June, 22

Reserve Opportunities at the National Intelligence University

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At the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, Maryland, some of the country’s top intelligence and national security professionals, including Air Force Reservists, are sharpening their skills to provide the Joint Force with a decisive edge in the Great Power Competition.

Rapid advances in warfighting technology and the widespread introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning present dramatic challenges to today’s Total Force intelligence professionals. As the academic hub for the country’s intelligence community, NIU is determined to make sure America’s intelligence professionals are poised to meet these challenges.

NIU graduates conduct advanced research and apply history to inform national interagency policies while earning rigorous advanced academic degrees. Students do not pay for tuition or books, they receive personalized instruction from experienced faculty from around the intelligence community, and they discuss cutting-edge challenges in Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility classrooms to enable comprehensive research on the nation’s greatest intelligence challenges.

As the intelligence community’s only accredited degree-granting program, NIU offers full-time, monthly and evening programs to support the busy lifestyles of Citizen Airmen across the country and around the globe. Through NIU, Reserve Airmen are rising to the challenge.

Air Force Reserve Majs. Rachel Ringgenberg, Hannah Johnson and Traci Arnold are on track to graduate NIU’s full-time master’s program in June of this year, completing one year of personalized learning and research while earning Intermediate Developmental Education and Joint Professional Military Education credit.

“NIU’s curriculum has helped to strengthen my critical thinking skills and develop a deeper understanding of the intelligence roles in policymaking,” Ringgenberg said. “This will enable more informed and strategic decisions in future leadership positions in an evolving global environment.”

Ringgenberg participates in a specialized China concentration while conducting thesis research on the People’s Republic of China’s future military and intelligence activity in Cuba to inform national policy and security strategy.

Johnson said that her time at NIU has made her “more informed and knowledgeable about threats the United States may face in the future and how to navigate and advocate within the national security enterprise. Now I’m able to speak with confidence to advocate for Total Force Airmen and more accurately comprehend and explain the threats Total Force Airmen may experience in the future.”

She went on to say that her fellow students are truly the best part of learning at NIU. “I’ve made lifelong friends out of this program,” she said.

Arnold is applying her expertise as a former missileer and commander of the 920th Communications Flight, Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, while preparing a thesis to address how the Air Force can conduct Agile Combat Employment while defending allied logistics from adversary attacks.

Arnold explained that access to classified materials is essential to her research. “Unclassified resources alone would be missing a huge component in answering my thesis question,” she said. Arnold is also a student senator at NIU, representing her fellow classmates directly with NIU leadership.

“Not only am I getting an education from experts in their field, but I’m in the heart of the capital and have information and history at my fingertips,” Arnold said.

In addition to the full-time master’s program, Airmen can earn their Bachelor of Science in Intelligence (BSI), Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence (MSSI), Master of Science and Technology Intelligence (MSTI), or post-baccalaureate Certificate of Intelligence Studies at locations worldwide.

In addition to NIU’s main campus at the Intelligence Community Campus in Bethesda, Maryland, there is the European Academic Center in RAF Molesworth in the United Kingdom (with sites in Ramstein Air Base and Stuttgart, Germany); the Quantico Academic Center at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia; the Southern Academic Center at Tampa, Florida, with satellite centers at Liberty, North Carolina, Key West, Hurlburt Field and Miami, Florida, and Dayton, Ohio; the NSA Academic Center at Fort Meade, Maryland (with classes at Fort Eisenhower, Georgia); and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s West Campus in St. Louis, Missouri.

NIU’s flexible two-year programs allow Reservists to participate in a format optimized for their unique professional and personal lives.

Monthly program students should seek their first O-6 commander’s endorsement. They may even request command approval to utilize drill and summer annual tour to participate in the program in a paid status and, in some circumstances, travel reimbursement.

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Kirk leveraged her enrollment in the monthly program to enhance her on-the-job expertise while assigned to the 512th Intelligence Squadron, Fort Meade, Maryland, Delaware, earning accolades from the commander of the 315th Cyber Operations Squadron and the Cyber National Mission Force Joint Task Force III commander.

“I was able to tailor my coursework in the Master of Science and Technology Intelligence degree program and enroll in courses that enhanced my skills and knowledge that apply to my work in cyber as an Air Force Reservist as well as my area of responsibility – China/Chinese military – in my civilian position,” she said.

Kirk is completing cutting-edge thesis research into technology transfer laws and regulations to prevent adversary access to vital national security technologies.

Finally, NIU offers opportunities for independent research through the Research Fellowship program and publication through the National Intelligence Press and the American Intelligence Journal.

Regardless of which format best suits a Reservist’s needs, NIU offers a wide variety of options to help Total Force Airmen sharpen their intelligence and analytical knowledge to lead and prevail in today’s complex intelligence environment.

Reservists interested in more information and application instructions should visit

(As a Reservist, Parsons serves on the faculty at the National Intelligence University and is a career intelligence and space operations officer. As a civilian, he is currently a civil servant at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin’s Office of Defense Cooperation.)

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