Electives & Area of Study

In addition to the 21 semester credit hours of core course work, the equivalent of nine semester credit hours of approved elective work must be successfully completed (with a grade of B- or higher) in order to be awarded the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) degree. In order to fulfill the Graduate Degree Program (GDP) requirements, elective coursework will in nearly all cases need to be completed at a non-NWC institution that is regionally accredited to award graduate degrees.

Seaman Juan Rivera signals the Landing Craft, Air Cushion 57 pilot, assigned to Assault Craft Unit 5, during well deck operations aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26).
Please Note: Students applying to the Graduate Degree Program must have completed one or more Fleet Seminar Program courses with no course grade lower than a B-.

Elective Courses

Both the NWC in-residence curriculum and NWC’s Online Program offer a very limited number of elective courses—under limited circumstances some students may be allowed to take electives offered in residence at NWC.

GDP students will most likely need to take elective courses from non-NWC institutions regionally accredited to award graduate degrees.

Please Note: It is the responsibility of each student taking courses at other institutions to comply with that institution’s procedures and policies concerning admissions, registration, and fee payment.

Elective Requirements

All elective work must be at the graduate level and elective courses must be relevant to (or represent advanced study in) one or more of the three core course disciplines. Courses must be administered through and credits awarded by institutions that are regionally accredited to award graduate degrees.

Students admitted to GDP must complete all electives under a single Area of Study.

Requesting Approval for an Elective

Electives will only be approved if they have been determined to meet NWC’s quality and academic standards and are in congruence with the overall focus of the NWC program.

Before enrolling in or registering in any elective course (even those offered by NWC), students should receive approval from the GDP manager to use that course. Students must use the Request for Approval of Elective Course form.

Transferring Elective Credit from Non-NWC Institutions

To transfer credits awarded for completion of approved non-NWC elective courses, students should have the institution from which the course was taken send an official transcript directly to the GDP manager. Either electronic or hard copy official transcripts are acceptable.

  • Students taking more than one course from an institution can wait until all courses are complete before ordering their transcripts.
  • A student will not be awarded more credits than what is documented on the transcript.
  • Transcripts need to be sent directly from the issuing institution (or its agent) to the GDP office. Transcripts that are not done so will not be accepted.

Transcripts can be sent to GDP@usnwc.edu or:
College of Distance Education (Code 1G)
Graduate Degree Program Manager
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI 02841-1207

Elective courses taken at non-NWC institutions must be completed early enough that official transcripts can be ordered and received by the GDP office prior to 15 April of the graduating year. This ensures there is sufficient time to administratively prepare students to graduate. While the GDP office will continue to accept and process transcripts arriving after that date, such arrival might not provide sufficient time to allow inclusion into that year's graduating class.

Please Note: Coursework applied for credit in any other degree program cannot be used to meet a requirement for this degree. Additionally, courses that are part of a JPME-granting curriculum cannot be used to satisfy, in whole or in part, the elective requirement.

Area of Study

Students must complete all nine semester hours for electives under a single Area of Study (AOS) to fulfill the elective requirement.

Available AOSs and Associated Additional Qualification Designation (AQD) Codes:

  • Greater Middle East (AOS 1, AQD 244)
  • Asia-Pacific (AOS 2, AQD 241)
  • Western Hemisphere (Latin-America) (AOS 3, AQD 242)
  • Europe-Russia (formerly Eurasia) (AOS 4, AQD 246)
  • Africa (AOS 5, AQD 243)
  • Enterprise Strategic Planning (AOS 8, AQD 245)
  • Operational Law (AOS 9, AQD 229)
  • Strategy, Operations and Military History (AOS 10)
  • Information Operations (AOS 11, AQD 249)
  • Irregular Warfare (AOS 12, AQD 248)
  • Leadership and Ethics (AOS 13)
  • Homeland Security/Homeland Defense (AOS 21, AQD 276)

Available Electives Offered by the Online Program

The following courses are offered by NWC’s Online Program and last 12 weeks. Students will earn three semester credit hours if they complete a course with a B- or better.

EL674W Intermediate Force Capabilities: Supporting the Joint Force Across the Competition Continuum

Click to Open

Directed Research Project

GDP students may elect to conduct a Directed Research Project (DRP) in order to satisfy part (two or three semester credit hours) of their elective requirement.  DRPs are independent studies that must be conducted under the sponsorship of a current Naval War College faculty member and support the student's Area of Study.  More information can be found via the links below.  For specific questions, contact the manager of the Graduate Degree Program at GDP@usnwc.edu.

DRP Policy   DRP Proposal Form   DRP Grade Sheet

Discover More on Graduate Degree Program

If you are eligible to apply for the Graduate Degree Program (GDP), please visit the Enrollment page for more information on the application process. If you are interested in GDP, please visit the Eligibility & Overview page for information on the program. For information on taking core courses, please visit the Fleet Seminar Program (FSP).