NCIS Qualifications & Education Requirements

In order to qualify for a Special Agent position, applicants should possess a robust academic and professional history. The minimum post-secondary education is a bachelor’s degree, but many applicants often possess post-graduate degrees like Master’s, Doctorates, and Juris Doctors in order to be more competitive. While certain majors are not stipulated, certain areas of study like Computer Science, Psychology and Criminal Justice may provide competitive advantages. A high GPA is a must, however, with applicants who possess a 3.5 or higher benefiting greatly.

Although it is not required that applicants possess military or law enforcement experience, many of the most qualified applicants do possess such experience. This type of experience is highly beneficial to Special Agents because they must perform duties in an investigative capacity in civilian and military environments. If possible it is highly recommended that potential applicants acquire some type of experience in these roles; military experience especially may be beneficial in the selection process as it may confer veteran preference. Experience in the military or police organizations cannot be substituted for the bachelor’s degree requirement.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service does offer almost 150 unpaid internships each year. These internships are located at NCIS Headquarters or through field offices and offer a valuable way of working with other NCIS officers and experiencing their way of life.


Because Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agents perform a number of duties within sensitive areas, they must qualify for Top Secret Security clearance. In order to obtain this clearance you cannot have any of the following disqualifying factors:

  • Must be a native born or naturalized U.S. citizen
  • Must not have any incidents of felonious criminal activity
  • Must possess a trustworthy, reliable character
  • Must be financially responsible and pass a credit check
  • Must be emotionally stable
  • Must pass a background check
  • Cannot be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Cannot be addicted to or currently using an illegal or controlled substance
  • Cannot have used marijuana within the last three years or more than 15 times during your lifetime

Entry into the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as a Special Agent is typically reserved for only the most qualified, but if there are extenuating circumstances which may mitigate any of these disqualifiers, it may be wise to discuss them with an NCIS recruiter.

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