The Naval War College

"Always keep in mind the product which this country...needs is military leaders with the capability of solving complex problems and executing their decisions. You must keep your sights set on decision making or problem solving as your objective."

-VADM Stansfield Turner

President, U.S. Naval War College, 1972-74



On October 6, 1884, the Secretary of the Navy, William E. Chandler, issued General Order No. 325 establishing "a College for an advanced course of professional study for naval officers, to be known as the Naval War College." Founded in Newport, Rhode Island, the Naval War College is the oldest war college in the nation. Commodore Stephen B. Luce was the first president of the College, and his faculty included a naval professor and an army officer. Today this joint faculty has grown to include officers of all armed services as well as representatives of appropriate fields in the social and physical sciences. The second president of the War College, a former member of the faculty, was the great naval historian Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan. His lectures and writing on seapower contributed much to the development of the curriculum and brought prestige to the College.


The War College numbers among its graduates such distinguished naval officers as Admirals Sims, Spruance, King, Nimitz, and Halsey, as well as many international naval officers who have held or are presently holding prominent positions in their respective countries.


The mission of the Naval War College is to enhance the professional capabilities of its students to make sound decisions in the highest command management positions, and to conduct research leading to the development of advanced strategic, warfighting, and campaign concepts for the future employment of maritime, joint and combined forces.


From its initial single course of instruction, the Naval War College has evolved into four resident colleges with more than 500 students graduating annually. The student body consists of U.S. military officers from all branches of the armed forces, career civilians from a variety of government agencies, and international naval officers. The College of Naval Warfare (CNW) is the senior U.S. school, and its counterpart for senior international officers is the Naval Command College (NCC). The College of Naval Command and Staff (CNC&S) is for middle grade U.S. officers and career civilians. Each of these colleges offers a course of study which is ten months long. The Naval Staff College (NSC) provides both a ten-month and a five-month course of study for mid-career international officers. Qualified graduates from CNW and CNC&S receive a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.


The curriculum is divided into trimesters which examine Strategy & Policy (the study of fundamental military strategy with emphasis on maritime applications, foreign policy, and their interrelationships), National Security Decision Making (the study of the allocation of limited national resources to defense programs consistent with national goals), and Joint Military Operations (the study of the application of military forces to the national and maritime strategies in joint and combined operations).


Also part of the curriculum, the Electives Program offers approximately 105 separate courses which complement the core curriculum. Courses include subjects ranging from military theory, operations, tactics, and logistics to area studies and international relations, management, philosophy, and law. The objective of the Electives Program is to provide students with a variety of professionally relevant subjects in addition to those in the prescribed curriculum. The program also utilizes the talent of the faculty and staff by offering them the opportunity to teach independent courses in their fields of specialization, thereby diversifying and enriching the entire curriculum.


In addition to the four resident colleges, the Naval War College extends its academic program off-campus through the College of Distance Education in a series of correspondence and web-based courses and an off-campus Seminar Program. Annually, over 2000 students are enrolled in the College of Distance Education. Each year the War College also offers three, 12-day Reserve Officer courses in National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Policy, and Joint Military Operations to reservists selected by the Chief of Naval Reserve.


The Center for Naval Warfare Studies (CNWS) serves as a focal point, stimulus, and major source of naval strategic and campaign thought; links strategic concerns with technological developments; and integrates strategic campaign, and tactical warfighting concepts, and tests and evaluates these concepts through gaming methodologies. Over the last decade the CNWS has contributed to the development and articulation of the maritime component of the national maritime strategy and has been at the forefront of efforts to assess the nature of the changing national security environment. Studies, simulations, conferences and participation in national or international policy forums by members of CNWS have explored the whole spectrum of political-military issues ranging from the national security strategy interservice and interagency coordinated actions, multinational cooperation, oceans law and policy, and naval policies and strategies. The departments of the CNWS have responsibility for student and staff research and gaming and for policy and strategy analysis for the unified and service commands and agencies of the U.S. government.

Naval War College

686 Cushing Road
Newport, Rhode Island 02841