Navy NUPOC: Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (2024)

Last Updated on November 16, 2023

This guide provides useful information about the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program for Fiscal Year 2024.

This program is of tremendous value to students but is unfortunately not well known.

Here, you will learn about the program, its requirements, and what to expect upon commissioning.

Let us start with the essentials.

What is the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program?

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The Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program is a scholarship program offered by the U.S. Navy for college students in STEM fields who wish to serve as commissioned Navy Nuclear Officers upon graduation.

With the NUPOC program, the U.S. Navy aims to fill its nuclear training pipeline with the most talented American college students who will eventually lead the Navy’s nuclear community.

NUPOC Benefits

If you want to be a part of one of the world’s top nuclear operations, consider the NUPOC program.

You can do the following in the Navy’s demanding Nuclear Propulsion training program:

  • Earn up to $168,300 while completing your degree
  • When you are accepted into the program, you will get a sizable incentive bonus
  • Competitive salary, regular pay raises, additional pay, and bonuses for specific duties
  • Earn yearly incentives of up to $40,000 for each year of service beyond your first commitment
  • While you are a student in the program, you can take advantage of comprehensive military health care benefits
  • Opportunities for postgraduate education
  • 30 days of vacation with salary every year
  • Tax-free housing and food allowances
  • Low-cost life insurance
  • Cost-effective shopping at military commissaries and retail stores (exchanges)
  • Comprehensive retirement program
  • Allow your college years while enrolled in the program to count toward your retirement
  • While in college, you will serve as a full-time student with no military responsibilities
  • Gain early important leadership, engineering, and management expertise that is in great demand among civilian companies

There are no service requirements until you graduate and begin becoming a Navy Nuclear Officer.

Salary, bonus, and benefits are subject to change.

For the most up-to-date information, contact a recruiter.

Navy Nuclear Jobs

This highly competitive program will prepare you to be successful in any of the following professional categories.

Examine the training, prerequisites, advantages, and other details for each below:

Submarine Officer

Nuclear Submarine Officers drive, arm, power, and operate the Navy’s fleet of attack, ballistic missile, and guided missile submarines.

The stealth technology and superior combat capabilities of these nuclear-powered warships, along with the sheer ability of those in command, have resulted in years of effective conflict engagement and deterrence.

Naturally, the officers who command these $2 billion boats are held to the highest standards and have exceptional tasks and responsibilities.

Only a few disciplined and devoted Officers are given the opportunity to command some of the world’s most technologically advanced equipment.

Read more about the Navy Submarine Officer program.

Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer

A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is equipped with two reactors, 85 aircraft, 5,500 crew personnel, and limitless potential.

Consider yourself in command of a 97,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class.

Your aim is to travel the world to support American interests and commitments. While your civilian contemporaries may still fantasize about managing a small technical team, you will oversee a virtual small city at sea, overseeing the operation and maintenance of extremely complex nuclear propulsion units.

Your training begins on conventionally powered combat ships. You will then qualify as a Surface Warfare Officer on this tour and begin your successful career on board one of the Navy’s most competent and technologically sophisticated surface ships.

Following that, you will go through a year of intense technical training before being sent aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to occupy a technical leadership role.

Read more about the Nuclear Surface Warfare Officer program.

Naval Reactors Engineer

The Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program is headquartered in Washington, DC.

It is manned by top engineers who monitor every part of the program.

At Naval Reactors headquarters, jobs include approving, confirming, and planning the design, operation, and maintenance of over 100 nuclear reactors.

The Naval Reactors Engineer experience begins with a post-graduate level nuclear engineering study at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory.

You will be assigned a five-year employment at Naval Reactors headquarters upon completion.

Read more about the Naval Reactors Engineer program.

Nuclear Power Training Unit Instructor

The operational, highly dynamic Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) is the apex of the demanding nuclear training pipeline.

These ultra-modern training reactors are in Charleston, SC and Ballston Spa, NY.

The highly skilled instructors guarantee that all fleet personnel of the Navy’s Nuclear Program, including officers and enlisted, acquire hands-on training, allowing for a smooth transition to the fleet.

NPTU Instructors will complete the whole Nuclear Propulsion training pipeline, allowing them to pursue other educational possibilities.

You will get operational leadership and managerial experience by leading and supervising a watch team at one of the world’s most active nuclear power facilities.

You will gain essential hands-on experience with working nuclear reactors as an NPTU Instructor.

Read more about the Nuclear Power Training Unit Instructor program.

Nuclear Power School Instructor

Nuclear Power School (NPS) instructors teach all officers and enlisted members of the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program.

As a NPS instructor, you will receive important teaching experience in a curriculum that is both interesting and technologically advanced.

NPS instructors work in a campus-like setting to teach courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

It is a fast-paced program taught in a demanding, highly technical atmosphere that offers exceptional personal and professional rewards.

Math, physics, electrical engineering, heat transfer and fluid flow, materials, chemistry, radiological principles, and nuclear plant engineering are among the subjects covered.

Read more about the Nuclear Power School Instructor program.

NUPOC Eligibility Requirements


NUPOC applicants must be United States citizens.


At the time of commissioning, applicants must be at least 19 years old and no older than 29 years old.

Waivers may be considered on a case-by-case basis for those who will be under the age of 31 at the time of commissioning.


All applicants must meet physical standards under the Unrestricted Line criteria established in Chapter 15, Manual of the Medical Department.

Prior to commissioning as a Nuclear Officer, program participants must achieve the medical qualifications for nuclear field duty/ionizing radiation.


All applicants must have finished or be pursuing the prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its territories, and they must fall into one of the following categories:

Undergraduate Students

Be pursuing a bachelor’s degree, graduating within two and a half years, and presently enrolled as a full-time student (if applying during a regular academic year).

Candidates who will need over four years in a four-year curriculum or over five years in a five-year curriculum will be examined on a case-by-case basis to be eligible to enroll for active duty before graduation.

Dual bachelor’s degree candidates may not get one degree before the other.

Undergraduate students who enter the program will have their transcripts examined immediately following each additional academic semester, quarter, or term.

All technical/math/science classes must be completed with a “C” or higher. Individual waivers to this rule may be requested by OPNAV N133 and granted by the Director, Naval Reactors.

Undergraduate students who cannot meet academic standards may be removed from the NUPOC program by OPNAV N133.

Post-Graduate Students

Have a bachelor’s degree and are currently enrolled in a master’s degree program at a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its territories and are within one academic year of completing a master’s degree.

Candidates seeking a master’s degree must attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) within one calendar year after enrolling in the program.

Candidates who cannot complete the degree within the time limit shown will be obliged to withdraw from college and enroll in the first open OCS class.

All Student Applicants

The whole time spent as an undergraduate is classified as “curriculum” for eligibility reasons.

The month and year of the first bachelor’s degree is the curriculum’s completion date.

To support the indicated graduation date, all candidates must present a degree completion plan.

Without the express consent of OPNAV N133, candidates may not extend their expected time in college, stop attending classes, move institutions, take part in exchange programs, or change majors.

Participation in a co-op or work studies program after acceptance into the NUPOC program is not permitted if it causes a delay in the graduation date specified at the time of enrollment.

Candidates who choose to take part in a non-mandatory co-op or work studies program during the fall, winter, or spring term must attend summer sessions to avoid a delay in graduation and must ensure that the summer course load and credits obtained are the equivalent of a regular fall, winter, or spring term.

All candidates must have completed the following requirements in residence or through extension courses provided by a regionally authorized institution or university:


One year (two semesters, two trimesters, or three quarters) of college calculus with a grade of “C” or better in differential and integral calculus of one real variable. Waivers to this requirement may be granted individually. One semester/quarter/term must be completed “in class.”


One year (two semesters, two trimesters, or three quarters) of a collegiate calculus-based physics course covering the traditional fundamentals of mechanics, magnetism, and electricity with a “C” or better.

Waivers to this requirement may be granted individually. A semester/ quarter/ term must be completed “in the classroom.”

Candidates who took the aforementioned courses as advanced placement courses in high school and were granted permission by their institution to validate these courses, as well as taking an extra course in college beyond these prerequisites, will be deemed eligible.

What to Expect Upon Selection

If approved by the Director, Naval Reactors, candidates will be required to attend a one-day orientation in the Washington, D.C. region.

After completing orientation, applicants will choose one of the following options:

(1) Enlist in the Naval Reserve as an officer candidate (E-6) and be assigned to active duty.

(2) Enlist as an officer candidate (E-6) and be put in an inactive Naval Reserve status if designated prior to acceptance.

(3) College graduates are expected to enroll and be assigned to active service as an officer candidate (E-6) in the Naval Reserve until they complete OCS and are commissioned.

Following graduation from college, the formal training procedure for becoming an officer in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program begins.

The first stop is Navy orientation training, which takes place in Newport, RI, at either Officer Candidate School (OCS) or Officer Development School (ODS), depending on the program chosen.

Also Read: Navy OCS Guide for Officer Applicants

Following initial military training, job-specific nuclear training will begin.

Individuals determined to be physically unqualified for the nuclear field will be issued a designator based on the Navy’s needs and the individual’s aspirations.

NUPOC Service Obligation

The service obligation for NUPOC selects is five years following commissioning.

The total required service for all Naval Officers is eight years.

The remaining three years of service may be performed under the Ready Reserve status.

More Information

If you wish to learn more about the Navy NUPOC program, the next logical step is to contact your local Officer Recruiter.

Find out if becoming a Nuclear Officer in the Navy is even right for you.

Hope you find this useful as you plan your educational and professional career.

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