Policymakers, government officials, and military leaders rely on intelligence to inform their decision-making. Intelligence comprises a collection of military, national security, or political information. However, with so much intelligence available, leadership often has to rely on trained intelligence analysts to help them sift through the important details.
While intelligence analysts can enter this career from many different paths, most complete an intelligence analysis and studies program. 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 languages, 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 no standardized test requirements exist.
The online bachelor 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. In addition, all students must complete an internship with valuable hands-on experience.
This program doesn’t require campus visits, so students can complete their studies at their own pace without traveling. To be eligible for admission, applicants must be in the United States or Canada, 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 and 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. Four required courses are in data collection, intelligence, operations, and national security. In addition, 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. Depending on a student’s availability, students can complete this program full-time or part-time. Graduates of this program are prepared for jobs in intelligence security in both the public and private sectors. In addition, 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 and 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 with intelligence roles. Students can choose one of three concentrations to complete: 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. In addition, 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 espionage, 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 in threat analysis, counterintelligence, analysis, and intelligence process. In addition, 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, which helps them choose classes. Free tutoring is available. Graduates can use credits from this program to complete a bachelor’s degree.
At Mercyhurst University, intelligence analysis professionals can complete an online certificate program and master of science in applied intelligence. Both programs are offered online, and graduates from these programs go on to work for the CIA, NSA, the FBI, and the United States military.
The 12-credit online graduate certificate program is offered at the master’s level, and courses in this program can be applied toward a master’s degree. The two-year online master’s of science program features 34 to 36 credits, small class sizes, and requires students to earn 200 hours of internship intelligence analyst experience with government agencies, national organizations, or a corporation.
The University of Arizona offers a bachelor of applied science in intelligence and information operations. This 120-credit program was ranked #1 by the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence in 2021. This is a two-year degree completion program, meaning that once admitted, students can transfer up to 60 credits earned from a regionally accredited institution to earn their bachelor’s degree.
Graduates from this program develop knowledge and skills that meet the US National Security imperatives through educational and experiential exposure. This program offers three emphases: operational intelligence, information warfare, and law enforcement intelligence.
Notre Dame College offers an online bachelor of arts in intelligence studies. This 45-credit two-year program is designed for transfer students and will accept up to 90 transfer credits. Courses are offered in 8-week terms and include topics such as terrorism, competitive business intelligence, methods of financial investigation and research, intelligence and national security, advanced research and analysis, and writing for intelligence.
The teaching faculty in this program are current or former intelligence analysis professionals and are available outside of class for advising sessions. Graduates from this program can pursue careers in intelligence analysis or apply to the master of arts in national security and intelligence studies in their senior year.
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. However, there are several do-it-yourself options for those looking to brush up on their intelligence skills or gain entry-level skills to jump-start their careers. This approach allows students to tailor their education to current workplace demands and stay abreast of the changing intelligence landscape.
Coursera is a global online learning platform that partners with more than 275 universities and companies worldwide to provide affordable and certifiable online learning to individuals and organizations. Coursera offers more than 700 intelligence analyst options from IE Business School, Google, IBM, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Courses last anywhere from one week to six months, with the longer courses offering career certificate opportunities. Coursera courses are 100 percent self-paced and can be completed anytime, anywhere.
The online education platform Udemy offers a Level 1 Intelligence Analyst Certification. Students who want to gain better critical thinking skills and 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, such as intro to intelligence analysis for security management and advanced cyber and social media intelligence analysis.