I was wondering if anyone has dealt with the following situation. Presently I hold a TS/SCI for my job as a contractor. Although unnecessary for my career, I want to pursue a masters in a subject that is a personal passion. While researching potential programs I found one in an EU country that can be completed entirely online, without any campus attendance required. It would also be far more affordable than even public university equivalents in the U.S. I am a dual citizen in the specific country where the program is located.
Would it be frowned upon to pursue such an option?
While holding a clearance you are probably aware that foreign interaction is a flagging concern. Normally folks in your situation either reduce the foreign influence or can mitigate it with necessity: due to employment needs, family needs or travel.
Education opportunities can be considered or linked as benefits afforded as a result of foreign citizenship that in some cases cause the person to have loyalty concerns or some sort of indebtedness/claim of expectation to the foreign situation. You would be required to report this activity from the day you apply for the education activity to your retirement from clearance based service.
If you engage in this the following is likely going to be your challenge with foreign activity reporting.
Benefits as a result of maintaining foreign citizenship is a concern that poses several additional questions: are you seeking the benefit for self gain; are you choosing a service in a foreign country over services in the US resulting in financial gain; will related activity expose you to unnecessary foreign influence and increase foreign national interaction…… and the most important question- is the foreign country where the degree program is offered a country on the heightened risk list?
Even if it’s not looked at by you as a benefit, your engagement while being aware of the security concerns is a flag also. You purposely choose a foreign education activity for personal interest even though you can find that experience in the US to save money? You knowingly risk various exposure issues to participate in foreign activity?
The question isn’t whether the online program is a good idea…. You being a seasoned clearance holder should contemplate: Is this scrutiny worth the pursuit you are considering?