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Naval Research Program

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The Naval Research Program provides an opportunity for students, to identify current and relevant topics within the DoN/DoD that align with your academic interests and meet curriculum requirements, which can be scoped into a thesis/project. Students are invited to participate in the Naval Research Working Group (NRWG) to hear current topics briefed, as well as to meet with Topic Sponsors to discuss and scope a potential research thesis/project. Independent of the NRWG, students are encouraged to browse topics and reach out to the Topic Sponsor of a topic of interest, irrespective of the funding cycle.

Advantages of Participation
  • Engage in research of current DoN/DoD issues which can be directly implemented by the Topic Sponsor Organization.
  • Topic Sponsors are motivated to have the research completed and will work with you to scope the project to fulfill your interest/requirements. Topic Sponsors often have access to the data necessary to complete the project, which allows you to focus on the research.
  • Many of the topics have already been discussed by the Topic Sponsor and NPS Faculty. The Topic Sponsor may help connect you to faculty members already engaged, or who have expressed interest, as you search for thesis/project advisors.
  • You can review topics provided by the Topic Sponsor Organization for your follow-on tour to determine what “difficult issues” they are currently dealing with, and to possibly engage early by researching a topic of relevancy.

Your thesis advisor will be the primary point of contact for initiating a research proposal of a new or current project if you are seeking funding. As a student, many Topic Sponsor Organizations are able to provide funding for travel of the project directly. 

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Research Topic Submission and Review

The organization of the NPS NRP is based upon an annual research topic solicitation process that merges Department of Navy research, analysis, and studies requirements with NPS faculty and students who have unique expertise and experience. The NRP Topic Portal facilitates an ongoing collaborative workflow environment for NPS Students, NPS Faculty and Fleet Sponsors to review, submit, discuss, and sponsor NPS NRP topics for potential funding and thesis consideration. Topic review, board consideration for funding and project award is structured around a fiscal year (FY) annual cycle. There is a FY deadline that usually occurs in April. However, new topic submissions or resubmission of previously unfunded topics can be done at any time of the year.

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Topic Submission

Those wishing to be Topic Sponsors create topics via the NRP Topic Portal. Topics may also be entered by faculty and students but must have a Topic Sponsor established prior to submission of an IREF. Topics will be presented and discussed during the NRWG with NPS faculty and students. When you create a new topic on the NRP Topic Portal you are submitting it for review and consideration for NRP funding. All Topics must be aligned with Navy and/or Marine mission requirements. Topic Proposals that have already been reviewed by the Requirements Review Board (R3B) or Marine Requirements Overview Council (MROC) will receive higher NRP priority for research. Presence or absence of R3B or MROC approval for a topic is validated by the Research Topic Sponsor.

Naval Research Working Group (NRWG)

The primary synchronization and collaboration event for students, Topic Sponsors, and faculty to discuss relevant DoD research. The output of the spring event is a completed Initial Research Estimate Form (IREF) for proposed research and funding consideration. Independent of the NRWG, faculty and students are encouraged to browse topics and reach out to Topic Sponsors to discuss topics of interest, irrespective to the funding cycle.

IREF Submission {NRWG Output}

The IREF is used to submit a preliminary proposed research Statement of Work (SOW) for NRP research topics. During and following the NRWG, faculty and students work with Topic Sponsors to scope proposed projects, and then submit an IREF for topics they wish to research. Discussions with the Topic Sponsor is strongly encouraged. IREFs are submitted via the NRP Topic Portal by NPS faculty. An immediate supervisor at NPS and the Topic Sponsor POC must approve and sign the IREF for it to be considered at the Navy Topics Research Board (TRB) or Marine Executive Research Board (ERB) for potential funding. 

IREF Prioritization

Just prior to  the TRB/ERB, approved IREFs are sent to the sponsoring organization's Topic Sponsor Lead. The Topic Sponsor Lead then coordinates with their organization to internally prioritize the approved IREFs. At this time organizations may also choose to co-sponsor a project or move a project to another sponsor as appropriate for the naval mission.

Navy Topics Research Board (TRB) or Marine Executive Research Board (ERB)

The TRB is a U.S. Navy entity for prioritization and approval of research requirements. The TRB consists of at least one representative from ASN (RDA), N1, N2/N6, N3/N5, N4, N8, N9, and Fleet Force(s). The ERB is the Marine Corps entity for prioritization and approval of research requirements. The ERB consists of at least one representative from I, II, & III MEF, E2O, HQMC Aviation, HQMC I&L, HQMC MR&A, HQMC PP&O, HQMC P&R, CDET, MCCDC, OAD, MARCORSYSCOM, MCWL, MARFORCYBER, and MARFORRES. These organizations will represent Topic Sponsors for projects undertaken within the NPS NRP or comprise the majority of Navy/Marine Corps analysis. They will review, validate, prioritize, and recommend assignment of NPS NRP resources to research projects in order to address specific Navy/Marine Corps research requirements. The TRB/ERB will verify that proposed research is relevant, not duplicative, tied to Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Naval Research, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, Marine Corps Science and Technology Objectives, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Planning Guidance, Department of Defense (DOD), Strategic Guidance, other strategic documents or initiatives such as Research Sponsor vision statements. The TRB/ERB will designate NPS NRP research projects with a status of Requirement (of immediate need to the research sponsors), Tabled (requires more project definition), or Cancelled (project being funded by another Naval entity or of no value). If a proposed IREF is selected as a candidate for funding, the faculty researcher (Principal Investigator (PI)) will then be asked to prepare a detailed research topic proposal and budget. 

Detailed Research Topic Proposal & Budget Submission Package

The detailed research proposal and budget package is the culmination of iterative discussions with the Topic Sponsor. It provides a definitive agreement of the proposed work between the Topic Sponsor and the research PI. Once a PI has developed the formal research topic and budget proposal, an immediate supervisor at NPS and the Topic Sponsor must approve and sign the topic proposal package and submit the completed package to the NRP. A fully completed proposal package must be submitted to and approved by the NRP before funds are released to begin research. It is important that PIs, their supervisors, and Topic Sponsors work closely to complete the package in a timely manner. If a PI fails to submit a completed package to the NRP by the deadline, the funding award may be canceled and awarded to an alternate candidate.

Project Execution/Deliverables

Between October 1st - 15th accounts are funded by the NRP, and PIs can begin their research projects. Students assist faculty in the execution of funded research and production of deliverables. Topic Sponsors are responsible for coordinating with faculty PIs and for oversight of the execution of their individual research projects undertaken under the NPS NRP process. PIs are responsible for all project specific deliverables as outlined and approved in their signed research topic proposal as well as for the NRP specific NRP PI Project Deliverables.


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Explore Research Topics @ NPS

Login to the NRP Topic Portal to review current and past sponsored topics or to create a new topic:




Topic Sponsors and their POC information are found within each topic to enable you to make contact directly.

Search Calhoun to explore all past research conducted by students at Naval Postgraduate School.

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