Graduate school after navy service (NUPOC)

I’m planning on signing up to the navy through the NUPOC program. In short, after graduation, you’re commissioned as an officer and put in charge of maintaining a nuclear reactor on a ship. This would put a 5 year gap in between graduating with my bachelor’s and applying to graduate school.

The experience that I get as a nuke could demonstrate the characteristics needed to succeed in graduate school, but the experience itself has nothing to do with the field I’m looking to do research in (chemistry). Would it be especially difficult to get into graduate school with this? Thanks in advance.

I don’t see how - I think it’s great experience. My only concern would be would you forget what you learned in undergrad since it’s a major that builds upon undergrad.

I think many colleges want work experience and this is leadership and more.

And thanks for your impending service.

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Where will your LORs coming from?

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Vega, I went to grad school at UIUC on an Illinois Veteran’s Grant after serving as a Marine officer. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Are you currently an undergrad student, or are you applying to undergrad programs for the Fall? It appears that NUPOC can pay as much as $175K up to 30 months prior to graduating with your BS. Are there restrictions on how you use the money? Do you have to use it for tuition? Do you have to use it for your undergrad, or can you save it for grad school? If you are applying to undergrad now and can save your NUPOC money, you may want to look at a school with a ROTC program. I am not sure if you could do this, but it is worth exploring.

  2. When you enlist in the Navy you will fill out a mountain of paperwork. One of the forms will be a sign-up for the GI Bill. Sign-up for it. When I was in, the DOD took $1,200 out of my paycheck the first year of my contract, then I was eligible for up to $450/month for a four year degree. You cannot beat that ROI.

  3. The Navy nuclear program is very prestigious, selective and rigorous. Having served as a Navy nuclear officer will be valuable credential when applying to graduate schools or jobs.

  4. Generally, the military supports continuing education for active duty personnel, especially those in technical fields. You should explore programs where you might get a masters while on active duty.

  5. Some states, like Illinois, have special programs where veterans can go to a state school for free, or a deep discount. These programs will require that you have residency in that state for some period before you enlist. Check your home state to see if they have such a program. You might get your masters for free, and many public universities are strong in engineering and the sciences. Here are some public universities that are highly ranked in Chemistry: Cal-Berkeley (#2), UIUC (#6), UW-Madison (#9), UCLA (#15), UofM (#15), UNC-Chapel Hill (#15), UT-Austin (#15), Penn State (#20), Cal-Irvine (#20) and Cal-San Diego (#20).

  6. I doubt that Navy OCS is as physically demanding as Marine OCS, but it will not be easy. The failure rate for my company was over 40%. The goal of OCS is to weed out the non-hackers, and you will be stressed and tested, physically and mentally. Get into good shape before you go to OCS.


LORs could come from those above me on the chain of command, or from my old professors at my university.

Check out the service academy forums. Lots of good threads and you can ask anything.

A LoR from your chain of command will carry little weight. They likely did not get PhDs in chemistry, so how can they speak to your preparation, aptitude, and likelihood for success?

Professors don’t have that issue, but they will not have seen you for five years.

I think you need to think this through. I’m not saying this is impossible, but you need a plan.

MIT, I would not be surprised if the OP’s commanding officers had advanced degrees in engineering and the physical sciences from highly ranked universities. While they will not be able to evaluate the OP in a classroom, they will be familiar with his performance in a far more demanding real world technical environment.