Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is known as a leader among states in the nation when it comes to cybersecurity. Although much of the state is rural, there are some major metropolitan areas from which it is an easy commute to business hubs like New York City and Washington, D.C. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are home to many large and well-known financial and technology companies.

The Office of Administration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania notes that the state utilizes many layers of security, vulnerability testing, advanced monitoring, antivirus, data protection, spam blocking, and device encryption, just to name a few of its tactics, to protect its data and systems. Furthermore, the state promotes a cyber-awareness culture among its government workforce by providing training for all employees. Additionally, the state publishes a daily Cyber Threat Level to let citizens know the current cybersecurity safety level.

Featured Programs:

Cybersecurity is a concern for all companies, and many Pennsylvania companies have their own in-house departments to deal with security and network threats. These include:

  • Lockheed Martin – King of Prussia
  • NBC- Philadelphia
  • US Department of the Treasury – Philadelphia
  • The Informatics Applications Group- Chambersburg
  • Philadelphia 76ers – Philadelphia

In addition, companies that are specified as “cybersecurity companies” that are headquartered within Pennsylvania include (but are not limited to):

  • Securitas Security Services, USA – Lancaster
  • Comm Solutions Company – Malvern
  • Stronghold Cybersecurity – Gettysburg
  • Evolve Blue- Phoenixville
  • PieSoft- Allentown

Cybersecurity in the News in Pennsylvania

No matter how stringent controls are, cybersecurity attacks do still occur. On March 27, 2020, some Pennsylvania online gambling sites were attacked in a worldwide cybersecurity attack on sports betting and casino sites. BetAmerica, which launched an online sportsbook in December 2019, is in partnership with Presque Isle Downs Casino in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said that its main goal was to make sure that no customer data or personally identifiable information was breached in the attack. As of April 2020, the investigation into this attack is still ongoing.

Why Should I Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity in Pennsylvania?

If you are interested in getting a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, you know that you have many schools from which to choose, both on-campus and online. Pennsylvania houses many well-recognized schools that offer undergraduate cybersecurity programs, some that are accredited on the regional level, and others that have been recognized by specialized cybersecurity accreditation agencies. Three of Pennsylvania’s schools consistently rank among Hewlett Packard’s top 10 schools in cybersecurity (which takes into account both graduate and undergraduate programs). The two schools on that list that offer undergraduate programs are West Chester University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh.

Common Cybersecurity Undergraduate Degrees in Pennsylvania

Undergraduate cybersecurity degrees go by many names, depending upon the institution you choose. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Forensics
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Security & Risk Analysis

Courses that You Will Take in a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Program

Although degree names and titles vary from school to school, there are certain courses that you can count on taking in a bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity. They include:

  • Network Administration I and II
  • Information Technology Security I and II
  • Server I and II
  • Systems Analysis I and II
  • Data Science
  • Database Management Systems
  • Database Administration
  • Software Project Management

Accreditation for Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

Typically, bachelor’s- level cybersecurity degree programs are not accredited by any particular agency other than the seven main regional accreditation agencies listed below. There are a few exceptions, however, which we will discuss in the next section. When you are searching for a program in cybersecurity at the undergraduate level, make sure that the institution in which it is housed is accredited by one of the agencies listed below, recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA):

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) – this is the agency that will accredit most of PA’s schools
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE)

One type of specialized accreditation that bachelor’s degree cybersecurity programs may attain is through the federal government. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) and the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) programs. These programs promote higher education in cyber defense and cyber operations, recognizing outstanding programs at institutions at the two-year, bachelor’s and graduate levels. Today, there are more than 300 institutions across the United States with designations in Cyber Defense Education, Research and Cyber Operations.

In order to be designated as a CAE institution, it must have a center targeted for information assurance/cyber defense education, encourage research in information assurance/cyber defense, and use a multidisciplinary scientific approach to education. They must also meet core knowledge units in:

  • Information assurance fundamentals
  • Policy, ethics, law, compliance
  • Information technology systems
  • Intro to cryptography
  • Data analysis
  • Cyber threats
  • Cyber defense

Bachelor’s Degree Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education in Pennsylvania

CAE in CD Education (CAE-CDE) Bachelor’s Degree programs in Pennsylvania include:

Ben Franklin Hall 205

Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2023

Diane Barrett, Director

(570) 389-4538; dbarrett@bloomu.edu

Includes CNSS Certifications: NTSISSI 4011 (National Training Standard for Information Systems Security Professionals), CNSSI 4012 (National Information Assurance Training Standard for Senior Systems Managers), NTSISSI 4015 (National Training Standard for Systems Certifiers)

