Course Descriptions

Certificate in Intelligence students take courses from across the Center for Governmental Studies and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) programs.

  • Courses with a 470 prefix are offered by the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. To see those course descriptions, click here.
  • Courses with a 470 prefix fall under the Science, Technology, and International Security program. To see those course descriptions, click here.
  • Courses with a 430 prefix fall under the Geographic Information Systems program. To see those course descriptions, click here.

State-specific Information for Online Programs

Note: Students should be aware of state-specific information for online programs. For more information, please contact an admissions representative.

  • Courses

    470.600 - Introduction to Graduate Work

    This course is an introduction to graduate work and will not count toward your degree, but is designed to help students maximize their performance and excel in graduate studies. The course will combine class work with one-on-one advising and tutoring. The course will cover such topics as research, writing, citation, argument, using evidence, study habits, and managing a graduate-level workload. Teacher and student will meet at the beginning of the semester to assess areas of greatest need and tailor the course to meet them.

    470.620 - Introduction to Intelligence in the Five Eyes Community

    This course provides students with an overview of intelligence structures within the Five Eyes community (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand). It covers both foreign and domestic agencies, be they civilian, military or police; HUMINT or SIGINT- enabled; security-intelligence or foreign-intelligence oriented; and tactically or strategically-focused. The course will compare how the various Five Eyes security or intelligence services set priorities and objectives, define national interests (versus shared requirements), develop tactical intelligence, create actionable insights, and how they craft timely and relevant assessments for both domestic and foreign partners. Students are expected to be able to draw conclusions on the value of different types of intelligence, from tactical operations intended to mitigate threat to life cases, to strategic insights relating to proliferation or espionage cases. Upon completing the course, students will understand the dynamics that exist amongst operators and analysts, as well as partners within and outside of the alliance, between domestic intelligence clients and foreign agencies, in regards to sensitive national interests and those of the international partnership.

    470.643 - Text as Data

    Text is not straightforward. In this course, students will develop the tools necessary to collect, analyze, and visualize large amounts of text. The course begins with a hands-on introduction to the programming concepts necessary to collect and process textual data, then proceeds to the key statistical concepts in machine learning and statistics used to analyze text as data. Throughout the course, students develop a research project that culminates in the online display of results from a large-scale textual analysis. Prerequisite: 470.681 Statistics and Political Analysis

    470.650 - Legal Issues in Intelligence and National Security

    This class will examine the interplay between the laws and the practices and policies of the United States’ Intelligence Community and national security system, both foreign and domestic. While discussion of the history of intelligence activities and laws dating from the origins of our colonial days will necessarily shape the framework of the class, the focus shall particularly be on current debates and challenges faced by the United States in the 21st Century.

    470.668 - The Politics and Process of American Foreign Policy

    Overuse is not the only problem with the maxim that American “politics stop at the water’s edge.” The slogan has simply never been true. American foreign policy has always been a result not just of the crises and opportunities the nation has faced but its unique politics and policy processes. American national interests are determined through the democratic processes established by the Constitution and other legislation and affected by the politics that drive the nation’s elections, its conversations and its foreign policies. These politics and processes have been remarkably consistent since the founding even as the nation’s interests have grown significantly. A better understanding of both the politics and processes of American foreign policy will help students appreciate how the country’s policies are made today and will be made in the future.

    470.680 - The Rise and Fall of Intelligence

    This course emphasizes recent changes in US intelligence and assesses the ways in which persistent and emerging issues in the field are helping or hindering the United States in achieving policy objectives. The goal is to provide answers to three questions: "How does US intelligence work in the modern world?"; "What are the larger dilemmas facing US intelligence overseers and those who use intelligence?"; and “How are these realities likely to shape the future of the Intelligence Community?” The approach will be both historical and topical. The history of intelligence offers a surprising number of illustrative cases and themes—many of which can now be examined in detail using official records and contrarian views, and can even be compared with analogues across nations and time periods. More-recent events are not as well documented in the public, official record, of course, but an understanding of earlier patterns and activities can provide valid insights on contemporary trends. The trends identified in the past and the present will then be explored for their ramifications for the future.

    470.696 - Ethics and Privacy in Intelligence Operations

    This course will address the ethical dilemmas and privacy issues that challenge intelligence and government decision makers in an increasingly complex operational and technological environment. We will examine basic moral, ethical and privacy considerations from all sides at several key points in intelligence operations from collection to covert action. The course will analyze the evolving nature of privacy concerns worldwide, with an emphasis on the balance between individual rights and national security needs as executed by intelligence agencies. Students will examine the policy implications inherent in seeking to address these issues. The readings will include diverse and opposing viewpoints as well as practicums and simulations to allow debate of the key positions in "real world" situations. Prior enrollment in 406.665 "The Art and Practice of Intelligence" or 470.711 "Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy" is strongly encouraged.

