Thursday, June 9, 2016

NUPOC Program FAQs and Best Practices

** If you have a question that you feel has not been addressed here or is not being addressed by your recruiter (find yours here) please contact me via the comment section at the bottom of the page and I will attempt to address it either individually, by reaching out to your recruiter or by updating this post


Here are a few frequently asked questions from applicants that I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability:

1.  What do I need to Qualify for NUPOC?

Answer:  First a caveat: I'm overly simplifying here.   Having said that the baseline requirements to be eligible for NUPOC are (a) You are an American citizen (b) You either have or are on your way to completing (at least) a bachelor's degree (c) you have completed two semesters of Calculus and two semesters of Physics (d) you are between the ages of 19-29 (waivers are available up to age 35 depending on the circumstance --- ask your officer recruiter).

2.  What are the minimum academic standards to apply for NUPOC / How hard is it to be accepted into NUPOC?

Answer:  First off -- it never hurts to ask your Officer Recruiter to submit a "pre-screen" to see if you qualify.  Having said that, if you're below a 3.0 GPA you probably should save your time unless you're at Harvard/MIT/Stanford etc... and even then you should step up and raise it.  SAT Scores are not technically required because we get a trickle of prior-enlisted applicants who have not taken them, but if your SAT scores are below ~1200 that is likely to be looked askance at (especially if your GPA is marginal; also note that for the SAT we are most concerned about the math portion, and we ignore writing entirely).  I would recommend you take a peek at the profile of NUPOC Accessions which was posted about a week ago as a starting point.  A rough estimate could be the lower bound of the interquartile range less about 10%.

3.  Does College Prestige matter for my NUPOC application?

Answer: Yes. There is a tiered system that is used by our office and Naval Reactors which is not publicly accessible, but it is largely based on publicly available rankings of Universities such as US News and World Report, etc.  There is also some room for discretion by screeners.  So long as you are going to an accredited four-year institution and have good grades you should still apply if you're are interested -- School Prestige is a secondary consideration to performance.

4.  Does my Major matter?

Answer: Yes, but this is negotiable.  For example, I was an Economics Major at the Naval Academy but had taken the required technical courses and done well and easily met all other criteria.  Two interviews ago a Music Composition major was accepted (April 2016) -- this sort of thing is not the norm, but it is still fairly common.  For Instructor and NRE positions your major must be technical (Math/Science/Engineering), but for Submarines and Surface the focus on leadership and broader-spectrum academic ability is larger and if you are a non-technical major but have done well and have good test scores there is a high likelihood that you will be given an opportunity to interview.  You would still need to meet the minimum requirements of 2 semesters of Calculus and Physics --- talk to your officer recruiter for individual cases close to graduation where taking new classes is impossible.  In such instances, if the rest of an application is extremely impressive, waivers might be considered.

5.  Do my class choices matter?

Answer:  Yes.  Most importantly, get good grades in the classes you take.  If all your classes sound like 'underwater basket weaving' or 'Argentinian Women's Studies' it's obviously not going to help your application.  Having said that, as long as you're taking serious coursework and you meet the base requirements for the NUPOC Program of 2 semesters of Calculus and 2 semesters of Physics you can apply.  Nuclear-specific coursework is encouraged if offered at your school but will not give you an explicit advantage.

6. Do my extracurriculars matter?

Answer:  Yes. We're looking for LEADERs and Engineers.  We don't just want mousy brainiacs.  The "Whole Person Concept" applies, and I've seen several people be accepted by the Admiral despite shaky interviews because of very strong personal presence and extracurriculars.  Having said that, this is clearly secondary to the technical/academic ability piece.

7.  When can I apply for NUPOC?

Answer:  For Submarines / Surface / Prototype Instructor / Power School Instructor you can attend an interview in DC up to 30 months prior to graduation.  Thus, for a May graduate, an applicant could attend an interview the December of their Sophomore year at the earliest.  You can start the application process a few months before that obviously to ensure that you are ready to attend an interview as early as possible.  For Naval Reactors Engineer the earliest is 18 months prior to graduation which would work out to the same month but of your Junior year.

8.  How long does a NUPOC application take?

Answer:  Much of this depends on how quickly you complete the paperwork you will be given by your officer recruiter.  If you have medical issues that need to be resolved this can also extend the process a good deal (if you are medically disqualified but interested in Naval Nuclear Power, consider the Civilian Prime Contractors listed towards the bottom right of the homepage: BPMI, BMPC, Naval Nuclear Laboratories). A couple of years ago the average application time was about 6-7 months.  We've been able to reduce that average to about 2-3 months and are continuing to look for ways to streamline the process.

9.  How do I get onto a list for the next Interview in DC?

Answer:  I make the list monthly based on (a) how many spots we have available for the interview -- usually 30-35, (b) what designators/positions are most in demand by the Navy (most Nuclear Officers are Submarine officers so the majority of our interview spots go to them) (c) who has their applications completed.  To expound a bit, to have your application completed for purposes of being ready to interview in DC you need the following items to be done:

     1. Complete your "Program Documents" and submit them to your recruiter.
     2. Complete a physical at MEPS and supply any additional documentation required as needed to obtain medical approval.
     3.  Complete your "SF86" and submit your fingerprints to the Office of Personnel Management in order to commence your security investigation.

In addition to this, in most cases we require applicants to take the trip to San Diego (the "NVIP") to see a Submarine and Surface Ship and interact with Officers in positions they might one day have.  This is able to be waived in specific circumstances, but only rarely.  The trip is free, informative, and does not involve any sort of obligation, so it's a silly thing to try to avoid anyways.  Most people like what they see, but a minority do come away having decided not to pursue the program any further.

