National Defense University

Educating, Developing and Inspiring National Security Leaders

The History of NDU

The Beginnings
Before World War II, American scholarship in the profession of arms matured in each of the military Services more or less independently. Requirements for advanced education for leaders of the Nation's land, sea, and air forces were met as they arose, and with distinction, by postgraduate colleges set up by and for the respective Services. The 20th century imposed a growing need for closer ties between force and diplomacy, between America's military Services and the industries that arm them, and particularly among our military centers of higher learning and research. This need led to the creation of the Army Industrial College in 1924 and, after World War II, the formation of Joint colleges of higher learning. The new Joint colleges created were the Armed Forces Staff College, now Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), and the National War College (NWC), and the name of the Army Industrial College was changed to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF).

Creation of The National Defense University
The National Defense University (NDU) was established in 1976 to consolidate the nation’s defense community intellectual resources, and ICAF and NWC became the first two constituent units of the new institution devoted to Joint higher learning. Today, NDU is comprised of five colleges. The JFSC was added to the University in 1981 and a year later the Department of Defense Computer Institute, now the Information Resources Management College (IRMC), was added. The newest college in the University is the College of International Security Affairs (CISA), which was created in 2002 as the School for National Security Executive Education, and then renamed in 2008.

Research Centers
Although these five colleges lie at the heart of the University's educational mission, developments in national security have required marked growth in the University’s research functions. The Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) was established early in the life of NDU as a policy research and applied strategic learning organization. INSS provides timely, objective analysis and gaming events to senior decision makers and supports NDU educational programs. Since 1994, the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) has helped U.S. government agencies to understand the security implications of WMD proliferation, fashion effective responses, and educate their emerging leaders on these challenges. The Center for Technology and National Security Policy was established in 2001 to study the implications of technological innovation for U.S. national security policy and military planning.

Degree Granting and Accreditation
Subsequent to passage of Congressional legislation known as the Goldwater-Nichols Act (1986) and the House Armed Services Committee Skelton Panel Report (1989), the University sought authority to award master's degrees to graduates of ICAF and NWC. The U.S. Department of Education conducted an extensive review of both programs and, in 1992, recommended to Congress and the President of the United States that NDU have authority to confer the Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy to graduates of ICAF, and the Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy to graduates of NWC. In addition to receiving this degree granting authority, the University, for quality enhancement purposes, elected to seek regional accreditation of its graduate degree programs. Initial accreditation was granted by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association on February 20, 1997. In accordance with Middle States Association policy, those master degrees awarded in academic year 1994-95 and subsequently are accredited. Today, the National Defense University is authorized to award the following four graduate degrees: Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies (CISA); Master of Science in National Resource Strategy (ICAF); Master of Science in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy (Joint Advanced Warfighting School, JFSC); and Master of Science in National Security Strategy (NWC).

NDU’s Mission
National Defense University (NDU) supports the joint warfighter by providing rigorous Joint Professional Military Education to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and select others in order to develop leaders that have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world.