Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in North Carolina

Although most people would first think of North Carolina’s academic, research and engineering pioneers when the topic of cybersecurity is raised, there is another business model dealing with cybersecurity in North Carolina. Because North Carolina is one of 22 states that bans electronic devices from its landfills, companies that recycle electronics are in demand in the state. One such company, All Green Recycling in Charlotte, offers to pick up recyclable electronics from customers and transport them to their warehouse. There, these devices are dismantled by trained personnel who are experts at removing sensitive cyber data. All parts of the devices are then either shredded or sold as commodities to vendors, where they recycle and reuse them.

This is just one example of the many ways that knowledge of cybersecurity is important to North Carolina’s economy. Job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies reports that from 2010 to 2014, cybersecurity job postings in North Carolina grew by an amazing 127 percent. These jobs are found in virtually all industries in the state – from healthcare to defense to research to finance to retail to education. Many jobs in cybersecurity require a graduate degree.

In May 2016, Forbes magazine listed some cities in North Carolina as the best for mid-career professionals. These include Raleigh, at number 4; and Charlotte, at number 12.   Their rankings were based on metrics such as local unemployment rates, job growth projections, median salaries, and home costs. Coincidentally, the areas in North Carolina that made the list are known as cybersecurity hubs.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity in North Carolina

Online programs offer a level of flexibility not found through conventional campus-based programs, but with the same level of rigor and student engagement:

  • Discussion forums with peers and professors
  • Mock threat simulations and response drills
  • Online problem modules that can be completed at a flexible pace

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security offer two designation classifications applicable to schools that offer online and campus-based 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)

Admissions Requirements

Most graduate cybersecurity programs require applicants to fulfill prerequisites and other requirements that include:

  • Holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science, or a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (although some schools require a higher GPA, such as 3.25)
  • Passing scores on an entrance exam such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) –usually a GRE verbal score of 450 (150 on the new scale) and a quantitative score of 700 (155 on the new score) are required
  • Prerequisite courses such as the following must be completed prior to admission:
    • Calculus I and II
    • One mathematics course beyond calculus (like discrete mathematics or switching theory)
    • One course in data structures
    • One course in high-level computer programming (usually C, C++ or Java)
    • One course in computer architecture

Some graduate cybersecurity programs will allow students who are deficient in the above prerequisite coursework to complete undergraduate-level bridge courses prior to admission.

Core Courses and Electives Found in Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Graduate cybersecurity program core courses usually include titles such as:

  • Computer networking
  • Design/analysis of algorithms
  • Information, security and privacy
  • Network security
  • Cryptography
  • Application security

Graduate cybersecurity program electives may include:

  • Computer operating systems
  • Penetration testing and vulnerability analysis
  • Biometrics
  • Information systems security engineering and management
  • Digital forensics

NSA and DHS Designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in North Carolina

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:

East Carolina University, Department of Technology Systems

  • Information Assurance Graduate Certificate

North Carolina A&T State University, Computer Science Department

  • Master of Science in Computer Science – specialization in Cyber Security

University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Department of Software and Information Systems (Also holds the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation.)

  • Graduate Certificate in Information Security and Privacy

Additionally, North Carolina State University, Cyber Defense Laboratory holds the NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation and offers a Master of Science in Computer Science.

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

North Carolina is home to an area known as the “Research Triangle,” a region including the Raleigh and Durham areas, full of a number of high tech companies and enterprises. This is a mecca for cybersecurity and information technology professionals and positions. Jobs for cybersecurity professionals are not just found in this area of the state, however. These types of jobs are available all across North Carolina.

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

USPS Threat Management Specialist (Tier 1 and Tier 2), USPS Cybersecurity Operations Center- Raleigh, NC

Responsibilities:

  • Monitor network security and incident response and coordinate with other government agencies to record and report incidents
  • Monitor and analyze security information and event management to identify issues that need remediation
  • Recognize potential, successful and unsuccessful intrusion attempts and compromises
  • Communicates alerts to agencies regarding intrusions and compromises to network infrastructure

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, cyber security or related field required; master’s degree preferred
  • Six years in an incident responder/handler role required
  • Knowledge of intrusion detection systems and SIEM technologies required
  • S. citizenship with Public Trust or higher clearance required

Adjunct Instructor, Information Systems Security, Wake Tech Community College- Raleigh, NC

Responsibilities:

  • Instruct and guide class efficiently and effectively
  • Maintain accurate records of student work and attendance
  • Grade and return student work in a timely manner
  • Communicate with instructors from other divisions to keep courses updated

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field required, master’s degree preferred
  • Two years of work experience in a computer security related field required
  • Industry certifications (such as CISSP or Cisco Security certification) preferred
  • Teaching experience preferred

Director of Global Cybersecurity, Hanesbrands – Winston-Salem, NC

Responsibilities:

  • Develop, implement and monitor a strategic, comprehensive enterprise information security and IT risk management program
  • Manage the enterprise’s information security organization
  • Facilitate information security governance
  • Develop, maintain and publish updated information security policies, standards and guidelines

Requirements:

  • Graduate degree in technology or business related field required
  • Professional security management certification (CISSP, CISM, CISA or other) preferred
  • Eight to ten years of experience in risk management, information security and IT jobs required
  • Knowledge of relevant legal and regulatory requirements required

Cybersecurity Incident Threat Responder- Tier 1, Northrop Grumman- Raleigh, NC

Responsibilities:

  • Perform network security monitoring and incident response
  • Maintain records of security monitoring and incident response activities
  • Monitor and analyze Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Communicate alerts to agencies regarding intrusions and compromises

Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in information technology, information security or related area
  • One year of related experience in information security and/or technology
  • Experience in Cybersecurity Operations Center (CSOC) preferred
  • Security certifications such as CompTIA Security+, SANs GSEC, GCIH, GCIA, CISSP, CISM preferred

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