10. What is the pass rate in DC? 

Answer:  Averaged over the past several years the pass rate has been right at 90%.  In the past 6 months, this has trended upward slightly, but there can be a good bit of variation from month-to-month.  I've seen it be as high as 96% some months and as low as 80% in others.  Study hard and make sure you aren't in the minority!  (for perspective, the most recent interview on June 22nd had 33 applicants of which 31 were accepted.  This was slightly above average, but in the normal range)

11. Is the Navy NUPOC Program a Scholarship?

Answer: No.  While the purpose of the NUPOC Program is to pay you while in school to let you focus on your studies (and make the program appealing to elite Engineering and other college students so that we only bring in the best applicants), it does not function as a scholarship.  Your pay will go directly into a checking account twice a month and nothing will be given directly to the school.  You can use this to pay for tuition or other expenses as you see fit.

12. Is NUPOC a better deal than NROTC scholarships?  What are the differences?

Answer: It really depends on your situation and your goals going forward.  Below are the advantages as I see them.

Advantages of NROTC scholarships over the NUPOC Program:

     1. Unlike NUPOC which you can enter a maximum of 30 months prior to graduation, you can start an NROTC program when you arrive at a college.
     2. As an NROTC midshipman, you have the option to choose Submarine / Surface Nuclear options but are also able to pursue non-nuclear options such as Pilot, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Naval Flight Officer and Non-Nuclear Surface Warfare.
     3. In some cases, the cost of your education which is covered by the NROTC scholarship will exceed the amount of pay you would get from NUPOC.

Advantages of the NUPOC Program over NROTC Scholarships:

     1.  Time in NUPOC counts as active duty service
          a. Earn Leave (vacation) days at a rate of 30/year while in school which accumulate
          b. NUPOC time counts towards Retirement (NROTC time does not)
     2. NUPOC is the ONLY path to a job as a Power School or Prototype Instructor
     3. NUPOC requires no special classes, uniforms or drilling once accepted (ROTC does)
     4. NUPOC time counts towards GI Bill benefits
          a. NROTC time doesn't count and actually delays receipt of GI Bill benefits by an additional five years (so you would not receive these benefits in full until 8 years after commissioning).
          b. Naval Academy works the same way as NROTC in this regard
     5. NUPOC pay is more flexible in that it comes to you personally and not directly to your University.
     6. NUPOC allows you to select a particular job immediately upon acceptance to the program, while ROTC does not permit you to choose until your Senior year.

In summary, looking at the short term monetary benefits in a vacuum, the determination as to which is better depends on the cost of tuition and resultant size of your NROTC scholarship vs. your NUPOC Program pay.  Zooming out and looking at the big picture, the other benefits of NUPOC significantly outweigh those of ROTC in most cases, but you should take the time to examine your specific circumstances.  One big caveat, however: NUPOC is only a good deal if you want to do one of the positions we offer (seems obvious, right?!).  If you're interested in the Navy but lukewarm about the Nuclear jobs that we offer and think that Pilot might be more up your alley, then NROTC is probably the ticket.

13. I was excited to do NUPOC but I can't because I can't get my medical clearance (or some other reason).  What are my options?

Answer:  There are a variety of reasons you might be unable to pursue the NUPOC program.  This answer will assume that you meet the academic profile to be considered.  Given that, the most common reason you might not be able to complete an application and go to interview is an issue at MEPs obtaining medical clearance.  If this happens to you, but you are still interested in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, I would recommend you look at the opportunities at our civilian laboratories and design/production facilities, Naval Nuclear Laboratories, and BPMI.

14.  I went to the interview, but was not accepted.  What can I do?  Can I reinterview later?

Answer:  We hope and expect that everyone we bring to DC will be accepted, otherwise we would not bring you that month and would allow you to study longer (for the record, you can always delay to a later interview and should never feel pressure to go a particular month from our office or your recruiter). The reality, however, is that not everyone passes.  In some circumstances, the Admiral will say "No" at the interview, but will leave the door open for you to come back at a set point in the future, for example after another semester or year of classes.  This is most common with applicants early in their academic career who he sees potential in but had some shaky technical interviews, but can happen to anyone.  If you are invited to come back, this will be communicated to you in DC.  Otherwise, the door is shut to second chances at an interview.

Having said that, you are still encouraged to pursue the opportunities at our civilian contractors linked at the right and above in the answer to number 13.  Additionally, you could still pursue opportunities as a Naval Officer in a non-Nuclear community such as Pilot, Naval Flight Officer, Surface Warfare, Navy Civil Engineering Corps and others.  Most of the benefits discussed on this page of being a Nuclear Officer also apply to these other communities, though your actual job would obviously be different.  If you met our screening to come to interview in DC, you are likely to be highly competitive for these alternative options.

15.  Does NUPOC have internships?  I'd be more interested in those b/c I'm still far from graduation.

Answer: Yes and no.  There are a few internships and fellowships available through the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (linked at right) such as SULI and a few positions with our civilian design/research laboratories.  The application processes for these are all separate from NUPOC.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that NUPOC will NOT preclude you from doing outside jobs / co-ops / internships / research while you complete your degree.  These could be with us, or outside firms as you see fit.  If you're getting paid in this role that has no impact on your NUPOC pay -- it just means you're receiving two paychecks.  The only time we would ask you to steer clear of activities outside of school is if you are overextending yourself and your academics are clearly suffering as a result.  You should also be forthright with firms you might work about your post-graduation commitments.

16.  If NUPOC is so awesome, why don't more people do it?  

Answer:  First, for perspective, quite a few actually do.  Over 300 applicants attend interviews each year for the NUPOC program.

After that, the three key constraints are (a) building awareness among the target audience, (b) Overcoming the "different" factor, and (c) high competitive standards for the program mean many people who want to pursue it are ineligible.

