Higher Command Studies Course

The aim of the Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC) is to educate military officers and civilian government officials from the Baltic states, their allies, and partners about executive responsibilities at the strategic level. It will enable comprehension of the multifaceted actions necessary to accomplish national and Allied strategic objectives within an uncertain international environment. It will produce creative, proactive, agile leaders, policymakers, and top-level managers capable of making sound, decisive, and future-oriented strategic decisions.


The core rationale for the HCSC is to ensure that the graduates will be able to make an effective contribution to meet today’s and tomorrow’s strategic challenges and, through their future leadership, will be ready to lead major defence development programmes.

The HCSC is highly engaging; students must conduct individual research and participate in various collective research projects and discussions. Several practical exercises, including a major exercise on Long-Term Defence Planning, known as ‘Strategic Planner’. Two field study trips will complement classroom activities. One is conducted with NATO and EU institutions to discuss current developments on a strategic political level. Another study trip will visit Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to familiarize ourselves with the states and later produce a plan for necessary regional defence and security improvements. During the course, students have several individual study days.

The HCSC was accredited by NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in 2008. NATO ACT certified the HCSC as a ‘Listed’ course and included it in the Education and Training Opportunities Catalogue (ETOC NATO) 2015. As a NATO-recognised course, the HCSC has established its position alongside other courses at a similar level. It delivers added-value education to military and civilian students from the Baltic states and their allies and partners. The HCSC is accredited by several NATO countries at the national level.


The HCSC’s educational method is based on a combined educational approach, including lectures, seminars and small group (syndicate) activities and exercises to facilitate adult learning at an advanced level. Consequently, the primary responsibility for learning and achieving the specified learning outcomes is placed on the student.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students should be Lieutenant Colonels/Colonels (Navy Commanders/ Captains) who are considered at the time of their selection to possess the potential for promotion to the rank of General (Admiral), government officials from MoDs (or MFAs) with equivalent civilian rank and potential, or academics with a demonstrated potential for promotion to high-level civil servant posts.

Military students should have graduated from a Joint Command and General Staff Course or equivalent Course at the operational level. Civil servants and academics must have an appropriate academic profile (at minimum Master level or NDC, GCSP, etc.).

English language level should - as an absolute minimum - be 3333, according to NATO STANAG 6001. Students from NATO countries should hold a NATO Confidential security clearance; other students should hold a national confidential security clearance. Students should also possess routine computer skills (Internet, MS Windows, MS Word, MS PowerPoint and MS Excel).

Further Information

The BALTDEFCOL provides all students with accommodation that allows them to focus on their academic studies. All students can access the Estonian Military Academy's canteen and sports facilities during the study period. There are also opportunities to participate in sports and other activities in Tartu.

The HCSC students will be invited to participate in BALTDEFCOL’s International Night event. The International Night is a special social and cultural event organised at the College where students and staff present their national culture, music and food.