HomeAcademic ProgramsCMC Fellows & Strategists, Foreign PME, & Olmsted ScholarsCommandant of the Marine Corps Strategist Program

Commandant of the Marine Corps Strategist Program

The Marine Corps Doctor of Philosophy Program (PHDP) / Commandant of the Marine Corps Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Strategist Program (CMCSP) Track 

Program Description

The Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) has directed development of a six-year pilot program under the cognizance of the Commanding General, Education Command/President, MCU to create a cohort of strategic leaders for service at senior commands and staffs. Officers selected for the CMCSP will be assigned to a doctoral program at top civilian universities primarily in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The intent is to create a cadre of high caliber officers with doctoral level credentials to serve as strategists in key billets throughout the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense (DOD). The end state is the creation of a cadre of experts in strategic affairs within the Marine Corps.

Program Concept and Track

Candidate programs in the National Capital Region (NCR) within range of a no-cost move to Marine Corps University, Quantico include: American University (School of International Service and School of Public Affairs), George Mason University (School of Public Policy and Government) and Georgetown University. Other schools in the NCR and beyond the NCR will be considered on a  ase-by-case basis by assessing any fiscal constraints and program timelines. Schools and disciplines include programs related to the study of strategy, national security, military history, public  olicy, political science, government, and related programs. Those interested in Military History programs leading to a PhD would be encouraged to apply to The Ohio State University (OSU) and Texas A&M University (TAMU) as key professors at those graduate schools that have expressed interest in the CMCSP.

The CMCSP track is designed for two (2) years of coursework followed by two (2) years of dissertation work. Upon completing all doctorate degree requirements, officers will receive the Additional Military Occupational Specialty (AMOS) 05XX, Marine Corps Strategist. The specific 05XX designation is to be determined.

Officers successfully earning a PhD via the CMCSP will serve a two (2) year utilization tour in a strategy related billet. These assignments will include positions at HQMC, MCU, OSD, and the MEF and Joint Staffs. The utilization tour may follow immediately upon completion of the program, or may be delayed or curtailed in the event of selection to command, professional development considerations, or other needs of the Marine Corps. Officers remain eligible for additional utilization tours consistent with their career development.

Program Selection

All officers who meet the eligibility requirements are highly encouraged to apply.

Officers will be pre-screened by elements of Marine Corps University (MCU) to determine whether the applicants are qualified and competitive for acceptance into a civilian PhD program. Officers recommended with confidence in the pre-screening will be forwarded to the Commandant Education Board (CPIB/CCLEB) for final selection as a sub-board. Officers will be notified via a results MarAdmin. Receipt of orders is contingent upon official acceptance to an approved doctoral program. Dir, MM is the final approval authority for all assignments to the PHDP.

For planning purposes, most PhD programs require final applications in mid-December. Finalists must be prepared to work on their statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and ensure all necessary documentation to apply to PhD programs.

Partner university programs are highly competitive and retain the right to deny admission to applicants not competitive with their larger pool of applicants. Officers applying for the CMCSP are cautioned not to make final application to a PhD program until officially notified that they are a selected candidate. Selected candidates are responsible for the school application fee if it cannot be waived.

Once accepted into a PhD program, the selected candidate is officially entered into the CMCSP.

Selected CMCSP officers will be assigned to the nearest USMC unit during the course of their PhD program.

MCU will provide administration support and mentorship for CMCSP Marines throughout the program. Support includes Reporting Senior/Reviewing Officer responsibilities for fitness reports, payment of tuition and authorized academic fees, and office space and information technology support during the dissertation phase of the program.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Unrestricted officers: captains with two (2) years or more time in grade as of 1 January 2020, in-zone for major, major (selects), majors, lieutenant colonel (selects), and lieutenant colonels with less than 20 years commissioned service by 1 August 2020.
  • Officers with no less than two-years time on station by the start of PhD course work (roughly August 2020). 
  • Hold at least a Secret Clearance and be eligible for a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.
  • Possess an accredited master's degree with a GPA of 3.5 or higher in a discipline preferably related to one of the specified doctorial fields of study listed above.
  • Officers with a current Graduate Record Examination (GRE). To be considered current, GRE must have been taken no earlier than 1 January 2015. Competitive GRE scores are generally considered minimums of 153 verbal reasoning, 144 quantitative reasoning, and 4.0 analytical writing.


  • Officers in the above zone.
  • Officers with an approved separation or retirement date.
  • Restricted officers.
  • Officers currently in a Special Education Program (SEP) or Advance Degree Program (ADP) utilization tour are not eligible to apply until they have completed at least 24-months of their assigned utilization tour.
  • Officers in a required utilization tour incurred through education or training, other than SEP/ADP, with a date of departure after 30 September 2020.
  • Reserve or Active Reserve (AR) officers.

Application Process

Submit applications and all supporting documents to MMOA no later than 2 August 2019 via the MMOA doctoral application portal at the Application Portal.

Documentation (see sample application at link below)

  1. Narrative biography.
  2. Personal data sheet.
  3. List of duty assignments.
  4. Statement of Purpose. Describe in two pages the reasons for wanting to pursue a PhD in a strategy related discipline. (Target audience is the PhD program of interest selection committee.)
  5. A list of all post-secondary education - name of institution, dates, type and subject of degree earned (if any). Include resident and non-resident OPME courses.
  6. Transcripts of all post-secondary education. Institution transcripts issued to student and submitted as part of the application are sufficient for review by the CMCSP selection board. Selectees must be prepared to also submit official transcripts when subsequently applying to the specific doctoral program(s).
  7. Proof of GRE scores.
  8. Three letters of recommendation from former academic advisors and/or senior officers.
  9. Release of information form
  10. Positive endorsement to at least the first general officer/SES in the chain of command.

Click the link for the application template: CMCSP Application

Service Obligation

All applicants must agree in writing to:

  • Not tender resignation or request separation or retirement while participating in the program.
  • An active duty service commitment from the date of completed coursework for six years. Should a participant fail to meet the PhD coursework requirements, they will incur a active duty service obligation equal to three times the number of months of education completed during the first year of coursework. The service obligation will run concurrent with any other individual service obligation.
  • Upon successful completion of program, participants will serve in at least one utilization tour prior to separation from the active duty Marine Corps, based on the needs of the Marine Corps.


**Technical PhD Program:

Visit the PHDP-T website at www.manpower.usmc.mil.


  • 30 May 2019 - PHDP solicitation MARADMIN released. Found here.


Program application questions may be directed to MMOA via e-mail at smbmanpowerofficerpr@usmc.mil.

PHDP-T (Technical Track) Program questions may be directed to Maj Clifford Wakeman at clifford.wakeman@usmc.mil.

CMCSP (Strategist Track): Program questions may be directed to Marine Corps University at CMCSP Questions.