The future of the cleared industry hinges on the next generation, and what career path they choose. For years, the “demographic cliff” has been a hot topic in higher education, referring to the year 2025 when the number of traditional aged-college students will peak before sharply declining. As AI and advanced tech sets pace to evolve our understanding of the job market, cleared careers offer stability to generations inheriting an uncertain future. 

There isn’t a one-sizefitsall approach to breaking into the national security industry, but attending a college or university with relevant coursework and connections is a smart step toward a classified career. You may have heard of American, Georgetown, George Washington University and Howard in your DC college search, but look a bit beyond the beltway and here are five other great college options for national security hopefuls to consider. 

George Mason University 

Located only six miles from the Capitol Building, George Mason University’s Schar School of Public Policy and Governance offers various degrees, including Government and International Politics and International Security and Law. It also boasts a Clearance Ready Program, which assists students throughout their studies in preparation to obtain a security clearance.  

University of Maryland 

University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in College Park, MD specializes in – you guessed it – public policy. Graduates go on to work at government agencies, world-renowned nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies. Through hands-on learning, students analyze public policy issues and strategize ways to solve the world’s challenges.   

Marymount University  

Marymount University’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences offers various programs including Criminal Justice, Political Science, International Relations and Psychology. Located in Arlington, the university promotes such values as lifelong learning, service to others, and has connections spanning the globe.  

Northern Virginia Community College 

Getting your start at a community college can equal big savings when pursuing advanced degrees. With six campuses in the region, NVCC boasts programs like Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics. In addition to saving money, attending a community college opens up new connections to your network. 

Northeastern University, Arlington Campus 

While Northeastern University’s main campus is in Boston, MA, it’s Arlington campus is home to high-demand master’s programs. From Public Policy to Cybersecurity, the coursework offers graduate students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and work with the university’s prestigious partner organizations in the National Capital Region.  

As we navigate an ever-evolving security landscape, the decisions made by the next generation of professionals define the future of the cleared industry. Helping students choose an enriching path with relevant education and strategic connections is key to strengthening the cleared pipeline.  

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Phoebe Wells is the Public Relations & Partnerships Marketing Manager at ClearanceJobs and loves every aspect of her role. Creating content and working with the CJ team to connect cleared candidates with employers is incredibly rewarding, as the work ClearanceJobs does ultimately supports the mission of the U.S. As the daughter of a veteran and former cleared worker, she knows the sacrifices security and defense professionals make. She is honored to assist them in leveling up their careers. Plus, she gets to work from home in the Adirondack Mountains with her partner and two huskies!