Graduate Degree Program (GDP)
The Naval War College has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) since 1 March 1985 to award the Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies (“MANSSS”) to eligible resident students. Beginning in the fall of 2001, the accreditation was extended to the College of Distance Education’s (CDE) Fleet Seminar Program (FSP) in the Washington, D.C. area. This soon expanded so that students at all FSP sites could have the opportunity to pursue a course of study leading to a NWC degree. Beginning with Academic Year 2015/2016, those resident students in the College of Naval Command and Staff (NWC’s resident Intermediate Level Course or “ILC”) will be awarded the Master of Arts Degree in Defense and Strategic Studies (“MADSS”), a degree separate and apart from those graduating from the College of Naval Warfare (NWC’s resident Senior Level Course or “SLC”). As CDE’s Fleet Seminar Program is designed as an ILC and parallels as closely as possible the core courses taken by NWC’s resident College of Naval Command and Staff students, students accepted into the GDP from the July 2015 Admissions Board forward will receive the MADSS upon program completion. Those accepted prior to that Admissions Board and graduating after June 2015 will have the option to be awarded either the MANSSS or the MADSS.
Eligibility and Application Requirements
A. Eligibility. To be eligible to apply to the Graduate Degree Program, a student must:
1. Possess a baccalaureate degree (preferably from a regionally accredited institution).
2. Have completed one or more of the Fleet Seminar Program courses with no grade lower than a B-; and
3. Currently be serving as:
a. an active duty or reserve officer in the grade of O-3 or above in one of the “sea services” (USN, USMC, USCG),
b. an active duty or reserve officer in the grade of O-4 or above in one of the “non-sea services” (USA, USAF, National Guard, USPHS, NOAA),
c. a Federal employee in the grade of GS-11 or above (or equivalent), or
d. a “Congressional staffer.” Used in this context “Congressional staffer” refers to those selected staff members in the federal Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches that through CNO agreement are eligible to take part in NWC’s Fleet Seminar Program.
B. Application Process. Students who meet the eligibility requirements listed above may apply to the Graduate Degree Program upon completion of their first Fleet Seminar Program course. To be considered by the Board for admission to the GDP, an applicant must:
1. Submit an application. A hyperlink to this online form can be found on the GDP webpage.
2. Have two letters of recommendation be submitted on behalf of the applicant. At least one must be from a Naval War College faculty member familiar with the academic ability of the applicant. The other may be from a commanding officer or senior supervisor. Recommendation letters must be submitted directly to the Naval War College by the individual completing the recommendation. A hyperlink to the letter of recommendation form can be found on the GDP webpage. Letters have the option of being digitally signed.
3. Request official transcripts be sent directly from each institution where undergraduate or graduate work has been previously completed to the GDP Manager (Included in this must be an official transcript from the institution that granted the applicant his or her baccalaureate degree documenting its award).
4. Incomplete application packages that have been inactive for more than two years may be discarded/destroyed.
The Graduate Degree Program Admissions Board will review and evaluate each complete application package. The Board will meet at least quarterly and shall consist of at least three faculty members, one of which must be from the College of Distance Education and one from the resident faculty. The Board will make a recommendation concerning admission to the GDP on each package and forward its recommendations to the Dean of Academic Affairs who will make the final admissions determinations. Applicants will then be notified as to the decision on their applications.
In order to meet the requirements for the awarding of the NWC master’s degree, Graduate Degree Program students must complete coursework that closely mirrors that of NWC’s resident student body. In all, students must complete thirty semester credit hours of coursework – twenty one from the core courses and nine from elective work. Course work applied for credit in any other degree program cannot be used to meet a requirement for this degree.
