1.0    Introduction

This article provides an overview of United States Navy Seaman to Admiral 21 Programme (STA-21), sometimes referred to as the STA-21 Programme or Naval Science Institute (NSI).

The programme of instruction undertaken by officer candidates during STA-21 was designed by Navy officers and educators to give candidates a basic working knowledge of the high-tech Navy establishment afloat and ashore.

It prepares candidates to assume responsibilities as Navy Officers by pushing them to work to their full potential. STA-21 is demanding, both physically and mentally, and only those with a strong desire to become Navy Officers will successfully graduate. Upon completion, future officers are commissioned as Ensigns with a minimum 5-year obligation from date of appointment.

This article is divided into four parts for easier reading. Part One is the background including a brief history. Part Two describes the training hierarchy, whilst Part Three outlines the training undertaken during STA-21. Part Four provides some useful publications and links, and finally references.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to describe the training process for those seeking to become a commissioned officer in the United States Navy through the Naval Science Institute or Seaman to Admiral 21 Programme.

STA-21 is one of five officer training programmes offered by the US Navy (Section 2.3).

1.2    What is the Purpose of STA-21?

The purpose of the US Navy’s STA-21 is to enable active-duty sailors to get a college degree and become commissioned officers.

1.3    Who is STA-21 for?

STA-21 is a full-time undergraduate education and commissioning programme open to enlisted personnel of all pay grades and ratings who meet the eligibility requirements specified in the Enlisted to Officer Commissioning Programmes Application Administrative Manual (OPNAVINST 1420.1B).

Selectees for STA-21 may choose, depending upon individual qualifications, designators within the:

  1. Core (unrestricted line, URL).
  2. Surface Warfare (SWO) (URL).
  3. Nuclear (Surface/Submarine) (URL).
  4. Special Warfare (SEAL) (URL).
  5. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) (URL).
  6. Naval Flight Officer (NFO) (URL).
  7. Pilot (URL).
  8. Civil Engineering Corps (CEC) (Staff Corps).
  9. Nurse Corps (Staff Corps).
  10. Information Professional (Restricted Line, RL).
  11. Human Resources (RL).
  12. Intelligence (RL).
  13. Cryptologic Warfare (previously Information Warfare).
  14. SWO Engineering Duty Option (SWO/ED) (RL).
  15. SWO Information Professional Option (SWO/IP (RL).
  16. SWO Oceanography Option (SWO/OCEANO) (RL).
  17. Oceanography (RL)
  18. Medical Corps (Staff Corps).
  19. Supply Corps (Staff Corps).

It is important to note that opportunities in the above vary between years. For example, in FY19 there were no opportunities in 10 to 19 (NAVADMIN 113-18: FY-19 Seaman To Admiral-21 Program Announcement).

All STA-21 officer candidates report to the Naval Science Institute to complete an 8-week course of instruction before going to their assigned college.

Individuals who have already obtained their baccalaureate degree are not eligible for STA-21 and should apply directly for Officer Candidate School (OCS). If an applicant is close to graduation do not obtain degree prior to starting programme or will become ineligible and will have to apply for OCS.

1.4    Steps in the STA-21 Programme

There are several steps in the STA-21 programme:

