Command and Staff College
Marine Corps University Logo
Marine Corps University
Quantico, Virginia


The Command and Staff College is a ten-month program for majors, lieutenant commanders, and U.S. government civilian professionals that fulfills Joint Professional Military Education Phase I requirements. Students have the option of completing the requirements for a Master of Military Studies (MMS) degree.


The Marine Corps Command and Staff College provides graduate level education and training in order to develop critical thinkers, innovative problem solvers, and ethical leaders who will serve as commanders and staff officers with Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTF) and with service, joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational organizations confronting complex and uncertain security environments.


The U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College originated as the Field Officer’s Course in Quantico, Virginia in 1920.  Originally mirroring the U.S. Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, by 1933 the course evolved to better address the Marine Corps’ missions as an element of the naval service.  The course was suspended that year as the faculty and student body worked together to develop a draft amphibious doctrine for the Marine Corps, and resumed again in 1934.   

In 1941 the Field Officer’s Course was suspended again as its student body was reassigned to train the large number of lieutenants needed for World War II.   A three-month Command and Staff Course was created in 1943 to train Marine Corps and sister service field grade officers in amphibious warfare.  In 1946 the course was lengthened into a one-year comprehensive program on the prewar model.  The name of the school was changed to the present title of the Command and Staff College in 1968.




Command and Staff College courses are taught by a military and civilian faculty divided into four departments: Leadership, Warfighting, War Studies, and Security Studies.  The program consists of eleven core courses and two electives (electives change each year and are not listed).

  • Leadership in the Profession of Arms I

  • Evolution of Modern Warfare 

  • National Security Affairs and the International System

  • Joint and Marine Corps Operations

  • The Marine Corps Planning Process

  • Leadership in the Profession of Arms II

  • Origins and Evolution of Contemporary Great Power Competition

  • Evolving National Security Concepts and Operations

  • Complex Operational Problem Solving and Design

  • Master of Military Studies

  • Capstone Planning Exercise (PC-X) 




Program Outcomes

  1. War and Conflict: Analyze the continuum of competition, conflict, and war and the practice of operational art through the lens of joint warfighting.  

  2. Policy and Doctrine: Analyze national policy and strategy, joint and Marine Corps Doctrine, and their application in the current and future security environment.         

  3. Culture: Understand the effects of culture on military operations and security matters.

  4. Thinking, Solving, and Communicating: Apply critical thinking, and innovative solutions to complex issues with clarity and precision in both oral and written forms.

  5. Change: Anticipate change, recognize opportunity and risk, and lead transitions.    

  6. Leadership in the Profession of Arms: Lead in an ethical manner while serving as commanders and staff officers.

  7. Operations in the Information Environment: Gain an information advantage by applying the power of information and understanding its effects.    

Admissions Policy

Admission to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (CSC) is based on allocations granted by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The CSC Admissions Policy supports the mission and purpose of the College and reflects the needs of the United States Marine Corps and the educational criteria of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Officer Professional Military Education Policy. The CSC student body consists of three distinct student populations: U.S. military officers, international military officers, and Federal Government civilian employees. Invitation, nomination, and admission to the College vary by student type: U.S. military officers are admitted through their services’ selection assignment processes; international officers and Federal Government civilian employees are admitted through an invitational nomination/approval process.

Student nominations for the Command and Staff College are processed as follows:​

  • U.S. military student nominations are processed by the responsible military manpower department which screens all eligible officers in accordance with their regulations for intermediate-level school selection. They must provide the Command and Staff College with a roster of officers’ names by 1 March for the succeeding academic year which begins in early August.

  • Foreign military student nominations are provided by those countries invited to participate in a professional military officer education exchange program sponsored by the Department of Defense. This program includes not only attendance at the Command and Staff College, but also participation in an American Culture Field Studies Program for which special lectures, trips, and social activities are scheduled throughout the academic year. Background on students nominated under this program must be submitted to the College by 1 July for the succeeding academic year which begins in August.

  • Civilian, U.S. Federal Government employee nominations are to be processed by the nominating agency’s training office with a letter providing background information on the individuals forwarded to the Director, Command and Staff College, for final review and approval. Nomination letters must be received by 1 April for the succeeding academic year which begins in July/August. Note: Civilian agencies are responsible for any and all expenses associated with any special needs for their personnel attending CSC, e.g., medical, handicap requirements, etc. Since this is a U.S. Military institution, all attendees must meet the physical requirements for deployable military personnel or bear the expense for any exceptions.​

  • CSC Grading Policy 



Admission Requirements​​

  • General admission requirements for the Command and Staff College include:​

  • Grade: O-4 (Major/LCDR) for military officers; GS/GM-12/13 for Federal Government civilian employees.

