NPS? 811? 810? What are all these Post Graduate options? Which would I want to do? These questions and more popped into my head when I first learned about graduate school options for Supply Corps Officers when I attended Supply Corps Basic Qualification Course (BQC) in Athens, GA. Little did I know, but less than ten years later I would become intimately familiar with the program as I was selected to attend.
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Lt. Cmdr. Frank Kim, TWI; Lt. Roel Orozco; Gerald Nyati; Lt. Cm dr. Konrad Krupa, Exxon; Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wheeler; Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Fischer; Lt. Cmdr. (sel) Fred Sta. Ines.
My history is a little different than most. I graduated in 2004 from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s of Science in Naval Architecture. I originally service selected Navy Pilot and left the Navy in 2006, only to rejoin and redesignate to the Supply Corps in 2007. I married the love of my life in 2007. Since graduating from BQC, I have served on two sea-going billets and one shore duty. I was stationed on USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN 75) in Norfolk, VA and served as the S-8A, S-6A, and S-3. Following TRUMAN, I transferred to Naval Operational Logistics Support Center in Norfolk, VA and served in the Logistics Operations Center. For my second sea duty, I volunteered for submarine duty and served as the Chop of USS MARYLAND (SSBN 738) in Kings Bay, GA. On MARYLAND, I was selected to attend the 811 Program. In July 2014, one month before PCS’ing to Kansas, my wife gave birth to our first child, a beautiful baby girl. Since arriving here in Kansas, my wife, daughter and I have truly enjoyed ourselves, the city and all that it has to offer.
So what is the 811 Program? The 811 Program is a board selection based program where selectees will earn a 2-year fully funded MBA from the University of Kansas located in Lawrence, KS. Students earn their MBA from the KU School of Business and attain a certificate in Petroleum Management from the KU School of Engineering. Students will also have the option of attaining one more certificate, either in Finance or Supply Chain/Marketing from the KU School of Business. Once all curriculum requirements are met, a Navy Post-Graduate (PG) student will receive the Petroleum Management subspecialty code (1307P) and will be required to complete a payback tour in the petroleum field in one of the Navy’s fuel depots or as a Fleet fuels planner. As the Fuels Director, you can expect to be detailed to one of the Defense Fuel Supply Points, collocated with one of NAVSUP’s eight Fleet Logistics Centers in Norfolk, Jacksonville, San Diego, Puget Sound, Pearl Harbor, Yokosuka, Bahrain, or Sigonella or be assigned as a fuel planner on a major Fleet staff or COCOM.
On average, there are 4-5 Navy students each year selected for this program. My year group consists of five Supply Corps officers with our graduation set for May 2016. We all come from different professional backgrounds to include: submarines, surface ships, aviation, and special warfare. Each of the students was selected for this program around the ten year mark of active duty. The Post Graduate Selection Board (#302) screens eligible officers for Civilian Institutions (CIVINS) program selection based on submitted packages for either the 810, 811, or both programs. A strong GMAT and qualifying Academic Profile Code (APC) are required. An engineering degree is not required, but applicants should possess a strong technical background with some advanced mathematics and engineering education.
Generally speaking, we are required to complete 44 business credit hours and 15 engineering credit hours in the 22-month period to satisfy the MBA degree and the petroleum management certificate requirements. The average total weekly study commitment is about 50-55 hours, however this varies based upon the amount of credits that are taken each semester. Usually, we are required to take one engineering class per semester in addition to the required business school curriculum. Overall, we have very limited course selection flexibility during the first year. However, at the end of the first semester, we are required to select one area of concentration in the business school with two specialized tracks available: Finance and Supply Chain Management/Marketing. The engineering courses include: Corrosion Engineering, Fluid Mechanics, Plant & Environmental Safety, Economic Appraisal of Engineering Projects, and various electives.
During the past few years, there have been quite a few changes to the MBA program. The University of Kansas - School of Business shifted to the cohort based model three years ago in which all full-time MBA students are required to take the same courses in each semester based on the previously selected business track (i.e. Finance or Marketing/Supply Chain Management). This change allowed for a group of approx. 25-30 students, including the Navy students, to work together and share experiences during various projects required by the MBA program.
