The National War College annually hosts roughly 220 mid-career students
drawn from the U.S. military services, civilian U.S. government departments
and agencies, and more than 30 foreign countries. These students are selected
for attendance by their services, departments, and countries, in consultation
with NWC. (There is no process for others to "apply" for admission to NWC.
Military students are either 0-5 (lieutenant colonel or Navy commander)
or 0-6 (colonel or captain) in rank (or in a few international cases, 0-7
or flag officer rank). Civilian students are of comparable seniority. All
come to NWC with extensive experience in their fields; many already possess a graduate degree.
For administrative and social purposes, NWC organizes its student body into
ten "homeroom" committees. Each committee of 17 or 19 students represents
a microcosm of the full student body mix headed by its own student committee
chair and advised and assisted by two to three faculty members. Students
remain assigned to the same committees throughout the year, and those committees
are the locus for student gatherings before, between, and after classes,
for student intramural athletic competitions, and for the students' extracurricular
The seminar is the basic teaching and learning venue at NWC. Committed to
maintaining a teaching seminar size of thirteen students for core courses
6100-6600, NWC runs sixteen seminars simultaneously for each of these
core courses, each under the tutelage of a faculty seminar leader.
Each core seminar is a microcosm of the full student body, reflecting as
accurately as possible the mix of military and civilian students in the
class, as well as the composition of the services and various federal agencies.
Individual core course seminars consist of a student mix that is roughly
18 % Army, 18% Air Force, 18% Sea Service, 31% civilian, and 15% international.
Almost all core seminars have two International Fellows, one Marine, and
one State Department officer. A typical seminar might have: one armor officer,
one JAG officer, and one foreign affairs officer from the Army; one submariner
from the Navy; one infantry officer from the Marines; one bomber pilot,
one missileer, and one logistics officer from the Air Force; one International
Fellow who is an 0-6 aviator in his country's air force, and another who
is a surface warfare officer in his country's navy. Key to International
Fellow distribution is regional distribution to ensure a wide variation
of regional expertise and perspective in each seminar.
This mix reflects one of the most important advantages of the War College:
The ability that it provides students to interact with and learn from peers
from other backgrounds and experiences. Students routinely report that the
range of service, interagency and international perspectives reflected in
the NWC seminar rooms provides them with many of their most important learning
experiences during the year. Because of the seniority of NWC students, they
end up learning as much from each other as from their instructors of guest
speakers, and the broad range of student backgrounds helps to ensure that
the process will provide wide-ranging and diverse insights.
Students are re-sectioned into different teaching seminars for each of the
six major core courses which run in sequence throughout the year, and are also sectioned for core course 6610,
Field Studies, which runs concurrently throughout the year. These re-sectionings are managed to maximize students' exposure
to the population at large of their NWC classmates. Our goal is to ensure
that students are not seated in a seminar with another student more than
twice during their core course experience, to enable students to interact
intellectually with a high percentage of their classmates. Students also
participate in elective courses, through which they encounter students from
throughout the National Defense University (ICAF, CISA, IRMC, and NDU) system.