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NDU Scholars Program

AY 2018-2019

Welcome to NDU! This fact sheet describes the NDU Scholars Program (NSP).

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WHAT IS THE NDU SCHOLARS PROGRAM?

The NSP is an optional research program for select students. All masters students at NDU must write an Individual Student Research Paper (ISRP). Your college sets the requirements, credit, and timeline for this paper. They also assign you a faculty research advisor. 

The NSP provides students with an alternative means of filling this requirement that includes: a) real-world topics from a variety of stakeholders, b) additional research support, including the possibility of research travel, c) the chance to brief successful projects to sponsoring stakeholders, and d) publication guidance and support. To qualify for these benefits, student research papers must achieve a higher level of scholarship and meet a more aggressive research schedule than the standard ISRP. 

The papers require more work and a high level of commitment, but give NDU students the chance to showcase their work to organizations and individuals who care about the topic.

WHAT REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS DOES IT COVER?

This academic year, the following organizations will submit research questions. Next to the organization is the NDU liaison that can help clarify questions about that organization’s topics, arrange for review of student-generated topics, and provide advice on developing a research proposal. They will also serve as your link to the organization.

HOW DO YOU GET INTO THE NSP?

If you are interested in the program, start looking at the AY 2018-2019 topics early. The full list of topics will be available on the NDU website by July 27, and you can reach out to the NDU liaison before you arrive on campus. 

You will receive a briefing on the NSP program during student orientation. At that point, you would contact the liaison associated with the command/topic that you are interested in. You should also contact your assigned research advisor.  

If you are still interested after a discussion, you must write a 1-page project proposal and submit it to your college’s research advisor by August 24th. If the college determines that the proposal will satisfy its ISRP requirements, your advisor will forward it to the NDU Scholars Board. You will be asked to present your research proposal orally between September 3-7. You will find out if your proposal was accepted by September 14. 

WHAT IF MY PROPOSAL IS NOT ACCEPTED BY THE NDU SCHOLARS BOARD?

If the board does not accept your research proposal for the NSP, you can still use it to meet your ISRP requirement. You will not have lost any momentum toward graduation. 

Note that the program is demanding and the selection criteria are necessarily high. The stakeholders have high expectations for the research. The goal is to produce research that can be briefed to senior officers and that can potentially be adapted for publication. 

WHAT DOES THE TIMELINE LOOK LIKE?

The timeline is aggressive:

  • Student proposals must be turned into the colleges by August 24th.
  • Students will present their proposals to the NDU Scholars Board September 3-7
  • Students find out if their proposal was accepted by September 14
  • Students submit and present their detailed research paper outline (including how they are framing the problem) to the NDU Scholars board October 22-26
  • Students submit and present their draft papers to the NDU Scholars Board for an In-Progress Review  January 7-11
  • Papers are due April 22

This timeline requires a lot of progress during September and October. The Board will need to see how you are framing the problem and your insights during the October oral presentation. At this point you may be told that your project is on course or that you need to make significant changes and re-submit your outline. You will receive another evaluation during January that could result in minimal guidance, significant guidance, or even off-ramping from the NSP program to the traditional ISRP. 

The advantage of this schedule is that significant problems will be detected early, thus improving the chances for a quality research product that meets stakeholder needs. 

WHO WILL SEE MY FINISHED WORK?

Your NDU liaison will send your paper (and an executive summary suitable for a senior officer) to the command that sponsored it and arrange for the scholar to brief the stakeholder. For those projects that the NDU Scholars Board believes could be publication worthy, the board members will work with the students to revise and resubmit the work for publication. Note that every journal has their own publication standards and timelines; it can take up to 6 months before an accepted paper is actually seen in print. 

WILL THIS PROJECT GUARANTEE ME A JOB AT THE SPONSORING COMMAND?

The NSP program allows you to interact with the sponsoring organization, but does not directly influence your follow-on assignment. The exception is Indo-Pacific Command, which will vet applicants against expected job openings and try to find scholars assignments within the broad Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. 

WHAT DOES A SUCCESSFUL PAPER LOOK LIKE?

We’ve attached an example of a successful paper and its executive summary.  “Red Swarm Rising:  The Strategic Threat of Chinese Drones” was written by Col. Stephen Jones, USAF, when he was a National War College student in AY 2014-15. Col. Jones drew upon his extensive operational knowledge of UAVs,  extrapolated the impact of trends in artificial intelligence, miniaturization, and autonomy, and focused on the potential impact within the Pacific Command AOR. His paper is well-argued and well written, and presents some clear policy recommendations relevant to Pacific Command and other organizations. Col. Jones was able to use travel funding from Pacific Command to attend the Zhuhai air show as part of his research.

Successful students are genuinely interested in their proposed topic, come with a basic understanding of how to do scholarly research (e.g. correctly frame a problem and apply their own original/defendable analysis to contribute to knowledge on that subject), and can also write well.