What Schools Does The Cia Recruit From

CIA Agency Requirements

The CIA requires applicants to hold a four-year degree from an accredited college or university and to demonstrate skill in foreign language proficiency. Although the agency does not publish a list of “recommended schools” in their recruiting literature, the CIA has traditionally recruited heavily from the Big Ten and Ivy League schools.
In addition to these requirements, the CIA looks for certain personality traits and characteristics such as loyalty, discretion, a desire to serve, a drive to succeed, and a focus on ethical behavior. With a global presence and responsibilities that go beyond intelligence gathering, the CIA values applicants who display a willingness to learn, adapt and take on new challenges.

Schools With a History of Recruiting

Harvard University, Stanford University, and Georgetown University remain the top three schools with the most CIA employees recruited from their ranks. Harvard is the most popular source for new recruits, providing nearly twice as many of the agency’s latest hires as Stanford, with Georgetown falling in third. MIT, Princeton, Yale and Columbia are also popular source universities for the agency.
Beyond the traditional top universities, the CIA recruits from many other schools. These include liberal art colleges such as Williams College and political science/international studies programs such as American University, George Washington University, and the University of Michigan.
The agency also has increased its recruitment of students from service academies such as the United States Military Academy, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy.

Internship Programs

In order to increase the pool of potential hires, the CIA has created internship programs targeted at younger students. Interships are designed to provide hands-on intelligence training and experience in a variety of fields and expose potential candidates to the agency’s mission. Programs lasting 10-12 weeks are offered by the CIA where interns can gain a valuable professional experience and make networking contacts with potential mentors in their future careers.

University Rotational Programs

The CIA also provides rotational programs for university students. These rotational programs allow participants to gain a broader understanding of intelligence work and the agency’s mission.
University-based course work is combined with field exercises, cultural immersion and boot-camp-style training to provide a foundation of professional experience and a deep understanding of the history, objectives, and challenges faced by intelligence professionals.

Interviews and Recruitment Process

CIA recruiters also partner with student organizations and host panel discussions, workshop presentations and offer information on the application process and internships.
During these activities, recruiters seek out candidates who are organized and detail-oriented, self-motivated, have strong problem-solving skills, have a keen ability to effectively communicate complex issues and have a passion for learning new things.
Once candidates have been identified and expressed interest, recruiters will usually ask them to complete an online application. Once all applications are submitted, the agency uses assessment tests to help determine the qualifications of each candidate, who is then invited to participate in an interview.

Security Clearance

The security clearance process is the most rigorous of any of the federal government agencies. The agency requires a full background check and a polygraph before an applicant is offered a job. In addition, applicants are required to disclose any and all foreign contacts and must demonstrate that they have the maturity and judgment to handle sensitive information.
Once an applicant has passed all the relevant tests and has been granted a security clearance, he or she will then be asked to sign a Secrecy Agreement to ensure loyalty and confidentiality of all matters related to their duties as a CIA employee.

Career Opportunities Available

The CIA offers a number of career paths for employees with the right skills and abilities. These include Intelligence Analysis, Operations, Information Technology, Counterterrorism, and Technical Services.
Intelligence Analysis focuses on collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting intelligence data. Operations are the undercover operations and international assignments overseen by the CIA. Information Technology involves providing the agency’s communication and computer infrastructure. Counterterrorism includes activities to prevent and respond to terrorist threats. Technical Services focuses on developing and maintaining innovative technology solutions.

Compensation and Benefits

The CIA offers competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits packages. Benefits include a 401(k) plan, life and health insurance, generous vacation time and time-off, and flexible work schedules.
In addition, the agency offers performance bonuses, merit awards, recognition programs, and other special rewards. As with any government agency, there are restrictions regarding political and financial activities while employed by the CIA.

Working at the CIA

Working at the CIA is both challenging and rewarding. Employees have the opportunity to work on fascinating projects and serve their country while developing their skills in diverse, international fields such as cyber security, communications, intelligence gathering and analysis, and science and technology.
Although the CIA gives preference to applicants with an advanced degree and technical skills, there are numerous opportunities for those without a degree who still have the motivation and personality traits to serve the agency.


The CIA is an exciting and prestigious organization that provides challenging and rewarding opportunities for those who are willing to work hard, serve their country and stay committed to the pursuit of excellence. The agency has staff with a wide range of backgrounds and education levels from a variety of schools, including some of the top universities in the world.

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Rosemary Harrold is an accomplished writer and researcher who is both passionate and knowledgeable about the world of secret services. She gained an MSc in International Relations in 2017 and has since built on her expertise with numerous publications on intelligence agencies, their practices, and recent developments. Rosemary has been writing about IBM, CIA and FBI activities since then, as well as providing in-depth analysis on intelligence-related topics.

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