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National Intelligence University: preparing today's intelligence leaders for tomorrow's challenges.

National Intelligence University: Deep Roots, Bright Future

For more than 55 years, National Intelligence University (NIU) has provided high-quality intelligence education for intelligence professionals. From its humble beginnings in World War II-era wooden barracks in the early 1960s to a brand new, state-of-the art facility in Bethesda, Maryland, NIU continues to prepare military and civilian intelligence professionals to better address the security challenges facing the nation in the coming decades through the application of rigorous academic thought to real-world problems.


NIU Has a Long, Proud History with Army Intelligence

From its very beginnings, NIU has had strong ties to Army intelligence. Immediately after WWII, General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz oversaw the creation of the Army Strategic Intelligence School and the Naval Intelligence School, respectively. In 1962, they became the Defense Intelligence School; now the National Intelligence University.

When the first class graduated in May 1963, one of the graduates was CPT Sidney T. Weinstein. CPT Weinstein's distinguished 33-year Army career culminated in his promotion to Lieutenant General and service as the Army G-2 from 1985 to 1989, making him the first of many subsequent Army alumni to lead in the profession.

Today, NIU's Army alumni continue to fill key military and civilian leadership roles in intelligence including, the current U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, LTG Robert P. Ashley, Jr. (Class of '90); Commanding General of U.S. Army Cyber Command, LTG Paul M. Nakasone (Class of '91); Commanding General of U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, MG Christopher S. Ballard (Class of '91); U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, CSM Thomas J. Latter (UGIP Class of '98 and MSSI Class of '04); and many others. Chances are that if you work in an intelligence unit, you probably know some NIU graduates--just ask around.

Why You Should Be Thinking about Coming to NIU

"We need you," said then-National Security Agency Director, GEN Keith B. Alexander, in recent NIU commencement remarks as he listed U.S. national security challenges ranging from the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq to the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine. Citing terrorism as their biggest challenge, GEN Alexander charged the students to protect the country. "This is a dangerous time for the nation. You will be leading the intelligence community in providing the information policymakers will need to make good decisions for our nation."

For strategic intelligence officers, NIU is a requirement to qualify for FA34 (Strategic Intelligence), but the student body includes professionals from other officer and enlisted career fields as well--military intelligence, special forces, aviation, medical service corps and others who meet the admissions prerequisites and have the appropriate academic preparation. Full-time attendance requires a nomination from the Army, but more than half of NIU's 700+ student body are part-time students who apply directly to the University for evening or weekend classes at the main campus or at one of the additional academic locations outside the national capital region. NIU has part-time students who work at U.S European Command and U.S. Africa Command in Europe; U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operation Command, and U.S. Southern Command in Florida; Fort Gordon, and Fort Bragg.


NIU is the most "joint" of any professional development program in the Department of Defense (DoD) or the intelligence community (IC) because its staff and student body include representation from all branches of the military services and from across the entire national security and intelligence communities. NIU is also the only professional development school in the DoD that is open to everyone from E-5 to O-6 and GG-7 to SES. Academic awards presented at graduation are based on the quality of individual performance and it is not uncommon for noncommissioned officers and junior civilians to earn their share of recognition each year.

Joint Professional Military Education. NIU provides an opportunity for selected students to earn joint professional military education (JPME) Phase 1 credit while enrolled in full-time graduate study, a program that is expected to expand in the coming years. U.S. Army Human Resources Command determines which warrant and commissioned officers are eligible to pursue JPME credit at NIU. Civilians nominated for full-time study in an NIU master's program who are interested in participating in the JPME curriculum may contact the NIU JPME program director directly for approval.

The strength of the NIU JPME program is in its diversity. Unlike service command and staff colleges where classes have a high concentration of officers from their own service, the JPME cohort at NIU comprises a broad cross-section of students from each armed service, the Coast Guard, and civilians from several federal agencies.

In an 11 December 2012 memorandum announcing approval of the NIU JPME initiative, then-Joint Chief of Staff Chairman GEN Martin Dempsey, U.S. Army, wrote:
I applaud the efforts of the NIU faculty, course directors, and
staff for developing a curriculum that instills a joint perspective.
It provides today's corps with an ability to overcome diverse 21st
century challenges and operate effectively in a joint, interagency,
intergovernmental, and multinational environment.

