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Central Intelligence Agency: CIA Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarship Opportunities with the CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is probably one of the most seductive and secretive organizations in the world. It has been popularized in movies, television programming, and literature for decades since its establishment in 1947.

But what exactly do they do? Their mission statement is pretty simple: leverage the power of information to keep our Nation safe.

Other than that, I have no idea what they do. But what I do know is that there are some great opportunities for college students offered by the CIA. This includes CIA scholarships to help with school tuition at military friendly universities and other institutions.

RELATED: Federal Agencies Looking to Hire Veterans

Student Programs at the CIA

The CIA offers internship and cooperative education programs that allow students to work alongside experts in their fields and gain real-world experience within the Intelligence Community (IC). 

They make these opportunities available through Scholarship Programs, Undergraduate Programs, and Graduate Programs.

Scholarship Programs

The CIA offers financial need-based scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Not only will recipients of these scholarships receive up to $18,000-$25,000 in tuition assistance per calendar year, but they will also get a year-round salary. (What?!) All recipients must either be entering or currently attending an accredited university.

Other Requirements for this Program

  • Undergraduate students must work at least one, preferably two, 90-day sessions at the CIA before graduating.
  • Graduate students must work at least one 90-day tour at the CIA before graduating.
  • After graduation, all scholarship recipients must work at the CIA for a period of 1.5 years per year of paid scholarship received.

Students are required to go through extensive medical and security screening processes. The CIA accepts applications for this program from March 1 – June 18 for the summer of the following year.

To apply head to the Undergraduate Scholarship Program or the Graduate Scholarship Program websites.

Undergraduate Internship Program

The CIA hosts a year-round internship program that allows undergraduate students to work in several areas before they graduate. The paid opportunities can range from areas like

  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Foreign Language
  • Engineering
  • Information Technology

These are not the only areas of study that an intern can experience, but they are the most popular.

The CIA has reworked its co-op program to meet the many requirements set by universities in order for students to receive credit for any work they do during their internships at the Agency.

Students will work on an alternating semester basis for at least three semesters before they graduate. This typically means working during the summer semester. Since the CIA does not work with established cooperative work programs with any one university, it is up to the student to ensure they receive academic credit for any time spent at the CIA.

Undergraduate CIA Scholarship Program Deadlines

Since students must go through the same stringent medical and security screening processes as do employees, it is advised that they apply at least 12 months before the student’s desired start date.

Check out all Undergraduate Internship Opportunities.

There is also a very prestigious Directorate of Operations Undergraduate Internship Program available to highly competitive, full-time students pursuing an undergraduate degree.

RELATED: Paid Federal Internships for Veterans

Graduate Studies for CIA Scholarship Program

The CIA’s Graduate Studies Program is available to full-time students in accredited graduate or doctoral programs. Participants in this program will complete at least one 90-day tour before graduating and provides graduate students an exciting opportunity to gain real-world experience.

Of this program, the Agency states that the program is “an excellent opportunity for graduates to transition from academic life to a career in national service.”

Graduate Studies Program Deadline

Since this is a year-round program, and since participants must endure a lengthy screening process, it is advised that you apply at least 12 months before your desired start date.

Check out all Graduate Studies Program opportunities.

More Information

Qualifications and Hiring Process

The nature of the CIA is mysterious, and that requires a very thorough screening of every applicant, be they student or employee. All applicants must meet specific criteria to qualify for employment. If found eligible, you will move through the hiring process which includes medical and security evaluations.

Learn about how they hire before you apply.


If you are accepted into an internship or cooperative program, you will also be eligible for CIA employee benefits.

These benefits include:

  • Health Insurance
  • Paid Time Off
  • Sick Leave
  • Childcare (on-site or subsidy)
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Student Loan Repayment

These are only part of what you will get, in addition to compensation, when you participate in one of the many student opportunities at the Central Intelligence Agency.


While the path to a career at the CIA is a long one, it is likely one of the most rewarding missions to support. There are many layers in the defense of our Nation, and the Intelligence Community is one of them. 

If you are a student and you have ever thought about working for the Agency, then you should take advantage of these fantastic internship and scholarship opportunities.

(Image courtesy of ruskpp via Shutterstock)





About the author

Terry Howell is a retired Coast Guard veteran, where he served for 20 years.

He is currently the Executive Director for Veterans' Legacies, a non-profit that works to preserve veterans personal stories to help educate our youth.

Terry is also the author of The Military Advantage, an annually updated guide to military and veteran benefits.