The July 2022 cohort selections are now finalized, and email notifications are out to those selected. Our next cohort will start in January 2023. The application window will open in November 2022 for our next cohort starting classes in January, 2023.


U.S. Army War College Graduate Certificate Program (GCP)

The U.S. Army War College is offering a new distance education certificate program for U.S. government (USG) national security professionals. The Graduate Certificate in National Security Studies (NSS) provides working professionals the flexibility to take online classes that help prepare them for future national security positions. The certificate program broadens students’ understanding of contemporary national security topics and helps students improve the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for positions. From 2020 to 2021, the U.S. Army War College offered select students the opportunity to participate in pilot courses and earn course certificates. Starting in January 2022, students are eligible to earn the Graduate Certificate in NSS once they complete all requirements.

NOTE: There are currently no tuition or fees charged for courses, however, students may be required to purchase up to $100 in textbooks per course. In the future, students may be required to pay tuition and fees during registration for courses.

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Who Can Apply?

Applicants must be a United States federal employee (civilian or military) and possess a bachelor’s degree to enroll in the program. Applicants who are USG civilians in a grade equivalent to GS 12-14 and Service Members in the grades of O4-5, CW3-5, E8-9 are given preference. Others may apply if they are in a mid-grade national security position as determined by the Admissions Committee. Until the program reaches full capability, the number of applicants selected will be limited due to resource constraints.

Requirements to Earn the Certificate in NSS:

Students must successfully complete four eight-week “core” courses (2 credits each) and one 2-credit hour elective course chosen from a wide variety of disciplines. Instructional modality is distance and courses can be a mix of asynchronous and synchronous delivery. The courses reinforce each other but remain independent so they can be taken in any sequence. Students can enroll in the program with intent to take one course or complete all courses to earn the Certificate in NSS. Elective courses provide students the opportunity to choose an area that interests them and/or advances their professional knowledge on a specific topic.

Student Effort and Expectations:

Students are expected to dedicate an average of 8-12 hours per week towards studies while courses are in session. This may vary week to week based on course material and faculty instructor expectations, but each course requires about 90 hours of total student effort in eight weeks. Course requirements typically include assigned readings, online blogs and journals, short papers, quizzes, video presentations, asynchronous group projects, and occasional synchronous classes. Faculty assess students on their ability to achieve course learning outcomes and provide graded feedback for specific requirements that enable students to demonstrate an understanding of course concepts.

NOTE: Please click below to expand descriptions of each course offering.

DE1401 - Art and Science of Effective Communication

Art and Science of Effective Communication reintroduces adult learners to practical elements of effective communication, including skills, strategies, and resources to both critique written and spoken presentations, and construct and deliver their own clear, persuasive, and memorable products to a variety of audiences.

DE1402 - Critical Thinking & Argumentation

This course equips students with the critical thinking and argumentation tools needed to make sound decisions or support courses of action based on logic, rationality, and coherence. We make explicit use of historical case studies to illustrate critical thinking and argumentation skills.

DE1403 - Introduction to Defense Strategy

Introduction to Defense Strategy focuses on improving student understanding of the elements and concepts of national security policy, national strategy and policymaking processes, and the relationship of the national elements of power to a nation’s defense strategy.

The course concentrates on improving student understanding of the elements and concepts of national security policy, the national strategy and policy making process, and the relationship of the national elements of power to a nation’s defense strategy. The curriculum provides a survey of a variety of topics that inform policy and its development. Strategic Theory, Military Schools of Strategic Thought, Strategy Formulation, DoD Strategy Process, Interagency Framework, Homeland Defense Security, Uses of History in Policymaking, Globalization and Economic Development, and the Current Strategic Environment are all topics that will be covered in the course. Moreover, Introduction to Defense Strategy addresses the national security policymaking process and the relationship of the national elements of power to defense strategy.

DE1404 - Contemporary Security Issues

Contemporary Security Issues focuses on the depth and breadth of the myriad national security challenges, such as great power war, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and artificial intelligence, in the context of the philosophical perspectives and historical development of the world in which we live.

NOTE: Please click below to expand and view additional course details.

