Almost every kid wants to be a secret agent at one point or another, but few ever make it to the president’s security detail. It’s incredibly difficult to get a job in the Secret Service, but those who make it through the application and training process can rest well, knowing they have helped to protect their country. Many positions in the Secret Service are dependent on experience over education. However, college graduates have a wider breadth of opportunities available over those who joined the workforce after high school. The strongest applicants to the Secret Service are those who have both a college degree and experience in a law enforcement field.
Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement
The United States Secret Service maintains that there are no degrees in particular that are necessary in order to be considered for a position within the Secret Service. However, a background in law enforcement is considered equal to a bachelor’s degree in terms of experience. A bachelor’s degree in law enforcement combines the benefits of an education with an understanding of the enforcement of criminal codes.
Master’s Degree in Criminology
As with most fields, those who have a higher level of education or background experience tend to be hired at an increased pay grade regardless of their performance. A Secret Service applicant with a master’s degree in criminology has a greater base of knowledge to draw upon when analyzing a crime, and many have more experience working within a criminal justice system as a result. At the University of Miami, graduate students in criminology have gone on to work at the federal level as Secret Agents with the Special Service.
Pre-Law Bachelor’s Degree
Students in the undergraduate pre-law program at Mount Saint Mary College in New York have interned with the Secret Service while still enrolled in school. A pre-law program is an excellent option for those interested in the Secret Service because of the overall emphasis on problem-solving skills and specific instruction in ethics, political thought and law at the local, state and federal levels.
Master’s Degree in Management
Several dozen of today’s Secret Service agents jump-started their careers at the federal level by earning a master’s degree in management at Johns Hopkins University. The two-year program through the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education’s Division of Public Safety Leadership emphasizes experiential learning so that members of the Secret Service will be prepared to take on leadership positions down the line.
- United States Secret Service: Be a Part of Our Nation’s Most Challenging Protective and Investigative Missions
- University of Miami: Criminology Program Curriculum
- Mount Saint Mary College: Pre-Professional Programs Pre-Law
- Johns Hopkins Magazine: Wholly Hopkins Matters of note from around Johns Hopkins
Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.