HomeFaculty & StaffAdministrationVP Academic AffairsFaculty HandbookChapter 1: Institutional History, Purpose, and Organization
  • Chapter 1: Institutional History, Purpose, and Organization




  • The History of Marine Corps University
    • Marine Corps University (MCU) was founded on 1 August 1989 by order of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alfred M. Gray. Although the
      University is a relatively new organization, its conceptual roots trace back to World War I and the birth of the modern Marine Corps. General Gray’s decision
      to establish MCU was a logical extension of the historical legacy of many famous Marine leaders who valued the importance of education, as well as a natural
      extension of the contemporary shift of the Corps’ warfighting doctrine to one of “maneuver warfare,” with its concomitant demand for leaders who can think critically
      and act decisively in the face of ambiguity, fog, friction, and chance.

      The experiences of the First World War demonstrated to Major General John A. Lejeune the need to properly educate Marines of all ranks in the art and science
      of war. As the roles and missions of the Corps began to expand, and based on the hard-won lessons of combat operations in France, General Lejeune insisted
      that adequate time be allotted for the study of weapons and their proper tactical employment. Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, realizing the importance of
      military education for the core of professional officers, later built upon General Lejeune’s concepts by developing two additional courses of instruction. The first,
      called the Field Officers School, welcomed its inaugural class in October 1920. The second, the Company Grade Officers School, convened its first class in July
      1921. These two courses, along with the basic Marine Corps Officer Training School, soon renamed The Basic School, formed the foundation for what General
      Lejeune termed “Marine Corps Schools.” It was this beginning that formed the basis of the Marine Corps University as it exists today.

      During the interwar period, visionaries such as Major Earl “Pete” Hancock Ellis and Colonel Robert H. Dunlap, whose names now grace Marine Corps University
      buildings, foresaw the need for the study and development of amphibious warfare. In the late 1920s, comprehensive instruction in amphibious operations was
      developed and implemented in anticipation of the demanding requirements of this new mission. To increase the student base of the expanding Marine Corps
      Schools, correspondence courses were also established at this time to parallel the resident courses.

      Beginning in 1930, Brigadier General James C. Breckinridge led a comprehensive redesign of the entire curriculum of all Marine Corps Schools, emphasizing
      amphibious warfare and close air support. Breckinridge required his officers to not only become specialists in this new “Marine Corps Science,” he also demanded
      they become skilled instructors. He formed special groups from selected Field Officers School graduates and students to work on amphibious doctrine and
      requirements. In fact, General Breckinridge temporarily discontinued Field Officers School classes so that the staff and students could devote their full attention
      to developing the new doctrine.

      As a reflection of the importance of this new mission, the Marine Corps re-designated the Junior Course for Company Grade officers and the Senior Course for
      Field Grade officers as “Amphibious Warfare” schools. The critical thinking, research, and doctrinal innovations produced by the staff and students of these
      programs contributed directly to the dramatic amphibious successes during World War II. Given the incredible manpower demands of that conflict, both Amphibious
      Warfare Courses suspended classes for the duration; however, in 1943, an operationally oriented three month “Command and Staff Course” opened at Quantico based
      on the need for school-trained, field grade officers with commensurate skills to serve in the Pacific Theater.

      In 1946, the Marine Corps reestablished the three-tiered professional military education system and incorporated lessons learned from World War II and emerging
      concepts related to warfare in the atomic age into the curricula of the Amphibious Warfare Senior and Junior Courses. In the 1950s, the curricula of both schools
      changed again, incorporating the tenets of vertical envelopment and the challenges of employing helicopters in the conduct of amphibious operations.

      On 1 August 1964, the Amphibious Warfare Senior Course was re-designated as the Command and Staff College (CSC). At the same time, the Amphibious Warfare
      Junior Course became the Amphibious Warfare School. Amphibious operations remained the theme in both courses throughout the 1970s. On 16 February 1971,
      the Marine Corps convened the first course of the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Quantico, Virginia. In 1981, the Corps deepened its commitment to
      enlisted professional military education, establishing the Noncommissioned Officer Basic Course at 18 sites and a “Senior Course” for Staff Sergeants at Quantico,
      Virginia. The following year, an “Advanced Course” for First Sergeants and Master Sergeants was implemented at Quantico, Virginia.

