Learn to Defend Data and Systems with a Cybersecurity Master’s
Meghan Brown posted on July 06, 2016 |
University of Delaware’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity teaches network security and defense aga...

School: The University of Delaware

Program: Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Description: “To stand up to increasingly sophisticated attacks, computer and network security requires engineers who can step beyond traditional IT roles to design and implement robust cybersecurity solutions. The online M.S. in Cybersecurity provides the foundational theory and hands-on skills required to address these critical issues,” said Kenneth Barner, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Where it is: Newark, DE

Format: Online

Degree you get: Master of Science in Cybersecurity 

Prerequisites: Baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year university in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics or related disciplines.

Size of the program: N/A (new program)

Number of credit hours: 30 credit hours

Thesis: N/A

How long it will take:  Two years

When to apply: Applications are typically due approximately two weeks prior to the term start date.

Tuition and Fees: USD $1,166 per credit hour; $34,980 total

Minimum admission requirements: 

  • Transcripts showing min. GPA of 3.0.
  • Three letters of reference.
  • TOEFL required for non-native English speakers. Min. scores of 550 (paper-based) or 79 (internet-based). IELTS is also accepted with a score of 6.5 and no individual sub-score below 6.0.
  • GRE with min. quantitative score of 150 and verbal, qualitative score of 300. GRE waivers may be available for those who qualify.

Not Required: 

  • Essay or statement of purpose
  • Resume
  • No minimum years of experience

Who should take it? Professional engineers, computer scientists or IT managers interested in cybersecurity, and those who wish to join a rapidly growing industry devoted to protecting global systems and infrastructure.

Things to consider about the program:

  • All course content and interaction with peers or professors takes place online.
  • The program requires a working knowledge of computer programming.

Claim to fame:

  • Designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security
  • Partnerships and networking opportunities with many high-profile government, private and academic organizations within the financial and security corridor of New York City to Washington, D.C.
  • Program focuses on more than IT security implementation. Emphasizes design of secure software and systems, and hands-on experience implementing forensic tools in virtual machine environments.

Computer systems, digital data and the attacks against them are continuously growing more frequent and complex. This translates to a massive need for highly skilled, highly educated cybersecurity experts who can build and protect these systems.

The good news is that some educational institutions are keeping pace, such as the University of Delaware, which is designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Through the online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program at the University of Delaware, students graduate with a unique combination of cybersecurity skills.

Instead of focusing solely on how to protect existing systems by implementing IT security and assurance measures, the M.S. at UD also emphasizes how to design and build secure software and systems from the ground up. Being able to approach cybersecurity from both the development and implementation side means UD graduates have a greater range of skills to repel cyber threats.

For instance, in the Pen Test and Reverse Engineering course, students learn techniques to exploit weaknesses in networked systems or hosts, and how to reverse engineer unidentified programs to learn their functions.

“To stand up to increasingly sophisticated attacks, computer and network security requires people who can step beyond traditional IT and development roles, and can design and implement cybersecurity solutions that will work today and in the future,” said Kenneth Barner, professor and chair of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware.

Kenneth Barner, professor and chair of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware.
Kenneth Barner, professor and chair of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Delaware.

“University of Delaware graduates are at the forefront of a rapidly growing industry, prepared to engineer and execute solutions that protect global systems and infrastructure,” Barner added.

Masters Discovery

Protect Networks with a Cybersecurity Master’s from the University of Delaware

The University of Delaware has conducted cybersecurity research, implementation and instruction for over a decade. Delaware’s location in the financial and security corridor between New York and Washington, D.C. means it participates in cybersecurity efforts across the corporate, military and intelligence communities.

The cornerstone of UD’s cybersecurity effort is the Cybersecurity Institute (CSI). The CSI has a strategic focus to serve as a cybersecurity hub for corporate America and encompasses research, education and workforce training and development, as well as promoting partnerships among government, military, private and academic institutions.

The CSI has developed partnerships with organizations including the U.S. Army, the Delaware National Guard, JPMorgan Chase, MITRE Corporation, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Raytheon, DuPont, GE and IBM.

The online M.S. in Cybersecurity was built on the foundation of the Cybersecurity Institute. The degree offers the same material, the same faculty, and the same assignments, exams and study materials as the on-campus program.  Students utilize virtual machine technology to design and analyze systems. For example, in the course Digital Forensics, students work in a virtual machine environment for hands-on experience with forensic tools to analyze storage and memory systems, network traffic and documentation.

