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Columbus State advances to 5th most ‘military-friendly school’ in U.S. - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

Columbus State advances to 5th most ‘military-friendly school’ in U.S.

March 27, 2024

Graphic of badges that read '24-'25 Gold/Top 10 School and '

After breaking into the Top 10 last year, Columbus State University has moved up to No. 5 in the newest rankings of small, public military-friendly schools. As a result, it is the only ranked and only Gold-level school in that category in Georgia. This year's ranking is the highest the university has reached in its decade-long run in’s annual rankings.

The university’s recently reimagined Military-Connected Student Services office coordinates educational assistance and advising programs for active-duty service members, retirees, veterans and their families. The office’s enrollment counselors and support staff serve more than 1,300 active-duty soldiers, military retirees, veterans, and their spouses and dependents—nearly 20% of Columbus State’s current student body.

University and Army leaders agree that Columbus State’s Military-Connected Student Services office in the Schuster Student Success Center embodies CSU’s enduring commitment to current and former soldiers and their families.

“Columbus State was founded to serve the needs of our community—and that has always included Fort Moore and our military partners who loyally and unselfishly serve our nation,” President Stuart Rayfield said. “It’s our duty and responsibility to understand and serve their educational needs. It's truly an honor to be a part of their educational journey.”

Photo of MG Curtis Buzzard speaking behind a podium“Columbus State helps our soldiers be more and has been such a steadfast partner with Fort Moore over the years—this is just yet another example of that partnership,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard, commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Moore, at the Aug. 29, 2023, ribbon-cutting for the office’s new location (pictured). “[This office will continue to] benefit not just our soldiers but their families and the many students here who have a military background.”

Columbus State’s other efforts to serve its community of military learners and their families since last year’s rankings include:

  • eliminating nearly all university student fees for military-affiliated students using Military Tuition Assistance toward their education, so the cost of a Columbus State education remains within MTA caps [jump to more];
  • expanding its educational partnerships with the U.S. Army—especially around the Army’s Captains Career Courses and Sergeant Majors Academy—with additional graduate-level transfer credits and shorter time to degree completion [jump to more];
  • deepening its services to and support for military spouses, especially the Fort Moore Spouses Club [jump to more];
  • aligning academic, research and outreach programs with a greater understanding and appreciation of the military’s role and legacy in our society [jump to more].


The university sought to make earning and paying for a degree easier at the same time by eliminating all student fees (except for on-campus parking when applicable) for military-connected students funding their education through the Military Tuition Assistance Program so the cost of their education does not exceed benefit program caps.

It also realigned some graduate programs from 36 to 30 hours for active-duty captains completing the Fort Moore-based Maneuver Captains Career Course (MCCC). Those captains also earn transfer credit hours toward select graduate programs once they complete the CCC program.

Later, in late 2023, the university announced the first of two expanded Army partnerships. The first of those extended the MCCC transfer credit arrangement nationally to graduates of all of the Army’s active-duty Captains Career Courses. In February 2024, the university extended the same opportunity to graduates of the Fort Bliss-based Sergeant Majors Academy.

Headshot of Pat Donahoe“With the steps we are taking and the partnerships we are pursuing, Columbus State is poised to become the Army’s graduate school,” said retired Maj. Gen. Pat Donahoe (pictured) who, before his current role as special assistant to Columbus State’s president for military liaison, preceded Buzzard as commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence. “Our captains and sergeant majors participating in these courses now better understand the opportunity they have to be halfway to a master’s degree when they’re done with the course and head back to their primary duty assignment.”

Through both partnerships, active-duty soldiers completing these courses earn nine academic credit hours toward specific graduate programs. These include the university’s Leader Development track in its Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) program for Sergeant Major Academy graduates. Captains Career Course graduates can apply their credits toward the MSOL program in addition to a Master of Public Administration or Master of Art in Strategic Communication. All three are fully online programs, allowing soldiers to maintain enrollment no matter their duty station and benefit from an effective way to advance their careers.

Headshot of Stuart Rayfield“It used to be the case that we couldn’t serve active-duty soldiers once they left Fort Moore. But with online learning and virtual education, we're able to serve them from the time they connect with our Military-Connected Student Services office to the time they graduate—no matter where they are in the world,” Rayfield (pictured) added.


Columbus State also earned the distinction of being a Military Spouse-Friendly School in the current round of rankings. With that distinction comes a two-fold need: supporting spouses earning their degrees or supporting them as they support their serviceperson and family as they pursue a college education. Central to that effort has been the university’s continuing outreach to members of the Fort Moore Spouses Club. That included hosting its second Military Spouses Appreciation event in November 2023 in partnership with Columbus Technical College.

“For spouses, each new duty station is a chance to start over, reinvent ourselves, try something new, or better ourselves. Columbus State and Columbus Tech offer spouses the opportunity to do that—the chance to start school, continue school, get certified, get a degree, and learn. It is the opportunity to take a chance on a better future for ourselves,” said Tutt McCracken, who served as president of the Fort Moore Spouses Club at the time of the appreciation event.

The event is designed to inform spouses of the educational and support programs both institutions offer. It also provides information sessions that range from how Army families can maintain a healthy family-college balance, to maximizing MyCAA scholarships, G.I. Bill funding and federal loans to fund college.

“Our academic partners are critical to Fort Moore’s civilian workforce solution,” Col. Corey Woods, deputy chief of staff at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, said of Fort Moore’s collaborations with the two schools. “They provide relevant and flexible education opportunities, while also empowering military spouses to contribute to our community’s growth.”


Columbus State continues to embrace opportunities to engage and educate its campus and surrounding community on the military’s role and influence. Through his teaching and scholarly activities, Dr. David Kieran has planned and led public programs on the study of war, the military and U.S. culture.

Headshot of David Kieran“For the 93% of us who have not served in the military, it’s really incumbent on us, as a matter of citizenship, to examine the military’s role in society and the work that we ask it to do,” said Kieran (pictured), who is the Col. Richard R. Hallock Distinguished University Chair in Military History and an associate professor in the Department of History, Geography & Philosophy. “We must engage thoughtfully, respectfully and rigorously with our fellow citizens in and out of uniform about the work that the military do and the lives that those who serve live.”

That respectful engagement has included highlighting the legacies of the Korean and Iraqi Wars through campus lecture series and panels featuring scholars of international and military acclaim. He has plans to do the same in 2025 around the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

As an extension of his classroom teaching and these outreach programs, he, Donahoe and Dr. Daewoo Lee, an associate professor in Columbus State’s School of Policy, Justice & Public Safety and a South Korean native, will lead a study abroad experience for as many as 15 Columbus State students this summer. Underwritten in part by Hyundai Motor Group, the two-week excursion will include visiting several Korean War conflict sites; some of the military installations where U.S. troops serve today; and the think tanks, consular offices and corporate headquarters that highlight the enduring relationship between these countries.


The Military Friendly® Schools survey is the longest-running, most comprehensive review of colleges’ and universities’ investments in serving active-duty, veteran and military-affiliated students. According to Military Friendly® Schools strive toward and succeed in the areas that matter most in helping veterans transition from the military to school and, ultimately, satisfying careers in the civilian world.

The military marketing company Viqtory administers the Military Friendly® rankings program, which evaluates more than 8,000 colleges nationwide. Ratings are based upon a core set of outcome data—namely, degree transfer, advancement, graduation and/or job placement. That publicly available data is supplemented by survey responses from participating colleges in six areas critical in helping veterans thrive on campus—and later in the workplace.

Final Military Friendly® ratings are determined by combining an institution’s Military Friendly® Schools survey score with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet minimum thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement and loan repayment rates for all students and specifically for student veterans based on public data.

The “Small Public Schools” category includes Columbus State University and other public colleges and universities with fewer than 10,000 students. The 2024-25 Military Friendly® Schools list will be published in a special issue of “G.I. Jobs” magazine.

For more information about the Military Friendly® Schools program, visit

Media contact:
Michael Tullier, APR, Executive Director of Strategic Communication + Marketing, 706.507.8729,