Photo courtesy of Georgian College

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan, is the only state Maritime Academy located on the Great Lakes. The Academy offers a four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and 3rd Assistant licensing program for prospective Engineer officers. Deck officers earn their BS degree, 3rd Mate License and First Class Great Lakes Pilotage credentials. It is the only maritime academy in the country to offer First Class Great Lakes Pilotages training and licensing. These programs also lead to Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certifications.

For further information on available programs and courses, visit:

There are six other maritime academies in the United States that offer similar programs:

Educational Institution State Contact
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy New York 516-726-5812
California Maritime Academy California 707-654-1000
Maine Maritime Academy Maine 207-326-2220
Massachusetts Maritime Academy Massachusetts 508-830-5002
Texas A&M Maritime Academy Texas 877-322-4443
SUNY Maritime College New York 718-409-7270

The Maritime Administration offers the Student Incentive Program. This program offers students up to $8,000 per year to help in covering tuition fees, room and board, and supplies. For more information visit the Maritime Administration.

Other U.S. educational institutions offering training opportunities are affiliated with maritime labor unions. These schools typically offer unlicensed apprentice programs for deck, engine and steward departments as well as skills upgrading courses for mariners who are looking for development opportunities. See the table below for information on programs specific to each institution.

Educational Institution State Contact
Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education Maryland 877-235-3275
Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) & Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI) Maryland & Washington 866-656-5568
Calhoon M.E.B.A Engineering School Maryland 410-822-9600
Star Center Florida 954-921-7254

For a complete list of courses and institutions approved and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, visit the following website:

Great Lakes Maritime-Themed High Schools

Toledo Maritime Academy: This maritime high school based in Toledo, Ohio, offers three-year programs preparing students to work in entry-level positions aboard ships (deck, engine and stewards) upon graduation, as well as receiving the proper documentation necessary for shipboard work. For more information, contact 419-244-9999,

Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School: This high school is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and operated by PHASTAR, opened in August 2017 for freshman. For more information, contact 440-941-0480,

Maritime-Themed Middle School

The Charter School of Excellence’s Maritime Center located in Erie, Pennsylvania.


In both the U.S. and Canada, a complex system of endorsements and licensing exists to match the different occupations aboard different vessel types. Generally, the employer or union provides the necessary information on requirements (sea time, education, etc.) for various shipboard positions. In the U.S., each mariner must, at a minimum, hold two documents:

  1. Photo courtesy of Georgian College

    Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) issued by the Transportation Security Administration, which is an identification card required for anyone who wishes to access and work in secured and regulated areas or on vessels; and

  2. Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC) issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, which serves as proof for a mariner’s qualifications.

In order to apply for an MMC, one must first obtain a TWIC.

The U.S. Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers for the Great Lakes region is in Toledo, Ohio:

U.S. Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers can be found in various places across the country. To find the nearest one, visit:

For information on requirements for licenses and ratings for specific shipboard positions, use USCG’s credential specific checklists: