The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an indispensable element of our nation’s security apparatus—and for those seeking a career in this field, knowing What to Major in for CIA is essential. To become an Agency professional, you need training in a variety of multidisciplinary topics from extensive areas of expertise. There’s no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to choosing a major; but some majors can make you surprisingly competitive for an Agency career.
A strong foundation in science, technology, engineering or math plays an integral role in the success of a CIA officer. Areas of study like chemistry, physics, geology, biology, and mathematics are excellent for training agents to interpret the latest intelligence, make data-driven decisions, and handle complex technical projects. In addition, having specialized knowledge in areas like propulsion, defense engineering, encryption, and computer programming can give you a definite leg up when looking to join the CIA.
Liberal arts majors also bring a unique skill set to the CIA. With strong analytical skills, written and verbal communication, and a proficiency in foreign languages, those majoring in social sciences, humanities, and the arts provide a balanced area of expertise that complements the technical skills of those well-versed in the sciences. With a focus on the world around us, these majors can become an integral part of a team that turns intelligence into action.
No matter your major, you can be sure that any CIA training program you pursue will include courses on intelligence and security. Covering history, operations, and data analysis — among other topics of study — these courses are designed to give you the knowledge and experience you need to be successful in your field. Successful training programs can include internships abroad, certifications and education, as well as a series of interviews with Agency professionals. No two paths are the same — and that’s just one of the variables you should consider when it comes to What to Major in for CIA.
With a major in Political Science, you can gain essential tools for understanding the complex and ever-changing dynamics of the world’s political climate. Being able to interpret international relations, form policy, analyze foreign governments, and study historical context are invaluable skills when working for the CIA. Plenty of CIA officers come from Political Science majors who have used their research and writing skills to become accomplished analysts and data providers.
When it comes to predicting outcomes, discerning the nuances between supply and demand, or understanding the financial intricacies between global markets, an Economics major can open up a world of opportunity. Someone who can evaluate and interpret data to identify trends and patterns, develop strategies, and construct models would be a great asset to the CIA. A major in Economics provides the fiscal and mathematical expertise critical for analyzing and responding to volatile economic environments and reporting findings to the CIA.
With the rise of global health issues, the importance of Public Health expertise when it comes to understanding behind-the-scenes epidemics, disease prevention and containment, and global health advocacy cannot be understated. This type of knowledge brings a unique and essential element to the table when facing the many challenges of the CIA. Public Health majors come with important analytical and problem-solving skills that can help to make sense of big-picture challenges and help anticipate, discover, and handle potential threats from all angles.
Modern day challenges in security and data safety require a level of expertise to ensure intelligence remains secure. An individual with a degree in Computer Science brings that to the table. With the right training, these professionals are proficient in encryption, analytics, simulation, and machine learning ― skills that are invaluable to the success of the CIA. Having the capacity to handle computer security issues, specialized programming, and coding problems is an integral part of the intelligence profession.
CIA officers must know how to effectively and quickly negotiate a range of situations and interact with international cultures. Those majoring in Educational Psychology can gain the insight necessary to assess, comprehend, and better react to different situations. With a specific interest in intelligence gathering principles, Educational Psychology majors can better inform their decisions and make them more effective agents in their work.
Criminology majors are equipped to analyze criminal issues, assess risk factors, understand terrorism, forecast outcomes, and complete investigations. With the capability to evaluate the motivation and intent of individuals, these majors enhance the understanding of many of the priority topics experienced by CIA agents. A well-trained professional in criminology can be an important asset to the agency.
Making the right decisions in the field is integral to the CIA’s success — and taking Public Policy courses can help you become a successful policymaker. Public Policy majors gain the necessary platform for understanding the bigger picture of how public policies are to be made, executed and managed. Successful policymakers must possess strong analytical skills to answer complex questions, create benchmarks, identify solutions, and measure an issue’s impacts — skills that many CIA professionals have in spades.