  • Step 01: Application:
    • It is important that candidates ensure their application is completed accurately and in a timely manner.
    • Section 1.7 highlights a variety of common errors in applications.
    • Generally speaking, STA-21 has no minimum time in service requirement.
    • However, some options have specific requirements regarding the type of time in service (training versus fleet time).
    • It is imperative for the candidate to review the relevant programme authorisation for the option that they are applying for to ensure that they meet the eligibility for that option.
    • Application is two-part:
      • Part 01: Online application via STA-21 website.
      • Part 02: Mail-in portion.
    • Requires CO’s recommendation letter.
    • Requires application cover letter and personal statement (both very important).
    • Application deadline: 01 July.
  • Step 02: Selection:
    • Selection into STA-21 occurs in the fall of each year (usually September).
    • Selectees are notified several months in advance of the assigned date they will begin STA-21 during the following year.
    • Selection board emphasis:
      • Officer potential includes: leadership; willingness to assume responsibility; advancement record; officer comments; and physical fitness.
      • Academic potential includes: high school transcript; college transcript; joint service transcript; and SAT/ACT scores.
    • Selection board is 1-2 weeks long with each record being reviewed by a minimum of three senior naval officers, with at least one of the same designator as the option choice.
    • Produces Nomination Review Board Chairperson’s Recommendation letter.
    • Selectees are usually notified by NAVADMIN in October.
  • Step 03: NSI:
    • NSI typically begins in the February.
    • The NSI portion of STA-21 is designed to teach each officer candidate the fundamental core concepts of being a naval officer.
    • NSI provides competency in such areas as navigation, engineering, weapons, military history and justice, etc.
    • NSI is located at OTCN Newport (Section 2.4) and lasts 8 weeks.
    • NSI is a very specific curriculum that was designed to build upon the naval experience of highly trained enlisted Sailors and help them transition into their future careers as naval officers.
    • All STA-21 selectees will attend NSI en route to their assigned university.
  • Step 04: College:
    • The college element begins in the summer or fall.
    • Upon successful completion of NSI, candidates report to a NROTC-affiliated college or university for their summer term to pursue their college degree.
    • Each candidate selects up to three school choices during the application process, and NSTC conducts actual student placement to the schools after selection into the programme.
    • This placement is based on several factors including available NROTC Unit openings, programme option (Sections 1.3 & 1.5), etc.
  • Step 05: Commissioning:
    • Become commissioned as an Ensign in the US Navy.

1.5    Core Programme versus Target Group Option

The STA-21 programme allows Sailors to apply to the Core Programme or a Target Group Option.

  • The Core Programme allows participants the most flexibility in selecting a major and requesting schools to attend.
    • STA-21 students in the Core Programme will be assigned an URL Navy officer designator upon commissioning (Section 1.3).
    • Students will request which officer community they desire during their final year of academic study, but assignment is controlled by NSTC (Section 2.2) in accordance with annual community goals set by BUPERS.
  • Sailors selected into a Target Group Option will, upon commissioning, be assigned to that option’s officer community. These Target group options each have specific requirements related to them. The following Target group options exist:
    • Pilot Option.
    • Naval Flight Officer (NFO) Option.
    • Surface Warfare Officer Option.
    • Special Duty Officer (Information Professional) Option.
    • Nuclear (Submarine and Surface) Option.
    • Special Warfare Option.
    • Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Option.
    • Civil Engineer Corps Option.
    • Nurse Corps Option.

The eligibility and programme authorisation for each option varies, and includes:

  • Citizenship:
    • Must be a US citizen; OR
    • Must have naturalisation papers with certificate number on it.
  • Recommendation:
    • Must be recommended by the Commanding Officer (CO).
    • Must complete, sign and date an official recommendation letter.
    • No CO recommendation and the candidate becomes unqualified.
  • Duty Status:
    • Active duty member of the US Navy or US Naval Reserve (USNR).
    • Including FTS, National Call to Service, and SELRES (Re-enlist into Active Duty).
    • USNR must be on active duty at time of application through time the selection results are released (If deactivated after selection, the programme will the reactivate the candidate to go to school).
  • Age:
    • Minimum and maximum ages, usually between 19 and 27 (exceptionally 29 to 35 dependent on designator).
    • Generally, prior to 31st birthday (although options differ).
  • Enlisted Source:
    • Whether open to all or select ratings (e.g. nuclear).
  • Educational/Mental:
    • High school graduate/GED.
    • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale while enrolled.
      • Nuclear/CEC/Medical require a 3.0 same scale.
    • Aviation Selection Test Battery (ASTB) for naval aviators.
      • Achieve a score of Academic Qualification Rating/AQR(5) and Pilot Flight Aptitude Rating/PFR(6)
    • Certain designators require specific majors.
    • SAT/ACT:
      • Minimum SAT scores of 500 math and 500 critical reading (After March 2016, the new SAT is reported at Math and Evidenced-based Reading and Writing (EBRW)) OR minimum ACT scores of 21 math and 20 English.
      • Nuclear option must have minimum of 1140 SAT (combined) OR minimum of 50 ACT (combined math/English).
      • Average selectee SAT score is 1200+.
      • Those with a two-year degree already still need SAT or ACT scores.
      • No waivers for test scores.
      • Qualifying ACT and SAT scores must come from the same test (If a candidate takes multiple tests, the programme will take the best scores!)
      • ACT and SAT scores must be no older than three years from application due date.
    • Must complete two semesters of calculus and calculus-based physics with a grade of ‘C’ or better during STA-21.
    • CEC Option:
      • Have sufficient college credits to complete Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET) engineering degree or National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) architecture degree within 36 months.
  • Physical/Medical:
    • Must be physically qualified and pass medical standards in accordance with the Medical Manual (Chapter 15).
    • Naval aviators (pilots and NFO’s) must be physically qualified and aeronautically adapted to engage in duties involving flight. Must pass relevant flight physical exam prior to application.
    • Have passed previous two physical readiness tests (PRT’s) with a grade of good or better within the year of application.
  • Judicial:
    • No record of courts-martial or civilian felony convictions. 
    • No record of DWI/DUI within the three years preceding application deadline (substantiated drug/alcohol incident while in enlisted status will be assessed).
    • No Article 15, uniform code of military justice (UCMJ), or conviction by civil court for misdemeanours (except minor offenses <$300) during the three years preceding application deadline. Waivers are considered on a case by case basis.
  • Active Duty Obligation:
    • The candidate’s active duty obligation in years once they have completed STA-21.
    • Usually between 5 and 8 years of service obligation.

