by Barry Waldman
A young woman with a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences decided early in her career that what she really wanted to do was work in intelligence analysis for the federal government.
Intelligence analysis is the process by which information is collected on a potential enemy and analyzed to understand current operations, predict their behavior, and determine any threats they may pose.
She matriculated in The Citadel’s certificate program for intelligence analysis and upon completion earned an internship through the school with a think tank doing work on counterterrorism. She has interviewed with the CIA and, pending the passage of top security clearance will have a job in the field.
Courses Completely Online
The Citadel’s certificate program is a five-course, asynchronous online program that “introduces students to Intelligence Analysis concepts, applicable management principles, policy analysis, critical thinking and enhanced critical leadership skills necessary to successfully address security and intelligence challenges facing the United States,” according to its website.
By its nature, it is conducive to working professionals and military service member to pursue a graduate certificate without interrupting their careers.
As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel is uniquely positioned to offer this program, which serves for most students as a stepping stone to the full master’s degree program in intelligence analysis. With a certificate, a master’s degree student is nearly halfway through the curriculum.
All certificate students take the three core courses – Introduction to Intelligence, Intelligence Research and Analysis, and Intelligence Theory Application. A long list of electives provide context for the analysis techniques learned, in courses like Topics in Homeland Security, European History, Evolution of Military Leadership Thought, International Political Theory, and Russian Active Measures, to name just a sampling.
Dipping Toes Into Academia
Dr. Larry Valero, the Department Head and Associate Professor of Intelligence and Security Studies, says most students complete the certificate program in two or three semesters, but they have a couple of years to do so. Many students are working professionals in mid-career who haven’t attended college for years and need to dip their toes in academia before committing to a full master’s degree program. Once they have established their ability to juggle work, family and the rigors of graduate school coursework, most go on for the full master’s.
Students in the program come from all over the country with a variety of backgrounds, Dr. Valero said. Some are serving members of the armed forces, first responders like police officers and firefighters, some work in Homeland Security. Others work in completely unrelated fields and have no intelligence background whatsoever but are interested in a career transition.
Putin and Intelligence Analysis
Events today involving Russia and its western neighbors, and the intelligence community’s need to understand Vladimir Putin’s motivations and incentives, are testament to the urgency of intelligence analysis. The future of Eastern Europe could be at stake.
“Our field is very interdisciplinary, running the gamut of politics, people, and technology,” Dr. Valero said. It is so topical and timely, there is no limit to what can be applied to the field. We offer that additional background that analysts may need to know no and in the future.”