National Defense University

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The National Defense University (NDU) is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy. It is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Marine Lt. Gen. Frances C. Wilson as president.[1] It is located on the grounds of Fort Lesley McNair in Washington, D.C.

The university's mission is to prepare military and civilian leaders from the U.S. and other countries to better address national and international security challenges through multi-disciplinary educational programs, research, professional exchanges and outreach. The school's master's program is a one-year intensive study program.[1]

Most students are officers and selected civilians in Washington. Students take classes in advanced strategic methods and diplomacy. Several institutes serve the university in developing policies of the government, while also creating simulations and war games to help keep the military current with specific concerns.


Before 1946, the U.S. Military relied on specially-created programs to meet the specific needs of the time. They also made use of smaller training programs elsewhere. The closer integration of military forces and increasing complexity of strategy and technology necessitated the foundation of The National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

To better integrate all the learning of the programs, Congress created the National Defense University in 1976. In 1981, the Joint Forces Staff College was created, followed by the Information Resources Management College the next year. In 1984, the university created the Institute for National Strategic Studies to meet the demand for military research. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, NDU has primarily expanded its research centers, to develop better strategy and a more comprehensive education program.

After the Goldwater-Nichols Act and the House Armed Services Committee Skelton Panel Report, the University decided to seek authority to grant master's degrees. In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill that allowed NDU to grant the degree of Master of Science in National Resource Strategy upon graduates of the Industrial College, and the Master of Science in National Security Strategy upon graduates of the National War College. The university is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

It also includes a number of special programs including Capstone, Pinnacle, Keystone, the Joint Reserve Affairs Center, the NATO Staff Officer Orientation Course, the International Student Management Office, the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program, the National Security Education Program, the Interagency Transformation Program, and the Center for Strategic Communications.

Special programs

NDU, as part of its mission offers several course programs for further education to selected officers and NCOs. Capstone, Office of Reserve Affairs (ORA), School for National Security Executive Education (SNSEE), International Student Management Office (ISMO), National Security Education Program (NSEP), Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP), Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program (SDCFP), and the NATO Staff Officer Orientation Course (NSOOC).


1. National Defense University Gets New President, a July 14, 2006 press release from American Forces Press Service
2. Jeffrey McCausland, Educating Leaders in an Age of Uncertainty: The Future of Military War Colleges. Carlisle, PA: Dickinson College, 2005, p.266.

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