1.6    Brief History

Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda was a US Navy Admiral (OF-9) who served as the 25th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Boorda is notable for being the first American sailor to have risen through the enlisted ranks to become the CNO, the highest-ranking billet in the US Navy. Boorda graduated from the enlisted-to-officer commissioning programme, then known as the Integration Programme, in August 1962.

Boorda became the 25th CNO on 23 April 1994 – he was the first CNO who was not a graduate of the United States Naval Academy – and immediately re-established the Integration Programme, naming it the ‘Seaman to Admiral’ programme.

At the turn of the century, the US Navy decided to streamline the enlisted-to-officer commissioning process. Previously there were over a dozen different paths for active-duty sailors to become commissioned officers, ‘Seaman to Admiral’ being just one of them. This wide array of programmes lacked uniformity in benefits, selection procedures, educational opportunities, and programme requirements. This created a very confusing web of programme applications, deadlines, and choices for fleet applicants, and was very cumbersome for the Navy to manage and administer.

For these, and other, reasons the Navy combined most of the commissioning paths into one consolidated programme that preserved the ‘Seaman to Admiral’ name made popular by Admiral Boorda – The Seaman to Admiral-21 (STA-21) Programme. The former programmes included:

  • Seaman to Admiral.
  • Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP).
  • Aviation Enlisted Commissioning Program (AECP).
  • Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program (NECP).
  • Civil Engineer Corps Enlisted Commissioning Program (CECECP).
  • Fleet Accession to Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), including Nurse Option.

In 2011, STA-21 became much more selective for non-nuclear applicants. For example, in 2013, the US Navy selected 19 non-nuclear officer candidates out of 542 applicants, a 3.506% selection rate. For nuclear applicants, the average selection rate has ranged from 20% to 25% since 2010.

STA-21 is an extremely competitive process for enlisted sailors selected from the fleet. For example, between 2001 and 2010, the average selection rate has ranged from 10% to 24%.

“Of the 342 applications received for FY-18, only 302 were board eligible. A total of 50 were selected to participate in the FY-18 STA-21 Program” (NAVADMIN 113-18, 2019, p.2).

1.7     Common Errors When Applying for STA-21

As per NAVADMIN 113-18, the following information is provided to preclude common errors:

