The Apprentice School

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Coordinates: 36°59′26.5″N 76°25′58″W / 36.990694°N 76.43278°W / 36.990694; -76.43278

The Apprentice School
Type Four-year apprenticeship program
Established 1919
Academic staff
16 academic instructors, 50+ craft instructors[1]
Students 725
Location Newport News, VA, USA
Campus Urban/shipyard
Colors Maroon and Gold and black
Athletics USCAA
Mascot Builders

The Apprentice School (also known as Newport News Apprentice School) is a four-year apprenticeship vocational school founded and operated by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company in Newport News in the U.S. state of Virginia. The school trains students for careers in the shipbuilding industry. It is not a traditional college in that it does not grant degrees — associate's degrees earned by students in the program are earned through Thomas Nelson Community College — but it does compete athletically with other small colleges.


The school was established on July 1, 1919 by issue of Executive Order No. 24 at Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, signed by General manager Homer L. Ferguson.


Admissions is competitive, although an exact admission rate is not known. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Monthly selection meetings are held at which all qualified applicants are considered for available openings. Offers are extended to applicants whom the admissions office determines to be best qualified for the openings available.

Successful candidates are offered both employment at Newport News Shipbuilding and enrollment at The Apprentice School. Each successful candidate will be scheduled for a medical examination that includes a substance abuse screening test administered by Newport News Shipbuilding's medical department. Employment and enrollment is contingent on the results of the medical examination. Candidates to whom an offer is extended will be subject to a United States Government security investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information.[2]


All apprentices are required to complete the school's "World Class Shipbuilder Curriculum" and applicable courses in the "Trade Related Education Curriculum." The curriculum gives students the opportunity to earn an associate degree from Thomas Nelson Community College or Tidewater Community College.

Apprenticeships are offered in 17 skilled trades:[3]

Advanced programs are offered in five areas:

  • Marine Designer
  • Modeling & Simulation
  • Nuclear Test Technician
  • Production Planner
  • Advanced Shipyard Operations

On April 23, 2014, a new Professional Development Program was started. Students will have the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical and mechanical engineering through a partnership through Old Dominion University.

The Apprentice School was first awarded accreditation by the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1982. In 1995, it transferred its accreditation from there to the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.


The school is physically located at Huntington Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding. Some of the upper-level academic courses are taken at Thomas Nelson Community College and Tidewater Community College.

A new facility for the Apprentice is currently being constructed in a four-block area of Downtown Newport News and is expected to be completed by 2013.[4]


The Apprentice School Builder

The Apprentice School fields six Division III-level athletic teams, but because it does not grant degrees, it is not affiliated with the NCAA or NAIA.

Apprentice's football team was a member of the Atlantic Central Football Conference. Since the dissolution of the conference following the 2010 season, The Apprentice School has been playing football as an unaffiliated independent team. The wrestling team is a member of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, and men's and women's basketball, men's golf and baseball are all part of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association.


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