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What Degree Do You Need to Work for the CIA?

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) offers government jobs in many areas as well as an excellent benefits package. Educational requirements for the various jobs differ based on the job description itself. The CIA does not have a specific list of educational requirements to work for the organization, but instead it takes each position individually and determines what is needed in a candidate. With that said, there are some general guidelines for education decisions for those wishing to work with the CIA.

General Minimum Requirements

Fulfill the CIA’s minimum requirements for employment to get any job within the organization. Minimum requirements include an age of 18 or older and U.S. citizenship, according to cia.gov.

The CIA does not officially recommend one course of study over another since the jobs contained within the organization are so diverse. Get a high school diploma first and then apply to college. Most jobs within the CIA do require a degree of some sort, but this is not mandatory in all cases. It strictly depends on whether you are looking for entry-level clerical or office positions or an opportunity to work in higher level positions.

Maintain good grades no matter what education you choose. A grade point average of 3.0 or higher is typical of CIA employees.

Degree Requirements

With no degree specific to getting hired by the CIA, you will need to evaluate the career paths that are related to the agency’s work. Decide whether Science, Technical and Engineering, National Clandestine Services, Language Opportunities, or Analytical and Support Services is more interesting to you. Decide on a major that fits within one of those paths, according to Legal-Criminal-Justice-Schools.com.

Obtain at least a four-year bachelor’s degree to land most jobs with the CIA, and plan on obtaining an advanced graduate degree for jobs such as overseas officers and intelligence. Learn a second language in college, as this is an important piece of education that the CIA looks for in its candidates.

Students wishing to become CIA agents are typically well suited to criminal justice programs or homeland security studies.

Student Programs

The CIA offers several student programs to help those interested in preparing for a career with the agency.

Apply for the CIA Undergraduate Scholarship Program between August and October if you are a high school senior or a college sophomore. This program is open to all students and will provide work experience with the agency in Washington D.C. during summers and tuition assistance up to $18,000 per calendar year, according to CIA.gov. This competitive program means agreeing to continue working with the CIA after graduation.

The CIA also offers an undergraduate co-op program as well as internships. Both opportunities will allow you to gain valuable experience working in the intelligence field before you graduate from college. Students of all majors are eligible for these programs. Visit the Student Opportunities resource link below to learn how to apply for these programs.

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About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

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