The National Defense College of the Philippines was first conceived in 1957 when the military advisors of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) proposed the setting-up of a SEATO War College in the Philippines.
Cognizant of the need to establish a higher educational institution in the military that would be an institution at the zenith of the defense establishment where civilian-military cooperation for national security could be effectively forged, President Diosdado Macapagal signed Executive Order No. 44 on August 12, 1963, authorizing the establishment of the National Defense College of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (NDCAFP) and putting the College under the administrative and operational guidance of the AFP Chief of Staff. The College opened its first Regular Class (RC) on 15 February 1966.
There were legislative moves to pass a law creating the National Defense College of the Philippines. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Manuel A. Zosa filed the House Bill 1420 in 1970 proposing an “Act Creating the National Defense College of the Philippines and for other Purposes.” Also in the same year, Congressman Ramon D. Bagatsing filed the House Bill No. 1447 proposing an “Act Creating the National Defense College of the Philippines, Providing an Academic Board, and for Other Purposes.” In the Senate, Senator Leonardo B. Perez filed the Senate Bill 597 proposing an “Act Creating the National Defense College of the Philippines and for other Purposes.” However, these legislative proposals did not reach third reading because President Ferdinand E. Marcos dissolved the Philippine Congress.
President Marcos subsequently issued P.D. No. 190 in 1973 to formally create the NDCP to “fulfill the need for an institution that will provide for continuing and intensive studies of the diversified problems related to national defense and security.” NDCP was then placed under the Office of the Secretary of National Defense in 1974 by virtue of P.D. No. 452.
The Academic and Admission Boards were later established to oversee the academic program of the College. To carry out its teaching function, the NDCP draws top experts from the academe and senior officers with command and staff experiences from the major services of the AFP.
Lectures by foreign diplomats, technical experts and defense leaders also complement the instruction at the NDCP. The NDCP has managed to grow beyond its modest beginnings to train leaders in the military and civilian bureaucracy in strategic thinking.
On 22 February 1998, the College moved to its new and modern three-story building in the Academic Row, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.