Graduate courses teach skills needed to combat cyberattacks

With hackers growing more sinister by the day, securing digital assets has become a global priority. In response, St. Mary’s University will offer a Master of Science in Cybersecurity this fall to fill the need for professionals in the field.

This is the only dedicated Cybersecurity graduate program offered among San Antonio colleges and universities. St. Mary’s complements existing area programs, which offer cybersecurity-related concentrations, with a new program that provides comprehensive coverage of the field, with courses in risk management, wireless security, software security, cloud computing security, computer forensics, mathematics for cryptography, and cyber law. Students will gain an edge in the competitive marketplace for rewarding, high-profile jobs.

The program will prepare students to monitor, secure and safeguard cyber assets. It focuses on giving students the fundamental principles and hands-on experience of how to protect networks, computers, programs and institutional data from attack, damage and unauthorized access.

“St. Mary’s University is poised to be a significant provider of qualified cybersecurity professionals,” said Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. “There is already a great deal of interest in the program, both from current students and industry-leading corporations. Most importantly, it will be an excellent fit with the University’s mission, which calls for us to educate leaders for the common good.”

Cybersecurity experts are in high demand in many industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 37 percent increase in Information Security Analyst positions by 2022. Cybersecurity-related job postings went up 74 percent from 2007-2013 – two times higher than all IT jobs – according to a study by BurningGlass. Private organizations, such as Southwest Research Institute, USAA and Rackspace, offered a median annual pay of $86,170 for Information Security Analysts in 2012, says the BLS.

This field is burgeoning in San Antonio, with NSA Texas; the 24th Air Force; the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency; and the Air Force Cryptologic and Cyber Systems Division; as well as military contractors such as General Dynamics, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC and MITRE in the area.

The St. Mary’s program has been developed by the Department of Computer Science in collaboration with the Department of Engineering, the Department of Mathematics, and the School of Law, with input from the Greehey School of Business in the area of risk management.

Students will complete 33 credit hours – five required courses, five elective courses and three credit hours of a capstone project. Students may also choose a thesis option, which consists of 27 hours of course credit and six hours of thesis work. Three courses will be created for the new program: Mathematics for Cryptography; Security Policy and Law; and Risk Management and Mitigation.

Existing faculty members will teach many of the program’s courses. Qualified adjunct instructors will be invited from local security companies and government agencies, including SwRI, USAA, NSA, Rackspace and Air Force Security Hill.

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