Fighting crime has often come down to the analysis of data. But for today’s crime and intelligence analysts, it’s not just about scouring evidence to bring criminals to justice, but also sifting through vast amounts of data to predict crimes before they happen. Using a combination of old-school behavioral criminology, tried-and-tested statistics, and cutting-edge tech, criminal intelligence analysts take a data-driven approach to lowering the crime rate. Their work can inform policies and strategic operations that prevent violent crime, gang activity, drug trafficking, and terrorist operations.
This is fighting crime without ever having to carry a gun or chase a suspect down a dark alley. Because for a criminal intelligence analyst, their gun is a keen set of analytical frameworks, and the dark alley reaches all across the globe. When investigators in the field act, they often act under a criminal intelligence analyst’s policies, objectives, and recommendations.
Crime and intelligence analysis is a fast-growing field. Whether the goal is preventing terrorism or reducing urban crime, criminal intelligence analysts form the backbone of achieving that goal. The stakes are high; according to O*NET (2023), this occupation takes considerable preparation. A bachelor’s degree is considered the bare minimum of education required, but criminal intelligence analysts often need significant experience before being considered experts in their field.
For those ready to join the ranks of people fighting tomorrow’s crime with today’s tech, read on to look at certificate and degree programs in crime and intelligence analysis.
|Featured Crime Analysis Programs|
|Arizona State University||Crime Analysis (Graduate Certificate)||Visit Site|
|Arizona State University||Crime Analysis (MS)||Visit Site|
|Michigan State University||Online MS - Law Enforcement Intelligence & Analysis||Visit Site|
|Southern New Hampshire University||BSCJ - Criminology and Crime Analysis||Visit Site|
|Boston University||MSCJ - Crime Analysis Concentration||Visit Site|
Utica College offers a 120-credit online bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice specializing in homeland security. The program takes a twofold approach, combining advanced knowledge of wide-scale emergency management skills with international politics. Courses include ethics in criminal justice; cyber technologies for criminal justice; modern techniques in crime investigation; law and justice; and cybercrime investigations and forensics.
Students can use data analysis and cyber forensics to uncover criminal patterns and aid in investigations upon graduation. Utica College has been recognized for excellence by the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts.
East Coast Polytechnic Institute (ECPI) offers an online bachelor of science (BS) in criminal justice with a concentration in crime and intelligence analysis. The program blends intelligence theory, investigative philosophy, and collaborative decision-making through simulated exercises, case studies, and labs. Concentration courses cover geotechnologies; mobile device forensics; crime mapping; and fraud examination.
Upon completing the 121-credit program, graduates can utilize geotechnologies, create crime maps, demonstrate the intelligence cycle, develop ethical strategies for intelligence collection, and forecast crime and security threats to inform decision-making.
American Military University (AMU) has an online bachelor of arts (BA) in intelligence studies designed for those interested in (or already working towards) supporting military, civilian, and corporate intelligence operations.
The faculty contains many professionals currently working in leadership roles within the intelligence industry, and the school maintains strong links to agencies and professionals working within the field. The program also offers a long list of concentration options, from those geared towards a particular geographic region to those more operationally focused.
Upon graduation, students are well versed in the intelligence cycle and can participate in it by conducting basic research and professional analyses on issues relevant to intelligence consumers.
Indiana State University offers an online bachelor of science (BS) in intelligence analysis that prepares students for public or private work. The program highlights the evolving nature of intelligence analysis, focusing on using new academic research and analysis methods.
Core courses focus on criminal justice and intelligence analysis, covering topics such as ethics in criminal justice; strategic intelligence; an introduction to intelligence analysis; and research methods of criminal justice. Through their electives, students may choose one of four concentrations: counterintelligence, criminal intelligence, intelligence collection, or intelligence operations.
Before graduation, each student completes an internship to gain practical experience applying intelligence analysis in the real world.
Saint Joseph’s University has an online master of science (MS) in criminal justice with a concentration in intelligence and crime analysis. The curriculum focuses on the contemporary functions of intelligence analysis and how it can be used to influence crime prevention policies. Students in the program are no longer simply analyzing data but looking at how that data (and the processes around it) impact the decisions and outcomes of organizations and communities. Concentration courses cover the following topics: law enforcement intelligence analysis; law enforcement intelligence policy and process; white-collar crime; forensic financial analysis; terrorism; and homeland security.
Graduates can analyze raw data, compare it to hypotheses, and convert the results into actionable reports.
American Military University (AMU) offers an online master of arts (MA) in intelligence studies designed for students seeking advancement to leadership positions in the intelligence field. Courses cover topics such as strategic intelligence collection, analysis, management, and operations; criminal intelligence, transnational crimes, and narcotics; the ethical challenges of the intelligence community; and signals (human, open-source, cyber, and geospatial).
The program allows students to pick from various concentrations, including criminal intelligence. The curriculum is regularly reviewed for relevance by an advisory council of industry experts. The program’s faculty is highly credentialed, with many of the instructors holding key positions in government agencies or other intelligence organizations.
