Doctors of Doom: What a PhD Really Means in the US National Security Community: A VICE News Investigation

VICE News: Doctors of Doom

A follow up to Bill Arkin's and my ranking of the VICE News: Most Militarized Universities in America, Doctors of Doom reveals:

  • Online for-profit schools currently dominate the awarding of doctoral degrees to intelligence professionals, with four for-profit online schools Capella University, Walden University, the University of Phoenix, and Northcentral University awarding the most degrees, almost 15 percent of the total.
  • 1 out of 50 doctoral degrees in the US Intelligence Community come from unaccredited schools.
  • Since 9/11, there has been a pronounced shift in doctoral degrees in the IC away from the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and engineering, and toward professional studies like business administration, information technology management, and various homeland security practices.
  • After 9/11 business administration overtook all other doctoral degrees in the IC, increasing by hundreds of %.
  • While some elite schools Georgetown, MIT, Yale, Columbia rank among the top 50 PhD schools in the IC, their decline in influence in the past decade is noticeable, even when one examines the highest level entity of the intelligence community, the National Intelligence Council.
  • An examination of the formal educations of Top Secret workers affirms a widening gulf between elected/confirmed decision-makers and the national security rank and file and between the rank and file and society at large.

Read: Doctors of Doom: What a PhD Really Means in the US National Security Community

Alexa O'Brien Alexa O'Brien conducts research and analysis about national security and law enforcement. Her work has been published in The New York Times, VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian (UK), The Daily Beast, NY Daily News, and featured on the BBC, PBS, NPR, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the United Kingdom and listed in The Verge 50. In 2016, she worked at The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C. as a staff researcher and writer on an independent commission studying Oklahoma's death penalty. She also provided research support to scholars of the first cost study conducted on that state's capital punishment system. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, majoring in Political Science. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Applied Intelligence at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She resides in New York City.