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Naval Postgraduate School

Earning your degree - Navy style

The military offers numerous opportunities for Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines to obtain higher education, from tuition assistance to the National War College. According to U.S. News and World Report, one military graduate school stands out: the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).


At the turn of the 20th century, Secretary of the Navy George von L. Meyer recognized the need to establish a school that would advance innovation within the Navy. On June 9, 1909, he signed General Order No. 27, ordering a small program that would later become known as NPS to be officially stood up at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The Academy transformed two attic rooms into a classroom and laboratory for 10 students and assigned two Navy instructors. In that way they wouldn't interrupt the midshipmen's routine.

Several decades later, in 1945, Congress passed legislation chartering NPS as a fully accredited and degree-granting institution. In 1947, the Navy purchased the luxurious Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, California, and its surrounding land. The school set up residence there four years later in 1951.

Today, NPS is a well-known institution that is broken up into four different graduate schools. These schools encompass both masters' and doctoral-degree programs that are offered to U.S. military service members, government civilians and international students from allied nations. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranked NPS's engineering program 106th out of 214 graduate engineering schools. The public affairs/public policy program tied for 52nd place out of 272. Homeland/national security and emergency management ranked first in its category.

"We have four different graduate schools here," said Ronald A. Route, president of NPS. "It's applied science, information science, business and public policy, and international graduate education."

They all have one thing in common: research. Professors are continuously exploring and improving not only their fields of expertise but what they teach their students.

"This is a graduate education program," said Route. "Research is an integral part of doing graduate work. The research keeps our professors at the top of their game [and] maintains their credentials. Also, it forms the curriculum itself and then gives opportunities for the students to look at what the professors are doing, and maybe join in and do a thesis on a particular project."

And while the professors are pushing the boundaries in their fields, the students have to push beyond their knowledge and break barriers in their areas of study.

"Naval Postgraduate School is demanding," said Don Brutzman, an NPS associate professor of applied science who works with the school's Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation (MOVES) Institute. "[If] a student wants to come here, they better be ready to work; it's not a golf vacation. There is a lot of study; there's a lot of learning. You have to be inquisitive. You have to be thinking. You have to want to succeed, and everyone will bend over backwards to help."

In order to go to the Naval Postgraduate School, every applicant needs to have a bachelor's degree. On top of that, military, government civilians and international students all have different eligibility requirements they must fulfill. For example, Navy officers are accepted based on outstanding professional performance, promotion potential and strong academic backgrounds, and should contact their detailers for quota availability. Enlisted Sailors can only apply to the master's in applied cyber operations and master of science in defense analysis programs. Government civilians - including federal employees, defense contractors, NPS staff, and state, civil or municipal employees - have varying requirements. International students must be active duty military, and must be formally sponsored and nominated by their respective governments.

Editor's note: Read more about the history of the Naval Postgraduate School here. Find out more about applying to the Naval Postgraduate School here.