  • Security Clearance: U.S. applicants require a Secret clearance that will not expire during the academic year.

  • Undergraduate degree: All U.S. officers and civilians must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university.

  • Ability to rapidly comprehend and analyze large amounts of reading and contribute effectively during graduate-level, competitive seminars led by a variety of professors and military faculty.

  • A career record that demonstrates proven leadership and management successes with a potential to serve in future positions of increased responsibility.

  • Marine Corps officers must meet O-3 PME requirements as identified in the USMC PME Order (MCO P1553.4A).

  • Federal Government civilian employees are required to have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and operational experience that will enhance the educational interaction between military and interagency students (operational experience includes intelligence or security related positions at overseas posts, national or international intelligence or law enforcement positions, or agency liaison officer positions serving with U.S. or international military organizations).

  • International Military Officers must meet English proficiency requirements with a minimum score of 80 on the Defense Language Institute’s English Comprehension Level (ECL) test.



Physical and Skill Requirements

  • The Command and Staff College curriculum is dynamic and interactive. Students are required to travel and actively participate in various educational forums. Specific physical and skill requirements are as follows:​

  • Small-group interaction in wargame scenarios and practical application exercises, which requires individual and group military planning, map reading, and briefing skills.

  • Must meet the physical fitness and height/weight requirements for their respective military service or Federal Government agency.

  • Active participation in battlefield staff rides, which includes walking, hiking, and analyzing the battlefield’s terrain, role-playing, and conducting on-site, oral briefs.

  • Nominees with special medical needs are advised that medical care may not be available while traveling or conducting battlefield staff rides at remote and overseas locations. This should be considered prior to nomination.



CSC Master of Military Studies program​

  • The CSC Master of Military Studies program is available to those qualified students who wish to seek a professional master’s degree. Application procedures are detailed in the annual CSC publication Master of Military Studies Requirements for the Degree. Admission to the College’s Master of Military Studies Program is limited to those officers who also meet the following requirements:​

  • The applicant must hold a regionally or nationally accredited undergraduate degree (United States bachelor’s degree or its equivalent) and must submit an official transcript to the Marine Corps University (MCU) Registrar by the designated date.

  • International officers must take, prior to arrival at CSC, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and obtain a score of 560 Paper-Based Test (PBT), 220 Computer-Based Test (CBT) or 83 Internet-based Test (iBT). Official paperwork with the test scores must be submitted to the MCU Registrar.

  • The applicant must, at the time of application, have signatures of concurrence from both conference group faculty advisors.

  • The applicant must meet the prescribed deadlines for progress on all MMS requirements.​

  • Candidates, including International Officers, must earn at least a grade of “B” for all Command and Staff College courses, including electives.



Learning Outcomes for MMS​

  • ​​​​​Analyze appropriate research sources to support written projects. 

  • ​Formulate reasoned, well organized oral and written arguments.​



Helpful Links and Points of Contact

New Student Check-In

International Military Students (IMS)

Preparatory Knowledge Program

Military Housing Information

MCU Library


Contact Marine Corps University Student Services at:

Contact Marine Corps Command and Staff College at:

Informed by the study of history and culture, the Command and Staff College distance education program (CSCDEP) provides officers with graduate level professional military education and training to produce skilled warfighting leaders able to overcome diverse 21st century security challenges. CSCDEP develops critical thinkers, innovative problem solvers, and ethical leaders who will serve as commanders and staff officers in service, joint, interagency, and multinational organizations confronting complex and uncertain security environments. In conjunction with the application of Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF) doctrine and techniques for the changing conditions of warfare, this program provides the tools necessary to defeat a full spectrum of opponents.




8901, Theory and Nature of War

This course introduces students to important military theory and describes its impact on how we conduct war. The student will read selected works of history's greatest military theorists and then compare and contrast their theories. By applying these theories to selected eras and events in military history, students will be able to analyze the evolution of warfare from the late 18th century to the present, and recognize and describe the nature of change in the characteristics of war in selected time frames. This course also discusses the concept of an "American way of war" and how it helped frame how Marines think about and conduct war.

8902, National and International Security Studies

This course imparts in students the requisite knowledge of the national security structure expected of field grade officers operating in a joint environment. Officers at this level can expect assignments that require not only knowledge of the national security environment, but the ability to synthesize that knowledge (the means) to develop and convey strategies (the ways), that lead to the accomplishment of complex tasks (the ends). 8901 provided the foundation for this course; 8903 will use the strategic foundation from 8902 to help facilitate Joint Force organization and employment understanding.

8903, Joint Operations

This course focuses on the organization and employment of joint forces by using recent historical examples; current joint doctrine; and readings on how joint forces, other government agencies, and international participants interact. Upon completion of 8903, students will better understand Service contributions to joint operations and will possess an improved ability to employ joint forces in the contemporary operating environment.

8904, Operational Art

This course focuses on operational warfare, campaigning, and transforming strategic guidance into the employment of military forces at the operational level of war. National security operations should be coordinated from the highest level of policymaking (strategy) to the basic level of execution (tactics). The operational level links the two levels, providing direction and purpose to campaigns and other military operations. As the bridge between strategy and tactics, the operational level is where campaigns are designed and conducted.

8905, Small Wars

This course covers the characteristics, operational environments, and planning considerations of small wars, and those contingencies and crises that fall short of major war. The course provides opportunities to explore the following: current concepts and doctrine related to small wars; a case study of the Philippine War and its relevance to small wars doctrine and operational approaches; insights from other historical small wars operations in the 20th and 21st centuries; and perspectives that challenge current small wars doctrine and approaches, providing us an opportunity to analyze how we should address these types of operations in the future. The goal of the course is to enhance learners' operational acumen in planning and executing small wars operations in the future.

8906, MAGTF Expeditionary Operations

This course presents many critical concepts and subjects which are vital for Marine Corps planners to master. Thoroughly understanding these subjects will allow them to effectively function in today's operational environment: whether on Service component, joint, or combined staffs. 8906 expands on ideas from 8903 and examines their applicability in MAGTF operations. An in-depth understanding of Marine Corps warfighting concepts and organization, as well as how operations are conducted, provides the basis for comprehending how Marines contribute to joint operations.

8907, Naval Expeditionary Operations

This course is designed to help learners gain a better understanding of why and how the Marine Corps has fought, and will fight, with the U.S. Navy in the littorals.  The content of this course is conveyed through a combination of historical vignettes, doctrinal readings, and contemporary articles and videos, and culminates with a practical exercise (PE) designed to help learners synthesize what they have learned in previous lessons.

8908, Operation Planning (and Final Exercise)

This course is designed to enhance the conventional and irregular warfare planning abilities of future commanders and staff officers by helping them develop a working knowledge of the Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) and the Joint Planning Process (JPP) within the framework of joint and MAGTF operational doctrine. This course exercises the students' creative thinking, critical reasoning, and collaboration abilities, which are necessary to perform JTF/component/MEF-level operation planning in joint and multinational environments.




The following personnel are eligible to participate (in order of priority):

  1. Marine Corps majors (unrestricted, limited duty, and select)

  2. Marine Corps chief warrant officer (CWO) 4s and CWO4 selects

  3. International officers

  4. Sister service majors/lieutenant commanders

  5. Government civilians (GS-13 equivalent and above)

If space is available:

  1. Marine Corps captains who are career level school (CLS) complete and have two years time-in-grade at the time of reporting

  2. Marine Corps CWO3s who are CLS complete and have two years time-in-grade at the time of reporting (This excludes the blended seminar program.)

  3. Marine Corps staff noncommissioned officers (SNCOs) of grade E-8 and E-9 with an approved waiver request




CDET's regional offices work with each student to determine a schedule that best fits their educational goals and the constraints of their personal time. At the end of a program's enrollment period, the regional office for each region creates a set of seminar schedules to accomodate the students as much as possible while meeting the requirements of the seminar. This ensures that each seminar has an appropriate class size and a variety of MOSs to encourage discussion and interaction.

Four types of seminar schedules are offered: weekday, weekend, online, and the blended seminar program. Online portions of seminars are done via Moodle.



Weekday, Weekend, and Online

Weekday, weekend, and online schedules are designed to deliver the entire curriculum in two academic years. (Students are enrolled and allowed 3 years to complete the program.)


Students meet on-site one night per week (2-3 hours). Additional coursework is done online throughout the week.

  1. AY24 CSCDEP Weekday Schedule, 1st Half

  2. AY24 CSCDEP Weekday Schedule, 2nd Half


This is similar to a weekday schedule except that it is done asynchronously online. Instead of participating in a classroom environment, students interact on Moodle.

  1. AY24 CSCDEP Weekday Schedule, 1st Half

  2. AY24 CSCDEP Weekday Schedule, 2nd Half


Students meet on-site one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) per month.

