The newly established United States Naval Community College (USNCC) is launching a pilot program this month with nearly 600 students from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard participating in the first phase of the program, serving as a template for future USNCC students.

Northern Virginia Community College, the University of Arizona, the University of Maryland Global Campus, Alexandria Technical and Community College, and the State University System of New York (SUNY Online), are paired to offer world-class education to Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen as part of the pilot program scheduled for January through June of 2021.

“We are very excited to make this announcement,” said Dr. Randi Cosentino, president of the USNCC. “We are working with top colleges and universities to bring to the members of our maritime service community programs that are going to be of high value to them and help them achieve their educational goals.”

Collaborating schools were notified in November of their selection to support the institution serving the tri-service maritime community. Following the initial pilot program, a second phase of the pilot program is scheduled for 2022.

“Now that we’ve identified our collaborating schools we can move forward with our program to ensure we offer the best education to our service members and benefit all those involved,” Cosentino said. “The pilot will allow us to collect important data that will inform the development of the USNCC. Working in consortium with leading colleges will help us explore outcomes around the design of the program, the processes involved, working relationships and overall impact.”

The concept of the USNCC came out of a study seeking to identify opportunities to better prepare enlisted service members for the future and support them throughout their careers. Areas of study during the pilot include the nuclear field, cyber security, data analytics, English, math, and naval ethics. The second phase will expand those study areas.

“It is imperative we have a more educated enlisted force, grounded in the understanding of current events, allowing them to add context to the actions they may be ordered to do,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “This will provide a critical advantage in any scenario, but specifically to the understanding of how they fit into our overall strategic goals and objectives.”

The USNCC is intended to serve all three services in the maritime domain, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Each of the services selected students to participate in the January pilot based on input from their chain of command. For many service members, the prospect of obtaining higher education is a major enlistment or retention incentive.

“We have so much to be proud of throughout our military history and anything we can do to draw more attention to that through education has my enthusiastic support. There are many lessons there to be learned, and I have no doubt a better understanding of our origins will only contribute to the future successes of our Maritime services in any situation.”

Braithwaite was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Navy May 29, 2020. He previously served as the 31st U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway.

“We are in an era of great power competition,” said Braithwaite. “Any advantage we can achieve over an adversary will increase our warfighting prowess. Innovating solutions through improvement of critical thinking skills will only serve to give our leaders more flexibility in the effective and efficient deployment of our naval forces.”

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