Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Michigan

The cybersecurity job market in Michigan has grown immensely over the past several years, creating all new opportunities for master’s-prepared auditors, analysts, ethical hackers, engineers and other specialists. In fact, according to Burning Glass Technologies, the job market grew an incredible 117% in just four years, from 2010 to 2014. Meanwhile, cyber-attacks in Michigan continue to target and threaten critical information and infrastructure in the healthcare industry, government databases, and large corporate chains.

In 2015, the Michigan State Police reported that residents and businesses had lost upwards of $20 million to cyber-attacks the previous year (The Oakland Press). In 2016, the Michigan state government had announced the occurrence of an attack on the Michigan.gov website, and the Detroit Free Press reported that the state of Michigan raised its cyber security alert level in the same year. Even with the state on alert, businesses and individuals have continued to lose money to hackers and identity thieves. Michigan is in desperate need of skilled professionals with extensive training in cyber threat detection and protocols.

Here’s what else has been happening in the field of information security in Michigan:

  • In 2013, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced the formation of a Cyber Civilian Corps, a volunteer IT force of professionals working with state IT staff in order to help the state with cybersecurity response. In the same year, the government also developed protocols to evaluate security techniques and remediation strategies for state offices (Government Technology, 2013).
  • Also in 2013, The Michigan Healthcare Cybersecurity Council was founded to protect the state’s healthcare IT infrastructure.
  • In 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported that “the number of daily attacks on the state government’s computer systems is staggering and growing in both incidents and cost.” The DFP reported about 730,000 daily attacks on the government’s IT network.
  • In 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder asked for a $7 million increase on the cybersecurity budget for the 2015-16 budget (Detroit Free Press, 2015).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of 2015, information security analysts in Michigan can expect to make an average of $85,610, and considerably more with a master’s degree. Michigan’s cybersecurity specialists are hired in virtually every industry across the state, from government offices to small businesses to large corporate chains. Duo Security and Deepfield are two Ann-Arbor based security companies that help clients to identify security threats, build secure systems, and troubleshoot network issues. Companies like these hire master’s-prepared professionals to add experience and skill to their security teams.

With a master’s degree, cybersecurity professionals gain diverse proficiencies in operating systems, data structures, programming languages, and current trends in cybercrime, and are often offered a higher rate of pay and senior positions within cybersecurity teams.

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

Michigan is home to a number of traditional in-state cybersecurity master’s programs designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as Centers or Academic Excellence.

Jointly, these agencies  offer designations specific to two classifications of schools that offer graduate programs in information security and cyber defense:

  • CAE-CDE – National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
  • CAE-R – National Center 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)

Potential applicants may also consider designated master’s programs hosted online by universities throughout the country.

NSA/DHS designated programs are typically made up of around 30 credits taken over the course of approximately 15 months—15 core credits and 15 electives.

Some IT professionals choose to pursue a post-bachelor’s certificate rather than a full master’s program. The certificate programs are normally 15 credits and take about a year to complete.

Michigan also offers one BS-MS program in Cyber Security and Intelligence Studies. The program takes five years to complete, but offers the chance to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in one comprehensive program. The bachelor’s degree is in computer and information systems, while the master’s in in information security.

Admissions Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs in Michigan

Applicants to cybersecurity master’s programs must be prepared with a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline (computer science, engineering, applied mathematics, or information security), and are generally expected to have a 3.0 in prior coursework.

Students are generally required to submit GRE scores, though this may be waived for those with a high GPA in undergraduate studies. Admissions departments look for verbal scores of 150 or higher, quantitative scores of 155 or higher, and analytical scores of 650 or higher.

As cybersecurity master’s programs will build on established foundations of mathematics and an understanding of programming concepts, students will be expected to have completed courses in the following topics:

  • One year of calculus
  • One year of mathematics beyond calculus
  • A Java or C++ programming course
  • Foundational knowledge of data structures

Program Components

Accredited schools follow a designated core curriculum, which includes the following topics:

  • Principles of Cybersecurity
  • Incident Response
  • Cybersecurity Technologies
  • Cyber Law and Policies
  • Secure Acquisition
  • Cyber Defense Operations
  • Risk Management Processes
  • Cybersecurity Management Processes

Electives may include topics such as:

  • System Forensics
  • Advanced Network Security
  • Homeland Security Studies
  • Access Technologies
  • Ethical Hacking

NSA and Homeland Security Designated Research Institutions in Massachusetts

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 degree programs:

Davenport University, Cyber Defense Organization

  • Master of Science in Information Assurance

Eastern Michigan University, Information Assurance Program

  • Master of Arts in Technology Studies, with a concentration in Information Assurance Management
  • Master of Arts in Technology Studies, with a concentration in Network Security
  • Master of Arts in Technology Studies, with a concentration in Digital Investigations

Ferris State University, Information Security and Intelligence

  • Master of Science in Information Security and Intelligence

University of Detroit Mercy, Center for Cybersecurity and Intelligence Studies

  • Master of Science in Information Assurance

Walsh College

  • Master of Science in Information Technology

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

Michigan’s job market is receptive to highly skilled information security analysts. As technology rapidly changes, it is important for professionals in the field to stay on top of current trends, operating systems, programming languages, and cyber threats. With a master’s degree, Michigan’s cybersecurity specialists can expect to step into senior roles within cybersecurity teams and earn top salaries.

The following job opportunities, obtained from a survey of job postings in May 2016, are shown for illustrative purposes only. They represent the types of opportunities that may be available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity professionals in Michigan, but are not meant to imply a guarantee of employment.

Cyber Security Engineer—The Judge Group in Detroit

Requirements:

  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline; master’s preferred
  • Five or more years of experience deploying, managing and troubleshooting network security technologies

Responsibilities:

  • Provides operational guidance on security controls
  • Develops new security technologies
  • Develops IT controls to reduce compliance risk

Cyber Security Analyst—ITC Holdings in Novi

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field; master’s preferred
  • Five or more years of experience in an IT positon

Responsibilities:

  • Performs cyber threat intelligence analysis
  • Researches technical security topics, performs event analysis, and establishes alarm functions
  • Performs analysis activity for potential threats

Information Architect—Perrigo in Allegan, MI

Requirements:

  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field; master’s preferred
  • 7-10 years of experience with information security

Responsibilities:

  • Establishes an incident response plan
  • Establishes a corporate vulnerability management process
  • Assesses threat vulnerability
  • Leads, investigates, and documents processes to resolve security issue

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