Center for Computer Security & Information Assurance

200 Prospect Street

East Stroudsburg, PA 18301

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2020

Mike Jochen, Ph.D., Director

(570) 422-3666; compusec@esu.edu 

Includes CNSS Certifications: NTSISSI 4011 (National Training Standard for Information Systems Security Professionals), CNSSI 4012 (National Information Assurance Training Standard for Senior Systems Managers)

Institute for Cybersecurity, Information Assurance Institute

Stright Hall, Room 233

210 South Tenth Street

Indiana, PA 15705

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2021

Dr. Waleed Farag, Director

(724) 357-2608; farag@iup.edu 

College of Information Sciences & Technology

E103 Westgate Building

University Park, PA 16802

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2021

Andrew Sears, Dean, College of Information Sciences & Technology

(814) 865-3528; kqb2@psu.edu   

School of Computing & Information

135 North Bellefield Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15260

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2021

Dr. Joshi, Program Director

(412) 624-5015

Includes CNSS Certifications: NTSISSI 4011 (National Training Standard for Information Systems Security Professionals), 4013 (Systems Administrators)

Computer Science Department, Information Security Center

25 University Avenue, #150

West Chester, PA 19383

CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2020

Zhen Jiang, ISC Director

(610) 738-0350; zjiang@wcupa.edu    

ABET-Accredited Bachelor’s Degree Cybersecurity Programs in Pennsylvania

Another accreditation that cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs can attain is the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.). This accreditation shows that a bachelor’s degree meets ABET’s standards, including that the name of the program describes its content and is stated the same way in the transcript and institutional literature. In Pennsylvania, there is currently one ABET-accredited institutions:

ABET accredited through 2021

RMU School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Dept. of Computer & Information Systems

6001 University Blvd.

Moon Township, PA 15108

Peter Y. Wu, Ph.D., Department Head

(412) 397-3000; wu@rmu.edu   

Other Notable Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Pennsylvania

Cybersecurity programs in Pennsylvania that are not ABET-accredited nor CAEs but still deserve mention include:

3020 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

(877) 215-0009; duonline@drexel.edu

Concentrations Available: Cybersecurity management and leadership; cyber operations management

326 Market St.

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(717) 901-5100

Center for Natural and Health Science, Room 339

2300 Adams Ave

Scranton, PA 18509

D.P. Adhikari, Ph.D.

(570) 348-6211, ext. 2375; mgaughan@marywood.edu

Double major with Intelligence Studies also available

Department of Computing and Information Science

501 East 38th St.

Erie, PA 16546

M. Afzal Upal, Chair

(814) 824-2117; mupal@mercyhurst.edu

Department of Computer & Information Science

One College Ave.

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

(717) 766-2511

Information Technology Department

7373 Admiral Peary Hwy.

Cresson, PA 16630-1999

Kristi Smith, Chair

(814) 886-6467; kristi.smith@mtaloy.edu 

300 Fraser Purchase Road

Latrobe, PA 15650-2690

Dr. Cynthia Martincic, Chair

(724) 805-2418; cynthia.martincic@stvincent.edu

Graham School of Business

Willman Business Ctr, Room 212

York, PA 17403-3651

Mohammed Raja, Ph.D., Chair

(717) 815-1585; mraja@ycp.edu 

Today, more than ever before, cybersecurity is an important aspect of our daily lives. Individuals and businesses must keep their computers updated with security technology and software and know what they should and should not do in order to stay safe online. Receiving an education in cybersecurity will enable you to work at a wide variety of companies, institutions, government agencies and consulting firms. With your bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity in hand, you can be sure that many opportunities within the state of Pennsylvania will become available.

Sources:

“2014 Best Schools for Cybersecurity.” Sponsored by HP Enterprise Security. February 2014. Accessed 29 April 2020 at https://www.cs.wcupa.edu/isc/Ponemon_2014_Best_Schools_Report.pdf.

“Celebrating 20 Years with the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.” 2019. Accessed 29 April 2020 at https://www.caecommunity.org/sites/default/files/CAE_Book_Version_1.6-2.pdf.

“Cybersecurity.” Pennsylvania Office of Administration. https://www.oa.pa.gov/Programs/Information%20Technology/cybersecurity/Pages/default.aspx.