Officers from all branches of the U.S. military have the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D. degree. Each school listed below has Ph.D. programs available in specific fields relevant to a particular military career, and many offer special support services or benefits to active duty or retired service members. This article provides detailed overviews of several Ph.D. programs for military officers.
|School Name||Institution Type||Location||2017-2018 Tuition (in-state)*||Tuition Assistance/Military Benefits|
|Purdue University||4-year, Public||West Lafayette, IN||$9,208||No-cost graduate education for 10 officers per year|
|United States Military Academy||4-year, Public||West Point, NY||$0||Full scholarship in exchange for service|
|The University of Kansas||4-year, Public||Lawrence, KA||$9,716||Scholarships available|
|Benedictine University||4-year, Private||Lisle, IL||$16,888||Tuition and other benefits for eligible veterans|
|Johns Hopkins University||4-year, Private||Baltimore, MD||$52,170||Fellowship opportunities|
|Naval Postgraduate School||4-year, Public||Monterey, CA||$0||Full scholarship in exchange for service|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
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Overview of Ph.D. Programs for Military Officers
Some universities around the country are primarily civilian schools with one or two specific programs that could be appropriate for active duty or veteran military members. Others are military academic institutions that offer academic career paths for officers or a wide variety of programs tailored to an advanced military career. Read the descriptions below for details on each school's Ph.D. program offerings.
Purdue University is a military-friendly school, with over 500 veterans enrolled as students as well as an active ROTC program. Purdue's Military Research Initiative recruits 30 active-duty officers per year across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines into graduate studies, giving priority to Ph.D. candidates. Ten officers per year are offered full scholarships. The program works with the services to pair Ph.D. candidates with appropriate academic mentors, as well as to release officers from duty for the anticipated three-year duration of their chosen program. Purdue is known internationally for its engineering programs, but offers many other areas of study as well, across 12 colleges and schools.
United States Military Academy
USMA West Point is the premier training university for prospective Army officers. It has a long and distinguished history as an Army university, focusing equally on academic, athletic and military development. Nearly all of its students are undergraduate cadets, but the Department of Mathematical Sciences offers a unique opportunity to Ph.D. candidates. Any officer is eligible to apply to be sent to a different university to obtain a doctoral degree in mathematics, to return to USMA to join the math department as a member of the senior rotating faculty. This is a career development opportunity for officers who wish to pursue an academic career that combines teaching and research in mathematics. The criteria used to evaluate applicants include their military and teaching experience, their ability to obtain a doctoral degree, their potential to be an academic leader in the department and their ability to conduct research.
The University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is a large, public university with several Ph.D. program options available to military officers. One is a political science degree program designed for the Special Forces community. It is a traditional program in terms of credit-hour requirements and the qualification and thesis defense processes, but it is on a 27-month accelerated timeframe to accommodate active duty Special Forces members. The Department of History also offers a Military History doctoral degree program. Candidates in this program will work closely with faculty and students at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at nearby Fort Leavenworth, and have access to its military research resources. Finally, the University of Kansas allows both civilian and military students to pursue a broad, interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in a research field of their choice through its Interdisciplinary Doctoral Research Initiative.
Benedictine University offers a doctoral program for senior executives in values-driven leadership that is also a natural fit for active duty and retired military veterans. The program's focuses include global leadership, sustainability and strategic change, with the goal of extending students' abilities to lead in military or civilian settings. This is an on-campus program, but its course schedule is designed for working professionals, with monthly weekend classes and one annual intensive course. Benedictine University participates in the Yellow Ribbon program, which gives military students access to a wide variety of financial benefits and entitlement.
Johns Hopkins University
The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University is home to a Ph.D. program in strategic studies for students interested in becoming both scholars and practitioners in international relations. It may be particularly appropriate for military officers who will go on to foreign field assignments or defense work. The program requires economics training and mastery of a foreign language, and includes components in analytical skills, diplomacy, international relations, and research. Military officers who can commit to the minimum three years necessary to complete this degree program are welcome to apply. The student body in the School of Advanced International Studies is especially diverse, with more than one third of the students coming from foreign countries, creating a rich and vibrant learning environment.
Naval Postgraduate School
The Naval Postgraduate School is a military academy that focuses specifically on graduate education useful for military careers. Ph.D. programs are spread out amongst numerous departments in several schools. Topics of study for doctoral degree programs range from systems engineering and computer science to security studies and operations analysis. The school accepts military officers from any branch to most of its doctoral degree programs, as well as international students and civilian employees of certain government organizations.