  • Each year, packages are not considered due to:
    • Non-qualifying Scholastic Aptitude Test/American College Test (SAT/ACT) test scores;
    • Missing commanding officer (CO) endorsement/recommendation;
    • Recent non-judicial punishment;
    • Missing physical fitness assessment (PFA) cycles;
    • Missing or illegible submission of documents; and/or
    • Not meeting programme age or PFA requirements.
  • Minimum eligibility requirements must be met before submitting an application.
  • Applications should be mailed only when fully completed.
  • Officer Interview Boards:
    • Officer interview boards shall consist of three officers.
    • The applicants CO may not be a board member and should not submit an interview appraisal sheet.
    • The CO’s personal interview should be conducted only after the application is complete and the officer interview board has submitted their appraisals.
    • The full picture of an academic and officer potential applicant can only be determined by reviewing the SAT/ACT scores, high school/college transcripts, and a completed application package.
    • It is recommended that officers of the applicant’s designator of choice, if available, be asked to participate in the interview/nomination review board to assess the applicant for their community.
    • Officer appraisals provide important insight on the applicant.
    • The appraisal from the board should be a frank and honest assessment of the applicant’s leadership and academic potential.
    • Appraisal forms should be typed in 10 or 12 point font.
  • CO’s Endorsement:
    • The CO’s endorsement is extremely important, especially the ranking of the individual among his/her peers.
    • The endorsement should contain specifics about the individual’s academic potential, commitment, leadership, service above self, and potential as a naval officer.
    • CO comments should specify the primary option to which the individual is applying and address how the individual meets qualifications for that option.
    • For junior Sailors with only schoolhouse evaluations, the CO must address this issue in their endorsement.
  • Personal Statement:
    • Should address why the Sailor wants to become an officer.
    • How the Sailor’s selection would improve the Navy.
    • Why the Sailor is applying for a specific option.
    • Sailors must also address any hardships or unique experiences that shaped their character.
    • Junior Sailors should provide information on high school experiences as high school transcripts rarely provide in-depth information on involvement in sports, clubs, volunteer hours, work, etc. Additionally, applicants should address any anomalies in the package (e.g., poor high school grades, college grades, or service school grades, poor evaluation performance).
    • The explanation should include details of the situation, how the applicant has overcome these issues, and why the applicant will be successful in the future.
  • The Application is a Reflection of the Applicant:
    • Applicants must review their packages in their entirety before submitting.
    • Check for misspelled words and improper grammar.
    • Ensure all transcripts (high school and all colleges) are enclosed.
    • Within the last year, applicants must have passed the PFA, to include body composition assessment and the physical readiness test with performance in the good category.
    • For applicants who received a waiver on the most recent PRT, points will be awarded from the most recent observed score from the latest full test taken within a year of application.
    • A grade of satisfactory or failure of the above two required PRT’s will make the applicant ineligible.
  • Qualifying SAT/ACT scores are required. Include any additional recommendations, qualifications, or other accomplishments as a part of the package.
  • It is recommended that the command retain a copy of the entire application package. The command copy should not be given to the applicant.

According to the Head of Selection and Placement for the STA-21 programme, up to FY-19 approximately 25% of selection received were found to be unqualified for the programme for various reasons.


2.0    Introduction

This section of the article outlines the personalities and organisations that have an impact on the training process of US Navy officers during STA-21.

2.1     Naval Education and Training Command

The Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) is an enterprise level shore command of the US Navy that is responsible for the training, education and professional development of active duty and reserve Sailors through accession, continuing education, and advancement training.

The NETC is headquartered at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. It is led by the Commander NETC, a Rear Admiral, Upper Half (OF-7) who is assisted by:

  • Executive Officer: A civilian of the Senior Executive Service.
  • Chief of Staff: A Captain (OF-5).
  • Force Master Chief (FORCM): A Master Chief Petty Officer (OR-9).

2.2     Naval Service Training Command

The Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) is a one-star Echelon III command of the US Navy that is responsible to the Commander NETC for the indoctrination and training of all new accessions into the Naval Service, with the exception of Midshipmen who access through the United States Naval Academy (USNA). This includes:

  • All new recruits through Recruit Training Command;
  • All officer candidates who are seeking a commission through the Officer Training Command; and
  • The various Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) units in colleges and universities across the US.

The NSTC is headquartered at the Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. It is led by the Commander NSTC, a Rear Admiral, Lower Half (OF-6) who is assisted by:

  • Deputy Commander: a Captain (OF-5).
  • Chief of Staff: A Captain (OF-5).
  • Command Master Chief (CMDCM): A Master Chief Petty Officer (OR-9).

2.3    Officer Training Command

The Officer Training Command Newport (OTCN) is a command of the US Navy responsible to the Commander NSTC for the initial training of naval officers.

