JPME Phase I & Master’s Degree

The Naval War College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education to award qualified resident U.S. graduates of the College of Naval Command and Staff with a Master of Arts degree in Defense and Strategic Studies. The college is also accredited by the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff to award JPME Phase I credit for this intermediate program. For resident graduate degree program students, the academic program consists of a core course, including Theater Security Decision Making, Strategy and War, and Joint Maritime Operations, prescribed academic conferences, and an elective course of study consisting of three elective courses.
Martin Cook (left), U.S. Naval War College’s (NWC) James Bond Stockdale Chair of Professional Military Ethics talks with Karl Marlantes (right), a Marine Corps veteran about Marlantes’ experiences and observations about the Vietnam War to NWC students, staff and faculty.

General Information


Military students of the CNC&S are Majors or Lieutenant Commanders, from all services, with approximately twelve years of commissioned service. Student selection is made by each Service based on professional performance. Subject to rank waiver approval by the Navy Personnel Command, a limited number of Lieutenants can attend the College of Naval Command and Staff. In addition, every academic year, selected departments and agencies are invited to nominate civilian applicants in the grades of GS-13 or equivalent for admission.

Location & Duration

The 10-month curriculum for resident students is divided into trimesters of three to four months and taught at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

Learning Format

Core Courses are primarily conducted in seminar format but include capstone exercises, wargame participation, and comprehensive writing assignments.


U.S. resident students in the CNC&S who earn a final grade of B- or above in each core course (or an approved Advanced Research Program in lieu of one of the core courses), and who pass three elective courses, are awarded the M.A. degree in Defense and Strategic Studies. Graduates are also eligible for JPME Phase I certification.

Program Structure

Fall Trimester

Theater Security Decision Making (TSDM) - 11 weeks

Required | Core Course
The Theater Security Decision Making (TSDM) course educates intermediate military officers and U.S. government civilians in the College of Naval Command and Staff and Naval Staff College on effective decision making and leadership on security issues, focusing primarily at the theater strategic level.

Student Selected Elective - 10 weeks

Required | Elective
The electives program offers graduate level courses that expand treatment of subjects covered in the core curriculum, explore subjects not available in the core curriculum, and provide specialized areas of study for those students desiring to focus on a certain subject. Each elective counts for two credits and meets for ten three-hour sessions.

Winter Trimester

Strategy and Warfare (S&W) - 11 weeks

Required | Core Course
The Strategy and War Course examines how the overall strategic environment shapes operational choices and outcomes. In turn, the course also examines the strategic effects of operations, exploring how battlefield outcomes can change the strategic environment.

Student Selected Elective - 10 weeks

Required | Elective
Students may take courses from various areas of study throughout the year, or they may choose to remain with a specific area of study for all three trimesters. Some areas of study offer an Additional Qualification Designation (AQD) to U.S. Navy students that can be identified and tracked by the Navy’s personnel system.

Spring Trimester

Joint Maritime Operations (JMO) - 17 weeks

Required | Core Course
The Joint Maritime Operations Intermediate Level is designed to prepare mid-career U.S. and international military officers and civilians to expand critical and creative thinking and develop problem solving skills as they pertain to decision making and leadership in the maritime domain. Once grounded in operational art, students learn to balance the ways, means, ends, and risks to achieve theater-strategic, and operational objectives.

Student Selected Elective - 10 weeks

Required | Elective
The NWC offers over one hundred different elective courses annually, and most are conducted in a dynamic small-seminar environment. The lineup of courses evolves annually, and NWC professors are encouraged to offer electives in their various specialties.

Incoming Students

Contact Information

Dean of Students Office

More Information

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Upcoming Events

February 12, 2019
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Naval War College main building
College of Naval Command & Staff Curriculum

Core Teaching

The Naval War College has three core teaching departments: Strategy and Policy, National Security Affairs, and Joint Military Operations, each with separate faculty. Each department teaches one intermediate level course (ILC) and one senior level course (SLC).

See Core Curriculum
Naval War College campus
Attending CNCS as a Civilian

Civilian Application

Every academic year, selected departments and agencies are invited to nominate civilian applicants in the grade of GS-13 or equivalent for admission to the College of Naval Command and Staff. Admission for civilian students nominated to the resident program requires a formal application to the Naval War College along with additional information.

More On Applying to CNCS