Any gender can apply for Navy SEAL training, or what the Navy calls, “BUD/S” (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training.

Brief History of the SEAL Teams

President John F. Kennedy, aware of the situation in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for unconventional warfare and special operations as a measure against guerrilla warfare. In a speech, to Congress, on 25 May 1961, Kennedy spoke of his deep respect for the United States Army Special Forces. While his announcement of the government’s plan to put a man on the moon drew most of the attention, in the same speech he announced his intention to spend over $100 million to strengthen U.S. special operations forces and expand American capabilities in unconventional warfare. Some people erroneously credit President Kennedy with creating the Navy SEALs. His announcement was actually only a formal acknowledgment of a process that had been underway since the Korean War.

Below is a quick summary of the basic entry requirements. You have to be a U.S. citizen to apply for training, although some allied countries have sent troops to train at BUD/S.

Physical Entrance STANDARDS FOR BUD/S

Exercise Time Rest Average Minimum
Swim 500 yards (breast or sidestroke) Unlimited 10:00 minutes 9:30 12:30
Push-up 2:00 minutes 2:00 minutes 75 50
Curl-up 2:00 minutes 2:00 minutes 75 50
Pull-up 2:00 minutes 2:00 minutes 15 10
Run 1.5 miles Unlimited Event over 9:30 10:30

These are relatively easy. To be REALLY prepared you should be able to double the push-ups, pull-ups, and curl-ups listed. Run and swim times will naturally come down in training but do double these and you’re in good shape.

Age

SEAL candidates must be 28 or less prior to arriving at NSW Prep School. Candidates aged 29 or 30 will be considered for a waiver if they meet the needs of the community.

Gender

SEAL or SWCC training is open to anyone who can meet the standards.

Intelligence

The military has an admissions test, just like colleges have the SAT or ACT. It is called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB. It has several sections, each focusing on a different aspect, such as math, reading, and mechanical comprehension. This is how the Navy classifies you as competent for various jobs. A Navy recruiter will explain the details, but the standard is different for SEAL and SWCC applicants.

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To qualify for SEAL, you must score at least one of the following on the ASVAB:

  1. General Science (GS) + Mechanical Comprehension (MC) + Electronics Information (EI) = a minimum score of 170 (GS and EI are waiverable up to three points each, MC is not waiverable)
  2. Verbal Expression (VE) + Word Knowledge (MK) + MC + (Coding Speed) CS = a minimum score of 220 (VE, MK and CS are waiverable up to three points each, MC is not waiverable)
  3. VE + Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) = a minimum score of 110 (VE and AR are waiverable up to three points each) + MC = a minimum score of 50 (not waiverable)

To qualify for SWCC, you must score at least one of the following on the ASVAB:

  1. VE + AR = a minimum score of 103 (VE and AR are waiverable up to three points each) + MC = a minimum score of 51 (not waiverable)

Vision

Color blindness or color deficiency is disqualifying. Eyesight must be correctable to 20/25 with lenses. If your vision is worse than 20/25 but at least 20/40 in your best eye, and 20/70 in your worst eye, and you can correct it to 20/25 with lenses, then you qualify. If not, you may require eye surgery. Lasik, Lasek, or PRK are acceptable.

Past injuries/surgeries

You may be required to provide medical documentation or submit to an examination to determine if they are waiverable.

Allergies

Most are disqualifying, including food allergies.

Hair

In accordance with Naval Special Warfare policy, all candidates, regardless of gender, will maintain a 1/8″ length hair cut throughout Naval Special Warfare training.

Moral Character

NSW operators must be of the highest moral character in order to be the special operations force that America expects. As a sailor, you will be required to memorize the Sailor’s Creed. As a SEAL you will learn the SEAL Ethos.

Any female who sets her sights on being a Navy SEAL will have to meet this standard, one that very few men can even meet. The SEALs would have to go through a great many females before they will find the one with the combination of brains, brawn, and sheer determination that makes for a successful candidate. It will be difficult, but not impossible.

Olympian Wilma Rudolph won three Olympic gold medals in the 1960s. Her world record time in the 100-meter dash was 11.2 seconds. Today, that 11.2-second run wouldn’t qualify for the Olympic team. She wouldn’t even make it into the top 25 female runners. Nutrition, conditioning, and training methods are making men and women, bigger, faster, and stronger than any time in human history.

And someday a female athlete with the right stuff, so to speak, will meet that standard and become the first female Navy SEAL.