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Great Lakes Maritime Academy

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy is a public college (not military regimented) that provides education and training to cadets seeking a career in the merchant marine. The Academy prepares students to become merchant marine officers and business professionals.

Fast Facts


The training ship is the students’ floating classroom, where they gain hands-on experience. Classes set sail several times a year to reinforce the skills that were learned shoreside. As cadets progress in their training, they complete additional sea time abroad commercial ships in the Great Lakes and in the ocean. Shoreside classes take place in Traverse City, Michigan, through the Academy’s partnership with
Northwestern Michigan College. The academy also has a partnership with Ferris State University, which enables cadets to earn their maritime credentials at the same time as earning a bachelor's degree in business administration—making graduates uniquely qualified for management-level positions. This program integrates two years of maritime curriculum and three semesters at sea.

One of only a handful of maritime academies in the country, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy is the only freshwater maritime academy. After completing classes and at-sea time, cadets can pursue a license as a third mate great lakes and oceans unlimited tonnage or first class great lakes pilot. The Academy boasts a 100% job placement rate for cadets, whether they pursue a career in ship navigation and piloting, ship engine and mechanical operations management, or import/export industry opportunities.

During the day, cadets are busy with classes, lab work, and shipboard training. They may also choose to
sail during summer semester or take additional classes. Most evenings and weekends are free for students to work part time on or off campus, or to join organizations such as the sailing club, propeller club, or international shipmasters association. Cadets who are under 20 years old are required to live one year in the residence hall. Many cadets who are older also choose to do so for added convenience.