Marine Corps Doctor of Philosophy Strategist Program
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Marine Corps University
Quantico, Virginia


The purpose of this program is to select up to two officers to fill Marine Corps requirements for doctorates with a focus on strategic affairs. 

This track is designed for candidates to complete coursework within two academic years and a dissertation within one academic year.  Candidates are expected to complete the program within three academic years. 

Candidate programs in the National Capital Region (NCR) 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 case-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 policy, political science, and government. Those interested in Military History programs leading to a PhD are encouraged to apply to The Ohio State University (OSU) and Texas A&M University (TAMU), as key professors at those graduate schools have expressed interest in the PHDP-S.

Eligibility Requirements

1.  Unrestricted officers: major (selects), majors, lieutenant colonel (selects), and lieutenant colonels with less than 19 years commissioned service by July 31, 2023. 

2.  Officers with no less than two-years time on station by the start of PhD coursework (roughly July 2023).  

3.  Hold at least a Secret Clearance and be eligible for a Top Secret or Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI).

4.  Earned master’s degree with a GPA of 3.5 or higher from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting body recognized by the Department of Education in a discipline related to one of the specified doctoral fields of study listed in paragraph 5.a. 

5.  Officers with a current Graduate Record Examination (GRE). To be considered current, GRE must have been taken no earlier than 1 January 2018. Competitive GRE scores are generally considered minimums of 153 verbal reasoning, 156 quantitative reasoning, and 4.0 analytical writing.

Applicants may request a waiver on a case-by-case basis when a civilian institution’s doctoral program prerequisites differ from these minimum standards.


1.  Officers in the above zone.

2.  Officers with an approved separation or retirement date.

3.  Restricted officers.

4.  Officers currently in a Graduate Education Program or Advanced Civilian Schools Program (ACSP) utilization tour are not eligible to apply until they have completed at least 24-months of their assigned utilization tour by 30 September, 2022.

5.  Officers in a required utilization tour incurred through education or training, other than GEP/ACSP, with a date of departure after 30 September 2023.

Service Requirements

All applicants must agree in writing to:

1.  Not tender resignation or request separation or retirement while participating in the program or during period of service obligation.

2.  An active duty service commitment from the date of completed coursework for six years. Should participants fail to meet the PhD coursework requirements, they will incur an active duty service obligation equal to three times the number of months of education completed during the first year of coursework or four years if the education received is greater than twelve months. The service obligation will run concurrently with any other individual service obligation.

3.  Upon successful completion of the degree 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.


1.  Officers will be pre-screened by elements of MCU and CD&I to determine whether the applicants are qualified to represent the Marine Corps.

2.  Officers recommended with confidence in the pre-screening will be forwarded to the Commandant's Education Board for final selection as a sub-board. 

3.  Officers will be notified of PHDP selection results via MARADMIN immediately following the PhD selection portion of the Commandant’s Education Board in order to provide selectees sufficient time to apply to doctoral programs. 

4.  Receipt of orders to either of the tracks is contingent upon official acceptance to an approved doctoral program. Dir, MM is the final approval authority for all assignments to the PHDP. 

5.  Marines pending screening by a promotion board may be selected contingent upon selection to the next rank.


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:  PHDP-S Application Portal


1.  Application submission questions may be directed to MMOA-3 for the PHDP via email to SMBMMOAGRADEDU(at), subject titled “Marine Corps Doctor of Philosophy Program (PHDP).”

2.  PHDP-S questions may be directed to MCU for program requirements via e-mail to MCU_PHDPS_APPLICATION(AT)USMCU.EDU. 


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