Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Louisiana

From 2010-14, job postings for cyber security positions in Louisiana rose by an incredible 275 percent according to a 2015 report published by job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies. Yet it was reported by Government Technology that a generation gap could lead to a shortage of cyber security workers nationwide during the next decade. It is postulated that this could happen as a result of baby boomers retiring and low enrollment numbers in undergraduate or graduate cyber security programs. According to the article, 79 percent of American businesses reported some type of cyber attack in 2014. These figures are prompting government stakeholders and information technology companies to fund cyber security degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at colleges nationwide.

The Louisiana National Guard became part of a multi-state Cyber Protection Team in 2014, along with Mississippi and Texas. The headquarters of this team is being built in New Orleans and is expected to be fully operational by 2019. Operating as a traditional National Guard unit, the team will respond to cyber attacks as needed, just as they would traditionally respond to other types of emergencies. Cyber attacks within government at all levels will be of particular concern to this team.

In May 2016, the National Governors Association reported that Louisiana is one of five states to join a cyber security policy academy designed to create new cyber security policies. Along with Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Oregon, representatives from Louisiana will collaborate to study the various types of cyber attacks commonly – and not so commonly – employed, and find new and innovative ways of combating them. Attacks in government, law enforcement, the public sector and private agencies will all be under the scrutiny of this team.

A recent report in the Shreveport Times noted that baby boomers and senior citizens, who are quickly becoming the largest demographic in the state, have also become frequent targets of cyber criminals. In phishing scams that amount to identity theft and flat out cyber-thievery, seniors are often persuaded to hand over financial information that allows criminals to access financial accounts. The state is in need of more cyber security professionals with graduate degrees to help combat the growing incursion of cyber crime.

Earning a Master’s Degree or Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity in Louisiana

Schools in Louisiana and online nationwide offer graduate degrees and certificates in cyber security under various names. These include:

  • Master of Science in Cyber Security
  • Master of Science in Computer Science- Concentration in Cyber Security
  • Graduate Certificate in Network and Information Security
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance

Schools in Louisiana and online offer graduate students the opportunity to pursue master’s degrees or graduate certificates in various areas of cybersecurity. A master’s degree cybersecurity program typically consists of 18 credits of core courses and 18 elective credits. A graduate certificate cybersecurity program consists of about 15 credits, including two elective credits.

Admissions Requirements

Prerequisites and other requirements for graduate cybersecurity programs typically include:

  • Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, mathematics or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Applicants must pass the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) (however, not all programs require this)
  • Applicants must provide three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic background
  • Applicants must complete the following courses prior to admission to a graduate cybersecurity program:
    • Calculus (usually one year will suffice)
    • One mathematics course beyond calculus (such as differential equations, discrete mathematics or linear algebra)
    • One course in discrete structures
    • One programming course ( usually C++ or Java)
    • One course in computer organization
    • One course in information technology ethics and law
    • One course in the design of operating systems

Graduate cybersecurity programs often offer undergraduate-level bridge courses to fulfill mathematics and computer science prerequisite requirements.

Program Objectives, Core Courses and Electives

Upon completing a master’s degree or graduate certificate program in cybersecurity graduates should be able to:

  • Possess a cyber security knowledge and skill base to allow mitigation of advanced persistent threats
  • Make strategic decisions about security issues and present recommendations to management
  • Plan and implement cyber security strategies to reduce risk and protect information systems and assets
  • Understand legal and ethical issues associated with information security, digital rights and privacy

Graduate level cyber security degree or certificate programs should include the following core courses:

  • Foundations of cyber security
  • Secure systems architecture
  • Cyber security risk management
  • Cyber security operational policy
  • Management and cyber security
  • Secure software design and development
  • Network visualization and vulnerability detection
  • Cyber intelligence
  • Legal aspects and ethics in cyber security
  • Cyber incident response
  • Computer network forensics

Elective courses that a graduate cyber security degree or certificate program may offer include:

  • Biometrics
  • Cryptography
  • Cyber warfare
  • Global cyber trends
  • Data security
  • Ethical hacking

NSA and Homeland Security Designated Research and Education Institutions in Louisiana

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security offer designations specific to two classifications of schools that offer graduate programs in information security:

  • 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)

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:

Louisiana Tech University, Center for Secure Cyberspace

  • Graduate Information Assurance Certificate

University of New Orleans

  • Master of Science in Computer Science – Information Assurance

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

In May 2016, information technology outsourcing company CGI opened a $13.1 million onshore Center of Excellence in Lafayette. The building will be the anchor of a new 143-acre research park for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is expected to add $90 million to the local economy over the next five years. As CGI is partnering with the school in a higher education initiative designed to produce more cyber security graduates to meet the growing demand coming from the public and private sectors.

The following job listings (May 2016) reflect current job opportunities and offer insight into the numerous types of professional opportunities available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity graduates in Louisiana (not intended to imply any guarantee of employment):

Information Security Engineer, General Dynamics IT – New Orleans, LA

Responsibilities:

  • Conduct forensic traffic analysis to isolate issues or respond to analyst alerts
  • Ensure all information assurance hardware and software is correctly configured Ensure accuracy and timeliness of information assurance related documentation
  • Write, update and maintain standard operating procedures

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required, master’s degree preferred
  • Five to eight years of related experience in data security administration
  • Understanding of Windows Enterprise AD architecture
  • Security tool experience (Tripwire CCM, Symantec SEP, IBM IEM, Nessus Security

Center)

Senior Threat Analyst, GE Digital – New Orleans, LA

Responsibilities:

  • Lead threat hunting efforts to discover new or previously undetected digital and human threat activity within the network
  • Map the organization for potential threat risks
  • Analyze internal and external threat intelligence and previous attacks to discover new techniques in attacks and defense
  • Mentor and train junior staff

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required, master’s degree preferred
  • Seven years of hands-on experience in information security field
  • Have or be able to attain active U.S. government security clearance
  • Willing to travel up to 25 percent

Cyber Incident Responder, Louisiana Economic Development- Bossier City, LA

Responsibilities:

  • Audit computer systems to ensure they are operating securely and that data is protected from internal and external attacks
  • Conduct security assessments
  • Monitor, evaluate and maintain security systems
  • Investigate security breaches and violations

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required; master’s degree preferred
  • CISSP certification preferred
  • Two years of computer science, data security or management experience
  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills

Security Analyst, St. Tammany Parish Government, Department of Technology- Mandeville, LA

Responsibilities:

  • Assist in implementing security measures for information systems
  • Develop recommendations for information assurance standards, policies and procedures in the organization
  • Coordinate, develop, test and evaluate security programs for the organization
  • Evaluate and recommend information assurance solutions to support other entities

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required; master’s degree preferred
  • CISSP certification
  • Experience with Cisco network devices
  • Experience with Microsoft Server, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Active Directory

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