  1. AY24 CSCDEP Weekend Schedule, 1st Half

  2. AY24 CSCDEP Weekend Schedule, 2nd Half

Reserve officers can apply for a funded seat in a weekend seminar by submitting a student application and a signed Separate Written Agreement to Train (SWAT) via email to the reserve liaison office. See MARADMIN 083/21 for more details.

Schedules for individual seminars are provided by region.




To enroll in a weekday, weekend, or online seminar, submit a request through MarineNet for course code 8900ZZ0000. Make sure your information is correct and click "Start" at the bottom to submit your enrollment request. The status of your request will be displayed under the notifications tab on the MarineNet home page.

Contact your local regional office for more information.



Blended Seminar Program

BSPs combine resident and online education. Students also participate in extracurricular field studies program events.

The blended seminar program provides students with an opportunity to receive their professional military education (PME) through a combination of resident and non-resident (online) education at or near their home station. These BSPs enable students to gain a greater depth of educational experience, while minimizing family turbulence by allowing them to remain on station and with their commands.

In addition to the standard curriculums, students participate in extracurricular field studies program events to include staff rides and visits to surrounding national historic sites which are representative of our culture, national heritage, and government institutions.

The blended seminar program allows applicable military personnel to complete intermediate level school (ILS) requirements within a single academic year—as opposed to two academic years for the traditional on-site or online seminars. The initial resident period lasts for 5 weeks. The non-resident, online period lasts for 28 weeks. Students then return for their final resident period of 6 weeks and participate in an official graduation ceremony. The resident periods are held at Quantico, VA; Camp Lejeune, NC; and Camp Pendleton, CA.

  1. AY25 Blended Seminar Program Schedules

Schedules for individual seminars are provided by region.




To enroll in the blended seminar program, contact the regional office for the region you would like to attend (Quantico, Camp Lejeune, or Camp Pendleton).



Funded Seats

International and reserve officers might be able to apply for a funded seat.

Reserve Officers

Apply for a funded seat in a blended seminar program by submitting an application via the Manpower & Reserve Affairs website, as stated in MARADMIN 186/23The Convening of AY23–24 CDET CSC and EWS Blended Seminar Program Selection Board for Reserve Officers.

Contact the reserve liaison office for more information.

International Officers

Seats for international officers are apportioned via the Security Cooperation Officers at each US embassy. International officers interested in the blended seminar program can submit an enrollment form to express interest.




  • MARADMIN 186/23The Convening of AY23–24 CDET CSC and EWS Blended Seminar Program Selection Board for Reserve Officers

  • MARADMIN 575/15TECOM Formal Schools Travel Support (FSTS) Program Guidance

Faculty Directory


Dr. Jorge E. Benitez
​Associate Professor of International Relations

LTC Jay A. Bessey, USA
Military Faculty Advisor

Lt Col Richard K. Bogusky, USAF
Military Faulty Advisor


Dr. Sinan Ciddi
Associate Professor of National Security Studies

LtCol Keith S. Crim, Jr., USMC
Department Head, Warfighting


LtCol Michael A. D'Eredita, USMC
Department Head, Leadership

Dr. Richard L. DiNardo
Professor of National Security Affairs

LtCol Aaron M. Doty, USMC
Plans, Curriculum Development Officer (PCDO)


Dr. Matthew J. Flynn
Professor of War Studies


Dr. Paul D. Gelpi
Professor of Military History


Dr. Craig Hayden
Associate Professor of Strategic Studies


Dr. James H. Joyner​​
Professor of Strategic Studies


Dr. Lauren B. MacKenzie 
Professor of Military Cross Cultural Competence

Dr. Claire M. Metelits
​Professor of Strategic Studies

CTR Melissa D. Mihocko
​Women, Peace, and Security SME


Dr. Nathan R. Packard
Associate Professor of Military History

Dr. Jonathan F. Phillips
Dean of Academics


Mr. Michael E. Ronza
Deputy Director, Academic Operations


COL James H. Scullion, USA
Deputy Director, Dean of Students

Dr. Eric Y. Shibuya
Professor of Strategic Studies and Department Head, Security Studies

LtCol Corey J. Smith, USMC
​Military Faculty Advisor

Dr. Christopher S. Stowe
Professor of Military History and Department Head, War Studies 

Dr. Lon J. Strauss
​Associate Professor of Military History, War Studies

Dr. Doug E. Streusand
Professor of International Relations

Dr. Craig A. Swanson
Associate Dean of Academics


Dr. Lynn M. Tesser
Associate Professor of International Relations

LtCol Khalilah M. Thomas, USMC
Faculty Advisor


Dr. Bradford A. Wineman
Professor of Military History

Col Andrew R. Winthrop, USMC

Marine Corps University