Becoming a special agent for the Central Intelligence Agency can be incredibly rewarding for college graduates who want to serve their country in the clandestine services. Although the CIA claims that it does not recommend any particular course of study for applicants, you can increase your odds of being selected by taking courses that prepare you to meet the job requirements of an agent.

Foreign Language

Since the CIA's job is to investigate and collect information in foreign countries, applicants who are fluent in two or more languages are more attractive than applicants who speak only English. Job descriptions indicate that fluency in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Indonesian, Korean, Pashto, Persian, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu are especially desirable. In order to be considered fluent in a language, the applicant should be able to speak, read and write it.

International Affairs

In order to be considered by the CIA, you should have an in-depth understanding about world affairs and how foreign countries relate to the United States. Specifically, experts in world economics and international relations are highly sought by the CIA, and university classes that focus on the economies and policies within the Middle East, Russia, Africa and China are especially useful. Also, be sure to keep up on current world affairs by paying attention to the news.

Study Abroad

The CIA expects its agents to be accustomed to traveling and living in foreign countries. The best way to prove that you can adapt well and blend in to another country is to spend some time living abroad. College is an excellent time to do this since studying abroad can help solidify your foreign language skills -- another job requirement for the CIA -- and there are hundreds of programs that help students live and learn abroad.

Science & Technology

The CIA actively recruits college graduates or individuals with graduate degrees in chemical or biological engineering, nuclear or physical sciences and weapons or computer technology. There are both analyst and field operative jobs that require these skills. In order to be considered for a science or technology position, you will need be an expert in one of these fields, and will most likely need to have some practical work or research experience.


University students who know they plan to seek employment with the CIA following graduation can apply for 60-90 day internships with the agency. Though highly selective and very competitive, this program allows undergraduates the unique opportunity to see day-to-day operations within the agency and gain valuable experience. Graduate students can also apply for a CIA study program when they are entering their first or second year of graduate school. Internships are only available in Washington, D.C.

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About the Author

Based in Sacramento, Calif., Beth Wenbourne Katz has been writing about education topics since 2006. Katz has taught in the California public schools, working primarily with students with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. She holds a Master of Arts in special education from San Diego State University.