Transitioning veterans interested in cleared careers have more education options ahead, with new intelligence degree plans designed specifically for jobs in the intelligence community.

For a decade, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has been building partnerships with four-year colleges and universities to support intelligence-focused academic curricula.  By congressional mandate, the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) serve three of the agency’s objectives; increase the number of participating schools, attract more college graduates with relevant education, and increase the cultural diversity of the intelligence community’s workforce.

Although the number of participating schools is still relatively small, they are spread geographically across the country. Veterans looking for cleared intelligence careers have opportunities to attend schools partnering with the IC CAE in 11 states: Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington State. Some states have multiple schools participating.

University of Central Florida Welcomes New Intel Program

The most recent school to come on board is the University of Central Florida (UCF). In October, DIA awarded a $1.85 million grant to the university to establish a center in the department of political science.

Michael Macedonia, an Army veteran and now UCF Assistant Vice President for Research, says the center will offer state-of-the-art curriculum in national intelligence and security, with opportunities for summer programs and study-abroad programs.

“We’re the second largest university in the country, with 63,000 students and we have a large population of both active duty students and veterans,” said Macedonia.  “This is a very patriotic community and we are a logical fit for the center.  It will serve as a workforce generator by giving students early access to information and understanding of the intelligence community and its mission throughout the 17 intelligence agencies.”

Macedonia explained that the university has close ties to the Orlando region’s military installations, as well as defense and intelligence agencies based in the region.  This proximity will provide students with greater interaction with agency and military personnel, and increase their knowledge of the work culture within the intelligence community.

“The center opens up a whole new venue for expanding our efforts to provide education that supports national security,” he said.

Each school partnering with IC CAE offers intelligence-focused degree plans, though the degrees differ per school, as do the departments offering the degrees and eligibility requirements for both first year and transfer students.

University of Texas at El Paso

In October, the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) also received one of the seven 2014 DIA grants for IC CAE education programs.  The $1.86 million award will be used to expand UTEP’s Intelligence and National Security Studies (INSS) program, by creating the National Security Studies Institute.  The institute will offer new degree plans in strategic intelligence and analysis, with linguist, cultural and geographic specialties. The proposed institute will also include a Center for Intelligence and Security Research.

Currently, one third of the intelligence community’s analysts are within five years of retiring. The grants are aimed at filling those shortages by ensuring a pool of qualified, educated graduates.

According to Larry Valero, UTEP’s INSS program director, student diversity and border location played a role in winning the grant.

“We have a strong record of placing our highly qualified and talented graduates in intelligence agencies, where being bilingual and trilingual are critical,” said Valero.

UTEP Students will have opportunities for semester-long linguistic and cultural immersion programs, and summer programs to study strategic languages at other universities.  There will also be opportunities ahead to participate in analytic training courses offered by defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin’s Center for Security Analysis in Virginia.

For a list of all participating schools, degree plans and eligibility requirements, cleared veterans can check out DIA’s IC CAE website::

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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: