About: NRP Mission Statement

About the Naval Research Program

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Naval Research Program (NRP) is funded by the Chief of Naval Operations and supports research projects for the Navy and Marine Corps. The NPS NRP serves as a launch-point for new initiatives which posture naval forces to meet current and future operational warfighter challenges. NRP research projects are led by individual research teams that conduct research and through which NPS expertise is developed and maintained. The primary mechanism for obtaining NPS NRP support is through participation at NPS Naval Research Working Group (NRWG) meetings that bring together fleet topic sponsors, NPS faculty members, and students to discuss potential research topics and initiatives.

The NRP was established in 2013 to leverage the expertise and experience of NPS’ multidisciplinary faculty and naval (Navy and Marine Corps) student body to complete relevant, cost-effective research that addresses operational issues for the Naval community*. Naval research, analyses topics, and focus areas are sponsored by numerous agencies within the DON. The NPS NRP has developed as a standardized, systematic vehicle to leverage NPS multidisciplinary faculty and student research capabilities in response to demand signals across the DON. It serves to execute research that adds value to the Department of the Navy through research efforts (RDT&E funding) at NPS. The NPS NRP in no way replaces the traditional, independent, external research development processes used by NPS faculty (e.g. Broad Area Announcements, Requests for Proposals), but rather is intended to complement those efforts.

*Other Federal Agency sponsors may choose to participate in the NPS NRP working groups with their own funding.

The NPS NRP mission is to: Provide operationally relevant research experiences to NPS faculty members, provide operationally relevant thesis opportunities to NPS students, and provide useful results from research projects and studies to topic sponsors across the naval enterprise and in coordination with the Navy Analytic Office.


“…maintains a strong, relevant, and viable faculty research effort at the NPS to support core Navy mission and DoD research requirements. Research assures the continued relevance of the NPS faculty capabilities and that the latest processes, materials, and technologies can be transferred to the USN and the USMC to help strengthen the Nation’s defense.” ~OPNAVINST 5450.21E

  • Become a recognized partner from which naval organizations seek out NPS in response to emerging requirements.
  • Develop a ready pool of faculty research expertise to address these requirements.
  • Offer a venue for NPS students to identify thesis research opportunities in areas directly relevant to naval challenges and research needs.
  • Become the recognized leader for providing cutting-edge graduate education for naval officers that includes research complementary to the Navy and Marine Corps R&D requirements.
  • Topic Submission: Submit 365 days a year - FY competition deadline in March or April
  • Naval Research Working Group (USN/USMC): April
  • Initial Research Estimate Form (IREF) Submission and Approval: March to May
  • USN/USMC Topics Review Board (TRB): Mid July
  • Research Proposal Package Submission (NPS Faculty) August to September
  • Begin FY Project Execution: October

Current Topic Submission & Review Cycle Schedule

The RDT&E budget activities are broad categories reflecting different types of RDT&E efforts.

NRP funds are categorically programed for "studies and analyses in support of the RDT&E program" under BA 6.6-RDT&E Management Support.


Budget Activity 6.1 - Basic Research

Basic research is systematic study directed toward greater knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of phenomena and of observable facts without specific applications towards processes or products in mind. It includes all scientific study and experimentation directed toward increasing fundamental knowledge and understanding in those fields of the physical, engineering, environmental, and life sciences related to long-term national security needs. It is farsighted high payoff research that provides the basis for technological progress. Basic research may lead to: (a) subsequent applied research and advanced technology developments in Defense-related technologies, and (b) new and improved military functional capabilities in areas such as communications, detection, tracking, surveillance, propulsion, mobility, guidance and control, navigation, energy conversion, materials and structures, and personnel support. Program elements in this category involve pre-Milestone A efforts. 

Budget Activity 6.2 - Applied Research

Applied research is systematic study to understand the means to meet a recognized and specific need. It is a systematic expansion and application of knowledge to develop useful materials, devices, and systems or methods. It may be oriented, ultimately, toward the design, development, and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet general mission area requirements. Applied research may translate promising basic research into solutions for broadly defined military needs, short of system development. This type of effort may vary from systematic mission-directed research beyond that in Budget Activity 1 to sophisticated breadboard hardware, study, programming and planning efforts that establish the initial feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions to technological challenges. It includes studies, investigations, and non-system specific technology efforts. The dominant characteristic is that applied research is directed toward general military needs with a view toward developing and evaluating the feasibility and practicality of proposed solutions and determining their parameters. Applied Research precedes system specific technology investigations or development. Program control of the Applied Research program element is normally exercised by general level of effort. Program elements in this category involve pre-Milestone B efforts, also known as Concept and Technology Development phase tasks, such as concept exploration efforts and paper studies of alternative concepts for meeting a mission need.  

Budget Activity 6.3 - Advanced Technology Development (ATD)

his budget activity includes development of subsystems and components and efforts to integrate subsystems and components into system prototypes for field experiments and/or tests in a simulated environment. Budget Activity 3 includes concept and technology demonstrations of components and subsystems or system models. The models may be form, fit, and function prototypes or scaled models that serve the same demonstration purpose. The results of this type of effort are proof of technological feasibility and assessment of subsystem and component operability and producibility rather than the development of hardware for service use. Projects in this category have a direct relevance to identified military needs. Advanced Technology Development demonstrates the general military utility or cost reduction potential of technology when applied to different types of military equipment or techniques. Program elements in this category involve pre-Milestone B efforts, such as system concept demonstration, joint and Service-specific experiments or Technology Demonstrations and generally have Technology Readiness Levels of 4, 5, or 6. (For further discussion on Technology Readiness Levels, see the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering’s Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) Guidance.) Projects in this category do not necessarily lead to subsequent development or procurement phases, but should have the goal of moving out of Science and Technology (S&T) and into the acquisition process within the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). Upon successful completion of projects that have military utility, the technology should be available for transition. 

Budget Activity 6.4 - Advanced Component Development and Prototypes (ACD&P)

Efforts necessary to evaluate integrated technologies, representative modes, or prototype systems in a high fidelity and realistic operating environment are funded in this budget activity. The ACD&P phase includes system specific efforts that help expedite technology transition from the laboratory to operational use. Emphasis is on proving component and subsystem maturity prior to integration in major and complex systems and may involve risk reduction initiatives. Program elements in this category involve efforts prior to Milestone B and are referred to as advanced component development activities and include technology demonstrations. Completion of Technology Readiness Levels 6 and 7 should be achieved for major programs. Program control is exercised at the program and project level. A logical progression of program phases and development and/or production funding must be evident in the FYDP. 

Budget Activity 6.5 - System Development and Demonstration (SDD)

System Development and Demonstration (SDD) programs have passed Milestone B approval and are conducting engineering and manufacturing development tasks aimed at meeting validated requirements prior to full-rate production. This budget activity is characterized by major line item projects, and program control is exercised by review of individual programs and projects. Prototype performance is near or at planned operational system levels. Characteristics of this budget activity involve mature system development, integration, demonstration to support Milestone C decisions, conducting live fire test and evaluation, and initial operational test and evaluation of production representative articles. A logical progression of program phases and development and production funding must be evident in the FYDP consistent with the Department’s full funding policy. 

Budget Activity 6.6 - RDT&E Management Support

This budget activity includes management support for research, development, test, and evaluation efforts and funds to sustain and/or modernize the installations or operations required for general research, development, test, and evaluation. Test ranges, military construction, maintenance support of laboratories, operation and maintenance of test aircraft and ships, and studies and analyses in support of the RDT&E program are funded in this budget activity. Costs of laboratory personnel, either in-house or contractor operated, would be assigned to appropriate projects or as a line item in the Basic Research, Applied Research, or ATD program areas, as appropriate. Military construction costs directly related to major development programs are included in this budget activity. 

Budget Activity 6.7 - Operational System Development

This budget activity includes development efforts to upgrade systems that have been fielded or have received approval for full rate production and anticipate production funding in the current or subsequent fiscal year. All items are major line item projects that appear as RDT&E Costs of Weapon System Elements in other programs. Program control is exercised by review of individual projects. Programs in this category involve systems that have received approval for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). A logical progression of program phases and development and production funding must be evident in the FYDP, consistent with the Department’s full funding policy. 

Topic Submission and Review Cycle

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 March\April. However, new topic submissions or resubmission of previously unfunded topics can be done at any time of the year. More...

NPR Basic Workflow Process Image

Topic Submission

Topic Sponsors from the Navy and Marine Corps enter topics in 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 Initial Research Estimate Form (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 NPS faculty and student research consideration (pending NRP approval) and subsequently, via the IREF process, for potential NRP research funding. All Topics must be aligned with Navy and/or Marine mission requirements. RDT&E funds used for the NRP are currently categorized as “BA6-RDT&E Management Support” only (see above). Therefore, topics and subsequent IREFs submitted for consideration must be scoped within the BA6 RDT&E category.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/marine Corps Topics Research Board (TRB) for potential funding. 

IREF Prioritization

Just prior to the TRB, approved IREFs are sent to the sponsoring organization's Topic Sponsor Lead/TRB representative. The Topic Sponsor Lead then coordinates with their organization to internally prioritize the approved IREFs. During the review and prioritization phase leading up to the TRB, individual Topic Sponsors should coordinate with their TRB Lead to discuss (advocate) the importance of the research and answer any questions the TRB Lead may have. 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 and Marine Corps Topics Review Board (TRB)

The TRB is the Navy/Marine Corps entity for prioritization and approval of research requirements. The TRB consists of at least one representative from NAVY: ASN (RDA), N1, N2/N6, N3/N5, N4, N7, N8, N9, and Fleet Forces Command; MARINE CORPS: HQMC AVN, HQMC DCI, HQMC I&L, HQMC M&RA, HQMC PP&O, HQMC P&R, HQMC CD&I, COMMARFORCOM and MARCORSYSCOM. Topics with approved Initial Research Estimate Forms (IREFS) are represented at the TRB by a senior representative of one of these organizations as appropriate. 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 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 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). 

Detailed Research Topic Proposal & Budget Submission Package

If a proposed IREF is selected as a candidate for funding at the TRB, the faculty researcher (Principal Investigator (PI)) will then be asked to prepare a detailed research topic proposal and budget. 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 NRP, 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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