    470.697 - Intelligence and Counterterrorism

    Counterterrorism is essentially an intelligence war. By definition, both sides use small forces and clandestine means, hiding their presence and activities not only from each other, but often from friends and allies as well. This course will explore the many roles of intelligence in every facet of counterterrorism, and ask students to evaluate their practical, legal, and moral effects and implications. It will also look at the terrorists’ own intelligence activities, and the “intelligence race” between terrorists and counterterrorists. There are no pre-requisites for this course. However, students would be well served to have a basic familiarity with intelligence and terrorism before the class starts.

    470.707 - International Security and Intelligence

    This course offers a unique opportunity to work with leading British and American practitioners and academics from the security and intelligence worlds. It considers the claims of state secrecy, the threat of nuclear proliferation, of cyberattack, terrorism, the problems generated by the demand for regional security, and the security challenges of revolutions and governing diversity. Intelligence collection, analysis of the product, and its dissemination to customers remain at the core of the intelligence cycle. Counterintelligence and covert action play more opaque but still vital roles at the heart of the nation state. Understanding these perspectives, what intelligence can achieve, but also its limitations, are major themes. This four-week course is offered at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

    470.711 - Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy

    This course examines the role that intelligence plays in the formation of national security policy. The course explores the forces and events that have shaped U.S. intelligence. It examines the steps involved in producing intelligence from requirements through collection, analysis and the actual making of policy. The role of intelligence in the major intelligence issues facing the United States today will be discussed as well. The main text for the course will be Dr. Lowenthal’s book of the same title published by CQ Press which has been called the “best introduction to the role of the U.S. intelligence community in the national security policy-making process.”

    470.719 - Technical Collection of Intelligence

    This course covers the application of remote sensing technology to intelligence issues to include geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), measurements and signatures intelligence (MASINT) and signals intelligence (SIGINT). It examines the tradeoffs associated with the use of different imaging, radar, and passive radiofrequency sensors and collection platforms. The methods for processing, exploiting and analyzing raw intelligence data collected by different types of sensors are discussed. The final segment of the course investigates the management issues associated with remote sensing in intelligence.

    470.722 - Defense Intelligence in War and Peace

    “Intelligence and War” will examine the use and misuse of intelligence in the warning of, preparation for, and conduct of war. It will highlight its endemic nature, and its applicability to prevailing in as well as preventing armed conflict. The evolution of intelligence capabilities will be reviewed, and its current status and relevance examined.

    470.731 - Privacy in a Data-driven Society

    This course will address the legal, policy and cultural issues that challenge the government and its citizens in the increasingly complex technical environment of privacy. We will examine the challenges in balancing the need for information and data against the evolving landscape of individual privacy rights. The course will examine privacy at all levels: by analyzing the shifting views of individual privacy by citizens as well as the technological challenges in both protecting and analyzing personal information for government use. Using case studies and hypotheticals, we will discuss the issue of transparency in the government use and retention of data. Our cases will range from healthcare.gov to “sunshine laws” to national security uses of information. We will trace the development of legal and policy measures relevant to privacy concerns and envision future solutions needed in an era of great technological innovation including the use of “big data”.

    470.740 - Cyber Policy, Strategy, Conflict and Deterrence

    This course will provide an overview of current issues in the cyber realm, focusing on policy and conflict from a U.S. and international perspective. We will begin with an understanding of the power inherent in cyberspace and consider the policy issues facing the civilian, military, intelligence and private business sectors in dealing with offensive and defensive cyber activity. Through the use of case studies, we will examine previous and ongoing cyber conflicts to understand their impacts on international relations. We will analyze the roles of several different types of cyber actors including state actors, non-state actors such as criminal and terror groups and private sector/business responses. This course will also examine the issue of cyber deterrence, and the unique aspects of offensive and defensive cyber activities by all cyber actors. A technical background is not required and basic aspects of cyber operations will be discussed and demonstrated as part of the introductory class sessions.

    470.743 - Data Mining and Predictive Analytics

    Many government agencies engage in data mining to detect unforeseen patterns and advanced analytics, such as classification techniques, to predict future outcomes. In this course, students will utilize IBM SPSS Modeler to investigate patterns and derive predictions in areas such as fraud, healthcare, fundraising, human resources and others. In addition, students will learn to build segmentation models using clustering techniques in an applied manner. Integration with other statistical tools and visualization options will be discussed. Prerequisites: 470.681 Statistics and Policy Analysis and 470.709 Quantitative Methods.

