DEA Qualifications & Education Requirements

Education & Experience

While having a degree is not a requirement, those applicants who possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Police Science or Criminal Justice are considered to be the most competitive. Recruiters will ask for verification of education, including a cumulative grade point average of above 2.95.

Applicants who do not possess a degree, but have prior experience in the field of law enforcement are encouraged to apply as well. Experience specifically related to narcotics and undercover operations is taken into consideration.

Applicants who do not have experience in the criminal justice field, and do not possess a police science or criminal justice degree, may still apply. However, they will be required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, including the following:

  • Foreign Languages
  • Computer Science/Information Systems
  • Telecommunications
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Economics
  • Finance/Accounting

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, these individuals are required to have three or more years of related work experience.


It is important for all Drug Enforcement Administration applicants to understand that there are certain immediate disqualifiers when it comes to seeking employment within this agency. The following are some of the common reasons why an application might be rejected:

  • Applicant is not a valid United State citizen
  • Applicant is under 21 or over the age of 36 (at time of initial appointment)
  • Applicant has failed the pre-screening illegal drug test administered by the DEA
  • Applicant is unable to pass a background investigation (i.e. due to felony on record)
  • Applicant requires a hearing aid or is unable to meet the vision requirements for the agency

There are a number of additional requirements and disqualifiers for individuals who are seeking a special agent position within the DEA as this is a rigorous, multi-phase application process.


DEA Criminal Investigator Description DEA Selection & Training