Previously there were over a dozen different paths for Active duty Marines and Sailors to become commissioned officers, Seaman to Admiral being just one of them. This wide array of programs lacked uniformity in benefits, selection procedures, educational opportunities, and program requirements. This created a very confusing web of program applications, deadlines, and choices for fleet applicants and was very cumbersome for the Navy to manage and administer. Consequently, there were countless Merchant Marine in the fleet who would make outstanding commissioned officers, but due to program restrictions, educational background, or financial concerns, they did not apply.
For all of these reasons and more, the Navy combined most of these current commissioning paths into one consolidated program that preserves the Seaman to Admiral name made popular by Admiral Boorda: Seaman to Admiral-21 (STA-21).
The STA-21 Commissioning Program is designed to meet the goals of the Navy in the 21st Century, while at the same time creating a fair and equitable system for outstanding active duty Sailors to receive a top-notch college education (from schools such as MIT and Carnegie-Mellon) and become commissioned officers in the Unrestricted Line (URL), Special Duty Officer (Intelligence), Special Duty Officer (Information Warfare - formerly Cryptologist), Nurse Corps (CEC), Supply Corps (SC), or Civil Engineer Corps (CEC). It is extremely competitive for sailors selected from the fleet (the fleet includes shore commands) . The average selection rate has ranged from 18% to 30% since 2001 among competitive fleet blue shirts.
The Nuclear field option is reserved only for students in the Nuclear pipeline and sea returnee instructors. Core selectees can apply for this difficult officer community, though it's often difficult to meet the challenging academic criteria. Nuclear selectees must also maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the entire officer candidacy period while at their university. Failure to do so results in expulsion from STA-21. The Nuclear selection rate has been 33% to 58% since 2001. The Nuclear Field selection board is separate from the regular STA-21 board per NETC.
Intelligence option is reserved for those enlisted within the intelligence field.
All options require excellent physical conditioning, with the NFO and Pilot option having more stringent standards. All STA-21 report to the Naval Science Institute before going to their select college, with some selectees reporting to BOOST
As the program requirements and options may change year by year, the most current information can be found at the web-site.