To address the growing workforce needs for cybersecurity-educated professionals, 鶹ý (CBU) has created a fully online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program. This new master’s degree program, which will begin classes in January 2024, is an interdisciplinary program that will teach students how to meet the practical and protective needs of a modern 21st-century information technology workforce.

The fully online program integrates coursework in business, computer science, electrical engineering, and management information systems with a curriculum that is closely aligned with the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) certification knowledge units related to cybersecurity. CompTIA was chosen because it is an industry-respected, vendor-neutral credentialing program.

“I am very proud that we listened to our local Midsouth IT community and have created a graduate program that is not only interesting but is providing essential cybersecurity job skills needed in the 21st century,” said Dr. James McGuffee, director of the new Cybersecurity program. “As an Authorized Academic Partner with CompTIA, CBU has aligned our curriculum with four different professional certifications that are globally recognized as a standard of quality for cybersecurity professionals.”

The degree has four major areas of technical learning objectives, each with specific outcomes that will be measured in the assigned courses through direct and indirect assessment as well as external assessment via the CompTIA professional certifications exams in networking, security, cybersecurity system administration, and penetration testing. In addition to the successful completion of all ten courses, students will be required to successfully earn at least three of the four professional certifications and to complete a final capstone project that integrates this technical knowledge within a specific applied context.

The program is openly accessible, meaning that a student who has a bachelor’s degree in any subject can be admitted. It will be offered as faculty-led, asynchronous online instruction and consists of ten courses that are taken one at a time in 8-week sessions. There are five sessions per year, meaning the degree will take two calendar years to complete. 

Besides Dr. McGuffee, other faculty members teaching courses in the program will include Dr. Daniel Brandon, professor of Management Information Systems in the CBU School of Business; Paul Dent, chief information security officer and co-founder of Surenomics; Merrick Martin, principal security engineer at Oracle; and Vincent Olman, deputy assistant director of digital forensics at the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division. The faculty will be available to speak with the students or interested parties by phone, email, video chat, or in person.

“The ideal candidate for this program will be a person with basic IT skills who wishes to advance in their career,” McGuffee explained. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that careers in the cybersecurity field will grow by 35 percent by the end of this decade, making it the eighth-fastest-growing occupation in the country. Jobs currently in high demand include information security crime investigators, security architects, penetration testers, computer forensic analysts, malware analysts, and incident responders.