Central Intelligence Agency Education Standards

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the nation’s premier agency for global intelligence. The CIA’s diverse group of professionals possesses a vast array of specialties that allow them to understand and confront the swiftly-transforming political, economic, technological, military, and social landscapes that influence the national security of the United States.

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From business and information technology to accounting, engineering and economics, the CIA’s career opportunities are considerable for individuals in nearly all backgrounds and professions. Individuals may find a wealth of job opportunities within the CIA’s four teams:

  • National Clandestine Service (NCS)
  • Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T)
  • Directorate of Intelligence (DI)
  • Directorate of Support (DS)

CIA College Degree Qualifications for Clandestine Positions

One of the largest areas of professional opportunity lies within the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NCS), which is responsible for the investigation, assessment, and analysis of foreign intelligence, which is provided to the President of the United States and other key U.S. policymakers.

Educational standards for these positions are well-defined, with only the most qualified individuals eligible for clandestine service positions within the Central Intelligence Agency:

Core Collector College Degree Requirements

Core collectors are the intelligence officers of the NCS who are responsible for conducting clandestine intelligence operations overseas. These intelligence professionals must have solid interpersonal and communications skills and excellent writing skills, and they must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or better.

Although the CIA does not specify that candidates possess specific college degrees, it does suggest that candidates possess a degree that shows a strong interest in international affairs. As such, college degrees for individuals pursing core collector careers in the CIA often include:

  • International business
  • Finance
  • International relations
  • Economics
  • Physical science
  • Biological engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Nuclear engineering

Further, foreign language proficiency is a strongly desirable qualification for core collector positions, and the Agency recognizes the following languages as being of particular interest:

  • Arabic
  • Indonesian
  • Korean
  • Pashto
  • Persian
  • Russian
  • Dari
  • Chinese
  • Somali
  • Kurdish
  • Urdu


CIA College Degree Qualifications for Investigative Positions

The CIA’s team of special agents within the Office of Inspector General is responsible for conducting investigations and reviews into illicit activity within the Agency. This may include inquiries into:

  • Violations of rules, regulations and laws
  • Mismanagement or gross waste of funds
  • Activities that threaten the public health and safety within the CIA
  • Abuse of authority

Special Agent/Investigator College Degree Requirements

Individuals interested in pursuing CIA special agent jobs must possess, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, as well as at least three years of experience in criminal investigations that are focused on complex matters.

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Although there are no specific college degree requirements for special agent jobs, it is typical for individuals interested in this career path to possess degrees related to criminal investigation, such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology


CIA College Degree Qualifications for Analyst Positions

The CIA employs a wide array of analysts who are responsible for taking the intelligence gathered through clandestine work and transforming it into analyses that are used by the President and other policymakers when addressing national security and foreign policy issues.

CIA analysts, who are part of the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence (DI), must be able to anticipate and assess evolving international developments and their impact upon the U.S. and its interests. Due to the complex nature of intelligence analysis, the DI employs a number of professional analysts:

  • Targeting analyst
  • Political analyst
  • Open source officer
  • Military analyst
  • Leadership analyst
  • Intelligence collection analyst
  • Economic analyst
  • Counterterrorism analyst
  • Counterintelligence threat analyst
  • Analytic methodologist

Analyst College Degree Requirements

Just as the focus of these analyst positions varies, so do the qualifications and requirements for achieving these jobs. All analyst positions require, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA, although the CIA notes that competitive candidates often have higher GPAs, relevant experience, and foreign language proficiency.

For example, counterintelligence threat analysts, who are responsible for identifying foreign entities who are trying to gather information on the U.S. and its interests, must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the following fields (or a closely related field):

  • Computer engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • International studies with a focus on technical studies
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Security studies
  • Telecommunications technologies

Counterterrorism analysts for the CIA, who provide assessments of the motivations and intentions of foreign terrorist groups, must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in national security studies, international affairs, or a closely related field.

Economic analysts with the CIA must, as is expected, possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in:

  • Business administration
  • Economic crimes management
  • Economics
  • Finance

Intelligence collection analysts must be experts in intelligence gathering; therefore, the CIA seeks candidates with bachelor or master’s degrees in programs such as:

  • Geography library science
  • History
  • International studies
  • National security
  • Political science
  • Remote sensing
  • Statistics
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Targeting analysts with the CIA, who provide intelligence insight on foreign targets, including key leaders of illicit organizations, must possess a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:

  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Foreign area study
  • International relations
  • International trade
  • National security studies
  • Political science
  • Proliferation
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction technologies

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