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.​
Marine Corps University