APPLIED INTELLIGENCE
MASTER OF SCIENCE

In today’s world, a business, organization, or nation is only as secure and innovative as its competitive intelligence will allow. Building on the nationally renowned undergraduate Intelligence Studies program, Mercyhurst prepares students of the Master of Science in Applied Intelligence program with the educational foundation necessary to succeed as intelligence analysts and leaders of analytical teams within law enforcement, competitive intelligence industries, and federal and state agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA.

Offered both 100 percent online and on campus in Erie, Pennsylvania, this 34- to 36-credit program is designed to provide a theoretical and practical framework for the study of intelligence and its application in a wide variety of contexts. Core coursework focuses on communication, research methods, and theories and applications, while a selection of electives further focuses a student’s studies in law enforcement, national security, or competitive intelligence.

Program Overview

  • Options: Master’s, graduate certificate, 4+1 for Mercyhurst undergrads
  • Location(s): On campus, online
  • Credits: 34 to 36
  • Duration: Minimum 21 months
  • Cost: $926 per credit; $33,000-$36,000 total
  • Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Start term(s): On campus – Fall preferred; online – Fall or Spring
  • Careers: Intelligence or threat analyst, market research, law enforcement

As the originator of intelligence education at the university level, Mercyhurst has been preparing intelligence analysts for more than 25 years. Our comprehensive graduate program prepares you for employment in a variety of settings with an unparalleled, sophisticated skillset related to research, writing, and communication.

The program’s applied focus ensures that students will experience real intelligence case work before graduating. This concrete experience leads to strong job placement and/or career advancement for our alumni. Our more than 1,000 intelligence alumni currently work in every branch of the government, more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, and countless organizations committed to using intelligence analysis to their advantage for security or profit.

Learning Outcomes

Mercyhurst graduate programs are designed to give our students a competitive edge in the marketplace. Our curriculum will prepare you as an analyst who is able to:

  • Interpret the theory and history of the discipline of intelligence
  • Apply critical thinking skills to “real world” issues
  • Appraise collected data/information using a variety of analytic techniques and methodologies
  • Prepare analytic products in written, oral, visual, and/or multimedia formats
  • Devise open source research and collection management practices
  • Facilitate and manage intelligence processes and practices
  • Produce research in the intelligence field

The M.S. in Applied Intelligence is a 34- to 36-credit program (the 36-credit option is for those who opt to write a thesis) offered both on campus in Erie, Pennsylvania, and 100 percent online. Coursework is offered on a semester calendar with a mixture of 16-week full-semester courses and 8-week mini-semester courses. Taken full time, students can complete the program in as little as 21 months. 

This degree provides students with the educational foundation necessary to succeed as intelligence analysts in federal national security agencies, private defense contractors, law enforcement agencies, businesses, and non-governmental organizations. This graduate program is comparable to master’s in security studies programs at other universities.

While an internship is not required in the graduate program through the Ridge College, internships are highly recommended in order to gain practical experience of real-world situations. For academic credit to be awarded, a student must complete a period of employment (minimum of 200 hours) as an intelligence analyst with a government or international agency or corporation during which certain experience objectives must be met.

Prospective students looking to earn a quick credential or ease into graduate school may opt for the four-course, 12-credit graduate certificate in Applied Intelligence. Available 100 percent online, the graduate certificate can be completed in as little as nine months. Those credits can then be applied to the master’s degree, should you choose to continue your education. Learn More.

Course Requirements

  • INTL 510: Intelligence Theories and Applications
  • INTL 580: Intelligence Communications
  • INTL 520: Advanced Analytical Techniques
  • Intelligence Elective Course
Available to qualified Mercyhurst undergraduate students, the M.S. in Applied Intelligence allows students to begin earning graduate credits during their junior year at no additional cost.* Students starting the 4+1 in the fall of their junior year may earn up to 12 credits, shortening their time to master’s completion and saving more than $10,000. Learn More.

Career Paths

Alumni of the Applied Intelligence program at Mercyhurst University achieve strong job placement after graduation, with rates of placement significantly above national placement averages. Our more than 1,000 alumni of the intelligence programs at Mercyhurst work in diverse fields and for a wide range of organizations.

Graduates of the program have accepted employment in variety of positions, including: 

  • Intelligence analysts
  • Intelligence officers
  • Special agents
  • Social media analysts
  • Anti-money laundering
  • Market research analysts
  • Threat intelligence analysts
  • Police officers
  • Management consultants
  • Cyber security threat analysts
  • Business continuity analysts

Graduates of the program have accepted employment with a diverse set of federal agencies, global corporations, and international NGOs. A small sample includes: 

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • National Security Agency
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Northrop Grumman
  •  JP Morgan Chase
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Nike
  • Disney
  • Wells Fargo
  • Procter & Gamble
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps 

Admissions Requirements

Prospective applicants for the Master of Science in Applied Intelligence must fulfill the following admissions requirements. At the discretion of the director of the intelligence graduate program, acceptance may be granted to applicants who have not fulfilled all the admissions requirements, provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

Admissions decisions are made by the program director on a rolling basis after a holistic review. Applicants can choose to start in either the Fall (preferred for students in the on-campus program) or Spring semesters.

  • Completed (free) online application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school with a preferred overall minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended 
  • A current resume 
  • A 500- to 750-word personal statement outlining your reasons for enrolling and personal and professional goals
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources (such as employers or professors)
  • International applicants whose records are written in a language other than English must have their documents translated into English and a notarized statement attesting to the accuracy of the translations
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL score of at least 79 on the internet-based exam OR an IELTS score of at least 6.5 OR a Duolingo English Test score of no less than 100

Cost and Financial Aid

Mercyhurst graduate programs are competitively priced. Our goals is to provide you with an education that earns you an excellent return on your investment.

Tuition for the M.S. in Applied Intelligence graduate program is $926 per credit (2019/20 school year rates).

Estimated total program cost for the M.S. in Applied Intelligence ranges from $33,000-$36,000.

Learn more about available financial aid for graduate programs including:

  • Graduate Assistant (GA) positions
  • Graduate Employment (GE) positions
  • Corporate partner tuition rates
  • Veteran benefits
  • Employer reimbursement
  • Federal direct loan



Meet the Faculty

Intelligence Studies