The University of California, Riverside (UCR) offers an on-campus certificate program in crime investigation designed for those working in (or interested in) law enforcement. The program analyzes data to forecast crime, detect distinctions in criminal patterns, and write statistical reports to criminal justice standards.
Students may take individual classes or proceed through the entire program, which consists of 20 units and can be completed in less than a year. Upon successful completion, the California State Department of Justice designated students as Certified Crime Analysts. They also receive the Criminal Analysis Certification from the Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU).
The University of Cincinnati has a certificate program in crime and intelligence analysis that students can complete entirely online. The university’s School of Criminal Justice has consistently ranked in the top 15 by US News & World Report. The certificate program gives students the conceptual, technical, and analytical skills necessary to work in criminal and intelligence analysis.
Upon graduation, students can apply criminal intelligence analysis to real-world public safety issues, use various modern software and hardware to conduct investigations and use insights to inform strategies and policies that address public safety.
California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) offers an on-campus crime and intelligence analysis certificate. The program teaches students how to define criminal trends and use analysis to create strategies that lead to an effective response from law enforcement. Courses cover crime data analysis; criminal investigative analysis; computer applications for crime and intelligence analysis; and law enforcement research and statistical methods.
Upon graduation, students receive 18.8 continuing education units, 400 hours of on-the-job training, and nationally-recognized certifications from CSUF and the Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU).
Various degree programs are available in crime and intelligence analysis, each with prerequisites and common courses. However, even within each degree type, there can be variations from school to school. Therefore, it’s best to check each program’s admissions information and curriculum content individually, but you’ll find some general guidelines to know what to expect below.
Prerequisites: official high school and college transcripts with a competitive (2.7 or greater) GPA; letter(s) of recommendation; a personal statement; SAT or ACT scores; TOEFL scores for non-native speakers; and an application fee.
Common Courses: introduction to criminal justice; criminal procedure; ethics in criminal justice; research methods; crime intelligence analysis; mobile device forensics; and crime mapping.
Sample Program: Utica College
Prerequisites: official undergraduate transcripts with a strong (3.0 or greater) GPA; letter(s) of recommendation; a personal statement; GRE or GMAT scores; a resume with relevant work experience; TOEFL scores for non-native speakers; an interview; and an application fee.
Common Courses: research methods and analysis; ethics and criminal justice; criminological theory; law enforcement intelligence analysis; and law enforcement intelligence policy and process.
Sample Program: Saint Joseph’s University
Prerequisites: official high school and college transcripts; proof of relevant coursework; TOEFL scores for non-native speakers; and an application fee.
Common Courses: crime analysis applications; computer skills for the crime analyst; criminal law and procedure; research methods and statistics in crime analysis; and criminal investigative analysis.
Sample Program: University of California, Riverside
After earning a degree or certificate, many who work in crime and intelligence analysis go on to pursue a professional certification.
While not a requirement to practice, professional certification does act as a mark of distinction on one’s resume. In addition, professional certification demonstrates one’s expertise in criminal intelligence analysis and a commitment to continuing education and professional development.
The International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts (IALEIA) offers professional Criminal Intelligence Certified Analyst (CICA) certification. To be deemed eligible, applicants must have one year of continuous membership with the IALEIA, hold a full-time position in criminal intelligence analysis, have a bachelor’s degree, and have three years of work experience. The application fee is $100.
Once deemed eligible, applicants must pass the four-hour CICA exam with a minimum composite score of 70 percent to earn the CICA credential. The exam covers numerous topics related to crime and intelligence analysis, including:
The exam fee is $100.
The CICA designation is valid for five years. To recertify, CICA-holders must have maintained continuous membership with the IALEIA, completed at least eight hours of continuing education, and demonstrated significant professional development.
CICA-holders can demonstrate professional development in several ways, including developing a training segment; publishing an article on an industry-related topic; being nominated for an industry award; or serving in a leadership position.
A second certification is the Certified Law Enforcement Analyst (CLEA) credential offered by the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). To be eligible for this certification, applicants must meet four prerequisites: have three years of full-time experience as an analyst in intelligence or a related field; earned a minimum of 100 points in work and education experience; be a current member of IACA; and earn 100 points in the organization’s Certification Tracker.
The exam is offered electronically two times per year via live proctored sessions. Applicants have four hours to complete 380 multiple-choice, true-false, fill-in-the-blank, and short-answer questions. To pass, applicants must earn 70 percent in each of the 19 skillset areas, which include:
The application and exam fee is $175.
Certification lasts for five years, and credential holders must meet three of nine conditions for recertification through professional development, teaching, learning, and volunteering related to law enforcement and intelligence. The recertification fee is $25.
Accreditation ensures that educational crime and intelligence analysis programs meet regional and national faculty, curriculum, and student outcomes standards.
Although there is no specific accreditation body for the field of crime and intelligence analysis, the US Department of Education recognizes six organizations to provide regional accreditation to institutes of higher learning:
Please note that some government bodies, such as the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, may recognize specific schools or programs for excellence but do not offer formal accreditation.
Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.