      The late 1980s once again brought significant change to Marine Corps Professional Military Education. These changes were precipitated by the introduction of
      maneuver warfare as an operational philosophy, as codified by the publication of FMFM-1 Warfighting on 6 March 1989. In 1989, as an extension of the need to
      modernize the Marine Corps PME system to accommodate the demands of maneuver warfare, General Gray ordered the consolidation of five independent Marine
      Corps schools into a single Marine Corps University.

      Throughout the 1990s, MCU continued to evolve to ensure that its curricula remained relevant and responsive to the needs of the Marine Corps. In 1990, MCU
      established an “Art of War Studies Program” for senior officers, and one year later, this program evolved into the Marine Corps War College (MCWAR), thus
      establishing a formal venue within the Marine Corps for senior-level officer professional military education. Also in 1990, the enlisted Advanced Course became a
      course for Gunnery Sergeants. Other new programs and courses established during this period included a Commanders Course for all Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels
      slated for command (1993); annual E-8 Seminars and E-9 Symposiums (1994); a Logistics Instruction Branch (1995); and a First Sergeants Course (1997). The year
      1997 also marked the creation of the College of Continuing Education, which integrated all officer and enlisted distance education programs under a single entity.

      In 1999, MCU marked a major milestone in the maturation of its educational programs as the University was accredited to award a master’s degree at the Command
      and Staff College by the prestigious Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This was followed shortly thereafter by
      accreditation of the master’s degrees of both the Marine Corps War College (2001) and the School of Advanced Warfighting (2003).

      early 2000s saw a number of organizational changes that impacted MCU. Most significantly, the Commandant established Training and Education Command (TECOM)
      in 2000 and designated the CG TECOM as the higher headquarters for MCU. At the same time, the Commandant also designated the President, MCU as the
      Commanding General, Education Command (EDCOM). These changes resulted in a realignment of subordinate elements within the broader TECOM
      enterprise—most significantly, Officer Candidates School, The Basic School, and the College of Continuing Education (renamed the College of Distance
      Education and Training).

      In 2002, the Amphibious Warfare School and the Command and Control Systems Course merged to become the Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS). In 2003, the
      Logistics Instruction Branch was re-designated the School of MAGTF Logistics (SOML) and subsequently transferred to Training Command. The year 2003 also saw the
      establishment of the Senior Leadership Development Program (SLDP) to manage General Officer education. The SLDP evolved into the Lejeune Leadership Institute,
      which is responsible for the development of leadership programs across the Marine Corps.

      In 2005, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmed the regional accreditation of MCU’s three graduate degrees. This was followed in 2010 by
      the successful submission of the University’s Fifth Year Interim Report to the Commission. MCU’s ability to meet the rigorous requirements of these reviews attested
      to the continued excellence of these programs and to the credibility of the academic programs and processes employed by the University.

      In 2010, the President, MCU established the MAGTF Instructional Group (MIG) under the cognizance of the Vice President for Academic Affairs to better support
      enlisted PME programs through the Senior Enlisted PME Course and to fill a void in formal education between top-level school and general officer PME requirements
      through the establishment of the Strategy & Policy Course.

      In 2012, the Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL), which creates and executes language, region, and culture learning programs for all Marines,
      became part of MCU. In 2013, CDET returned to MCU, reflecting the continuing efforts of the Marine Corps to seamlessly integrate resident and non-resident PME and
      to leverage technology to better serve all Marines’ educational needs.

      In October 2015, the Marine Corps Institute (MCI) was disestablished and its mission and functions were assumed by CDET. Finally, in December 2015, the Southern
      Association of Colleges and Schools once again reaffirmed the regional accreditation of MCU’s three graduate degrees.

      From a humble beginning arose a tradition of study and innovation that continues to serve the United States and the United States Marine Corps. The University’s focus,
      as Education Command, is clearly on the education of leaders in our Corps of Marines.
  • Guiding Principles and Strategic Goals
    • Mission. Develop, deliver, and evaluate Professional Military Education and training through resident and distance learning programs in order to prepare leaders to meet the
      cultural, ethical, and operational challenges of a complex security environment. Preserve, promote, and present the history and heritage of the Marine Corps.

      Vision. Advance the Marine Corps’ legacy of warfighting excellence through a forward-thinking military academic institution that delivers world-class education to develop
      professional leaders.

