Following the events of 9/11, U.S. Congress authorized direct funding to the Department of Defense (DoD) for an educational program for international military officers and civilians involved in counterterrorism around the globe. The subsequent Combatting Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) set up academic and training programs in DoD institutions around the United States, under the oversight of the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense, Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC). National Defense University was designated to house CTFP’s flagship program, an eight-month International Counterterrorism Fellowship Program at the School of National Security Executive Education (now the College of International Security Affairs). This program received its inaugural class of 10 students in March 2003. In 2007, the program was revamped to support a one-year program similar to the International Fellows Program, culminating in a Masters of Arts Degree in Strategic Studies.
In this program, U.S. and international students study side-by-side in an academic environment. Students select a topic on a particular aspect of counterterrorism and write and defend a thesis at the end of the year. In addition to military officers, a special focus of the fellowship program is the inclusion of civilians and police officers engaged in combatting terrorism, highlighting the interagency approach needed to address counterterrorism and extremism issues.
Graduates of the fellowship program join a network of over 500 individuals engaged in combatting terrorism in over 80 countries. Alumni have used their education and associations through the network to achieve significant impact in their field. NDU strives to maintain ties with these graduates through providing continuing education, online and in-person engagement, and a range of research tools and resources for their benefit.