HEADQUARTERS, ARMY UNIVERSITY – OFFICE OF THE PROVOST, FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas--Command and General Staff Officer Course Class 2021 students will have the opportunity to earn a new degree when they graduate this June. Earlier this fiscal year, the Command and General Staff College gained approval from Federal and academic accreditation bodies to award the Masters of Operational Studies.
The Masters of Operational Studies is a professional graduate degree with emphasis on the knowledge, skills, and attributes essential for officers at the higher tactical and operational levels of conflict. The College will continue to award the Master of Military Art and Science Degree (MMAS) that was first authorized in 1974.
“The major differences for those who seek the MMAS are courses in research methods, the writing of a thesis and the comprehensive oral examination,” said Dr. Jim Martin, Dean of Academics for CGSC and Army University. “If the MMAS is a research degree, the Masters in Operational Studies is a practitioner’s degree” he said. The coursework is the same for all students in residence at Fort Leavenworth. Approval of the Masters of Operational Studies
allows students in the Staff Officer Course, but not writing a thesis, to gain a degree through a non-thesis option, explained Martin.
In 2011, after the creation of similar graduate programs throughout the Department of Defense, the statutory language was changed to reflect the broader authority used in other schools. The College deliberately moved to use this new authority to expand its degree portfolio, said Martin. In 2017, the College requested permission to change the names of the degrees granted at the School of Advanced Military Studies from the Masters of Military Art and Science to more appropriate names for the curriculum taught.
Since 2014, based on guidance from the Army Chief of Staff concerning rigor in Professional Military Education, the College has sought to improve the curriculum and assessment processes in the Staff Officer Course. A comprehensive examination with both a written and oral component was added to the course to better assess learning for all students. Based on a change in the Army’s strategic plan, The College modified the second trimester of the Staff Officer Course to focus on large scale combat operations and during this major curricular change, it was able to increase the rigor of the course significantly.
The course now places more emphasis on direct assessment of learning and improved overall assessment program. This year, the College upgraded the writing requirements for students in the Staff Officer Course significantly, specifically to improve the writing assessments for students completing the program.
All U.S. resident students enrolled in the Staff Officer Course are automatically enrolled in the Masters of Operational Studies degree program. They can opt out to pursue an MMAS or other graduate degree program. International students in the Staff Officer Course may opt in to the degree program if they meet the requirements as outlined in the student bulletin.
Ten to 15 percent of the resident Staff Officer Course students have chosen to pursue the MMAS since its inception in 1974. Numerous other civilian graduate degree programs are available to students. All of these programs accept some amount of transfer credit from the Staff Officer Course to be used toward overall degree requirements. These degrees are available on post and in the local community and, based on common educational practice, many will accept six hours of graduate credit from students at the Staff Officer Course even as the student completes the MOS. In the first full year of the new program, some students will earn both the MOS and a civilian graduate degree during their year at Ft. Leavenworth.
The Command and General Staff College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). HLC has previously authorized the College to grant three different masters degrees (Master of Military Art and Science, Master of Arts in Military Operations, and Master of Arts in Strategic Studies) and one bachelor degree (Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development). The Masters of Operational Studies becomes the fourth graduate degree awarded by the College. The bachelor degree program is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Eligibility for the Masters of Operational Studies has been extended to graduates of the Command and General Staff Officer Course Class 2020. The College is contacting the graduates of that class to explain how they can apply for award of the degree.
More information about the Masters of Operational Studies degree can be found on the College’s website at https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/cgsc/CGSCDegreePrograms/MOS.