Thursday, March 7, 2013

Updates to Navy masters degree programs

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Naval_Postgraduate_School.png

Expanded Masters Degree Opportunities.

New NAVADMIN on Masters Degrees here:

http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/NAVADMINS/NAV2013/NAV13056.txt

4.  IN RESPONSE TO OUTCOMES FROM THE 2012 UNRESTRICTED LINE (URL) EDUCATION 
SUMMIT, WHICH REQUESTED SHORTER CURRICULA FOR URL OFFICERS, WE BEGAN TWO 
'MIXED-MODE' PILOT PROGRAMS AT NPS.  THE FIRST PROGRAM, APPLIED MANAGEMENT 
(3000P), COMBINES SIX MONTHS OF DISTANCE LEARNING (DL) WITH 12 MONTHS IN-
RESIDENCE AT NPS.  THE SECOND PROGRAM, SYSTEMS ENGINEERING ANALYSIS (5600P), 
COMBINES 12 MONTHS OF DL WITH 12 MONTHS IN-RESIDENCE AT NPS.  BOTH PROGRAMS 
ARE DESIGNED TO SHORTEN IN-RESIDENCE TIME AT NPS AND ENSURE OFFICERS RECEIVE A 
MASTER'S DEGREE AND COMPLETE JOINT PROFESSIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION WITH 
MINIMAL INTERRUPTION IN TRADITIONAL CAREER PATHS.

How I read this is that folks that take two years at NPS to get a Masters get screwed for promotion by folks that do nothing by sea duty, so we're trying to cut down the time away.

While I agree that more can be done via distance, I think this sends the wrong message. Basically, officers are told to be operational the whole time, without having a chance to take a break and try to reabsorb the lessons they learned while deployed. When you're at the pointy end of the spear, you become very good tactically, but you lose the opportunity to learn at the operational and strategic levels. While this is fine as a junior officer, it begins to stunt your growth as a mid-level and senior officer.

Why is NPS a not-observed FITREP? Why don't we grade people at NPS based on what they accomplish academically? By making NPS a NOB, we automatically tell officers that all they are doing is punching a ticket. If officers were graded based on the strength of their thesis and research, and how much they contributed to academic discussions, wouldn't they take it more seriously?

And on the flip-side, one of the constant complaints I hear about the DoD attempting things like counterinsurgency operations is that we can't think big picture or outside the targeting realm. Why should we? Our community values going to sea constantly with no thought given to academic rigor or operational/strategic thinking. We don't PROMOTE people that think outside the box, thus we don't have senior leadership who thinks outside the box, and thus we continue to get more of the same, as senior leaders tend to choose people with values like their own.

We can't expect officers to take a masters degree any more seriously than a check in the box if we only treat it as a check in the box.

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