What is the National Defence University (US)?


The National Defence University (NDU) is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defence, intended to facilitate high-level education, training, and professional development of national security leaders.

As a chairman’s Controlled Activity, NDU operates under the guidance of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), with Lieutenant General Michael T. Plehn, USAF, as president. It is located on the grounds of Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C.


The university is located at Fort Leslie McNair, almost in the heart of Washington, near the White House and the US Congress.


The National Defence University includes:

  • Colleges and schools:
  • Programmes:
  • Research centres:
    • Institute for National Strategic Studies:
      • Centre for Strategic Research.
      • Centre for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs.
      • Centre for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
        • Programme for Emerging Leaders.
        • Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Graduate Fellowship Programme.
      • NDU Press.
    • Centre for Applied Strategic Learning.
  • NDU Libraries.

Acceptance Rate & Admissions

  • Acceptance Rate: 65%.
  • Admissions Requirements: Yes, based on entrance examinations and students past academic records and grades.
  • Academic Calendar: Semesters.
  • Enrolment: 1,500.
  • Full-time employee: 75.
  • Student: staff ratio: 20:1.

Research Institutes and Centres

  • Institute of National Strategic Studies;
  • Centre for Strategic Studies;
  • Centre for the Study of Military Affairs of China;
  • Centre for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction;
  • Press of the National University of Defence (the university publishes 1,300 periodicals);
  • Centre for applied strategic training; and
  • Centre for joint and strategic logistics.

The university has a scientific and reference library, the funds of which are open to all students and teachers.

Associated Organisations

  • NDU Board of Visitors.
  • National Defence University Foundation.
  • United States Institute of Peace.
  • Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.


The NDU Press supports education, research, and outreach as the university’s cross-component, professional military, and academic publishing house. Publications include the journals Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ) and PRISM, books such as Strategic Assessment 2020, case studies, policy briefs, and strategic monographs.

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