All branches of the U.S. military require intelligence personnel to continue their education in order to advance. For enlisted forces, there are associate's and bachelor's degree programs in intelligence, while officers are encourage to earn a master's degree before being promoted out of the junior officer ranks. These degrees demonstrate that the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine understands the role of intelligence in military operations and how to collect, analyse and disseminate critical information. A degree in intelligence is also useful in the civilian world for intelligence positions with local or federal law enforcement agencies and businesses.
The first step on the intelligence education path is the associate's degree. A degree at this level is particularly useful for enlisted service members because the general education requirements are transferable to a four-year institution should the person later choose to pursue a bachelor's degree. Fort Huachuca and Cochise College in Arizona partner together to offer an Associate of Applied Arts degree in intelligence operations. The program is primarily for Army intelligence soldiers who are training for an intelligence speciality but is also open to civilians. Students must complete at least 20 credits of general education coursework and 21 units in the core intelligence curriculum.
The bachelor's degree in intelligence studies is the highest undergraduate degree available in the field. An associate's degree is not a prerequisite, though it can help. Most bachelor's programs, however, accept first-time freshmen and transfers with general education credits.
Intelligence studies at the bachelor's degree level focus on introducing students to the intelligence community structure and the different methods of information collection. The American Military University, which offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in intelligence studies, includes 42 courses covering topics from joint forces intelligence planning to interrogation to illicit finance. Students can also select a concentration in criminal intelligence, intelligence analysis, intelligence collection, intelligence operations or terrorism studies.
Several schools offer either a master of arts or a master of science degree in the intelligence field. The difference between the two is that the master of science usually has a foreign language or technical requirement. Though students must have a bachelor's degree before commencing their graduate intelligence studies, the degree need not have been related to intelligence.
Providing students with an even more in-depth level of understanding of intelligence concepts is the purpose of this degree. Studies focus on the relationships between producers and consumers of intelligence in the intelligence community, advances in collection methods and specific intelligence issues as they relate to regions, such as Asia or South America.
Only a few Ph.D. programs relate to intelligence, and they are mostly labelled under security studies. These programs prepare students to work as scholars in the intelligence field, where they must prepare original research and develop new theories on technology, strategy and policy. The final requirement for such programs is a long paper called a dissertation and an oral defence before the faculty.
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