Nuclear Engineering, Data Analytics, Aviation Maintenance, Organizational Leadership, and Logistics.

“By helping to form a foundation for lifelong learning and developing critical thinking skills, the United States Naval Community College simultaneously makes the naval service more lethal, while allowing enlisted personnel to achieve their personal educational goals by leveraging military job skills and training to earn credits toward college degrees,” said Sgt. Maj. Troy E. Black, sergeant major of the Marine Corps.

Each degree program at the USNCC has an embedded five-course, 15-credit naval studies certificate which makes up a quarter of each associate degree.

“The naval core provides context so they know how their new skill fits into the job they are going to be doing as a military member,” said retired Navy commander Russ Evans, the associate dean of naval studies at the USNCC. “We are trying to find an advantage over our adversary. You may know how to do the thing you are trained to do. We’re going to give you the critical thinking skills to translate that new skill you got from school, and leverage it academically for your unit or organization. A lot of times, people think of enlisted members as technicians, but they are more than that. We’re putting more responsibility on junior service members, so we need to better prepare them for these critical thinking skills to see how their mission fits into the larger picture.”

This naval core allows Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen to provide insights from their own services’ perspectives in an educational environment. Evans said that this allows these service members to understand joint service operations before they are in a real-life, high-stress situation. “When you can do that across services, your ability to innovate will grow tremendously,” said Evans.

Starting Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. EDT, active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen will be able to fill out an application on the USNCC website, The first courses will start in January 2022.

The United States Naval Community College is the community college for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. To get more information about the U.S. Naval Community College, go to Click on the student interest form link to learn how to be a part of the USNCC Pilot II program.


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