A. Core Courses. Students must complete, with a B- or better grade, each of the NWC three core courses offered through the College of Distance Education’s Fleet Seminar Program. Each student is responsible for ensuring all eligibility and academic requirements of the FSP are met and policies adhered to. Core courses taken through the NWC’s CD-Rom, Web-enabled or NWC at NPS programs will not satisfy this requirement, nor will transfer credit be granted for similar courses taken at another institution. GDP students who receive a final grade of C+ or below in an FSP core course will be disenrolled from the GDP. Core courses may not be repeated in order to meet the minimum grade standard.
B. Elective Courses. In addition to the three core courses, satisfactory completion (grade of B- or higher) of the equivalent of nine semester hours of elective coursework is required. While a limited number of elective courses have historically been offered through CDE’s Web-enabled Program each year, most students enroll in and complete their elective work at other institutions. Under limited circumstances some students may be allowed to take electives offered in residence at NWC. The following is applicable to all elective coursework:
1. All elective work must be at the graduate level and administered through institutions regionally accredited to award graduate degrees.
2. Briefly stated, elective courses must be relevant to or represent advanced study in one or more of the three core course disciplines. Additionally, electives will only be approved for transfer credit if they have been determined to meet NWC’s standards for quality, academic rigor, and congruence with the overall focus of the NWC program.
3. All electives taken by students admitted to the Graduate Degree Program after 1 September 2006, must fall under a single Area of Study (AOS). The current Areas of Study are:
a. Greater Middle East
c. Western Hemisphere (Latin-America)
f. Executive Analysis for the Warfare Commander (Newport only)
g. Enterprise Strategic Planning
h. Strategy, Operations and Military History (Non-USN only)
i. Information Operations
j. Irregular Warfare
k. Leadership and Ethics
l. Homeland Security/Homeland Defense
m. Operational Law
4. All elective work (including courses offered by NWC) must be approved by the Graduate Degree Program Manager under academic guidelines established by the Associate Dean of Academics for Electives and Directed Research, prior to the student registering for or enrolling in any elective course. A hyperlink to the Request for Approval of Elective Course online form is located on the GDP webpage.
5. It is the responsibility of each student taking elective courses at other institutions to comply with that institution’s procedures and policies concerning admissions, registration and fee payment.
6. An official transcript must be provided in order to transfer credit to a student’s NWC degree requirements. Under no circumstances will a student be awarded more credits for a course than is documented on the transcript provided by the institution administering it.
7. Students may elect to conduct a Directed Research Project (DRP) to satisfy part (two or three semester hours) of their elective requirement. DRPs must be conducted under the sponsorship of a NWC faculty member and support the student’s AOS. DRP proposals must be submitted to the Graduate Degree Program manager and approved by the Associate Dean of Academics for Electives and Directed Research. A hyperlink to the DRP proposal form is located on the GDP webpage.
8. Courses that are part of a JPME granting curriculum at non-NWC institutions cannot be used to satisfy, in whole or in part, the elective requirement.
C. Time to Complete Degree Requirements. All requirements for the NWC Master of Arts degree shall be completed within a seven year time period. For most students, this period will begin when he or she begins his or her first Fleet Seminar Program course. Additionally, no course work used to satisfy the degree requirements can be more than eight years old at the time of graduation.
1. Students who feel they cannot complete the degree requirements within the prescribed time period due to exceptional circumstances, may request a leave of absence in writing to the Director, College of Distance Education via the Graduate Degree Program Manager. Students contemplating this should contact the Graduate Degree Program Manager for further information.
2. Students who have not completed the degree requirements within seven years from their enrollment in their first Fleet Seminar Program Course and have not been granted a leave of absence or have contacted the Graduate Degree Program Manager about their situation, shall be disenrolled.
Graduate Degree Program Manager
Graduate Degree Program Administrative Assistant
Mailing Address (For Admissions Materials, Transcripts and General Correspondence)
Naval War College
College of Distance Education (Code 1G)
Graduate Degree Program Manager
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI 02841-1207
Send to: David A. Kelly, GDP@usnwc.edu
Letters of Recommendation scanned or digitally signed
Send to: GDP@usnwc.edu