The OTCN is located at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. It is led by the Commanding Officer OTCN, a Captain (OF-5) who is assisted by:

  • Executive Officer OTC Newport: Commander (OF-4).
  • Senior Enlisted Leader: Master Chief Petty Officer (OR-9).
  • Director OCS: Commander (OF-4).
  • Deputy Director OCS:
  • Lead Class Officer OCS:
  • Class Officer: oversee every aspect of class development and is responsible for the safety, training, discipline, integrity, conduct and general performance of assigned students from the reporting date to graduation and commissioning. The Class Officer’s role and involvement is constant, but becomes most critical in the later part of “applied leadership” training.
  • Assistant Class Officer:
  • Class Chief Petty Officer: is detailed as Recruit Division Commander (RDC) qualified (9508 NEC) and are entitled to Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP), if assigned to a 9508 NEC billet per EDVR. They function as senior enlisted technical experts and are responsible for the training, administration, good order and discipline and general welfare of assigned students throughout all phases of training.
  • Class Drill Instructor: is assigned to OCS to indoctrinate candidates in basic military procedures including ceremonial drill and physical fitness, and adapt the class to the military lifestyle and intense environment expected during fleet assignment.
  • Section Leader:
  • Academics Instructors: are assigned to the Academics Department and are responsible for delivering all instruction to every school house at OTCN. These include subjects such as: Navigation, Seamanship, Pay and Allowances, Naval Warfare, Engineering, Military Indoctrination, Damage Control, Division Officer Leadership Course and much more. They use their leadership experience to bring real life experience to the material so students get first-hand knowledge of how it is applied in the fleet.

The OTCN offers five officer training programmes, including:

  • Officer Development School (ODS) which provides Staff Corps Officers and several Restricted Line designators with training necessary to prepare them to function in their role as a newly commissioned Naval Officer.
  • Naval Science Institute (NSI), aka the Seaman to Admiral 21 Programme (STA-21), which provides a unique officer accession education and training programme. It provides an opportunity for enlisted personnel who possess outstanding qualifications and motivation for a naval career to obtain a commission.

OTCN trains approximately just over 5,000 students/candidates each year on the above courses.

2.4     Naval Station Newport

Naval Station (NAVSTA) Newport is home to approximately 50 US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard and US Army Reserve commands and activities.

NAVSTA Newport is the US Navy’s premier site for training officers, officer candidates, senior enlisted personnel and midshipman candidates, as well as testing and evaluating advanced undersea warfare and development systems.

For many years, NAVSTA Newport was Rhode Island’s largest single employer (both in terms of personnel and payroll) and is still the largest single employer in Newport County, and third overall in the state of Rhode Island.


3.0    Introduction

This part of the article outlines the training undertaken by officer candidates during the NSI element of the STA-21 programme.

The NSI element is a mixture of mental training (e.g. memorisation of military knowledge, academic courses, and military inspections), physical training (e.g. running and swimming), leadership training and the profession of arms (e.g. discipline and bearing).

The NSI element is an 8-week course designed to provide a working knowledge of the Navy (afloat and ashore) so that the candidate can develop the ability to execute basic naval officer functions that are expected upon earning a commission as an Ensign in the US Navy.

During the NSI element candidates will remain on active duty at their current enlisted pay grade. This means they will receive all the pay, allowances, benefits, and privileges they currently enjoy (e.g. BAH and BAS) and will still be eligible for enlisted advancement while in the programme. In addition, Sailors will receive up to $10,000 per year (paid directly to the university) to cover tuition, books, and fees (those who do not receive educational vouchers may use their Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and/or Navy College Fund educational benefits). Whilst on the programme, candidates will have a STA-21 Navy Advisor at their chosen institution.

  • Active duty military must have a minimum of 36 months obligated service upon transfer to STA-21 Schoolhouse.
  • Upon successful completion of NSI, students will be transferred to a NROTC-affiliated college or university.
  • Students will attend classes, join the NROTC unit as an officer candidate, and participate in drills; while working on completing their degree requirements within a maximum of 36 months.
  • Students will remain on active duty and receive enlisted pay and benefits while attending an NROTC-affiliated college or university.
  • The time spent in STA-21 does not count toward officer retirement, but does count toward time in service (TIS) for pay purposes.

3.1     Recruit Division Commanders

Within the US Navy, recruit instructors are known as Recruit Division Commanders (RDC’s).

RDC’s are Chief Petty Officers or Senior Petty Officers specially selected for their leadership and teaching abilities. They must attend and successfully graduate from their ‘C’ school in order to train recruits and officers.

“OTC annually graduates more than 2,900 students per year under the instructing guidance of 39 RDCs, Marine Corps drill instructors and technical trainers.” (Thornbloom, 2019).

3.2     Outline of NSI Training Syllabus

Course work at NSI consists of six major areas that are equivalent to approximately 18 semester hours of college credit in Naval Science (each college/university has its own course credit policies).

