Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Ohio

David Brown (replaced by Deputy Russell Forsythe, as of February 2016), made impressive strides during his tenure as Ohio’s chief information security officer (CISO), which included centralizing the state’s information security services to include:

  • Security architecture
  • Risk management
  • Security compliance
  • Vulnerability assessments and penetration tests
  • Security engineering
  • Cyber intelligence
  • Threat monitoring
  • Incident responses and forensics

Finely tuned joint efforts involving such agencies as Ohio Homeland Security, Ohio Highway Patrol/Public Safety, the Ohio National Guard, and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, as well as the US DHS and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center have resulted in common cybersecurity protocols and best practices being shared among government agencies.

Today, major stakeholders in Ohio routinely share cyber intelligence about emerging threats that could affect state government agencies and the private sector. This involves security analysts with the state Fusion Center conducting cyber intelligence analyses designed to inform coordination efforts through a uniformly implemented statewide security framework in real time.

There is no doubt Ohio’s cybersecurity efforts will continue to evolve along with emerging threats to both government and industry. A $15.8 million grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission in 2014 ensures a continued focus on cybersecurity in Ohio, which includes bringing companies together to solve high-tech problems while creating jobs. Just one of the many recipients of funds from this grant is the Columbus Collaboratory (a collaboration of public and private partners committed to delivering cybersecurity and advanced analytics solutions), which is expected to create 100 jobs during the next 5 years.

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

Cybersecurity master’s degree programs prepare graduates to design new systems that are inherently secure; analyze and detect malware and cyberattacks; and protect web, mobile, and critical infrastructure systems.

Ohio is home to two universities designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAEs).

Although CAE designation is not a requirement for colleges and universities offering cybersecurity master degree programs, it has become a distinction of excellence, as only those institutions offering a robust degree program closely aligned with specific cybersecurity-related knowledge units qualify for the CAE designation.

Schools offering master’s degree/certificate and post-bachelor certificate programs may achieve one or more of the following CAE designations:

  • 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)

Institutions offering online master’s degrees in cybersecurity may also qualify for the CAE designation, thereby greatly increasing the program options available to Ohio students. Online master’s degree programs in cybersecurity allow students to complete their graduate study through a flexible, online curriculum that involves interactive classes and frequent communication with program advisors.

Standard Admission Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Programs

Applicants of graduate degree programs in cybersecurity can expect a highly competitive and selective admissions process. Enrollment into these programs often requires that candidates possess:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a related field such as computer science, computer engineering, or information technology
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA (usually a 3.0)
  • A comprehensive resume highlighting related professional experience
  • An admissions essay or statement of purpose detailing their career goals and reasons for applying to the program
  • The completion of specific undergraduate coursework, including:
    • Calculus
    • Discrete mathematics or linear algebra
    • Data structures
    • Computer programming (Java, C++)
    • Computer organization

Applicants lacking a strong undergraduate GPA and/or related work experience must often submit GRE scores as part of the admissions process. Many institutions require minimum scores of:

  • Verbal: 150 or higher
  • Quantitative: 155 or higher
  • Analytical: 650 or higher

Core Courses and Electives

A cybersecurity master’s degree program generally includes 15 credits of core courses and another 15 credits of electives. Core courses include topics such as:

  • Applications of cryptography and cryptanalysis
  • Cyberspace and information security
  • Security systems
  • Secure systems engineering
  • Distributed systems and network security
  • Computer and network forensics

Electives provide students with the opportunity to focus their graduate program on a specific area of cybersecurity, such as:

  • Web security and privacy
  • Network security
  • Computer and cyber forensics
  • Information security management
  • Crisis, disaster, and risk management

NSA and DHS Designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Ohio

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:

The Ohio State University, Computer Science and Engineering

  • Master of Science in Computer Science Engineering

University of Cincinnati, Cybersecurity

  • Master of Science in Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Information Technology

Additionally, Air Force Institute of Technology, Center for Cyberspace Research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base holds the NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation and offers a Master of Science in Cyber Operations.

Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Professionals in Ohio

According to a Burning Glass Technologies report on cybersecurity jobs, Ohio ranked 13th in the nation for its number of cybersecurity job postings in 2014. However, what was more impressive was the increase in job postings in the Buckeye State between 2010 and 2014. During this period, job postings grew 141 percent, second only to Illinois.

Columbus also ranked second among all U.S. cities for job growth during the period from 2010 and 2014 – 178 percent.

The following job posts (sourced in June 2016) provide a glimpse into just a few of the senior-level opportunities available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity engineers, analysts, advisors, and consultants in Ohio. They do not represent an assurance of employment or current job offers:

Examiner/Senior Examiner, Information Technology: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Cleveland

Responsibilities:

  • Ensures systems are operating in a safe and sound manner and in compliance with applicable banking laws, regulations, and policy statements
  • Acts as the IT lead and/or assists on IT examinations of banks and bank holding companies to identify weaknesses and facilitate corrective actions
  • Determines implications of new information security and cybersecurity risks and standards to financial institutions

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science (advanced degree preferred)
  • CISA and CISSP designations
  • 5+ years of related work experience (audit, compliance, or regulator experience)
  • General knowledge in areas of vendor/third-party management, technology risk management, technology governance, internal audit, business resiliency, and fraud

Cybersecurity Analyst Support, Senior: HX5 LLC, WPAFB

Responsibilities:

  • Telecommunications concepts and principles, operating modes, systems, media, equipment, equipment configuration, and related software systems
  • Implements procedures and methods for protecting systems and applications

Requirements:

  • Understanding of computer science principles, information management principles, automated data processing, software system structures, computer programming languages, and data processing functions
  • Bachelor’s degree and 18 years of experience directly related to subject matter or a master’s degree with 10 years of experience

Information Security Manager: Signet Jewelers, Akron

Responsibilities:

  • Leads and evolves the management of IT risk and security architecture and operations program
  • Performs security risk assessments, penetration testing, and application security review activities
  • Identifies IT risk and vulnerabilities to drive awareness, understanding, and remediation of potential exposures to the business

Requirements:

  • 5+ years of direct managerial experience with building risk and security architecture programs
  • 5+ overall experience in cybersecurity
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher preferred
  • Industry certifications such as CISSP, GSEC, CEH, and/or Sec+

Cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert: MEI Technologies, WPAFB

Responsibilities:

  • Supports the management, execution, and oversight of tanker systems cybersecurity programs
  • Develops, coordinates, and maintains all documentation required to achieve interim approval to test, interim approval to operate, and approval to operate

Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in business, engineering or science
  • At least 15 years of experience
  • Current working knowledge of applicable security DoD and Air Force instructions and policies with respect to platform information technology and platform information technology interconnections information assurance/cybersecurity

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