Policymakers, government officials, and military leaders rely on intelligence to inform their decision-making. Intelligence comprises a collection of information that has military, national security, or political value. However, with so much intelligence available, leadership often has to rely on trained intelligence analysts to help them sift through to the important details.
While intelligence analysts can enter this career from many different paths, most complete a program in intelligence analysis and studies. Many of these programs are offered in online formats, allowing busy professionals the chance to balance their careers, family, and education without having to relocate or even attend classes at a set time. These programs vary in length from four-year bachelor’s programs to one-year certificate programs and even multi-year master’s. The level of education completed and type of program depends on a professional’s career aspirations.
Courses offered in online intelligence analysis and studies programs vary but often include analytical writing, legal issues, ethics, critical thinking, intelligence software, and a national security overview. Certificate programs require the fewest number of classes and are usually very targeted, while bachelor’s programs require general education coursework in addition to classes on intelligence analysis.
This career is ideal for curious, analytical individuals who thrive in a high-paced environment where the work completed can impact critical decision-making. Continue reading to learn about some top online certificate, bachelor’s and master’s programs in intelligence analysis and security, as well as some DIY options.
Students who want to pursue a career in U.S. intelligence but do not want to complete an entire degree should consider the 12-credit online graduate certificate in intelligence studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Business. This certificate is targeted at students who already have a background in business, foreign language, criminal science, engineering, statistics, or computer science.
With flexible start dates, students can start this program for either spring, summer, or fall semesters. The four required courses for this program are the role of U.S. intelligence in national security, analytical writing, reporting and briefing for the intelligence community, intelligence reasoning and analysis, and methods in intelligence collection. Admission to this program is streamlined with a simple application, and there are no standardized test requirements.
The online bachelor’s of science (BS) at Indiana State University prepares students to start a career as intelligence analysts. Graduates of this program go on to work for the U.S. government or private intelligence agencies. Students can choose one of four concentrations, including counterintelligence, criminal intelligence, intelligence collection, and intelligence operations. All students must complete an internship that provides them with valuable hands-on experience.
This program doesn’t require any campus visits, so students can complete their studies at their own pace without having to travel. To be eligible for admission, applicants must be in the United States or Canada and hold a high school diploma with required coursework or have completed a GED.
The University of West Florida Working online intelligence analysis certificate is perfect for professionals and cybersecurity or intelligence students who want to gain the skills needed to succeed in the intelligence community. The primary focus of this program is to train students to identify trends and patterns in large data sets as well as understand the key concepts of security-related intelligence. Students will also gain strong communication skills with human intelligence training.
To complete this program, students must earn 12 to 16 credits. There are four required courses in data collection, intelligence, operations, and national security. An optional course and lab in geographic information systems are highly recommended.
Northeastern University College of Professional Studies offers an online master of arts (MA) in strategic intelligence and analysis. This program can be completed in either a full-time or part-time format, depending on a student’s availability. Graduates of this program are prepared for jobs in intelligence security in both the public and private sectors. Because this program is online, it can be a great fit for professionals who need to gain the skills necessary to acquire and interpret intelligence.
Faculty in this program include former CIA and FBI agents, as well as professionals who have worked in intelligence in the private sector. Since many professors have direct experience in this field, students will learn firsthand from people who have held intelligence roles. Students can choose one of three concentrations to complete, including analysis for homeland security, intelligence community operations and analysis, or remote sensing.
Professionals already working in intelligence and those new to the career will find the online master’s of science (MS) in intelligence analysis at Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences to help them be competitive for many jobs in the intelligence field. All courses are taught remotely, allowing students to work or manage family life while completing their studies. Faculty members in this program provide students with real-world expertise as many come from top jobs in intelligence at the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and the military.
Students must complete 12 courses in classes such as legal issues in intelligence, the art and practice of intelligence, intelligence ethics, and intelligence communications. Admission requirements include already holding a bachelor’s degree, a 500-word statement of purpose, a current resume or CV, a writing sample, professional recommendations, and official transcripts.
The online intelligence studies certificate at Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Justice & Safety offers students an accelerated program that prepares them for successful intelligence careers. This certificate consists of 12 credits of undergraduate coursework threat analysis, counterintelligence, analysis, and intelligence process. Students must choose an additional 12 credits of electives in topics such as organized crime, rural crime and justice, immigration control, terrorism, and more.
All classes are taught in an accelerated eight-week format allowing students to move through courses quickly. Students are assigned an advisor when they start their certificate who helps them choose classes and can provide career advice. Free tutoring is also available. Credits earned as part of this program can be used to complete a bachelor’s degree should a student wish to pursue additional education.
Taking the time to complete a bachelor’s, master’s, or even a certificate in intelligence analysis and studies can be challenging for busy professionals. For those looking to brush up on their intelligence skills or gain entry-level skills to jump-start their careers, there are several do-it-yourself options. This approach allows students to tailor their education to current workplace demands as well as stay abreast of the changing intelligence landscape.
At Mercyhurst University, intelligence analysis professionals can complete online courses in intelligence. These classes are offered as stand-alone courses and do not require students to apply for a degree program but instead simply fill out a one-page admission application. The two primary courses offered are competitive intelligence and intelligence support to targeting. Each class costs $2,429 and is taught by faculty members who are experts in their field. Students will get to interact with their classmates through online discussions and debates.
The online education platform Udemy offers a Level 1 Intelligence Analyst Certification. Students who want to gain better critical thinking skills as well as learn analytical techniques will find this course helpful. The class is only $19.99 and features 2.5 hours of on-demand videos that allow students to complete the program at their own pace.
There are other courses on Udemy as well, such as intro to intelligence analysis for security management and advanced cyber and social media intelligence analysis.