Academic focus and choice/ Key dates

The School of Strategic Landpower's academic curriculum includes both required core courses and personal choices in pursuit of Individual Learning Objectives that are developed early in the academic year – with guidance from your faculty advisor and inspiration from the enriching activities that comprise the Carlisle experience.

Most students will follow the core curriculum through the oral comprehensive exams. The core curriculum includes a one-week Introduction to the curriculum, Theories of War & Strategy, Strategic Leadership, National Security Policy & Strategy, Theater Strategy & Campaigning, Regional Studies Program, and Defense Management. Oral "comps" are both a required assessment and a professional opportunity to synthesize and articulate critical concepts from across the core curriculum.

Choices are yours for selection of elective courses and your strategy research paper (SRP) topic. Each student will complete an SRP contract by 15 December and finalize the SRP by 15 April. SRP options include group projects with faculty sponsorship. Choice lies in the series of electives you'll craft into a cogent learning plan, choosing from scores of electives. While every student will participate in a regional studies program, you'll select the region to study; some will elect to study a region for which you have some familiarity, and some will seek to explore something new.

"The curriculum was well structured and gave ample time to conduct the background reading to understand the material and discuss during the seminar sessions to reinforce the learning. It promoted deep insights on strategic thinking ..." – ay2014 student

  Course windows:

  • Zero Week: 4-8 August
    • Icebreakers, orientation, iPad training, Convocation
    • County Info Fair, welcome picnic
  • Strategic Leadership Intro: 8–18 Aug
  • Theories of War & Strategy: 19 Aug–15 Sep
    • TWS … Emphasizes the theoretical approach to war and strategy. Provides key concepts for analyzing conflict and cooperation among nations as well as the causes and use of war.
  • Strategic Leadership: 18 Sep–7 Oct
    • SL … Develops an appreciation for the uniqueness of strategic leadership. Builds on strategic thinking and examines environmental scanning, managing change, culture and the profession, strategic and ethical decision-making.
  • National Security Policy & Strategy: 9 Oct–5 Nov
    • NSPS … Examines the U.S. governmental process for integrating, balancing, and synchronizing the instruments of national power in promoting and protecting national interest.
  • Theater Strategy & Campaigning – concurrent with – Regional Studies Program: 6 Nov–28 Jan
    • TSC … Critically examines the application of joint doctrine in planning and conducting unified and multinational operations. Evaluates service roles, capabilities, and cultures in providing ready forces to the Unified Commanders
    • RSP …Students choose to study US national security issues in relation to one of seven regions (Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Americas, Europe, Russia-Eurasia, and South Asia)
  • Defense Management: 30 Jan–20 Feb (concurrent with International Fellows off-site programs)
    • DM … Addresses how strategic guidance is employed within Department of Defense systems and processes to develop trained and ready combat forces.
  • Elective Term II: 25 Feb–27 Mar
  • Elective Term III: 30 Mar–29 May

  Key events:

  • Softball team-building: mid-Aug – early Oct
  • Strength-for-Wisdom fitness challenges: year-long, organized fitness activities
  • NSSR #1 (Gettysburg): 16–17 Sep
  • Comprehensive exams: 23 Feb–6 Mar
  • NSSR #2 (NYC): 11–14 Mar
  • Army Leader Day: 7 April
  • Strategy Conference: 7–10 Apr
  • Strategic Research Project due: Early April, date TBD
  • Jim Thorpe Sports Days: 23–25 Apr
  • NSSR #3 (Wash, DC): 5–7 May
  • National Security Seminar: 1–4 Jun
  • Graduation: 5 Jun

"Great opportunity to see inside the beltway: a unique chance that few see." – ay 2013 student about the NSSR to DC

  Holiday periods:

  • National holidays: 4 July, 1 Sep, 13 Oct, 11 Nov, 19 Jan, 16 Feb, 25 May
  • Thanksgiving recess: : begins at 1 p.m., Tues, 25 Nov – Mon. 1 Dec; classes resume 2 Dec.
  • Winter Recess: begins at 1 p.m., Fri, 19 Dec – Sun, 4 Jan; classes resume 5 Jan
  • Spring Recess: beings at 5 p.m., Wed, 1 Apr – Mon, 6 Apr; classes resume on Tues, 7 Apr.