IC Joint Duty Qualification for Civilians. Since 2012, Army civilians and their supervisors have additional incentive to consider full-time study at NIU. By enrolling full-time in one of the three NIU degree programs, civilians can complete mid-career professional education in an accredited degree program while also qualifying as IC joint duty officers. This is a win-win scenario--achieving two professional development milestones in a single year--which maximizes both manpower resources and training/education funds. Rather than lose a top performer for a joint duty assignment and again later for full-time study, supervisors may reward top performers by allowing them to "kill two birds with one stone" at National Intelligence University.

At NIU, You Don't Just Earn a Degree--You Earn a Degree that Allows You to Make a Difference

The NIU is a federal degree-granting institution with a far-reaching mission--to educate and prepare intelligence officers to meet challenges to the national security of the United States. The main campus is located in Bethesda, Maryland, with additional instructional sites in Virginia, Maryland and Florida as well as in the United Kingdom at RAF Molesworth.

NIU provides career professionals a rigorous and collaborative joint-learning environment to hone critical thinking and analytical skills, conduct research on real-world problems, and build trust and mutual understanding that will last a lifetime.

NIU Academic Offerings Include:

* Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence.

* Master of Science and Technology Intelligence.

* Bachelor of Science in Intelligence.

* Graduate certificates addressing intelligence issues in regional areas and special topics.

NIU provides a unique opportunity for students to learn in a classified environment where they may conduct research at all levels of classification up to and including Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information. With faculty and students from every organization in the IC, the setting is truly a joint-learning environment, which facilitates collaborative problem solving.

Learn Directly from Intelligence Community Leaders and Subject Matter Experts. The NIU faculty is a rich body of career professionals that includes long-term resident faculty, military officers on 2 to 3 year teaching assignments with fresh perspective from the field, representatives from IC agencies teaching while on rotational assignment, and adjunct faculty culled from the rich pool of experts in the national capital region.


Students also have direct contact with IC senior leaders and subject matter experts who serve as guest lecturers in the classroom or as featured speakers in the weekly NIU President's Lecture Series. During the 2016-2017 academic year, NIU students had the opportunity to hear from and pose questions to the Director and the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; the Directors of NGA, NSA and DIA; as well as the heads of intelligence for Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and State Department.

Unique Research Opportunities. At NIU, we believe that producing and publishing research will develop the analytical and creative thinking skills of our students, faculty and research fellows, contribute to the intelligence mission, and spark innovation. The National Intelligence Press--NIU's publishing arm--is expanding the literature of intelligence by publishing books used by analysts, practitioners and educators at a growing number of colleges and universities around the world.

NIU administers research fellowship programs that allow selected analysts to spend a full year at NIU to conduct in-depth research on individual or collaborative projects. As a result of NIU research and publication, there is a growing collection of intelligence literature of more than 60 titles published by NIU's National Intelligence Press. NI Press books are authored by students, faculty, research fellows, international partners, and IC professionals on relevant and timely topics of interest to the community and the U.S. government.

A New Beginning on a New Campus!

In February 2017, NIU relocated to Roberdeau Hall in the Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda (ICC-B). The new state-of-the-art NIU facility, designed by a firm specializing in academic architecture, was the result of a significant capital investment by IC leadership in the career development of future leaders of the intelligence and national security communities. The new campus is situated in the scenic Palisades, an area along the Potomac River characterized by wooded bluffs and natural vegetation.

The move represents an inflection point in the institution's 55-year history: it is the culmination of the evolution of NIU from a Defense Department schoolhouse housed in WWII-era wooden barracks on a military base in southeast Washington, DC, to a regionally accredited university, situated on an IC campus, serving the entire U.S. intelligence community.

The new Bethesda campus provides more room for NIU to grow and achieve its vision as the center of academic life for the intelligence community. It incorporates current best practices in higher education design including a layout that facilitates collaboration. The design of the classrooms provides an environment that is more conducive to the delivery of a broad curriculum, and includes a variety of student labs and student study areas on par with peer institutions.

