Starting this fall, students at the University of Lynchburg will be able to major in intelligence studies. Housed in the International Relations and Security Studies Program, the brand-new major offers courses taught by professors with practical experience in the field, including at the National Security Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Intelligence studies provides students with a rigorous liberal arts approach to the study of international security policy and issues,” said Dr. David Richards, chair of the International Relations and Security Studies Program. “It prepares students to be job-competitive in both government and the private sector.”
The major examines the relationships between state and non-state actors, including NGOs, multinational corporations, and non-state paramilitary organizations. Fundamental questions addressed in the security field include: What is needed to provide a safe and secure world? What leads to comprehensive human security? How do security threats like terrorists form and persist, and what can be done to negate their actions?
Intelligence studies encompasses 39 credit hours and will feature hands-on classes taught by experts, as well as experiential learning opportunities such as internships. “These hands-on, real-world, workplace internships will introduce students to jobs in the field, as well as give them résumé-building skills,” Richards said.
Students also will be eligible for study abroad programs and language learning courses to supplement their degree.
“The intelligence studies major is both a great stand-alone major and a terrific ‘pairing’ with several other disciplines here at the University of Lynchburg,” said criminology professor Keith Smith, who will teach some IS classes. “As a criminology professor, former career government agent, and retired foreign service officer, I know IS and criminology form a solid academic foundation for students considering a career with federal law enforcement agencies that have strong international and intelligence foci, such as the FBI or DEA.”
The ISS and criminology combination is also great for intelligence work in other governmental and military organizations, Smith noted.
“This job field is enormous, but very selective,” he said. “The students’ ability to combine multiple programs with the IS major will help them stand out when competing for one of these highly desired positions.”
Criminology majors or minors need just 27 additional hours, while international relations majors need an additional 24. Political science or history majors need 33 additional hours, and international relations minors just 30. The major can also be combined with the communication studies major or minor, or any foreign language.
“As an institution, our job is to prepare our students for the future and offer them broader alternatives,” said Dr. Emrullah Uslu, assistant professor of international relations and security studies. He noted a general shift in the job market for social sciences graduates toward the intelligence and security studies fields. That is especially true in Virginia due to the commonwealth’s proximity to Washington, D.C.
But, he added, “intelligence and security studies are not limited to government jobs. From business intelligence to private sectors, contractors, international companies, NGOs, and think tanks are all concentrating on intelligence and security studies. Our students would have a wide variety of job opportunities when they graduate with the IS major.”
Professor of History Dr. Brian Crim, who will also teach in the program, agrees. “The intelligence community is a diverse collection of agencies and departments across the military, federal, state, and local government. No matter what you study, the IC will need expertise, and the new intelligence studies major is designed to equip students with the analytical skills this growing community requires.
“I worked for both military and civilian intelligence after 9/11, and I wish I’d had some of the coursework we offer. … Whether you’re interested in law enforcement, national security, or fields like economics, cybersecurity, and medical intelligence, ISS is an excellent fit. The demand for intelligence professionals outpaces the supply, and we hope our majors will fill that demand.”
Specific career options for graduates include such jobs as border patrol agent, counterterrorism analyst, criminal investigator, intelligence officer, insider threat detection analyst, and special agent, among many others.
Interested students should enroll in ISS 200-Introduction to Intelligence Studies for Fall 2020, followed by INTL 280-Security Studies Theory next spring. A complete list of courses can be found here.
For more information, contact Dr. David Richards, chair of the International Relations and Security Studies Program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434.544.8181.