What's new for academic year 2015? The plan for ay 2015 is to maintain recent initiatives, such as the oral comprehensive exams, exercises conducted within core courses, the longer elective period, the concurrent scheduling of Theater Strategy & Campaigning with Regional Studies Program in a day-on-day-off rotation. During the core curriculum, Reading/Writing/Research (RWR) days are discretionary student days identified and protected on the calendar. And, the School is fully implementing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for ay2015. After a successful pilot test using mobile devices (e.g., tablets, iPads, smart phones) most of your course materials will be accessed via cloud services. A limited number of mobile devices will be available for issue after central in-processing.

Special events include three National Security Staff Rides (NSSR), each a distinct experiential learning event. During the core curriculum months, NSSR #1 to Gettysburg puts the academic spotlight on the strategic environment and on senior leader decision-making of the Battle of Gettysburg. NSSR #2 and #3 are scheduled after core courses are completed. NSSR#2 to New York City, in March, emphasizes an understanding of the diplomatic, informational and economic instruments of national power. NSSR#3 to the National Capitol Region, in May, features visits to federal agencies and Congressional offices. Spouses are invited to participate at their own expense in NSSR#2 to New York City.

Major Program Choices. Several programs offer a distinctive path to the master's degree in Strategic Studies and JPME-II certification. Carlisle Scholars Program selections will be made prior to student arrival. Students will have the opportunity to self-nominate for the ASAP and NSPP programs after the School's Special Programs briefing to the student body, to be scheduled during the first weeks

The Carlisle Scholars Program is a pilot program this year for students interested in further developing and articulating strategic thought during the academic year. Through competitive analysis of strategic challenges, Carlisle Scholars will contribute to a broader strategic dialogue among national security leaders and stakeholders about the problems and opportunities of national security. Participants will form a single seminar throughout the academic year which will entail a combination of independent work, team work and coordination with faculty. After completing approximately 10 weeks of intense course work, the scholars will shift focus to writing articles and advising senior leaders. This unique program will integrate the seminar concept of a traditional Professional Military Education experience with the autonomy of a self-directed fellowship. If you are interested in learning more about this new academic program, contact Dr. Andrew Hill at or call 717.245.4808.

The Advanced Strategic Arts Program is a six-month cohort program for which students apply after several months of the core-curriculum. The ASAP curriculum is rooted in history, following the evolution of warfare from Ancient Greece to the current and near-future state in order to understand patterns of conflict and application of that understanding to military strategic planning in support of national security objectives. The ASAP curriculum and staff rides are supported by instruction from USAWC faculty members, planners from combatant commands, noted military historians, and subject matter experts from numerous agencies and think tanks ensure that students meet MSS and JPME-II requirements while working on a parallel but distinct path.

The National Security Policy Program is a "how-to-make-policy" program, designed to develop in selected students a detailed understanding of the U.S. Government national security policy-making environment as well as the fundamentals for the craft of national security policy-making and implementation. Case studies, guest speakers who have been policy practitioners, student participation in policy-based exercise and travel to relevant agencies complement the program's emphasis on practical application tools for critical policy planner positions in the federal interagency environment, with combatant command staffs, and in U.S. billets in international organizations such as NATO and the United Nations.

The USAWC Strategic Leader Development and Resiliency Program spans a series of programs and guidance in leadership, resiliency, and fitness. The synthesis of these unique opportunities will be a smart, strategic enhancement of your motivation, mental and physical stamina; critical thinking and physical performance in combat. You will find guidance to address the long-term demands of strategic leadership, deepen Leader and Family resilience; and improve your understanding of the leader presence within the human dimension of war. Students' introduction to SLDR occurs in Zero Week on Leader Resiliency Day – setting the tone for a yearlong set of assessments, guidance and classes. The Strategic Leadership Feedback 360-degree assessment of leader attributes, coupled with SLDR guidance, provides the self-awareness and understanding that can accelerate leader development, improve decision-making, optimize adaptability, and increase interpersonal effectiveness. Resiliency Education, Performance Movement Analysis, and Strength for Wisdom are among the SLDR programs designed specifically for this generation's leaders to build stamina, improve command presence, and mitigate physical risk.