The National Defense University (NDU) is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy. It is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Major General Frederick M. Padilla, USMC, as president. It is located on the grounds of Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.
The university's mission is to support the joint warfighter by providing rigorous Joint Professional Military Education to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and select interagency civilians in order to develop leaders that have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world. The school's master's program is a one-year intensive study program.
Before 1946, the U.S. military relied on specially-created programs to meet specific needs. They also made use of smaller training programs elsewhere. The closer integration of military forces and increasing complexity of strategy and technology necessitated the foundation of The National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
To better integrate all the education programs, Congress created the National Defense University in 1976. In 1981, the Joint Forces Staff College was created, followed by the Department of Defense Computer Institute (DODCI) in 1982, which later was renamed the Information Resources Management College. In 1984 the university created the Institute for National Strategic Studies to meet the demand for military research.
After the Goldwater-Nichols Act and the House Armed Services Committee Skelton Panel Report, the University decided to seek authority to grant master's degrees. In 1993 President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill that allowed NDU to grant the degree of Master of Science in National Resource Strategy upon graduates of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and the Master of Science in National Security Strategy upon graduates of the National War College. The university is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
The National Defense University includes: