Overview of Competitive Intelligence Degree Programs
Students who are interested in topics like intelligence analysis, business intelligence, national and foreign security, counterintelligence, and data analysis may be interested in pursuing a degree in competitive intelligence. Degree programs in this field are more commonly offered at the graduate level as certificates or as master's degrees, though it is possible to obtain a bachelor's degree in this field. These programs often allow students to select elective courses that are of greatest interest to them, allowing students to tailor their program to fit their future career goals whether they are primarily interested in working in business intelligence or national security. Below, we will discuss these programs in greater detail by focusing on admission requirements, common coursework, and some career options.
Admission Requirements for Competitive Intelligence Degree Programs
At the undergraduate level, there are typically no specific prerequisite courses necessary to gain admission into competitive intelligence programs. However, students may have to submit their high school transcripts, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation. At the graduate level, some programs may require that students have taken some courses in information security prior to enrolling in the program, though admission requirements vary by program. In addition, students will need to submit undergraduate transcripts and may need to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and an application form.
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Competitive Intelligence Degree Programs Coursework
While coursework may differ between undergraduate and graduate level programs, there are some courses that are typically common to many programs in competitive intelligence. We will look at five of these courses below.
Introduction to Intelligence
Many of these programs require that students take an introductory level course to familiarize themselves with the intelligence field and security landscape. Students may learn basic intelligence analysis skills, how to develop an intelligence strategy, process data, and share their findings. The course may also focus on real-life cases that have been dealt with by the intelligence community.
Ethics in Competitive Security
Programs in competitive security often include a course that focuses on ethics, law and policies and how they affect the security and intelligence field. Topics that may be discussed in a course like this include intellectual property, how to handle sensitive information, and decision-making. Students will also discuss the ethical responsibilities and obligations that individuals who work in the intelligence community must abide by.
Competitive intelligence programs typically require or offer a course that focuses on issues and topics that are pertinent to the business intelligence field. In this course, students may discuss ways of gathering intelligence in the business world and business security policies. They may also focus on the different laws and policies that dictate how businesses are able to gather information and various ethical issues that may arise.
Criminal Justice and Intelligence
These programs also often have a course that focuses on the criminal intelligence field, which will discuss topics like criminal justice, organized crime, and criminal intelligence analysis. Students will learn how the criminal intelligence community uses technology and data gathering to predict trends, anticipate crime, and stop organized crime. This course focuses on the intelligence and law enforcement community at the local, state, and federal level.
Information Science and Systems in Competitive Intelligence
This course will focus on the different types of information systems that can be used in the competitive intelligence field. Students will learn how to set up and use information systems to effectively acquire and store intelligence information. The course will discuss how traditional information systems differ from those used in the intelligence community.
How to Choose a Competitive Intelligence Degree Program
One of the major factors that students will likely want to consider when selecting a degree program in competitive intelligence is whether they want to pursue the degree at the undergraduate or graduate level. A student's career goals will also likely play a role in selecting a program, as some programs may focus more heavily on business intelligence while others may emphasis national security and counterintelligence. At the graduate level, some of these programs are also offered online, which may be another factor to consider for students who need more flexibility while pursuing a degree.
Career Options with a Degree in Competitive Intelligence
Students who obtain a degree in competitive intelligence may find work as information security analysts. Professionals in this field made a median salary of $92,600 in 2016 and the field is expected to grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026. A few more possible career options are listed below.