      Strategic Plan. The larger purpose of Marine Corps University is to develop the professional competence of its Marine, sister service, international, and civilian students.
      As the Marine Corps proponent for professional military education, the University focuses on the development of leadership, warfighting, and staff operations abilities of
      the nation’s military forces through resident and non-resident learning programs. Graduates are prepared to perform with increased effectiveness in service, joint,
      interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational environments at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war, across the range of military operations. To best
      achieve these ends, accomplish the mission, and realize its vision, MCU employs a strategic planning process that leverages the collective wisdom and experience of the
      University’s leadership, faculty, and staff. The resultant MCU Strategic Plan is routinely reviewed and updated to ensure relevancy. The current version of the University’s
      Strategic Plan (2016-2021) codifies five goals that provide a road map for achieving the institutional vision and for keeping the University at the forefront of the professional
      military education community within the Department of Defense:

      a. Goal 1: Conduct education and training to develop professionally competent individuals who think critically and solve complex problems creatively in a dynamic
      environment (Professional Learning).

      b. Goal 2: Develop and maintain an effective, transparent, collaborative, and responsive organizational structure in order to foster a culture of continuous learning and
      improvement (Organizational Strength).

      c. Goal 3: Provide state-of-the-art facilities and cutting edge technologies in order to facilitate Marine Corps University’s innovative and global learning environment
      (Infrastructure and Technology).

      d. Goal 4: Strengthen faculty and staff development opportunities in order to promote teaching excellence, scholarship, and the sharing of knowledge
      (Faculty and Staff Development).

      e. Goal 5: Leverage MCU’s scholarship, research, publishing, stewardship, learning opportunities, and conferencing capabilities in order to strengthen the MCU brand
      and to support the Marine Corps, the broader national security audience, and the public (University Outreach).
  • Command Organization
    • Roles and Relationships. The chain of command is inherent to Marine Corps University’s operating process, with the President of Marine Corps University and
      Commanding General of Education Command acting as the chief executive officer. The role and responsibilities of the President of Marine Corps University are
      further defined in Chapter Two of this handbook. The entire organizational structure of Marine Corps University is depicted in Appendix A, and the roles and
      relationships of MCU faculty and staff are described in the MCU Organizational Handbook.
  • Academic Organization
    • The following section provides a brief description of Marine Corps University’s PME programs. Further information about each division, college, or school can be
      found in applicable standard operating procedures, other Marine Corps University publications, or on the University’s website: https://www.usmcu.edu.

      Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME). The EPME branch is responsible for administering and educating Marines from private through the senior
      enlisted ranks of first sergeant and sergeant major. Courses are offered onsite at resident schools and via satellite academies and commands throughout the world.

      Mission. The mission of EPME is to develop, deliver, and evaluate the enlisted educational curriculum and maximize enlisted professional military education
      opportunities through the use of modern learning methodologies delivered at globally distributed leadership centers of excellence in order to develop professional
      warfighters capable of thinking critically, making sound ethical decisions, and assuming greater responsibilities.

      Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS). EWS provides Marine captains and other company grade officers career-level education and training in doctrine, planning,
      Marine Air GroundTask Force (MAGTF) Operations, and Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) instruction through the Occupational Field Expansion Course.
      This curriculum prepares company grade officers to command or to serve as primary staff officers in an O-5 or O-6 level command, particularly with respect to
      the integration of the capabilities requisite to their element in the MAGTF and understanding of the functions of other elements in the MAGTF.

      Mission. The EWS mission is to educate and train company grade Marine Air Ground Task Force officers to lead and succeed in the expeditionary environment.

      Command and Staff College (CSC). CSC provides professional military education to Marine Corps field grade officers, joint and multinational field grade officers,
      and interagency professionals, based on a curriculum accredited by the Process of Accreditation for Joint Education (PAJE) and the Southern Association of
      Colleges and Schools Commission
      on Colleges (SACSCOC). CSC students have the opportunity to earn a regionally accredited Master of Military Studies degree.

      Mission. 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 in service, joint, interagency, and multinational organizations confronting complex
      and uncertain security environments.

      School of Advanced Warfighting (SAW). SAW provides graduate-level professional military education for a select group of USMC, Sister Service and International
      field-grade officers who have completed the Marine Corps or sister service command and staff college-level course. The curriculum develops complex
      problem-solving and decision-making skills that can be used to improve the warfighting capabilities of an organization at the operational level of war. SAW
      graduates receive the Military Occupational Specialty 0505 or Marine Air Ground Task Force Planner and are eligible to receive a regionally accredited Master of
      Operational Studies degree.

      Mission. SAW develops lead planners and future commanders with the will and intellect to solve complex problems, employ operational art, and design and execute
      campaigns in order to enhance the Marine Corps' ability to prepare for and fight wars.