Graduate Certificate Electives

Additional 2 credit hours of Graduate Level Courses

DE1454 - Advanced Critical Thinking

The Advanced Critical Thinking and Argumentation Elective is designed for military and civilian leaders who need to anticipate and evaluate the outcomes of their choices as they plan and execute combat operations on a strategic staff. The course focuses on thinking about thinking and decision-making. In-depth knowledge of international relations, foreign policy analysis, and military history is not a prerequisite. Students learn to apply concepts from decision science, game theory, and critical argumentation to strategic problem-solving. You will study strategic decisions in a set of case studies, then practice analyzing situations, thinking ahead of opponents, and balancing risks with opportunities. The ultimate goal is to understand how to see through the fog of war and take the initiative to win.

First, you will study how to use decision science and game theory to understand four strategic decisions from World War II. Then, in teams, you will research and analyze a contemporary strategic problem, consider possible courses of action to achieve a solution, and describe the key decisions you believe will be needed to arrive at the desired outcome. Along the way, you will practice building well-supported arguments, recognizing and avoiding cognitive bias, and assessing how risk and uncertainty affect the likelihood of outcomes. Finally, each team will present its solution to the class for discussion.

The course goes beyond study of historical military decisions and outcomes. You will study meta-decision-making—what decisions leaders believe they should make, when they believe the decisions are needed, and how they believe the decision should be made. Meta-decision-making is an essential strategic leader skill. Leaders who are skilled in thinking about decisions have the ability to stay one step ahead of the enemy—they can gain and maintaining a strategic advantage.

DE1456 - Strategic Culture: Warp & Woof of War

Strategic culture tells us how a nation’s norms and values influence the application of military power to the pursuit and protection of national interests. This elective course provides an opportunity to explore, assess, and analyze the strategic cultures of the United States, Russia, and China. A focus on national identity and the cultural-institutional context offers a promising avenue for elucidating the changing contours of national security policy. We will apply an analytical framework that illuminates the role politics, geography, society, culture, and identity play in shaping policy making and strategy development.

DE1462 – Pacific War Strategy 1941-45

This eight-week course provides students the opportunity to study and evaluate key national and theater strategic decisions of the 1941-1945 Pacific War. The purpose of the course is to expand students’ comprehension of strategy and strategic thinking and to enhance their ability to make or influence strategic decisions in the future. The primary focus is on American strategic decision making during the Pacific War fought from 1941 to 1945 between the Empire of Japan and the United States and its allies in the Pacific Ocean and Southwest Pacific Areas (POA and SWPA). However, students also consider the perspective of the Japanese and U.S. allies and will examine events in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, in Southeast Asia Command (SEAC), in the Russian Far East, and in Europe that affected the Pacific War. Student Requirements: Participation in forums and the submission of one 1500-word essay. All students must purchase the following required textbook prior to the start of the course: "Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan" by Ronald H. Spector.

DE1464 – Leadership Ethics

The Leadership Ethics course will challenge your thinking about the “hard right” over the “easy wrong.” Although leaders consistently face challenges, they can be better prepared and lead teams more effectively with a strong ethical foundation of decision making. The DE1464 course was created for students looking to enhance their decision-making skills in complex issues. Students will analyze ethical case studies through the lens of leadership and philosophy theories, providing multiple opportunities to synthesize personal decision making and argue justified reasoning. Student Requirements: Complete assigned readings and watch assigned videos as indicated in the syllabus. Actively participate in weekly forum discussions with initial and response posts. Students are evaluated on written communication standards for the forum discussions.

How to Apply:

Admissions. New Students click on the “Apply Here” link anywhere on this webpage and complete the online application. When your application is complete, click on the “submit” button. Incomplete applications or applications without a transcript will not be considered. NOTE: Applicants email an official or unofficial copy of their undergraduate transcript to the GCP Director and Program Manager until the upload function is available.

Students already enrolled in the pilot program are not required to submit an application but must still email a copy of their undergraduate transcript to the GCP Director and Program Manager to meet accreditation standards.

The U.S. Army War College will enroll students into the Graduate Certificate Program twice a calendar year in a winter cohort and a summer cohort. The 2022 Summer Cohort window will open in April 2022 and close in May 2022. Once students are admitted, they must email the GCP Director and Program Manager requests to register for courses. Students who enrolled during the pilot phase must contact the GCP Director and Program Manager to request courses needed to complete the Certificate in NSS.

Schedule of Courses:

The Graduate Certificate Program uses a four-term system to offer courses. The schedule for 2022 follows:

Graduate Certificate Program poster.

  • Students Notified of Admissions: ~2 Months after Admission Window Closes
  • Selection of Courses: ~2 Weeks Prior to Course Start
  • Courses Available in BlackBoard: ~1 Week prior to Start of Courses

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