Harry Sarles | Army University Public Affairs
Students in the Command and General Staff Officer Course Class of 2021 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 a master of operational studies degree.
The master 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 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 master’s in operational studies is a practitioner’s degree.”
The coursework is the same for all students in residence at Fort Leavenworth. The master of operational studies program allows CGSOC students to gain a degree without having to write a thesis, Martin explained.
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. CGSC deliberately moved to use this new authority to expand its degree portfolio, Martin said. In 2017, the college requested permission to change the names of the degrees granted at the School of Advanced Military Studies from the MMAS to the master of arts in military operations and the master of arts in strategic studies, 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 CGSOC. 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 second trimester of CGSOC was modified to focus on large-scale combat operations, and during this major curricular change, the rigor of the course increased significantly.
The course now places more emphasis on direct assessment of learning and an improved overall assessment program. This year, the writing requirements for CGSOC students were significantly upgraded, specifically to improve the writing assessments for students completing the program.
All U.S. resident students enrolled in CGSOC are automatically enrolled in the master of operational studies degree program. They can opt out to pursue an MMAS or other graduate degree program. International students in CGSOC can participate in the degree program if they meet the requirements as outlined in the student bulletin.
About 10-15 percent of resident CGSOC 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 CGSOC 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 CGSOC students even as the student completes the master of operational studies degree program. In the first full year of the new program, some students will earn both the master of operational studies degree and a civilian graduate degree during their year at Fort Leavenworth.
CGSC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which previously authorized the college to grant three different master’s degrees — the MMAS, the MAMO and the MASS. The HLC-accredited bachelor of arts in leadership and workforce development program is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Eligibility for the master of operational studies degree has been extended to graduates of the CGSOC Class of 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 master of operational studies degree program can be found at https://usacac.army.mil/organizations/cace/cgsc/CGSCDegreePrograms/MOS.