What Are the Different Types of Intelligence Degree Programs?

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  • Written By: Kenneth W. Michael Wills
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Intelligence degree programs prepare students for future careers in government or military service as well as for careers in the private sector. Depending on the degree program’s specialization and level of study, such potential careers may lead to a position as an intelligence analyst, intelligence collector or an intelligence manager. Degree programs in intelligence range from undergraduate certificates to master’s degrees in various specialized intelligence studies. Program specializations include intelligence collection, intelligence analysis, strategic intelligence, intelligence management and business intelligence.

Specializations that focus on analysis and collections usually fall under degree programs that either reflect the name, or more often are taught simultaneously as intelligence studies. Undergraduate programs in intelligence studies will usually focus on the collection of intelligence from a variety of sources, such as human intelligence and signal intelligence, while covering the foundations of analyzing the intelligence uncovered. Graduate study usually shifts the focus to advanced analysis and interpretation of intelligence, in addition to conducting intelligence operations. Strategic intelligence degree programs usually follow the same structure, but also will cover international relationships, foreign policy, intelligence strategy and diplomacy. While intelligence studies degrees prepare candidates for lower-level positions, strategic intelligence programs prepare graduates for leadership roles.


Management of both intelligence itself and the operations of intelligence collection, analysis and interpretations are central to the success of any intelligence agency, whether related to public government, the military of even private sector firms. Choosing a degree program in intelligence management will prepare graduates to handle all those required functions at the undergraduate level, often leading to supervisory positions upon graduation. Study at the graduate level in this specialization usually leads to mid-management positions with just a year or two of experience in the field or as a supervisor. Inherent to such intelligence degree programs is gaining a strong familiarity in many of the same topics covered under an intelligence studies degree.

Business intelligence is another major area of study, usually geared toward learning how to collect, analyze, interpret and leverage intelligence in the private sector to solve business issues. Focusing on business applications and technology, intelligence degree programs of this specialization prepare candidates for both analytical roles and intelligence management roles within private organizations. Quantitative analysis and the use of technology are the major focuses in business intelligence, requiring students to have a strong mathematical background with a familiarity regarding deployment of information technology to accomplish organizational goals. Objectives of such program are to teach students how to integrate knowledge from both domains in order to interpret and use business intelligence efficiently.


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