      Marine Corps War College (MCWAR). In fulfillment of its role in the JPME and Marine Corps PME policy, MCWAR is dedicated to educating its students for the
      challenges of a complex and dynamic security environment and preparing them to assume senior leadership positions within their service or agency. The College’s
      curriculum is crafted to maximize the advantages of small group seminars, employing the Socratic Method and active adult learning techniques to generate discussion,
      challenge student assumptions, and otherwise foster academic excellence. MCWAR graduates have the opportunity to earn a regionally accredited Master of
      Strategic Studies degree.

      Mission. The Marine Corps War College, as the senior PME institution of the Marine Corps, educates selected military and civilian professionals in order to develop critical
      thinkers, military strategists, joint warfighters, and strategic leaders who are prepared to meet the challenges of a complex and dynamic security environment.

      College of Distance Education and Training (CDET). CDET is an integral part of the University’s curriculum development and delivery for all distance education programs
      within the PME continuum. All CDET educational programs are derived from and parallel to resident curricula. Each distance education program (CSC, EWS, and EPME)
      carries with it the same mission and learning outcomes of its resident counterpart program. Through a variety of distance learning delivery systems and educational
      technologies such as online and adjunct faculty-led seminars and MarineNet, CDET provides distance education and training opportunities for all Marines. In addition,
      CDET provides selected distance learning opportunities to government employees and family members of Marines.

      Mission. CDET designs, develops, delivers, evaluates, manages, and resources distance learning programs and products across the Marine Corps training and
      education continuum in order to increase operational readiness.

      International Students. Each year, Marine Corps University hosts international students from a variety of foreign countries, who participate in its resident PME programs.
      CDET also hosts international students through their blended seminar programs for CSC and EWS and their weekly programs at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).
      These opportunities provide a unique educational experience for all students, as they have the chance to exchange cultural perspectives and insights related to military
      strategy, operations, tactics, and joint and international security environments. International students who satisfy language and undergraduate requirements are eligible
      to earn a regionally accredited master’s degree applicable to the program attended. More information on international military students, including admission procedures
      and waivers, can be found in the MCU Academic Regulations and the Student Handbook.
  • Affiliate Programs and Establishments
    • The following section provides a brief description of educational support services and other programs, divisions, and institutions associated with Marine Corps University.
      Further information about each program or affiliate can be found in applicable standard operating procedures, other Marine Corps University publications, or on the
      University’s website: https://www.usmcu.edu.

      M. Gray Marine Corps Research Center (GRC). The Research Support Division of the GRC serves Marine Corps University by operating the Library of the Marine Corps
      and the Marine Corps Archives, providing a relevant collection of information resources, assisting patrons with research needs, and providing Interlibrary Loan and
      copyright approval services for Marine Corps University.

      Mission. The GRC supports study and teaching at all levels throughout the Marine Corps by providing comprehensive storage, organization, retrieval, and access to
      tactical, operational, and strategic warfighting and international relations information.

      Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). CAOCL serves as the central Marine Corps agency for education and training programs that help Marines
      build knowledge and skills they need to operate effectively in cross-cultural environments, and it institutionalizes language, region, and culture issues through the
      doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership, education, personnel, facilities, and costs (DOTMLPF-C) combat development process. CAOCL training initiatives
      and elements of the Regional, Culture, and Language Familiarization (RCLF) education program are incorporated throughout enlisted and officer PME programs,
      and CAOCL’s experts provide electives and guest lectures across the MCU schoolhouses. CAOCL’s faculty and staff include the Professor of Military Cross-Cultural
      Competence, as well as subject matter experts on a wide range of regions and cultural and transnational issues. CAOCL also houses the Translational Research Group,
      which provides personnel with applied social science and qualitative assessment capabilities.

      Mission. CAOCL ensures the Marine Corps is a force that is globally prepared, regionally focused, and effective at navigating and influencing the culturally complex
      21st century operating environments in support of USMC missions and requirements.

      History Division (HD). HD collects, records, preserves, and disseminates the cumulative operational and institutional experience of the Marine Corps. Historians collect
      documents and accounts of permanent value to the Corps’ history, preserve them for future use, and distribute the history of the Corps through publications, papers,
      and other programs, in order to preserve history, aid combat, and non-combat decision making, support PME, motivate Marines, and inform the American public.
      Additionally, HD produces the Marine Corps University Journal and publishes through the Marine Corps University Press. Faculty may coordinate with HD for
      curricular materials and are encouraged to publish in the Journal.

      Mission. The mission of the Marine Corps History Division is to preserve, present, promote and document the history of the Marine Corps and how it relates to
      United States History.

