Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in New Mexico

According to New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, the state of New Mexico is very important to the nation’s security and to the defense industry. He noted that New Mexico has been at the vanguard of cutting-edge research and development in the national defense industry. Recently, Heinrich secured provisions in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to benefit the state’s military men and women, military installations, border security, national laboratories, and the creation of jobs throughout New Mexico.

One of the provisions within the act allots $25 million for the Secretary of Defense to identify and evaluate cyber vulnerabilities at critical Department of Defense infrastructure and develop a risk mitigation plan. Military installations all across the country and in New Mexico are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Industry partners in New Mexico and nationwide will work to help enhance cyber security at these installations.

Military installations in New Mexico include the largest and widest military base in the country – White Sands Missile Range in Otero, which covers 8300 square kilometers and spreads over five different counties in the southern part of the state. Also housed in New Mexico are Cannon Air Force Base in Curry; Holloman Air Force Base in Otero, Kirtland Air Force Base in Bernalillo; and Los Alamos Demolition Army Base in North Central New Mexico.

New Mexico is also home to important Department of Energy National Security Laboratories such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. These laboratories hold science, technology and engineering secrets and are crucial in the fight to protect our nation’s cyber networks and in defending our country.

Earning a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree or Graduate Certificate in New Mexico

Prerequisites and other requirements that graduate-level cybersecurity programs may require of applicants include, but are not limited to:

  • Mandating that applicants possess a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science, information technology, engineering, mathematics or natural sciences
  • Stipulating that an applicant’s undergraduate GPA must be no less than 3.0 on a scale of 4.0
  • Requiring applicants to pass an admissions test, like the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Requiring applicants to provide three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with their academic background
  • Requiring applicants to write an essay explaining the reasons he or she wants to study in the school’s graduate cybersecurity program
  • Mandating that applicants complete the following prerequisites prior to admission to a graduate cybersecurity program:
    • A minimum of one year of calculus
    • A minimum of one mathematics course beyond calculus (such as differential equations, discrete mathematics or linear algebra)
    • A minimum of one course in discrete structures
    • A minimum of one course in computer programming (usually C++ or Java)
    • A minimum of one course in computer organization or structure
    • A minimum of one course in computer law and ethics
    • A minimum of one course in computer operating systems

Some graduate cybersecurity programs will offer applicants the chance to satisfy prerequisite courses in computer science and mathematics by providing undergraduate-level bridge courses.

Core Courses and Electives Found in Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Core courses in graduate cybersecurity master’s degree and certificate programs usually include:

  • Computer security
  • Internet security
  • Assurance foundations
  • Building assured components
  • Design and analysis of algorithms
  • Principles of operating systems

Graduate cybersecurity programs may offer both technical and non-technical electives, such as:

  • Data and knowledge mining
  • Machine learning
  • Advanced computer architecture
  • Biometrics
  • Malware analysis

NSA and DHS Designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in New Mexico

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security 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)

New Mexico Institute of Technology, Department of Computer Science and Engineering holds the esteemed NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation and offers:

  • Master of Science in Computer Science- Information Technology Specialization

The following school holds the original NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CEA-IAE) designation for its master’s degree program. The NSA/DHS requires all current CAE-IAE designated schools to reapply for the new CAE-CDE designation no later than January 2017:

University of New Mexico, Center for Information Assurance Research and Education

  • Master of Science in Information Systems and Assurance

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

Job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies reports that from 2010 to 2014, job growth in the cybersecurity field in New Mexico increased by 119 percent. In 2012 alone, according to New Mexico Workforce, there were 433 information technology job postings in the state for cyber security positions. Job opportunities in the field are projected to continue to rise in New Mexico. Many schools in New Mexico with cybersecurity programs say that they are seeing 100 percent job placement for their graduates.

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

Research & Development Cybersecurity Engineer, Sandia National Laboratories- Albuquerque, NM

Responsibilities:

  • Contribute to developing strategies and technology for the company’s secure cyber environments
  • Develop cyber security technology solutions
  • Detection, analysis, forensics and reverse engineering of malware
  • Participate in a cross-functional team to respond to cyber incidents and remediate attacks

Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in computer science, engineering, computer forensics, computer information systems, mathematics or a related field
  • Software engineering experience with development tools such as C++, Python and Perl
  • Able to obtain a Department of Energy Q-level clearance
  • Familiarity with quality repeatable processes like Lean Six Sigma, ISO, ITIL

Configuration Management Analyst IV, Vencore- Kirkland Air Force Base, NM

Responsibilities:

  • Implement and maintain a configuration management system for a single satellite ground system with multiple instantiations, software builds, operating locations and telemetry, tracking and commanding systems
  • Identify, document and verify functional, performance and physical characteristics of systems
  • Participate as a cybersecurity engineering representative on engineering teams for design, developing, implementing, integrating or modifying secure network and computing environments
  • Maintain/modify GSA program configuration control process

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, math or physical science required; master’s degree preferred
  • Five to ten years of experience in cybersecurity/configuration management
  • Experience in performing configuration management on ground system and software and hardware components using Department of Defense approved processes
  • Prior Air Force SMC or AFRL program experience preferred
  • Current Top Secret/SCI clearance required

Assistant Professor for the College of Engineering & Technology, Northern New Mexico College- Espanola, NM

Responsibilities:

  • Teaching courses in the Information Engineering Technology program
  • Mentoring students in research and capstone projects
  • Developing laboratory experiences for courses the faculty will be teaching
  • Advise students in curriculum and career matters

Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, information technology or related field required
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse groups
  • Strong communication and presentation skills
  • Commitment to adopt and implement industrial certification tracks such as LPI, VMWare, Cisco

Information Assurance-Cyber Security Analyst, SAIC- Albuquerque, NM

Responsibilities:

  • Vulnerability management and patching
  • Change management and ATO maintenance
  • Assist in the ATO renewal process and annual security reviews for ATO networks
  • Access ACAS daily and address new vulnerabilities

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in cyber security, computer science, computer engineering or related field required, master’s degree preferred
  • One year of experience with cybersecurity or information assurance
  • Department of Defense 8140 Level II Information Assurance Certification required
  • Must currently possess DoD Secret security clearance

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