Staff college

Staff colleges (also command and staff colleges and war colleges) train military officers in the administrative, staff and policy aspects of their profession. It is usual for such training to occur at several levels in a career. For example, an officer may be sent to various staff courses: as a captain they may be sent to a single service command and staff school to prepare for company command and equivalent staff posts; as a major to a single or joint service college to prepare for battalion command and equivalent staff posts; and as a colonel or brigadier to a higher staff college to prepare for brigade and division command and equivalent postings.

The success of Staff Colleges spawned, in the mid-twentieth century, a civilian imitation in what are called administrative staff colleges. These institutions apply some of the principles of the education of the military colleges to the executive development of managers from both the public and private sectors of the economy. The first and best-known administrative staff college was established in Britain at Greenlands near Henley, Oxfordshire and is now renamed Henley Management College.


The first modern staff college was that of Prussia. Prussian advanced officer education began under the reign of Fredrick the Great in 1710. The Seven Years' War demonstrated the inadequacy of the education that Generals had at that time, but it was not until 1801 that staff training in a modern sense began when Gerhard von Scharnhorst became the director of the Prussian Military Academy. The Prussian defeats at the hand of Napoleon I led to the creation of the Allgemeine Kriegsschule (General War Academy) with a nine month programme covering mathematics, tactics, strategy, staff work, weapons science, military geography, languages, physics, chemistry and administration.[1] The German staff courses have been used as a basic templates for other staff courses around the world.

Staff Course formats

Nations have taken a wide variety of approaches to the form, curriculum and status of staff colleges, but have much in common with the Prussian courses of the early 19th Century. Some courses act as filters for promotion or entry into a specialist staff corps. The length of courses varies widely, from three months to three years, with some having entrance and/or exit examinations. The more senior the course, the more likely that it will include strategic, political and joint aspects, with junior courses often focusing on single service and tactical military aspects of warfare.


Certain terms of art or idiom have developed in staff colleges over time, and then been used in wider college or university settings and everyday usage, including:

Staff colleges

The following is an incomplete list of staff colleges, by continent by country:

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.



The Americas

United States of America

Air Force






Sri Lanka
Taiwan (Republic of China)
United Arab Emirates


Active duty officers Reserve officers Civilians
2nd tier Centre des hautes études militaires Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale Institut des hautes études de la défense nationale
1st tier École de guerre École supérieure des officiers de réserve spécialistes d'état-major None

All these schools are seated in the école militaire in Paris.

United Kingdom



The Australian Defence College (ADC) was officially opened in 1999 in Canberra. It is a Joint organisation, and comprises:

Prior to the establishment of the Australian Command and Staff College, middle management officer Command and Staff training was conducted at separate single Service staff colleges:

New Zealand



See also


  1. Martin Van Crefeld, The Training of Officers, from military professionalism to irrelevance. Free Press, 1990.
  2. Argentina
  3. The Naval War College Monterey is a satellite office of the United States Naval War College, College of Distance Education (CDE) located on campus at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California. NPS itself is not a NWC school and is not a Staff College.
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