Dr. Stephen Marrin discusses the details of JMU Intelligence Analysis.

Intelligence Analysis Frequently Asked Questions




Who can declare Intelligence Analysis as their major and when should they do so? How long does it take to complete?

Anyone accepted to JMU can declare Intelligence Analysis as their major, and take the IA150: Introduction to Intelligence Analysis course in the fall semester of their freshman year. For transfer students and those who change majors, the IA150 course can also be taken fall semester sophomore year, along with the other three required IA courses (IA200, IA240, IA261). Because the Intelligence Analysis degree is structured in cohort-like fashion, with all students in each year taking the same set of courses, it cannot be completed in less than three years.

What courses are required for the major, and when are students expected to take them?

The Intelligence Analysis degree is a three or four year program (approx 74 credit hours, including the required minor) designed to prepare students to be analysts upon graduation. Students complete the IA curriculum as a cohort, taking courses that are required each semester to complete the degree. In general, the required IA courses fall into 5 categories: (1) three courses about intelligence analysis; (2) three courses providing skills for how to do intelligence analysis; (3) two courses that provide introductions to domains where intelligence analysis is done; (4) four courses on cognitive methods; (5) and four courses on technology. A complete listing of all core and elective courses, and sequencing, is available here: https://www.jmu.edu/ia/program/curriculum.shtml

Given that a minor (or double-major) is required, which ones would you recommend?

The choice of minor should be a reflection of your interests. If you like technology, options include Computer Science (for cyber intelligence analysis), Geographic Science (for geospatial intelligence analysis), and so on. If you like law enforcement, then consider criminal justice. If you like private sector, consider a minor in the College of Business. If you like national security, consider a range of options (political science, area studies, language, psychology, economics, anthropology, etc). The full list of minors is at: https://www.jmu.edu/academics/undergraduate/minors/index.shtml

Can all students who declare IA continue through to graduation?

The IA major is quite popular, and demand for slots in the major exceeds supply. As a result, continuation in the major is competitive after fall semester sophomore year. Specifically, the requirements are as follows: First, a grade of C or higher is required for the IA150: Introduction to Intelligence Analysis course. Second, a grade of C or higher is required for the three fall semester sophomore courses (IA200, IA240, and IA261). The current cap on the IA program is 58 students in each cohort. If more than 58 students receive a C or higher in these four courses, then the top 58 students (based on average grades in the three fall semester sophomore courses) will be able to continue in the IA program. This makes continuation in the major competitive. Approximately 75-100 students compete for these 58 spots each year.

Are internships and study abroad encouraged?

Yes. While neither is required for the major, both can be valuable educationally and professionally. Internships are encouraged as soon as possible, with many companies and government organizations to choose from. Approximately 25% of the IA students receive a security clearance as a byproduct of their internship.

How does the IA program address security clearances?

Security clearances are not a part of the IA program. You can complete the IA degree and get a good job without a security clearance. But if you want a job for the government or a contractor in the intelligence or national security sector, you will need to be clearable. A security clearance is a determination made by the federal government that you are trustworthy enough to keep the U.S. government’s secrets. The IA program is not involved in this determination. To get a clearance, apply for an internship or job that requires one. The organization then “sponsors” you for the clearance by paying for the clearance review process. Depending on the clearance level, it could entail: a criminal records check, a background investigation, and/or a counterintelligence or lifestyle polygraph. In general, the guidance for getting a security clearance is to try to avoid illegal activities, but there are other important considerations as well (U.S. citizenship, emotional and financial stability, etc). More details are available regarding security clearances and what exactly the background investigators for the government look for and why at the Adjudicator’s Desk Reference, available here: https://www.dhra.mil/Portals/52/Documents/perserec/ADR_Version_4.pdf

In terms of IA program outcomes, what happens to the students after they graduate? What is historical job placement for students who graduate with the Intelligence Analysis degree?

All IA graduates receive solid liberal arts and sciences education with an emphasis on the fundamentals (research, reading, thinking, writing, and speaking) and some subject matter knowledge from their minor or double major. Most graduates get good jobs as analysts, with about half in the national security sector. Some graduates get jobs as intelligence analysts (NSA, FBI, DHS, NGA, etc). Some specific employers who have hired our graduates recently include: Accenture Federal, Booz Allen Hamilton, Capital One, Deloitte Consulting, local police departments, Northrop Grumman Corporation, U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps), the U.S. Department of Defense (NGA, DIA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (FBI). See the full list of job placement for 2018 and 2017 graduates at the following links:

2018 Job Placement: https://www.jmu.edu/cap/careeroutcomes/2018/ia.pdf

2017 Job Placement: https://www.jmu.edu/cap/careeroutcomes/major-spreadsheets/intell-analysis-careeroutcomes.pdf

What kind of student succeeds in the IA program?

Successful students in the major often have broad interests in a wide variety of fields, are curious about all sorts of issues and problems, and enjoy learning and applying new technologies to understand them. Students who do well enjoy aspects of research, reading, thinking, writing, and speaking, methods, and/or technology. They find their passion, study what they are interested in and put in the effort.

Where do I go for additional information?

Additional information is available at the Intelligence Analysis program website, at: https://www.jmu.edu/ia/


You can send questions to either Dr. Stephen Marrin (the IA program director) at marrinsp@jmu.edu or Kimberly Robinson (the IA program’s academic advisor) at  robinsks@jmu.edu

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