No one can apply for a program that they don't know about, and there is some initial hesitation to pursue a path that is very different than most of the alternatives applicants might be considering.  On balance, I think the differences for NUPOC are a huge positive, but it takes time and research for individuals to determine if they agree with my assessment in their own unique circumstances.  I also built this website to lower the barrier to entry for finding information about the program, as previously there was no compiled resource.  It is my hope that by making it easy for people to research the program it will facilitate an informed decision to (or not to) pursue an application.

17. What are the downsides of NUPOC?

Answer:  It depends on the position that you are seeking, but I'll give my general take with respect to submarines (my path in the program) --- again with the caveat that this is one man's opinion and intended only as food for thought.  I'm not going to discuss the many positives here because there's quite a bit of discussion of them elsewhere on the site.  I do think they strongly outway any downsides, but this discussion may be valuable for you.

(a) (After graduation) The job is genuinely hard.  Not every single day is filled with mind-wracking challenges, but you will frequently be exposed to new environments, given significant responsibility over people, programs, and systems, and there can be periods of long hours and a lot of stress.  This is especially true while you are qualifying (learning how to do your job when you show up on the submarine), preparing for major inspections or operational examinations, or leading dynamic missions overseas.  I don't really consider the difficulty to be a downside (few things of value are easy, in my experience), but it depends on your perspective.

(b) (If you select Submarines / Surface) Sometimes you will be gone for training or missions.  This is a minority of the time you are attached to the submarine (for me it was ~35% in total) or surface ship, but it's not insignificant.  In most cases, you still have contact via email to friends and loved ones, but if you are on a critical mission overseas where transmitting messages could give away your location, this could be curtailed for a period as well.  I didn't mind this aspect much, and I actually found being at sea to be comfortable and relaxing after I settled into my routine after a couple of days, but this is clearly a difference.

(c) "Duty".  Unlike an office job, not every single person goes home at the end of the day. The enlisted crew (you won't be in this group) is split up into duty sections which rotate and one "section" of sailors remain onboard throughout the night.  At least one and sometimes two officers will stay to be in charge of the Sub/ship and these sailors should something go wrong.  In this role, you are responsible for the submarine and are the Commanding Officer's direct representative.

You are not "working" the whole time.  You're basically there to be the go-to leader if a major event happens.  You also tour the submarine before bed to ensure that nothing is out of the ordinary. Otherwise, you can read, sleep, study, play video games, watch TV, etc -- but you're doing it on the submarine that night.

18. Does the NUPOC program value "diversity"? Do race or gender quotas exist?

In line with the broader military, we do seek a diverse pool of applicants that mirrors the population of the country we serve.  Having said that, diversity never takes precedence over the objective qualification standard that all applicants must meet in order to be accepted.  In all cases, the officer next to you once you are commissioned in the NUPOC program will have gone through the exact same process as you and met the same standard.  We do actively participate in programs with NSBE, AISES, SHPE, SWE, etc, to find qualified applicants of all backgrounds, and we are always looking for ways to build awareness of the program to all qualified potential applicants.

There are some gender limits, but these have no bearing on required qualifications and are purely a function of logistical realities -- for example, Submarine Officer positions only became available to females in the past 5 years and less than half of the 70+ operational submarines have been converted to accommodate both genders.  As such, the number of female Submarine Officer positions is quite limited, but growing gradually as more are converted.

19.  I heard that I can't travel abroad if I'm in NUPOC.  Is this true?

No, that is not true.  I've personally visited over 20 countries while on active duty (about 1/3 were with the Navy, the rest for pleasure on my own dime).  There may be places that you can't go due to concerns with your security clearance or your safety (Iran, Iraq, Syria, China, Russia, Mali, Libya, Egypt, North Korea --- probably off the table for starters), but travel is absolutely permitted.  Once you are accepted, you will need to discuss pending travel plans and will likely have to submit a "chit" which is basically a formal notification of where you are going to be and a request that it be approved, and you will need to watch a couple of basic safety training videos online, but all in all the process is fairly painless.  If you have specific questions and are already in the process of applying you should ask your recruiter.

20.  I'm trying to study for my upcoming interviews, but the list of study topics on this site is vague and doesn't have example problems or answers on it.  How should I focus my studies?  

It's true that the list of study topics (see link on right side of this page) is fairly vague and does not include specific practice questions.  This is on purpose and is the result of specific guidance we have from Naval Reactors.  Having said that, I can provide some general guidance / thoughts on how best to prepare:

(a) Take advantage of individuals who you may know that have already been to an interview.  Pick their mind and see if they have any lessons learned.  You might also practice a couple of interviews with them.

(b) Master your core Calculus and Physics topics.  These classes are prerequisites to apply and are by far the most commonly asked questions during interviews.  Once you are comfortable with these topics then delve into technical aspects of your major and the other topics noted on the list of study topics (buoyancy, electrical circuits, thermodynamics, chemistry, etc).

(c) Review other study material.  Open courseware from MIT, KhanAcademy, YouTube videos walking through technical questions, NUPOC study guides compiled by various universities who have had many applicants come through the interview process, etc.

If you follow this guidance and devote the appropriate amount of time to being prepared for the interviews you should be well-positioned to be successful in DC.  Remember, however, that technically any coursework that you've taken is fair game to be asked about.  If you have an anomalously poor grade in a particular course one of your interviewers may ask a question from that material also.

21.  Do I get BAH and BAS during the training at OCS, Power School, and Prototype?  Or does that not start until after I am done with those training periods?  

As discussed separately on this site, your pay while in NUPOC consists of your "base pay", "BAS", and"BAH".  Once you report to OCS or ODS in Newport, RI, you will have your food and lodging provided free of cost until you graduate, so your food and housing allowances are suspended for the 2-3 months you are there (BAS/BAH respectively).  They resume as soon as you graduate (at the O1 paygrade instead of E6/E7 before starting OCS) and this will continue through the rest of your Navy career.

You will have the option in some cases to live on Navy-provided housing which is "free" but negates your BAH.  I never did this (or even seriously considered it) because it was always easy to find what I considered to be much more appealing options (ie. Beach > Navy Base) for less than the total BAH amount and thereby bank a substantial sum each month.  I'm just mentioning it because it's an option.  If you meet me in DC, feel free to ask about housing options in Charleston and afterwards.

22. I'm currently enlisted (Active duty or reserves) in the (Army / Air Force / Marine Corps / Navy / Coast Guard) but I have a degree.  Can I apply via NUPOC?

This one is tricky, so I strongly recommend that you reach out to our office if you are in this scenario. If you are in the Navy, then you should work with your Command Career Counselor to look at officer programs (including nuclear).  In a few cases NUPOC is an option for active duty sailors who are in the Nuclear Community.  If you are in a separate branch then NUPOC is an option provided that all of your approvals to depart your current command and branch of service can be obtained.

22.  I GOT ACCEPTED!  I want to prepare for Nuclear Power School.  What should I do?

First - Congratulations.  The real keys to success once you're accepted into the program are to (A) Continue your strong academic performance (and improve upon it if possible) and (B) avoid any activities that could jeopardize your position in NUPOC and your future commission as an officer (ie. don't do anything that impugnes your honor, is illegal, or is against military regulations.  Drug use and underage drinking are two major things to watch out for, but not the only ones).  Since you should be financially secure with your NUPOC pay, now might be the time to look for opportunities for leadership positions at clubs, in student government, with charitable organizations etc.  This isn't required, but its a great chance to make an impact (and pad your resume!). 

Once you're done with school and waiting to go to OCS/ODS or after that and waiting to go to Nuclear Power School, it might be helpful to review the unclassified Nuclear Power School curriculum (drawn from the Navy's Applied Engineering Principles).  I strongly caution you that the most important thing is to enter Power School mentally prepared for a fast-paced learning experience, and that you should not over-exert yourself trying to prepare beforehand. 


As I indicated, if there are additional questions related to any aspect of the NUPOC Program that you have which are not addressed here and you are not getting satisfactory answers from your recruiter please feel free to contact me at the portal at the bottom of this site.


  1. Hi, thanks for this site. I'm crossposting this from, hope that's okay. Have a couple questions that I'm still not clear on.

    I'm currently a rising senior looking at NUPOC/nuke officer. I'm an economics major with a minor in math (calc 1-3, linear algebra, also did Analysis), and gpa is 3.86, but I haven't taken any physics classes.

    I know the program asks for 1 year of calc and 1 year of calc based physics, but my question is, is this a strict requirement in the sense that the navy needs to see the physics classes on my transcript? I ask because I'll have the time this semester to self-study the material on the NUPOC study guide, but I don't have enough credits to take the physics classes proper, except maybe at a community college after graduation perhaps.

    Last, I would want to go sub; I notice from this site that sub and SWO nuke are the only ones where a technical major is not required, but I think sub would be the one for me.

    Thanks for your help,


    1. Ben,

      I'm glad you are finding this to be a helpful resource. I'm also glad you're leaning towards Subs... it was my choice also so I am quite biased!

      Regarding your question regarding physics, it is sometimes waived but that is on a case by case basis. The fact that you are in your last year makes it more likely, but you really just need to reach out to your school's recruiter and ask for a pre-screen. For what it is worth, I am optimistic that your case would be given a thumbs up based on your GPA, but I can't be certain.

      Cheers from Bali,

    2. Thanks. My recruiter responded:

      "Nuclear officers must have an engineering degree with a very competitive GPA."

      But I haven't spoken with him too much, he wants to see the results of a pulmonary function test for asthma first, so perhaps once that's cleared I can let him know that I'll work my best to get nuke.


    3. Ben,

      Your recruiter is wrong. Two of the 12 LTs who run NUPOC Accessions are economics majors, and while most applicants are indeed engineering majors we get a steady stream of liberal arts applications as well. Having a non-technical major takes Instructor and NRE positions off the table. Send me an email with detailed information on your GPA, major, grades in math/technical courses, recruiters name and summary of your question. I am out of the office in Asia for two weeks but will forward it to colleagues in the office.

      No promises that it will work, but it isn't a blanket "no".

      Cheers from Bali

  2. Also, did you take AP Physics? That can be helpful.

    To send email use the portal at bottom of the homepage. It goes to my personal Gmail.

  3. Would there be any constraints for a student-athlete in terms of getting accepted into the program? I am a division 1 football player and I am very interested in this program because the USNA did not work out, however, I am unsure of how football will impact my ability to do so.

    1. Apologies for the delay -- I did not see this until just now. There are no restrictions on athletics, so long as you maintain your academic performance. There really isn't any time commitment on your end outside of your normal routine of classes and extracurriculars (in your case, Football) so there should not be any interference.

    2. There are actually quite a few D1 football (and other sports) players in the program. This isn't D1, but here's a video that gives a bit of a case in point:

  4. If accepted into the NUPOC program will you receive BAQ\VHA\BAS while your attending college? Is E6 basepay your only entitlement?

  5. Thomas, You have 3 separate portions of your pay while in the NUPOC program. (1) Base Pay, (2) BAH (Housing Allowance), and (3) BAS (Subsistence/Food allowance). Links for all of them are on the right side of the page, and I walk through how to calculate what your total will be (BAH varies based on location) during NUPOC and then afterwards as an Officer in the "What is NUPOC" Discussion (see link on menu bar near the top of the page).

  6. LT Linville, I have a question about the process.
    I was going to have a final interview at DC last year but NR did not let me go due to my security reason. I was informed that 3 days before the final interview. I went to the VIP tour and passed the medical test and the first phone interview. I also had a flight ticket to the DC interview. However, they told me that they do not usually accept the applicants who became a US citizen less than a year. I actually earned a US citizenship last April and submitted my application right away because I was waiting for it.
    This was my situation. My question is that "is the application for top security clearance going to be submitted after OCS?" I am confused between top security clearance and the background check from the entity. NR told me that if my background gets cleared by the entity, they would reconsider my application. But I haven't heared any update for my background check about 5 months. I heared that they have lots of delays. I do not know why.

    I am waiting until late April because I am going to be a US citizen for a year. But some people told me that if NR denied my application, I would not be eligible for NUPOC anymore. Is this true?

    I really need to know the process of this program because I have been preparing this program for a year and half. I really want to get in this program.

    Thank you for reading my question.


  7. Wonseok, There are two processes that run in parallel for security clearance to interview. One is the actually processing of a security investigation by the Office of Personnel Management. This is the standard process for all government positions that require a security clearance. The second process is specific to Navy Nuclear Programs and is handled within the Office of Naval Reactors.

    A variety of issues can result in a failure to receive a clearance to interview from either of those two paths. Often if citizenship has only recently been obtained it will cause them to deny a request or to want to delay for some period.

    Send a note via the portal at the bottom of this page and include the name of your recruiter and any other pertinent information and I'll try to look into it when I'm back in the office. I'll be gone this week for the March DC Interviews.

    If your secret clearance was obtained via OPM, it is possible that NR would look at that fact and reconsider their initial answer, but I can't say for certain whether or not they will do so.

  8. LT. Linville, thank you so much for your answer.

    My recruiter was LT. Shaun Penrod, but his shore duty was done right after my application was denied. Now, LT Kyra Borromeo is my recruiter. The office is located in Santa Monica in CA. They were very helpful and willing to help me all the time. I am trying to keep contacting my recruiter to know if there is any update from my security clearance.

    Previous Recruiter: LT. Shaun Penrod
    Current Recruiter: LT. Kyra Borromeo
    Office Location: Santa Monica, CA
    Applicant: Wonseok Yoon
    Process: Finished NVIP tour, Medical and Phone Interview

    I look forward to hearing from you next week.
    Thank you.

  9. Please reach out via the portal all the way at the bottom of the page as well. Below the eagle image.

  10. Lt. Linville,

    My son started getting interested in applying for the NUPOC program about eight months ago, and just before the holidays he was pre-screened and passed for subs. He made his decision to apply and put his application in about late Feb, early March. He waited five weeks and after not hearing anything he started calling and emailing his recruiter to no avail. After several weeks he took another route and was put in touch with another recruiter who apologized and told him his previous recruiter was no longer there and asked him to please resubmit his application, which he did. A week later he was asked to resubmit an unofficial transcript, and then the following week (about three weeks ago) my son was told they are going to wait until this semester's grades are out before proceeding.

    I am trying to understand the whole process and why the delays. I was under the assumption the application process went fairly quick for those who were found to be qualified. My son is extremely gifted, especially in math and physics. He had over 70 college credits, mostly in upper level math before graduating high school. He is now enrolled in a 3-2 program shared between Lenoir-Rhyne University and Clemson, where he will complete his degree requirements for a BS in Physics this week (a year early) at LRU and transfer to Clemson for his engineering degree.

    Is it possible the Navy is taking longer to decide on him because he is not attending one of the upper tier schools you mentioned on the applicant profile page? Also his first recruiter was a first class and his present one is a chief, I thought officers were recruited by officers. I am a former Radioman 1st class (SW), 10 years service. Once I contacted a recruiter, I couldn't get them to quit calling.

    Look forward to hearing from you,

    1. Hi Dale,

      I'm out of the country on leave at the moment, but I forwarded this data to my office to attempt to figure out how best to proceed. Please reach out on the portal at the bottom of this page so I can communicate with you via email.


  11. Hi Lt. Linville,

    I really like the NUPOC program and want to be a NR engineer. I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer from LSU with 3.882 GPA and 2nd in my class (All A's in math and physics classes). My ACT score was 24 (19 English and 32 Math). The ACT score was not high because I came as a junior in High school and took the ACT test first week in the US. I sent my ACT and transcript for the academic screening. However, I did not pass it. I am really like the NUPOC program. Does it mean that I would never have a chance to be part of NUPOC program?

    Thanks so much!


  12. LT. Linville,

    I appreciate all of the information you have supplied with this blog. Here is my question:

    If someone is commissioned to be a submarine or surface officer, do they have any choice of where in the country they live (excluding the "junior officer tour" time period, of course)? Does their home need to be in close proximity to one of the respective homeports, and can it be any of the homeports?


  13. Short answer - - yes, mostly. Everyone will go to Newport, RI for OCS/ODS and then to Charleston, SC for Nuclear Power School. After that the group splits in half with one group staying in Charleston and the other going to Saratoga Springs, NY for Prototype. For operational positions (ship or sub) you get to put in preferences for type of ship/sub, home port, coast, etc. The Navy (your "detailer" at Navy Personnel Command, really) will attempt to match officers with their top choices as closely as possible.

    In terms of where you actually live, that's up to you but remember that you will need to get to work every work day so consider the associated commute.

    On nice perk of the Navy over other services is that most places you can get stationed are places you actually might want to live.

  14. "on" should have been "one". Too much time at Vino Volo on this layover apparently...

  15. My question may seem a bit strange and requires a bit of back story but I have been back and forth with this so I figured I’d just ask. I am 22 in my junior year at a university my first few semesters in college I messed around and got very poor grades tanking my GPA to be honest it’s barely a 2.0. with respect to that I feel that talking to a recruiter is a waste of time for both me and them because I’m only interested in the NUPOC program for either the Reactors engineer (D.C. job) or the instructor not that I am completely opposed to it I would prefer those over ship/sub. I figured I’d ask on here as you would most likely know way more than the recruiter would about deciphering my situation. After getting myself together and really figuring out what I want to do I got my act together and took all of the calculus - based physics courses and the calculus courses through ODE and such receiving all “A’s” but my GPA is still embarrassing low. I plan to take the ASVAB before the fall semester begins to even see if I can qualify for the navy nuclear program. But realistically though would I even be considered for the NUPOC program with such a bad overall GPA? Even with my semester(s) GPA for when I took those math courses was a 4.0? Any information would be greatly appreciated as being a NR engineer in D.C. is my main goal. I just hope that the mistakes I made back then don’t come to haunt me when I’ve found something I really want to do.

    Thank you

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. If you got your GPA up significantly from where you started they might give you a shot at NUPOC given the upward trend. I saw a couple people get into the program with below a 3.0 in similar cases, but I literally mean like 2-3 people out of 600+ that I took to interview. See if you can retake any of your early classes. Replacing C's and D's with A's has a powerful impact on GPa.

  16. Are there any restrictions or obstacles to entering the NUPOC program if one is color deficient? I've heard surface/subs is out but NRs may still be in play.

    1. It depends on the extent of the deficiency. The short answer is that they'll screen you for it and if your color vision doesn't meet the criteria that is set out then Sub/Surface/Prototype Instructor are out. Naval Reactors and Power School Instructor are still possibilities.

  17. Do you know where I can find exact dates and where to sign up for a trip to San Diego? I am considering the NUPOC program but I really wanted to check out what exactly you so before I committed. Also, my friend is a senior in high school and he was interested. Would he be allowed to come on the San Diego trip? Thank you!

  18. You will need to complete the first part of the application to be able to go, so you'll have to reach out to an officer Recruiter. They will know the dates (they're conducted monthly, and the trips are called "NVIPs"). Once you complete your "Program Documents" (the first step I mentioned) you'll get signed up for a trip. Assuming you like what you see, you'll then complete the application and eventually go to the final Interviews in Washington, DC. If not, then just express that you're no longer interested -- but at least you'll have been able to explore it and find that out.

  19. How many applicants actually get invited to DC for the interview? I'm interested in the NUPOC program but I want to keep my options open.

    1. 25-30/month get invited. You will not be committed to anything before going to interview and getting accepted if you get that far.

    2. I appreciate the fast response and I have another couple of questions for you. How does the amount of applicants that get invited to the interview compare to the amount of applicants that don't even get that far? Also, if I am not accepted into the NUPOC program, is there another way to become a submarine officer?

    3. It's a hard question to answer because there are a lot of different places that attrition can occur in the application. If you only look at those who are academically qualified, are able to pass a medical and security screen, and who attend an orientation trip and it confirms that they want to join, then I'd say that a solid majority make it to the interview. There is a phone interview screening process that weeds some out, but if you're motivated and spend some time preparing it shouldn't be an issue.

      If you look at the entire universe of people who express interest initially, then a much smaller fraction make it, but most of those who don't were determined to not be qualified for one or more reasons.

      If you are not accepted into NUPOC there are basically 2 other ways you could become a submarine Officer. (1) via an NROTC program if it's offered at your university and (2) enlist as a Navy Nuke (mechanic, electrician, or electronics technician) and be a rock star for the first couple of years. The Navy tries to funnel a lot of its top-performing enlisted personnel into Officer positions.

  20. Would an individual still be able to apply for the NUPOC even if he left the DEP for the enlistment side years prior to applying? And could someone who has just transferred to a university from a community college be able to apply?

    1. Two part answer to a two part question.

      (1) Having been in DEP and left is not an issue unless you were removed for some performance-based or criminal reason. If you just left before being contractually obligated to the Navy, it's water under the bridge. I'd confirm with your recruiter, but I'm 99.999999 percent sure on that one.

      2. Anyone can apply. Realistically, NR will want to see at least two semesters of grades at a 4-yr university (or at least that was always my experience). If you wanted to try before then, you could always submit a pre-screen (your recruiter will/should know what that is) to see that way you're not wasting time too early.

    2. Thank you for the reply! I'm currently a math major and I also just graduated from a nuclear technology program accredited by INPO. Wish me luck I plan on getting in contact with a recruiter soon.

  21. My son is in the process of entering the program. He is on his VIP trip question concerns student loan repayment. Once accepted is the loan repayment program limited to post acceptance or is it for all his student loans? When do the repayments begin? And, lastly, is the sign on bonus a set figure or does it depend on degree/gpa/college?

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      NUPOC doesn't have a "loan repayment" plan per se. He'll receive a paycheck bi-monthly if accepted which he can use as he sees fit. Similarly, the bonus comes as a lump sum upon acceptance, and can be used as desired. He could choose to devote all or most of this money towards loan repayments. His time in NUPOC also starts earning him VA benefits and counts as time towards a military retirement if he decides to go that route.

  22. The pay grade through NUPOC is as E-6, correct? Then upon graduation and heading off to OCS, he would get his commission and base pay goes to O-1 salary correct?

    1. That's correct. It is possible to get a "promotion" in terms of pay while in NUPOC to the E-7 level by referring someone to the program who is ultimately accepted, but E-6 is the starting point. BAH (housing allowance) is based on wherever his university is while in NUPOC, then it shifts to wherever his orders are (initially charleston, SC, but then it will vary based on what ship / submarine he goes to).

  23. That's correct. It is possible to get a "promotion" in terms of pay while in NUPOC to the E-7 level by referring someone to the program who is ultimately accepted, but E-6 is the starting point. BAH (housing allowance) is based on wherever his university is while in NUPOC, then it shifts to wherever his orders are (initially charleston, SC, but then it will vary based on what ship / submarine he goes to).

  24. Good Morning Brian,

    I am wondering if you have a good point of contact I might be able to direct some very specific questions regarding prior Enlisted Service, and its relation to this program. I separated from the Navy this year as a Chief Nuclear Electronics Technician. I have 8 years of prior service, currently going to school, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA but will be pushing up against the 31 year old age limit (I am currently 26). Do you know how prior service is accounted for with regards to age requirements (recruiters have given me different answers)? Additionally do you have any information on frequency of lateral transfer from NUC Instructor to EDO?

    Thank you in advanced,
    Nicholas Newcomb

    1. Nicholas,

      It would be considered. Shoot me a message via the portal at the bottom and I'll put you in touch with the LT who is currently managing DC interviews.

      Best regards,

  25. Hello,
    I have a BA in physics/mathematics with a strong GPA from a small college and I was wondering how candidates like me are viewed. Is is better if I complete a master's in engineering? I believe I have interest in the NR engineering program specifically.


    1. For NRE, a BA in anything from a small college is likely a non-starter. I can't say for sure, but I'm at 99%. Depending on your GPA and SAT/ACT scores you'd be competitive for any of the other positions.

      With an Engineering Masters from a top 20-30 Engineering program you'd get a strong look for NRE but still no guarantees. The screening can be fickle, because they only accept people with a background that they need at a given time.

  26. I am 32 years old with 10 years prior service in the Air Force. I have a bachelors in professional aeronautics (was an air traffic controller), a masters in international relations and another in applied economics (econometrics focused). For the past 3.5 years I have been employed as a data scientist for an economic firm - highly technical role, just not an engineering.

    Are their age waivers for those who want to go Nuke Sub Officer i.e., the OCS route with Nuke School in Charleston? I believe I meet the academic requirements, more statistics than pure mathematics.

    1. If I remember correctly, the age limit for Instructor positions goes up to 35. On the Sub / SWO side it's 29, but waivers are considered for individual cases above that. Your best bet will be to reach out to a recruiter and have them submit a pre-screen that explains your academic and service background. I'd also look at the Supply Corps and Intel given your economics and international relations degrees. Sorry that's not more definitive. My guess is that with your background there will be one or more officer communities who will find a way to "get to yes" on the age.

    2. Thank you! A few weeks ago SWO raised their age limit to 35 for prior service with excellent reports and highly qualified, which I guess I am as the recruiter is working hard for me. I was wondering if it was the same for Sub, though instructor makes more sense at 35, though I will have the recruiter submit a pre-screen. Currently my application is being submitted in January for SWO and Intel though I will look at Supply particularly if Sub is ruled out. Ideally I would like an operational job (SWO/Sub) but will accept the support roles as being a Navy Officer is my main goal.

    3. Sounds like the right path to me. Good luck! If they raised it for SWO then I wouldn't be surprised if the same occurred for Nuke SWO/SUBS, but I don't have any data on that either way.

      There are perks to the non-Nuke paths you mentioned as well. I'm partial to the Nuclear community, but we all play for the same team!

  27. Can I retake SAT and apply to NUPOC program again?

    1. If you were not able to interview due to low SAT scores you would likely be able to re-apply with updated scores. There is no guarantee that you'd be accepted the second time, but they would process the updated application at least.

      Note that this is based on my experience until leaving the NUPOC office a few months ago. I assume nothing has changed on that front, but you could confirm with your Recruiter as well.

  28. Hello Lt. Linville,
    I have completed my application, taken the VIP trip, and am presently awaiting my technical phone interview. Assuming an applicant is selected, what is the minimum GPA/grade requirement necessary for the applicant to maintain while in school? Can you get c's, and if so what is the "cap" on the number one can receive? I anticipate encountering my hardest course material in the coming semesters, and have found scant information regarding this requirement. Also, thank you for all the information; it has been an invaluable resource.

    1. The expectation is that you keep your grades as high as possible and hopefully even improve upon your GPA since with the NUPOC Pay you should not have any competing time requirements (IE. Work) to distract from your studies. I don't remember the exact requirements, but as long as you're staying above a 3.0 you won't be drawing any unwanted attention.

  29. What happens if you're accepted into the program then end up needing an additional semester to complete degree? I have an opportunity to complete an engineering co-op but it will add an additional semester so I don't want to accept it if it will jeopardise my eligibility in the program.

    1. That is handled on a case by case basis. You should communicate that to your recruiter (the change and the underlying reason) so that they can help you get it approved. If it's something that is beyond your control, it likely will be rubber-stamped "approved". If it looks like you're stalling to collect a paycheck for longer then it likely won't be approved.

      Short answer: communicate as early as possible and if your request is reasonable there is a good chance the NUPOC office will try to work with you.

  30. I’ve recently read that as of last year, the Navy made policy regarding tattoos more lenient: enlisted soldiers were able to receive a waiver for tattoos on their neck so long as the content isn’t explicit. Does this apply to the NUPOC program as well or will eligibility be affected if I have a neck tattoo?

    1. I'm not 100% sure how that works to be honest. Your local Recruiter will document any tattoos as part of the application and approvals/waivers will need to be obtained. My perception was always that these approvals were forthcoming in most cases unless the tattoo was offensive (IE. Drug/gang/racist etc).

