Joint Command and General Staff Course

The aim of the Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC) is to provide professional military education focused on the operational level to prepare senior officers and selected civil servants for multi-service and international joint environments to meet the complex security challenges from Baltic and Euro-Atlantic perspectives.


The multinational course, bringing together many nations each year, focuses on the operational level, strongly emphasising Allied Joint Operations across the full spectrum of operations. The curriculum of JCGSC consists of two semesters (August-December; January-June), including 13 modules and 12 possible electives, of which the students will choose 2. 

An initial unit is completed to prepare the students for a common standard, providing an introduction and review of knowledge for the residential modules. The culmination of the course is a major exercise focused on NATO Article 5 operational planning and execution. In addition, there are two study trips complementing the main modules, and volunteer staff rides are offered as professional development opportunities. The students will also participate in several conferences, round-table seminars, and other academic events.

The course is designed for self-motivated, competitive, and experienced professionals with the requisite English language skills to engage with their peers and who want to excel during their time in Tartu. Students are expected to actively participate in lectures, syndicate, and other educational activities, pass oral and written exams, prepare essays and participate in study trips throughout Europe.

The most academically motivated students are allowed to achieve an advanced degree. JCGSC is recognized by the National Defence Academy of Latvia (NDAL), which counts for the first two semesters of a three-semester Master of Arts in Military Leadership and Security. After graduating from College, the students enrolled in the Master’s program must write a research dissertation.

The students have several individual study days and Christmas and Easter holidays during the course.


The Course is built upon a combined educational approach, including lectures, seminars, small group (syndicate) activities, exercises, and study trips to facilitate adult learning. JCGSC is constructed to maximize the experience and knowledge already found at the College and is bolstered with specific additional skills from outside experts. Thus, active learning and full participation and contribution of all students are heavily encouraged - this allows students to share their knowledge, experience, and learning with others in an open and positive environment.

Students are expected to spend around 32 hours preparing for the course by completing an ADL online module and reading mandatory material before their arrival and during the course.

The typical working day at the BALTDEFCOL comprises an average of six academic hours of classroom activities (1 academic hour = 45 minutes). Students are also expected to spend an average of three hours per day and five hours per weekend on individual and preparatory work.

Admission Requirements

Students attending the Course should:

  • Hold the rank of Major (OF-3) or Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4) (Army/ Air Force/ Special Operations Forces) or Lieutenant Commander (OF-3) or Commander (OF-4) (Navy);
  • Have a successful leadership experience at the OF-2 level;
  • Have strong promotion potential;
  • Proficient in battalion/ squadron-level operations with a strong understanding of combined arms;
  • NATO countries: the officer must hold a NATO Secret clearance;
  • Non-NATO countries: the officer should hold a PfP Secret security clearance;
  • Computer skills – proficiency in Microsoft Windows, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint;
  • English language level 3232 (according to NATO STANAG 6001 or an equivalent test).

Further Information

The college provides all students with accommodation that allows them to focus on their academic studies. All students can access the Estonian Military Academy's canteen during the study period.

During the first semester, team-building athletics is organized to foster cooperation and develop syndicate officers. This is a mandatory activity offering various sports events. There are also opportunities to participate in sports and other activities in Tartu.

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