Nobody Asked Me, But...Let's Create a Navy and Marine Corps College

By Senior Master Chief Jim Murphy, U.S. Navy (Retired)

The Navy College Program should be renamed and chartered as the Navy and Marine Corps College (NMCC). Programs similar to the CCAF degrees would be based on requirements developed by education and rating experts for every Navy Enlisted Code and Marine Military Occupational Specialty. Regional or national accreditation of NMCC programs should be sought through one of the existing Department of the Navy schools; the Naval Postgraduate School, the Naval War College, the U.S. Naval Academy, or Marine Corps University. The college could also include Coast Guardsmen and become the College of the Sea Services.

Not all service schools provide sufficient credits to satisfy academic major requirements. Ensuring Sailors and Marines receive the maximum credit appropriate for their training will require close coordination with the American Council on Education (ACE). This includes the steps necessary to get a cadre of ACE evaluators the security clearances needed for a thorough review of classified schools which currently provide relatively few credits for the advanced training students receive.

These recommendations present an expensive undertaking, both in funding and effort, but these expenditures will have long-term benefits. Providing Sailors a college degree in conjunction with specialty training is a valuable recruiting incentive. How many employers provide required job training and a two-year degree? The Air Force does on a grand scale, but otherwise it appears only Defense Language Institute graduates have a similar opportunity. Employer-provided college education is a quality-of-life improvement and retention incentive. And higher retention leads to lower—and therefore cheaper—recruiting and training.

Successful implementation and administration of the NMCC could be extended to include bachelors' degrees. Throughout a career, Sailors complete numerous schools and courses, many of which are the envy of civilian training and education organizations. Sailors deserve academic recognition of their training which is coupled with practical skill application.

Many colleges and universities work closely with the Navy College Program to offer degrees worldwide. The NMCC would not supplant these programs. In fact, providing a quicker avenue to an associate's degree would likely lead more Sailors and Marines toward those higher level programs.

Most enlisted personnel join with no college experience and earn relatively few credits for service schools. Many are overwhelmed when they explore off-duty education and realize the time required to complete a four-year degree. Competing priorities prevent many of them from undertaking the task. Providing junior troops an opportunity to earn an associate's degree by making it just a little easier and reducing the time needed to earn a four-year degree would open the doors to a college education to a huge population.

Young Americans enlist in the military for many reasons, and one of the biggest is opportunity. The Navy and Marine Corps College will improve educational benefits and make the Navy and Marine Corps employers of choice. We compete for human capital and we must stay competitive. 

While on active duty, Senior Chief Murphy completed a bachelor's degree through off-duty education and a master's degree in a full-time student billet at the Joint Military Intelligence College (now the National Defense Intelligence College).

Senior Chief Murphy will transfer to the fleet reserve on 31 December 2008 after more than 21 years of active duty.

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