      Your best bet is to reach out to a recruiter at/near your school and ask specifically about your tattoos.

  31. My son is very interested in the program. He has been told he needs a 3.0 which after this semester should be no problem. The recruiter has told him that his SAT verbal score is low (470) but he is a graduating senior from one of the top ten engineering schools with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I just don't know what he can do about a score from 4 years ago. His math was over 700.

    1. That verbal score is quite low, and a 3.0 GPA is basically the minimum that is considered (with very few exceptions). Having said that, with an excellent SAT math score at a top engineering school and what sounds like a positive trend in grades, I think he'd have a fairly good shot of getting approval to go through the interview process.

      If the SAT-V score prevented him from interviewing, he could retake the exam and improve it (we accept the best combined score), but that's not a fun prospect for him I suspect. He could also retake classes if he had particularly low grades in order to bring up his GPA.

  32. What are the physical requirements for nupoc? I am an offensive lineman so I am pretty heavy. Are there weight, body fat, running requirements?

    Also, what is the policy on asthma? I have exercise induced asthma, though I rarely use my inhaler.

    1. For physician requirements, you'll go through a medical examination one portion of which deals with height and weight. We've had collegiate football players (some linemen and linebackers) join in the past, but to be honest I don't know the exact requirements. You will have to pass a "PRT" (physical readiness test) but the only cardio requirement is a 1.5 mile run with fairly lax passing standards.

      On asthma, it depends on severity and recency of issues. It can be waived, or it can stop an application in its tracks. My guess is they'd have you get evaluated via a methacholine challenge test to evaluate whether it would be an issue. Best bet for all of your questions is to reach out to the local Officer Recruiter.

  33. What happens if you develop health conditions while in the NUPOC program? Something like asthma or high blood pressure?

    1. It's rare, but typically if it's something that can be treated and you can still serve in the position you interviewed for then it would be. Generally speaking, if it precludes you from the position you interviewed for, then you would either (a) be looked at for an alternative position (the medical requirements are lower for instructor and NRE positions than for Submarine and Surface officers) or (b) be removed from the program.

      I only can recall one specific example, and that was a collegiate (what you'd be called after being accepted into NUPOC but before going to Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School) who was diagnosed with cancer. While treatment was ongoing he was in a medical hold status of some sort (don't remember the exact details), but at the end of it he was cleared and able to remain in the program. I'm sure there were others that I've missed, but in general once you're accepted into the program the Navy wants you and will try to find a way to keep you in the program if that's possible.

      Hope this helps. Big caveat here: I'm just speaking from what I recall and have observed. The ultimate decision will lie with a medical board at Navy Recruiting Command, in coordination with Naval Reactors and others with cognizant over medical/manpower/billeting issues.


      Unless you did something illegal or that requires very significant scrutiny from the Navy, it is extremely likely that any pay you'd received up to that point would be safe and that you would not owe anything back.

    2. *Cognizance. I have a bad habit of not reading these over before replying.

  34. Hi,
    I love this whole blog and the plethora of information you have provided on it. I am a Junior in high school and was wondering if there was any early action I could engage in, or even contact my local recruiter.

    1. Other than do well in school and get into a university with a highly regarded STEM program, not a ton really. SAT/ACT scores are very important for both NUPOC and colleges, so I'd air on the side of over-preparing there. Once you're in college, be sure to complete your required calculus / physics courses in the first 3 semesters so you have the ability to join as soon as feasible and maximize the program benefits (you shouldn't join just for the benefits... but if you want to join, you might as well maximize them).

      Oh, and don't use drugs --- there is little to know tolerance for illicit drug use (exceptions are made for experimental marijuana use sometimes, but even that is an ordeal -- better to avoid the issue altogher). Note that the military abides by federal (ie. not states that legalize) drug policy.

  35. I've recently become very interested in the NUPOC program. I had never heard of it during my undergrad. I graduated in 2015 with a BS in Applied Mathematics and a Computer Science minor from a small school. I've worked one year as an Army contractor and one year in the private sector IT field and don't feel challenged enough. If I decide to pursue the NUPOC program, would my best bet be to go for a second Bachelors or a Masters in engineering? Does the "scholarship" apply for either of those options or only for your first Bachelors?

    1. You should reach out to an officer recruiter in your area and request a "pre-screen". It may be that you're already able to apply. Alternatively, you could pursue another degree and try to use the program to be paid during it

  36. Hello,

    I've been looking into the NUPOC program for about a year now and this blog has been very helpful. I'm an Economics major, graduating next May from a large state school, and my GPA will probably be around 3.5 this summer when I would be 19. I'll have finished through calculus 3 and I could also finish the physics sequence by then if I decided to apply. I know the real answer is to contact a recruiter, but would I would be a reasonable candidate for the program all things considered? I'm also concerned that my age would be an issue with the process or becoming officer because i'll be 19 when I graduate.

    Thank you.

    1. By virtue of not being a STEM major, you would not be eligible for instructor or NRE positions. Having said that, if your SAT/ACT scores are good (esp but not exclusively your math portion) then you sound like a you'd have a pretty good shot of a "yes" screen and at least a chance to start the interview process. I was an economics major, for what that's worth.

      On the age, I am getting fuzzy with time but I think 19 is the minimum. That'd be a question for your recruiter to answer. Your first step should be a pre-screen to confirm academic eligibility. They may require you to take the requisite physics courses before saying "yes", but I'd send it up anyways.

    2. I apologize, ignore my reply. I realized you answered my question in the post.

    3. Sam,

      Yes - if you were a Math major or a double major with Math and Econ the door would be open to instructor roles (pending grades / test scores of course).

      Hope that helps.