      Information Technology (IT). The IT directorate is responsible for providing technical guidance and support to University students, staff, and faculty in the areas of
      computers and networks (classified and unclassified), automated systems (software), audiovisual and classroom technology, and communications. The Director,
      IT also participates in the development and delivery of command and control systems curriculum. The IT directorate currently has four branches: Customer Support
      Branch, Systems Support Branch, Network Operations Branch, and Cyber Security Branch.

      Mission. IT’s mission is to provide an information environment that advances the core missions of Marine Corps University and facilitates the operational processes
      that support these missions.

      Leadership Communication Skills Center (LCSC). The LCSC is a writing, speaking, and research resource that provides one-on-one sessions, lectures, and short
      seminars to help students improve oral and written products, enhance communication skills, develop research skills, and find appropriate venues for publication.
      The LCSC accomplishes its mission by offering studio courses, workshops, written guidance, and one-on-one assistance to students in MCU degree-granting
      programs and to other members of the MCU community. Faculty from the three degree-granting schools may work with LCSC faculty to improve draft publications.
      Faculty are also encouraged to refer students to the LCSC for instruction and paper review.

      Mission. The LCSC is an academic communication support center for MCU students, faculty, and staff. Its mission is to strengthen leadership by enhancing written
      and oral communication skills.

      Lejeune Leadership Institute (LLI). The LLI is Marine Corps University’s lead organization to shape and coordinate leader development initiatives for Marines and
      Civilian Marines alike. The LLI is highly involved in the integration of leadership development efforts in all PME programs, and serves to enable coherent,
      progressive leader development efforts that span the length of the individual Marine’s service. The LLI manages the Executive Education Program, the
      Commandant’s Commanders Program and Spouses Workshop, the Marine Corps Civilian Leader Development Program, and the Marine Corps Professional Reading
      Program. The LLI is structured to meet its mission by forming a team of experienced scholars, practitioners, and subject matter experts in the fields of leadership,
      ethics, education, and curriculum management.

      Mission. LLI provides training, education, and resources that inspire and advance leadership excellence in the Marine Corps.

      MAGTF Instructional Group (MIG). The MAGTF Instructional Group (MIG) was created to establish a resident capability within Marine Corps University to teach the
      Marine Corps Planning Process (MCPP) and other warfighting skills to schools throughout Marine Corps University. It is currently operating in direct support of the
      Senior Enlisted Professional Military Education Course (SEPME) and in general support of the University. Through a process grounded in education, the MIG
      focuses on the development of higher order critical thinking, enhancing Marines’ ability to act independently, assisting the Commander in all administrative,
      technical, and tactical requirements of the organization.

      Mission. The MIG assists all Marine Corps University Directorates and Schools in the preparation of senior-level officer and enlisted Marines with the critical
      thinking and adaptability skills necessary to function at the operational level of war and within the MAGTF.

      Middle East Studies (MES). MES is responsible for the following:

      Analyzing and assessing current events, regional trends, US policy decisions and strategies, and the culture and history of the region.

      Conducting and publishing academic research related to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and to other Middle
      East areas of interest to the Marine Corps.

      Leading classes; supporting student papers; and offering lectures and discussions on Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the broader Middle East to Marine Corps
      University schools and other Armed Forces PME institutions.

      Providing lectures and discussions on Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the broader Middle East to other services and US Government agencies, foreign governments
      and militaries, and academia/non-governmental agencies.

      Representing the Marine Corps and Marine Corps University at conferences and seminars related to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the broader Middle East.

      National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC). The NMMC is a lasting tribute to US Marines—past, present, and future. Situated on a 135-acre site adjacent to Marine
      Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, and under the command of Marine Corps University, the Museum's soaring design evokes the image of the flag-raisers of Iwo Jima and
      beckons visitors to this 120,000 square foot structure. World-class interactive exhibits using the most innovative technology surround visitors with irreplaceable artifacts and
      immerse them in the sights and sounds of Marines in action. Faculty may coordinate visits to the Museum to access exhibits appropriate to the curriculum, host off-sites
      (with prior coordination), or provide acculturation experiences for interagency, international, or sister service students.

      Mission. NMMC preserves the history of the US Marine Corps by collecting and preserving in perpetuity artifacts that reflect the history of the Corps; by interpreting these
      artifacts in exhibitions for the public; by contributing to educational programs; by conducting collections-based research; and by supporting the recruitment, education,
      and retention of Marine Corps personnel.