NACOGDOCHES, Texas — People wanting to earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity will soon have the opportunity to do so at Stephen F. Austin State University.
The College of Sciences and Mathematics recently received approval to offer the new degree program, and professors in the Department of Computer Science are busy planning to launch the program’s core courses in spring 2018.
According to Forbes, the cybersecurity market is expected to reach $170 billion by 2020. Additionally, data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that more than 209,000 U.S. cybersecurity jobs are unfilled.
“There is a widely recognized, very strong need for cybersecurity professionals in government, industry and education,” said Dr. Debbie Dunn, interim chair of the Department of Computer Science at SFA. “This program will provide a fundamental background in cybersecurity.”
Students will be required to complete 30 hours of coursework as well as a thesis. Courses will include general computer security, web security, defensive coding and security, reverse engineering, forensics, attack testing, and attack, defense and penetration testing.
Dr. Christopher Ivancic, graduate program coordinator in SFA’s Department of Computer Science, will teach many of the courses. His background is in software engineering, and he has experience in creating digital and forensics training for law enforcement and military personnel.
“In today’s world, cybersecurity is more than a tech problem. Employers from private businesses to government agencies are looking for people with security knowledge and skills,” Ivancic said.
Courses will be offered face-to-face, and plans are underway to include a cybersecurity lab in SFA’s new Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building.
“We are excited about the possibility of the lab,” Ivancic said. “This program will offer students hands-on learning opportunities as well as an in-depth look at the specialized field of cybersecurity. For example, professors will be able to create ‘sandboxes’ (test or staging servers) where students can work on cyber issues virtually.”
Possible career paths for those interested in pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity include security analyst, security software developer, cryptanalyst, security consultant, cyber forensics consultant, malware analyst and more.