Spy College: 5 Online University Classes for a Future in Espionage


Every child dreams of being the next James Bond. But beyond asking for your martini shaken, not stirred, what do you have to know to turn that dream into a reality? Working for an intelligence agency can be incredibly rewarding for the right person, but how do you know if you’ve got what it takes? Here are five online university classes offered by that would benefit any would be Ethan Hunt or double-agent hopeful.

Surviving When You’re the Foreigner at Texas A&M

This class, which is free through the International Programs Office podcast in iTunes, is a step by step guide to foreign countries through the eyes of an American. Whether you’re interested in learning about Argentina, France, Egypt, England, or Spain, there will be important information for you to learn about how to acclimate to a new culture, and blend in with the crowd. Though the lessons are geared towards study abroad students, mastering local customs and etiquette, as well as dress codes, is an important part of becoming a successful, confident spy.

Technology in a Dangerous World at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This class, which debuted a year after September 11, 2001, is hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Courseware site. The course analyzes the development of modern technology, and what we can expect to arise on the world stage as a result of the rapid evolution. How does technological advancement put the world at risk for new kinds of terrorism? If you’re interested in a career in espionage, understanding changing trends across the globe will put you in a powerful position to predict dangerous situations and, accordingly, stop them.

Crime and Delinquency at the University of North Carolina

Probably the most basic class needed by a future international agent, Crime and Delinquency is the study of aberrant behavior that eventually results in criminal behavior. Students will also learn about the corresponding public policy to particular offenses and how legislative action is initiated for the prosecution of criminals.

Popular Narrative: Masterminds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Also through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Courseware site, Popular Narrative: Masterminds is more of an elective than a prerequisite. This class, though helpful, is an examination of the way “masterminds” in fiction function. Scientists, magicians, detectives, and the like can all inform spy-hopefuls ability to gauge situations and learn how to analyze the minds of others.

Arabic at Oregon State University

Arabic is one of the most critical languages needed in government right now. With the War in Iraq still ongoing, speakers of Arabic and other Middle Eastern dialects are well-prepared for a career in espionage (as well as business, foreign service, and dozens of other industries that are especially tied into international relations). This class through Oregon State University’s Ecampus will teach its students the basics of Arabic, as well as provide instruction on Arab culture.

In order to be a competitive applicant to any intelligence agency, of course, more than just a college class here and there will be necessary. However, additional classes like the above teach students useful and unique lessons, that will distinguish one future FBI agent from any crowd of aspiring lawmen.

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