NDU Student Writing Awards

Secretary of Defense National Security Essay Competition

Background and Criteria

Even though direct military force will continue to play a role in the campaign against terror, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory. Military operations must be subordinate to measures to promote participation in government, economic programs to spur development, and efforts to address the grievances that often lie at the heart of insurgencies and among the discontented from whom terrorists recruit. It will take the patient accumulation of quiet successes over time to discredit and defeat extremist movements and their ideology. Moreover, much of our national security strategy depends upon securing the cooperation of other nations, which will depend heavily on the extent to which our efforts abroad are viewed as legitimate by their publics.

Because of these new roles of participation, development, and cooperation both within and outside of the military realm, the Secretary of Defense National Security Essay Competition seeks to stimulate new approaches to coordinated civilian and military actions from a broad spectrum of civilian and military students. Essays should address U.S. Government structure, policies, capabilities, resources, and/or practices and provide creative, feasible ideas on how best to orchestrate the core competencies of our national security institutions.

Essay should be a research paper with a maximum of 8,000 words. Essays must be original, not previously published, and completed during the academic year. Entries cannot be submitted for publication to any other journal or academic press concurrent with these competitions. Two or more students may coauthor an entry


  • Students submit papers through their appropriate college/school, which then nominates papers for the essay competitions. All submissions must be received by NDU Press not later than April 22, 2022.

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) National Defense and Military Strategy Essay Competitions

Background and Criteria

This competition challenges students at the joint professional military education (JPME) institutions to research and write scholarly essays about significant aspects of national defense and military strategy. The purpose of this competition is to stimulate strategic thinking, promote well-written research, and contribute to a broader security debate among professionals.

Candidates can either submit a Strategic Research Paper or a Strategy Article. A Strategic Research Paper must be a maximum of 5,000 words, and consist of in-depth research, analysis, and critical thinking on strategic security topics. The Strategy article is a maximum of 1,500 words, and is a scholarly but tightly focused research paper.


  • Students submit papers through their appropriate college/school, which then nominates papers for the essay competitions. All submissions must be received by NDU Press not later than April 22, 2022.

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NDU Women, Peace, and Security Student Research and Writing Competition

Criteria for Selection

As part of NDU’s commitment to implement the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Strategy, students are invited to participate in the annual WPS research and writing competition. Students can submit research papers, theses, or written assignments, from any of their NDU courses for award consideration. Winning papers will address one or more of the following areas:

How a gendered understanding, perspective and/or approach relate to: Advancing peace, national security, economic and social development, and/or international cooperation; Conflict resolution; Peacebuilding; Conflict prevention; Protection of rights; Protection from gender-based harms; Protection of women and girls during and after conflict; Access to relief and recovery; Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief; Leadership; Counterterrorism efforts; Gender equality in military, law enforcement, and other security services.  

Research Paper Guidelines

  • Candidates must be enrolled at NDU during the 2021-2022 academic year.  
  • Submissions must reflect graduate-level writing, be free of errors, and suitable for publication. 
  • Papers must be submitted to one of the committee members listed below no later than May 2, 2022. 
  • See additional WPS Competition instructions


The winner will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement signed by NDU-P.  The selection committee reserves the right to award an Honorable Mention to a runner up. Winners may also be invited by partner organizations to present their research to a wider audience. 


NDU Library’s Women Peace and Security website: https://ndu.libguides.com/MERLN_WPS (*Requires student account)

Questions and Submissions

For any questions, and to submit your paper, please contact Dr. John Yaeger, Academic Affairs.