At NSI candidates will complete their freshman, sophomore and junior Naval Science courses. Candidates will be required to complete the remaining two senior Naval Science leadership courses on campus as electives.

The academic courses at NSI include:

  • Introduction to Naval Science:
    • This course is a general introduction to the military and the naval service.
    • Instruction places particular emphasis on the officer’s perspective of the mission, organisation, regulations, and warfare components of the Navy.
    • Included is an overview of officer and enlisted rank and rating structures, career opportunities, promotion and advancement, and retirement policies.
    • This course also covers the basic tenets of naval courtesy, customs, discipline, naval leadership, and ship nomenclature.
    • The candidate is made cognisant of the major challenges facing today’s naval officer, including the areas of equal opportunity, fraternisation, sexual harassment and drug/alcohol abuse.
  • Sea Power and Maritime Affairs:
    • This course is a survey of American Naval history from the American Revolution to the present.
    • In addition, the course discusses the general concept of Sea Power, the roles of various warfare components of the US Navy, and US Naval Strategy.
  • Naval Ships Systems I (Engineering):
    • This course is designed to familiarise candidates with the types, structure, and purpose of naval ships.
    • Ships’ propulsion systems, auxiliary power systems, interior communications, and ship control are included.
    • Elements of ship design to achieve safe operations and ship stability characteristics are examined.
  • Naval Ships Systems II (Weapons):
    • This course offers an introduction to the theory and principles of the operation of naval weapons systems.
    • The course includes coverage of types of weapons and fire control systems, radar and sonar fundamentals, theory of target acquisition, identification and tracking, trajectory principles, and basics of naval ordnance.
  • Navigation I:
    • This course provides an in depth study of the theory, principles, procedures and application of plotting, piloting, and navigation techniques.
    • Students learn piloting techniques, the use of charts, visual and electronic aids, and theory of operation of magnetic/gyro compasses.
    • Other topics include tides, currents, and effects of wind/weather, voyage planning, and application and understanding of international/inland rules of navigation.
    • The course is supplemented with review/analysis of case studies involving actual navigation.
  • Navigation II (Seamanship and Naval Operations):
    • Study of relative motion-vector-analysis theory, formation tactics, and ship employment.
    • Also included is an introduction to naval operations, operations analysis, and ship manoeuvring characteristics, applied aspects of ship handling, communications, and command/control.
    • This course is supplemented with a review/analysis of case studies involving moral/ethical/leadership issues pertaining to the concepts listed above.

As per OTCINST 1530.6K (Appendix B), candidates are expected to master certain knowledge which must be memorised verbatim:

  • Mission of the US Navy.
  • Navy core values.
  • Chief of Naval Operations core attributes.
  • Songs:
    • Star Spangled Banner.
    • Anchors Aweigh.
    • The Marines’ Hymn.
  • Chain of command.
  • Articles of the Code of conduct.
  • General orders of a sentry.
  • Watchstanding principles.
  • Officer rank structure and insignia (Marine and Naval).
  • Enlisted rank structure and insignia (Marine and Naval).
  • Phonetic alphabet.

Week 01 of training consists if administration and indoctrination. Weeks 02 to 06 are classes, whilst week 07 to 08 are finals and out-processing. All students are accommodated in King Hall for the duration of the course (usually two per room).

An outline of Fire-fighting, damage control and water survival training can be found here.

3.3     Physical Training

Physical training (PT) starts as soon as candidates arrive at NSI and consists of:

  • Body composition analysis (BCA).
  • Personal fitness assessment (PFA).
  • PT sessions to develop stamina, endurance and improve overall physical conditioning.

3.4     NSI Graduation

Graduation typically involves two events:

  • Graduation Dinner:
  • Graduation Ceremony:

Upon successful completion of the NSI element of the STA-21 programme officer candidates will report to a NROTC affiliated college or university for their summer term to pursue their college degree. If a candidate is not successful in completing the NSI element, they must complete the remainder of their enlisted obligated service.

Each STA-21 applicant selects up to three school choices during the application process, and NSTC conducts actual student placement to the schools after selection into the program. This placement is based on several factors including available NROTC Unit openings, programme option (Sections 1.3 & 1.5), etc. Candidates in the STA-21 Nurse Option, CEC Option, or Nuclear Option may only attend colleges or universities listed as approved institutions.

