The College of Naval Warfare is a multidisciplinary program designed for U.S. Naval and Coast Guard officers in the grades of captain or commander, U.S. Marine Corps, Army and Air Force officers in the grades of colonel or lieutenant colonel and civilians of equivalent seniority from various federal agencies. This senior level professional military education program provides students with executive-level preparation for higher responsibilities as senior captains/colonels and flag/general officers.
Military students are selected to attend the College of Naval Warfare by their respective services. All officers who attend the College of Naval Warfare will have bachelor's degree--historically, on average, more than half will already have been awarded master's degrees and three percent will hold doctorates, will have compiled outstanding performance records during their 15 to 20-year service careers to date, and will be considered to possess the potential for future achievement and promotion within their respective services and the joint arena. While each service has its own selection process, in the case of the U.S. Navy, each annual board convened to select officers for promotion to commander then proceeds to choose candidates for the College of Naval Warfare from among those commander-selectees; all captain selectees are considered eligible to attend a senior service college. Attendance by civilian officials is by invitation to their federal agencies, who in turn nominate their respective candidates using similar selection criteria.
While the size of each College of Naval Warfare class varies slightly due to a number of factors, a typical class will be comprised of 200-225 students. Although the majority of U.S. naval officers and officers from the other U.S. services and civilians in the class will begin their studies in August, nearly one-half of the Navy students and several of their classmates matriculate at the beginning of either the winter or spring trimesters of a given academic year.
College of Naval Warfare students pursue studies in each of the Naval War College's three core subject areas in the following order of presentation: National Security Decision Making, Strategy and Policy, and Joint Military Operations. During the first two of these trimesters, College of Naval Warfare students will be joined in lectures and in seminars by international students of the Naval Command College. Each College of Naval Warfare student is also required to enroll in one Elective Program course of his or her choice per trimester. A limited number of students in each class may, with selection committee approval, forego up to one trimester of the core curriculum to participate in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies' Advanced Research Program.