    470.745 - Terrorist Financing Analysis and Counterterrorist Finance Techniques

    The course examines how terrorist groups finance their operations. It also explores current policy approaches to curb financial support to terrorists through the application of U.S. and international sanctions, in particular how multilateral fora, such as the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force, disrupt and deter terrorist financing. At the completion of this course, students will have a better understanding of the key tools, including law enforcement, diplomacy, and intelligence, that are used to counter terrorists’ financial networks and activities. Through this course, students will develop proficiency in a series of analytic methods used to study terrorist financing and counter financing. Students will use structured analytic tools such as weighted ranking methods, scenario trees, causal flow diagramming, hypothesis testing, and utility analysis, as well as game theory and logic to form analytic judgments. Prior coursework or professional experience in intelligence, (counter) terrorism, or finance recommended.

    470.748 - The Art & Practice of Intelligence

    This course will examine what intelligence is and how it is done particularly from an American-British perspective. Drawing on historical examples, the course will look at the various types of intelligence collection and how they interact with each other. It will explore the analytic process and the interface between analysts and policymakers. It will place a strong emphasis on effort on the limits of the possible including limits on knowledge, ethical limits, and political limits.

    470.750 - Modern Conflict in the Middle East

    This course examines the evolution of armed conflict in the Middle East over the past twenty-five years and why the United States’ conventional military dominance has not guaranteed strategic victory. Attention will be paid to how both states and non-state actors in the region have adjusted to America (and Israel)’s overwhelming conventional military superiority through both asymmetric tactics – i.e. insurgency, terrorism, tunnel warfare – and by exploiting the diffusion of advanced commercial technologies – i.e. improvised explosive devices, UAVs, cyberwarfare, information operations – for lethal or strategic purposes. Students will utilize “rationalist” and cultural frameworks to critically analyze these innovations across multiple conflicts/operations from Operation Iraqi Freedom and various Israeli-Palestinian conflicts to the Syrian civil war and Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State. The course’s objective is to provide a better understanding of why technological superiority does not guarantee strategic success in modern conflict, and of the challenges U.S. policymakers may face in future conflicts both in the Middle East and globally.

    470.752 - Intelligence Analysis

    Intelligence analysis is fundamentally about understanding and communicating to decision makers what is known, not known, and surmised, as it can best be determined. Students will read seminal texts on intelligence analysis, discuss the complex cognitive, psychological, organizational, ethical, and legal issues surrounding intelligence analysis now and in the past, and apply analytic methodologies to real-world problems. Prerequisite: One of the following: 470.620 “Introduction to Intelligence in the Five Eyes Community,” 470.711.51 “Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy,” AS.470.748.51 “The Art and Practice of Intelligence,” or permission of instructor.

    470.760 - Comparative Intelligence Systems

    Do all countries conduct their intelligence activities in the same way? If not, what are the reasons for the differences? This class will consider theoretical ways of understanding and assessing national intelligence systems. It will look at political, historical, and cultural factors which may influence the development and functions of nations’ intelligence agencies and systems. The class will include an examination of the "ways of intelligence" of the United States, the United Kingdom, the USSR/Russia, Germany, China, and Iraq, among others.

    470.792 - Social Science in National Security and Intelligence

    This course examines the role of social science in national security decision making and intelligence. The course lectures, readings and classroom discussion are intended to help students understand the ambivalent relationship between social scientists on the one hand and intelligence personnel and national security policy makers on the other. It also considers the opportunities and limitations in the ways social science could contribute to policy making and how social science has contributed to key national issues. The course will help the student become a savvy consumer of social science.

    470.795 - The Constitution and National Security

    This course exams the interpretation of constitutional powers and rights under conditions of heightened national security. We will consider the Supreme Court's role in constitutional interpretation, and the balance of power among the three branches. The course will also examine the tension between security and liberty during a time of war. Topics covered during this semester will include military tribunals, unitary theory of the executive, congressional oversight, war-making power, intelligence authorities, and treatment of detainees.

    470.797 - Introduction to Homeland Security Intelligence

    This course provides students with an intellectual foundation for understanding the concepts underpinning homeland security intelligence, as well as an overview of the US national homeland security framework including organization and policies. It examines the underlying intellectual constructs used to frame the comprehension of security issues, intelligence based on those issues and the development of policies and strategies that lead to implementing programs that protect the United States infrastructure and its people from attack. Over the term, students will be challenged to examine the various paradigms that shape homeland security intelligence and critically apply them to contemporary homeland security challenges and examine how well or poorly these paradigms are reflected in current responses, organizations and policies.