3.5     STA-21 College Course of Study

Although the US Navy strongly encourages candidates to pursue technical degree programmes, they are free to choose their major areas of study. However, certain STA-21 programme options have specific degree requirements (e.g. Nuclear, Nurse and CEC).

All officer candidates (with the exception of Nurse Corps Option) must successfully complete two semesters each of calculus and calculus-based physics prior to graduation, regardless of their major.

While attending college, all officer candidates are required to participate in all NROTC Unit functions except for summer cruise/activities and completion of the Naval Science course content covered during the NSI element.

During the college elements of STA-21, candidates will attend school full-time, year-round. All candidates are required to complete their 4-year baccalaureate degree requirements in not more than 36 calendar months.

Officer candidates do not participate in summer cruises or any other summer activities that the NROTC Unit midshipmen must complete. Candidates are required to be enrolled in every academic semester, quarter, trimester, or minimester offered by the university. Not all STA-21 students will begin their college education at the same time of year due to planned phasing of the programme Many selectees will begin in the summer and a few (i.e. Nurse) in the fall.

3.6     Graduation from the STA-21 Programme

After successfully earning a college degree and graduating from their respective college/university, the officer candidate will be commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy. Following graduation from the university, newly commissioned Ensigns are sent to initial training for their officer community.

Active duty obligation after college varies depending on the specific officer programme the candidate has chosen to enter, though typically 5 to 8 years.


4.0    Summary

This article provides a broad outline of the basic military training undertaken by the US Navy’s officer candidates during the STA-21 programme.

4.1    Useful Publications

  • Secretary of the Navy Instructions (SECNAVINST):
    • SECNAVINST 5300.26 (Series).
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Instructions (OPNAV):
    • OPNAV 1420.1A: Enlisted to Officer Commissioning Programmes Application Administrative Manual. Change Transmittal 3. 07 June 2004 (Cancelled by OPNAV 1420.1B).
    • OPNAV 1420.1B: Enlisted to Officer Commissioning Programmes Application Administrative Manual. 14 December 2009.
      • Chapter 3: United States Naval Academy (USNA).
      • Chapter 4: Officer Candidate School (OCS).
      • Chapter 5: Medical Enlisted Commissioning Programme (MECP).
      • Chapter 6: Medical Service Corps – Inservice Procurement Programme (MSC-IPP).
      • Chapter 7: Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO).
      • Chapter 8: Seaman to Admiral – 21 Programme (STA-21).
    • NAVADMIN 094-17: FY-18 Seaman to Admiral-21 Programme Announcement. 18 April 2017.
    • NAVADMIN 113-18 – FY-19 Seaman to Admiral-21 Programme Announcement. 09 May 2018.
  • Naval Station Training Command Instructions (NSTCINST):
    • NSTCINST 4100.1: Battle Stations 21 Change Management Policy. 18 March 2013.
    • NSTC M-1533.2C: Regulations for Officer Development (ROD). Change 1. September 2018.
    • NSTC M-1533.2C: Appendices A-S.
  • Officer Training Command Instructions (OTCINST):
    • OTCINST 1530.6K: Appendix B – Required Knowledge for Inspections. 05 April 2018.
  • Other OTC Documents:
    • NAVCRUIT 1131/15: Commitment to Success (Version 2). 05 March 2018.
    • Naval Officer Delayed Entry Programme (DEP) Guide (Version 3). 06 September 2018.
    • Officer Candidate Regulations (OCR).
    • Navy Recruiting Command Fitness and Nutrition Guide (Revision 2/22/17).
    • Navy Officer Candidate School. 24 January 2012.
    • OCS Inspection Knowledge. 04 February 2014.
  • Magazines:
    • All Hands: Magazine of the US Navy.
  • Research:
    • Curry, Jr., T.F., Heidt, E.A. & Miller, H. (1977) Officer Candidate School Curriculum Optimization. Orlando, Florida: Training Analysis and Evaluation Group.
    • Lehner, W.D. (2008) An Analysis of Naval Officer Accession Programs. Master’s Thesis. Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School.

Files for Download

4.2    Useful Links

  • NSI/STA-21:
    • The NSI/STA-21 programme changes annually, and this website has the most up to date information.
    • Programme authorisations (PA’s) for each community/designator can be found on this website.

4.3    References

Thornbloom, S. (2019) Officer Candidates School Graduations Now Being Live Streamed. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 15 February, 2019].