By adopting the cohort-based program, the KU School of Business was able to eliminate the necessity for full-time graduate students to take classes on two separate campuses, which are about 45 minutes apart (i.e. KU has the (satellite) Edwards Campus in Overland Park, KS and the main campus is located in Lawrence, KS). Since this change took effect, all Navy students in the 811 Program take all classes at the main campus in Lawrence. Classes meet Monday through Friday and can range in time and length throughout the day. As all classes are now held at the Lawrence campus, it made choosing where to live an easy decision! All of the Navy students in my class have chosen to live in Lawrence and close to the main campus vice commuting between Lawrence and the Kansas City metro.
The Kansas Impact Project (KIP) is one of the two mandatory programs that each MBA student is required to participate in during the academic program. This is a 6-month long assignment which pairs different Kansas nonprofit organizations with groups of 4 to 5 MBA graduate students. This program allows for MBA students to work together in small teams and benefit from consulting experience they provide to nonprofit organizations to help solve different business issues. During our first semester, the Navy students were assigned to different KIP teams and provided pro bono consulting to local nonprofit organizations, ranging from early education, senior services, to institutions that help people with disabilities.
The second of two mandatory programs to satisfy the MBA program requirements is the Summer Internship. During this internship, all Navy students and any other graduate students pursuing the Petroleum Management certificate are required to take an industry immersion tour. Our group’s trip was a 3-day trip to Houston, Texas. While there, our group met with commercial petroleum companies representing all levels of the petroleum products supply chain to include: upstream, midstream, and downstream. At Shell - Deer Park, we witnessed an operational refinery and gained valuable insight into the refining process. At Conoco-Phillips, we met with the Global Marine Division to discuss transportation, logistics, and veterans’ issues. With DLA Energy America’s East Commander, Lt. Col. Oldani, USA, we gained valuable insight into the DLA Energy and NAVSUP Energy office relationship. While at the Exxon Mobil campus, we met up with the current Training With Industry Fellow, Lt. Cmdr. Frank Kim. We also had the pleasure of meeting with two midstream firms, Magellan Midstream Partners and Momentum Midstream, run by a KU Alumnus.
In addition to the MBA curriculum, Navy students have an option to complete JPME Phase I through distance learning during their time in Lawrence. The web-enabled and CD-ROM based non-resident JPME Phase I programs provide flexibility when taken in addition to the full-time MBA curriculum.
Lawrence is truly a hidden gem, a college town and family friendly community, but unlike previous duty stations, it is not a military community. It is a very welcoming and pleasant community, though. Most of support services we are accustomed to (e.g. Military Treatment Facilities, Navy Federal Credit Union, commissaries/exchanges, and PSD) are not locally available here, but that is not to say they are unreachable. Our immediate administrative support is provided by the KU NROTC staff (i.e. check-in/out, leave processing, urinalysis, PFA, etc.). More complex services (i.e. legal, DEERS, PSD/HHG shipments, etc.) we can request at the USAG Fort Leavenworth or other DoD facilities in Topeka, KS, or via NS Great Lakes. Fort Leavenworth has a Post Exchange (PX) and commissary and is about an hour’s drive from Lawrence. Medical and dental care for active duty and dependents is handled through Tricare Prime Remote. It is a large college town with a small town feel. Outdoor recreation is plentiful and the city is very animal friendly. If necessary, Topeka is 30 minutes away and Kansas City is 45 minutes away.
In conclusion, the 811 Program is a phenomenal opportunity and I believe that any interested officers should apply! If selected for this program, you can expect a challenging and rewarding two year tour in Lawrence, Kansas. While at KU, you will accomplish a career milestone by completing your MBA, earning a certificate in Petroleum Management and another in either Finance or Supply Chain/Marketing. You will join an elite subset of our Supply Corps by becoming a “Fuelie” and joining the ranks of other notable KU alumni! Rock Chalk!
By Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Fischer