As Barner stated, “It’s unlike other cybersecurity programs. Instead of only being focused on IT security implementation, or only covering topics, trends and procedures in security and assurance; our program emphasizes design of secure software and systems.” Students gain valuable knowledge in design of software and systems with classes such as Secure Software Design, which develops students’ skills for designing programs that are free from vulnerabilities.

The online M.S. in Cybersecurity program is designed and taught by faculty who have extensive knowledge and experience in corporate and military applications, as well as cutting-edge research. Faculty members deliver hands-on training and a deep knowledge of the underlying theory behind cybersecurity. Topics covered through the program include:

  • Data recovery and analysis
  • Locating, preserving and analyzing digital evidence from devices such as smartphones, email, network systems and cloud-based systems
  • Virtual systems and infrastructure setup
  • Risk assessment and vulnerability scanning
  • Account control
  • System audits
  • Ping and Trace Route tools to explore network protocols
  • Digital forensic tools and processes that defend against cyberattacks

The Benefits of Online Learning: Your Schedule, At Your Pace

While the content is the same, there are some advantages to taking the M.S. in Cybersecurity program online as opposed to on campus. 

The online format means that instead of being required to attend lectures in person and at specific times that might conflict with work or family obligations, students can choose to study at a time and location that is convenient to them.

Course content is presented through a combination of video lectures, step-by-step video tutorials and individual coaching from the professor.  Recorded content is available on demand and can be viewed on multiple devices, such as a tablet or smartphone. 

Many assignments and collaborative projects are completed using virtual machine technology, making it easy for remote students to access the course materials and work together.

Being able to self-schedule also means that students can progress through the materials at their own speed.

“For complicated topics, more time can be taken to go over the material, and it can be reviewed several times. On the other hand, if the student already has exposure to the topic, perhaps only a quick review is necessary and the student can move at a higher rate,” said Barner.

Online learning environments may also offer more engagement and interaction than attending lectures in person.

“There is no “back of the classroom” in an online learning environment, which means students often find the peer discussion more rich and interesting,” added Barner.

The Delaware master's curriculum includes structured “comprehension checks” in the form of small questions and short quizzes integrated throughout the material. Students can gauge their understanding of the course content as they go, rather than leaving assessments to the end of the chapter or unit.  This way, students can review and master the material, or ask for help, before moving on to the next section.

Career Opportunities: Professionals with a Passion for Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a growing field that crosses industries, which means that engineers and other tech professionals with an undergraduate degree in electrical or computer engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics or a related discipline are all well-suited to this program. 

However, because the online structure is self-paced, it does require students to have the necessary discipline and maturity to keep themselves focused and organized.

According to Barner, since online education has grown in scope, employers value online degrees from well-known schools at the same level as, and sometimes even more than, on-campus degrees.  

“Successful employees are those that are proactive, continually pushing themselves and taking on new challenges. Most of our online students are, in fact, successful employees who embody these very same qualities,” Barner added.

“This program will uniquely position you for career advancement as it will not only prepare you to implement the best cybersecurity techniques and practices, it will also prepare you to design them. The enrichment you’ll experience in your career and life will be unlike most other cybersecurity programs.”

Many working professionals have been away from school for several years, and it is common to have some concerns with a new educational path.

However, another signature of a successful employee is adaptability and the ability to learn new concepts – both of which are applicable to beginning a new educational path. Also, students concerned that their computer programming skills may not be up to a high-level standard can rest easy, as the M.S. program requires only a working knowledge of programming.

“While the program may introduce new concepts at a higher rate than one might experience in industry, do not doubt your ability to learn,” Barner said. “As long as you don’t underestimate the time commitment and prioritize effectively, you will find success in this program.”

The online M.S. in Cybersecurity requires the completion of 30 credit hours, and can be finished in two years. A list of courses is below, with the full program information available here.

  • Introduction to Cybersecurity
  • Advanced Cybersecurity
  • System Hardening and Protection
  • Digital Forensics
  • Pen Test and Reverse Engineering
  • Secure Software Design
  • Computer Networks
  • Applied Cryptography
  • Search and Data Mining
  • The Smart Grid

The University of Delaware has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine. –Meghan Brown

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