Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Florida

“Cybersecurity is a fast growing area right now and there’s going to be a lot of jobs for a lot of people.”

– David Shedrow, computer science instructor at Eastern Florida State College

In the wake of recent and well publicized attacks on Target and Home Depot that compromised sensitive customer information, businesses both large and small are realizing that anybody can be a potential target. The response in the private sector has been swift as companies scramble to re-double their cybersecurity efforts to protect both sensitive data on their clients as well as proprietary information. This has resulted in cybersecurity job boom as employers look to build teams of talented information assurance architects, administrators, auditors and engineers. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, the field has seen a job growth rate that can only be described as staggering 135% cybersecurity jobs were added nationwide in that four-year period alone (Burning Glass Technologies).

Here’s how Florida has responded to the need for better cybersecurity:

  • In 2014, The Florida Center for Cybersecurity was opened, based at the University of South Florida. The Center is a resource for the entire state, conducting research, holding educational seminars, and providing resources for cybersecurity educational programs in the area. In the same year, Eastern Florida State College opened a state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab that allows students to perform mock cyber threat mitigation measures to gain hands-on experience.
  • In 2015, three universities in Florida—The University of Tampa, Saint Leo University, and Florida Polytechnic University—added new cybersecurity programs due to high demand. (Tampa Bay Times, 2015).
  • In 2015, the Florida Communications Bar Association held their first annual Florida Privacy and Cybersecurity Law Symposium, featuring panels with cybersecurity experts, discussions with government representatives, and the latest information related to risk mitigation and attack response.
  • In 2016, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law that would allow agencies to withhold information about security breaches from the public in order to keep network weaknesses private from hackers and would-be hackers.

Cybersecurity specialists have the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest serving Florida-based CPR Tools, a computer peripheral repair and recovery service that has developed innovative vulnerability assessment platforms. In addition, six Florida-based cybersecurity companies had the honor of being included on Cybersecurity Ventures’ top 500 list for 2016: Easy Solutions, KnowBe4, Appriver, Harris, and Citrix, representing a diverse field of companies providing defense contracting, electronic fraud protection, cloud security, and secure remote access.

The future looks bright for cybersecurity specialists in Florida. In 2015, Burning Glass Technologies listed Miami and Tampa on a list of top 25 cities with the most cybersecurity job openings.

Earning a Master’s Degree or Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Cybersecurity in Florida

Florida is home to National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated schools that offer cybersecurity master’s programs and post-bachelor certificates.

The NSA and DHS offer designations for two classifications of schools that offer advanced degrees in information security and cyber defense:

  • CAE-CDE – National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
  • CAE-R – National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (schools that participate in research initiatives and that integrate a strong research component into the curriculum of bachelor’s and graduate programs)

The NSA and DHS also recognize several universities throughout the country that offer online cybersecurity master’s programs. Many professionals prefer online programs because of their flexibility. Online programs consist of online problem modules, virtual mock cyber incident response simulations, and the opportunity to engage professors and other students through discussion forums.

Some IT professionals seeking graduate training opt for a post-bachelor’s certificate rather than a master’s program. These 15 credit programs can be completed in a year. Students will study Linux networking, network management and security, network infrastructure, ethical hacking, and current trends in cybersecurity.

Standard Admissions Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Applicants to cybersecurity master’s programs are expected to possess a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as information security, computer science, computer engineering, or applied math.

Other minimum requirements include:

  • 3.0 GPA in bachelor’s coursework
  • One year of calculus and one year of a mathematics course beyond calculus
  • A course in data structures
  • A course in Java or C++
  • A course in computer organization

If the applicant has less than a 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework, the school may require the GRE entrance exam. Admission departments look for verbal scores of 150 or higher, quantitative scores of 155 or higher, and analytical scores of 650 or higher.

Core Courses, Electives and Program Objectives

NSA and DHS designated universities follow a standard curriculum. Core coursework will typically include:

  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Networks
  • Software Engineering
  • Database Systems and Security
  • Computer and Network Forensics
  • Information Security Governance

Elective topics may include the following topics:

  • Threat and Intel Management
  • Data Mining and Machine Learning
  • Mobile Computing
  • Object-Oriented Software Design
  • Component Programming
  • Topics in Cybersecurity

Graduates of cybersecurity master’s programs will be prepared for the challenges of the field with a firm understanding of computer and network security, cryptographic protocols, Linux operating systems, and cloud computing. In addition, graduates will be able to architect secure systems, provide intrusion detection, and assure the security of IP communications.

NSA and Homeland Security Designated Research and Education Institutions in Florida

As of 2016, the following schools have met the rigorous criteria required to earn the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) designation for their master’s and post-bachelor’s certificate programs:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach Campus (Also holds the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation.)

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Policy

Florida Atlantic University, College of Business

  • Master of Science in Information Technology Management

Florida International University, Computing and Information Sciences (Also holds the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation.)

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Nova Southeastern University, Center for Information, Protection, Education, and Research

  • Master of Science in Information Security
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Security Management

Saint Leo University, Center for Cybersecurity Education

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity

University of Central Florida, Center for Cybersecurity

  • Master of Science in Digital Forensics

University of South Florida, Florida Center for Cybersecurity

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Information Technology

University of West Florida, Center for Cybersecurity

  • Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Computer Science with a focus on Cybersecurity
  • Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Information Security Management
  • Master of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in Security and Diplomacy

Additionally, the following schools hold the NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation:

Florida Institute of Technology

  • Master of Science in Information Technology—Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Information Assurance & Cybersecurity

University of Florida, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering

  • Master of Science in Computer Science, specialization in Computer Networks and Security

Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Specialists in Florida

Florida is a land of opportunity for cybersecurity specialists and analysts, especially for those with master’s degrees. The state has many job opportunities, from world-renowned cybersecurity firms and defense contractors, to government offices, retail chains, and opportunities within finance, banking, and insurance.

The following job listings are not meant to represent any guarantees of employment. Taken from a 2016 survey of cybersecurity job postings in Florida, they are shown to represent the kinds of opportunities that may be available to cybersecurity specialists and analysts in the state.

Network Security Analyst with Apex Systems in Orlando, FL

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a cybersecurity-related field
  • 3-5 years of related experience

Responsibilities:

  • Works with clients to analyze security risks and develop mitigation strategies
  • Installs and configures network security systems
  • Reviews log sources and monitoring tools
  • Performs network and security testing

Cyber Security Analyst with Presidio in Orlando

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • 1-3 years of experience in network security

Responsibilities:

  • Analyze and respond to security events
  • Operate and utilize the SIEM toolset to investigate security events
  • Provide reporting of security events
  • Provide network and remote connectivity support

Data Security Analyst at Red Lobster in Orlando

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field

Responsibilities:

  • Recommend security solutions or enhancements to existing systems
  • Perform the deployment of new security solutions
  • Design enterprise security architecture
  • Maintain base lines for security configuration
  • Monitor security events and produce documentation and review

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