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 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

    470.607 - Counterintelligence and National Security: 21st Century Challenges

    Counterintelligence information regarding and operations against foreign intelligence services has always been central to the intelligence process. In many places and at various times, it has been clearly the most significant part of that process. For reasons that will be discussed during the semester, this has not been true in American intelligence for the last half century or so. This class will examine the doctrine and processes of counterintelligence through the 20th century, with the second half of the class pivoting to address the challenges posed by a volatile information and communications environment, a geopolitical environment in which non-states operate as both potential threats and potential partners, and in which insider threats may be as great as those emanating from foreign actors. Finally, the course will address the challenges of operating effective counterintelligence operations in a manner that respects democratic processes and values.

    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.

    470.634 - Open Source Research in Conflict, Politics and Scholarship

    This course examines the open source research discipline (often called open source intelligence or OSINT), and is primarily concerned with how open source research helps a diverse mix of actors achieve their goals. It is designed to help students develop open source research skills that can have broad utility in their academic and professional careers while considering such topics as how these skills empower governments and a range of nongovernmental actors, including private companies, international aid agencies, and even terrorist groups. In addition to gaining experience applying tools and techniques utilized by OSINT professionals to perform independent research and participate in collaborative exercises, students will become familiar with ethical and legal issues which influence the design of open source research in academic settings.

    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.

    470.662 - Assessing Foreign Militaries

    A key function of national security analysis is to dissect and explain foreign militaries to lay bare for senior authorities the perceptions, intentions, and capabilities of potential opponents and allies. This course prepares participants to perform such assessments. It explores what senior decision makers need to know, potential sources of information and the most important questions to ask of analysts, and the analytic tools to parse and understand a complex and partially hidden world. It uses a variety of materials including in-depth case studies, exercises, and discussions to develop the necessary knowledge and skills. The course addresses topics such as the operational level of war, manpower, training, morale, and readiness, technology, weapons assimilation, logistics, the prediction of outcomes. It also discusses how these considerations apply to cyber war.

    470.665 - Covert Action and National Security

    Covert action (CA) remains a highly controversial and generally misunderstood element within the Intelligence Community. Title 50 of the United States Code defines Covert Action as: “…an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.” Lying somewhere between overt diplomatic initiatives and direct military intervention, CA is often referred to as the “third option” when addressing foreign policy issues that impact on U.S. national security interests. Through selected case studies, we will review the mechanisms by which CA is initiated, managed and executed – determining what CA can and equally important, cannot accomplish. We will also see how CA, as conducted by the CIA, is often used in a dual track program alongside State Department initiatives in an effort to resolve particularly difficult foreign policy dilemmas. CA is not unique to the U.S., and is often employed by other countries as well. Whether Russian “active measures,” or French “direct action,” variants of CA continue to form an integral, albeit highly secretive, element of statecraft.

    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.

    470.672 - Evolution of American Intelligence

    This course explores the development of US intelligence system and the ways in which it has influenced (and been influenced by) world events. The goal is to understand how an intelligence system evolves as a result of changes in national strategy, technology, and legal & policy factors. By investigating the US intelligence system, students will develop their analytical skills and increase their understanding of the workings of foreign and security policies. The approach will be historical and topical. The history of US 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.

    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 technologies to intelligence collection. It includes remote sensing technology as applied in 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. It also addresses a number of specialized but increasingly important collection methods such as cyber intelligence, materials and materiel collection, and biometrics. The methods for processing, exploiting and analyzing raw intelligence are discussed. The final segment of the course investigates the management issues associated with technical intelligence collection.

    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.

    470.724 - Managing Dangerous Futures: Global Political Risk Analysis

    Political risk affects almost every major decision that governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and even individuals make, sometimes turning what appears to be a good decision into a bad one, with severe implications. However, few people really understand political risk or how it can be evaluated and mitigated. The goals of this course are to ensure that all students can assess the political risk of a particular country or situation; assess the political risk of a particular business investment; take a much broader perspective on the possible sources of political risk; understand how the way people think and groups function preclude effective decision making (thus making bad decisions more common); evaluate risks using a variety of different risk assessment tools; and leverage a variety of mechanisms to improve risk management.

    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.

    470.745 - 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 introduces students to the field of intelligence, particularly as practiced in the United States. After a brief overview of the historical foundations of modern intelligence, it discusses how intelligence was conducted during the 20th century including collection, analysis, counterintelligence, covert action, and oversight. It then discusses the disruptive influences of September 11, the Iraq War, and new technologies. The course concludes with a discussion of the “democratization of intelligence."

    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.

    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.

    470.781 - Analyzing Foreign Militaries

    A key function of national security analysis is to dissect and explain foreign militaries—to lay bare for senior authorities the perceptions, intentions, and capabilities of potential opponents and allies. This course examines how to conduct such analysis and prepares participants to perform assessments. It explores what senior decision makers need to know, potential sources of information and the most important questions to ask of analysts, and the analytic tools to parse and understand a complex and partially hidden world. It uses a variety of materials including in-depth case studies, exercises, and discussions to develop the necessary knowledge and skills.

    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 - Intelligence to Secure the Homeland and Hometown

    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.