So, you’re considering going to school for a degree in cybersecurity. But now you’re wondering, “What are the best schools for cybersecurity degrees and how do I narrow down my search?” Well, you’re in the right spot. We’ll walk you through the common denominators among schools that lead the pack in cybersecurity education.
With security breaches up 11% in the last year and no signs that the trend will stop anytime soon, it’s no wonder that jobs in information security fields are projected to grow by 28% from 2016 to 2026. Growth in these fields combined with the current talent shortage and ever-increasing use of technology makes pursuing a career in these fields a wise choice.
Once you’ve decided to pursue a degree in cybersecurity, the next step is to figure out which university can help you achieve your career ambitions. Here are our two biggest recommendations when comparing schools that offer information security-related programs.
Consider top designations
Three of the top agencies in the field – the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) – designate a limited number of colleges and universities across the country as “Centers of Academic Excellence.”
Students at these schools receive special acknowledgment for having completed their degree at a Center of Academic Excellence, which can tell future employers that they received a quality education. You can be confident that colleges and universities with these two designations should be among your top choices.
- The DoD’s Cyber Crime Center designates select schools as Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence. There are only 16 of these schools in the U.S.
- The DHS and NSA designates select schools as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. There are only nine four-year universities in Michigan with this designation
What’s better is to find schools that hold both designations, as this will help narrow down your search even further. For example, Davenport University is one of just two universities in Michigan and one of 12 in the nation to hold both designations.
“Designations are important,” said Davenport professor Lonnie Decker. “In order to become designated, the programs must first be mapped for alignment with cybersecurity curriculum standards, ensuring that they are teaching the critical skills students will need to succeed in the field.”
Find scholarships that include job placements
Another important factor in deciding which school to attend is the amount of scholarship funding you could receive. For those pursuing an education in a cybersecurity-related program, there are a few special scholarship opportunities to be found.
The two scholarships below can only be offered by schools that are designated as Centers of Academic Excellence. While, of course, there are other opportunities for funding, these unique scholarships rank at the top of the list because of the funding amounts and job placements after graduation.
One full-funding opportunity is the CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The SFS program provides junior and senior undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, with full-tuition scholarships, living stipends and additional monies for professional development and other education-related fees. Participating students will then work in a cybersecurity role at a federal, state or local government organization following graduation.
Another opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students is the DoD Cybersecurity Scholarship Program (CySP). This scholarship provides full funding for tuition, books and other required fees for up to two years. It also includes a sponsored trip to a field-related event. Making it even more appealing, participating students will then work at a Department of Defense agency upon graduation.
One student who took advantage of the CySP scholarship is Sam DeVito, a Davenport University senior from Lowell, Michigan. DeVito is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital forensics. He took a trip to Washington, D.C. for a digital forensics conference this year, thanks to his scholarship. And, although he can’t go into specific details, DeVito already has a job lined up with the DoD and he’ll start right after graduation.
Now that you know a little more about two of the top designations and scholarships to look for in a university’s cybersecurity program, it’s time to narrow down the list of schools you’re considering. To do that, gather details about the specific degree programs you’re interested in at each school and compare them. Other important things to look for when considering schools include class sizes, professor and classroom equipment quality, job placement rates, student support services and additional financial aid opportunities.
As part of your research, be sure to check out what Davenport University’s College of Technology offers its cybersecurity students. And if you’re looking to learn more about the two scholarships mentioned, we’d encourage you to register for one of their upcoming scholarship information sessions at davenport.edu/cot-scholarships.
We wish you the best of luck as you continue your search and choose the best school to attend for your cybersecurity degree.