Faculty and staff spaces are outfitted with updated information technology and communication infrastructure necessary to collaborate with our partners throughout the IC. From a student perspective, one of the best features of the new campus is that there are now plenty of computer workstations--more than double the number at the old campus--an important amenity during mid-terms, finals, and thesis crunch times.

Transforming the National Intelligence University: Strategic Planning 2017-2021

The move to the new campus in Bethesda, which has been termed "an inflection point" in the history of NIU, brings with it the promise of transformation into a nationally recognized intelligence university serving the defense of our Nation. To achieve its mission and vision in an era when resources are expected to remain tight, in 2017 NIU embarked on a new five-year strategic plan with three primary goals to guide planning and resource decisions:

Goal 1: Develop Leadership in the Profession of Intelligence. Emphasis will be applied to maintaining federal degree authorizations and regional accreditation; crafting curricula that anticipate and meet emerging national security priorities; developing a critical mass of faculty with strong academic credentials; producing the highest quality graduates; developing certificate programs which contribute to lifelong learning; and using innovative techniques to deliver education.

Goal 2: Contribute to the Body of Knowledge of the Intelligence Profession and the Intelligence Community and Inform Strategic Intelligence Solutions. NIU will organize and produce research products that invite collaborations with IC leaders and researchers; publish and present cutting-edge research; and strengthen research support.

Goal 3: Fully Integrate NIU into the Intelligence Community. NIU will enable relationships between the University, academics, and key partners that create mutual benefit; actively engage the IC and national security communities to ensure the highest-quality NIU outcomes; and build and sustain an engaged community of current and former students, faculty and staff to enable networked relationships within the intelligence and national security communities, academia, think tanks, and private industry.

Integrating the Intelligence Community One Alumnus at a Time

When you graduate from NIU, you become part of an alumni network that is second to none. NIU alumni are past, present, and future leaders in the intelligence and national security communities, and in the private sector. Notable alumni include a former Director of National Intelligence; former Directors of CIA, DIA, NSA and NGA; former heads of military intelligence; and a growing number of senior government executives and corporate leaders. Just this past year, there were two more notable alumni "firsts" for NIU: our first U.S. Ambassador, Todd Chapman (Class of '00), U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, and our first member of Congress--Representative Michael Gallagher (R-WI), Class of '10.

We Want to Hear from Our Alumni. NIU is proud of all its alumni and their collective achievements in service to the nation, but there are other reasons we value ongoing contact. Alumni help keep the University relevant and accredited by providing feedback and advice at various points during their careers via alumni surveys. Some alumni return later in their careers as subject matter experts to lecture, to serve as thesis mentors, or to teach. Other alumni return to serve as IC leaders who promote the vision of NIU as the center of academic life for the IC.

NIU Office of Alumni Relations. If you were a student, faculty or staff member at the NIU or its predecessor schools--National Defense Intelligence College (2006-2011); Joint Military Intelligence College (1993-2006); Defense Intelligence College (1983-1993); or Defense Intelligence School (1962-1983)--please contact the Alumni Relations Office ( so we can update our records and reengage with you!

NIU Alumni Association. Following the establishment of a formal NIU Alumni Association in September 2015 as a component of the 501(c)(3) National Intelligence University Foundation, alumni networks are forming around the country and around the world, promoting lifelong learning, facilitating professional networking, and fostering pride in alma mater. Working closely with the university to promote activities of mutual benefit, the Alumni Association leadership has set up a website for alumni to register as members. There is no cost to join. For more information, visit

For More Information and How to Apply

Individuals interested in applying for full-time study at NIU should contact their career manager and refer to the annual military intelligence programs military personnel message: The National Intelligence University (NIU) Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence (MSSI) and Master of Science and Technology Intelligence (MSTI) Programs.


For more information about NIU programs, including part-time study, admissions requirements, application timelines, visit or contact

For general information, visit or contact


Tom Van Wagner serves as deputy vice president for outreach and director of outreach and alumni relations at the National Intelligence University. He has 35 years of federal government service, including 12 years as a navy surface warfare officer. He is a joint-qualified intelligence community officer. Tom earned his bachelor's degree from Colgate University in 1980 and is a 1994 graduate of the Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence Degree Program at NIU.
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Author:Wagner, Tom Van
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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