IST’s new cybersecurity bachelor’s degree poised to fill education gap

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new bachelor of science degree in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations offered by Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) will help meet the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals. The degree will be available to students at the University Park campus beginning in the fall 2017 semester.

The program is one of the first of its kind in the nation, and will equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to critically assess and respond to modern information security threats, according to Peng Liu, professor of IST and one of the program’s developers. The college designed the new degree in response to a critical gap in cybersecurity education.

“Our cybersecurity graduates will help secure and protect the critical information and computing technologies that are central to how people work, purchase products, communicate with friends and co-workers, leverage social media, and entertain themselves,” said Andrew Sears, dean of IST. “This information and the associated computing technologies are central to how people live."

The curriculum will build on a foundation of mathematics and computer programming while addressing three key areas of expertise: technical cyberdefense strategies, risk management, and data-driven cybersecurity analytics. Similar to other IST programs, the cybersecurity degree also emphasizes real-world applications across a variety of fields.

“The three areas of emphasis of our new cybersecurity degree clearly highlight what graduates can expect to learn and what kind of cybersecurity professionals we will produce,” said Liu.

Added Sears, "This degree positions students to be leaders in the field of cybersecurity by building on the interdisciplinary foundation already in place within the college.”

New classes will immerse students in programming and other technical areas, while also emphasizing the core competencies needed to communicate potential impacts to non-technical stakeholders.

“The cybersecurity field changes rapidly — every week there could be a new method of attack that we’ve never seen before — and we need unique and open-ended teaching that offers solutions to these yet-to-be answered questions,” Liu explained.

The cybersecurity degree is an evolution of the Information and Cybersecurity (ICS) option offered through the college’s Security and Risk Analysis major. The ICS option will be phased out at the University Park campus, but will remain available at several Commonwealth campuses.

Sears concluded, "As a designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber-Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, we are strongly motivated to meet the needs of our students and their future employers, and to remain leaders in the field of cybersecurity, both for the health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation.”

Visit the College of IST website to learn more about the Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations degree program.

Media Contacts: 

Jordan Ford

Work Phone: 
814-865-6675

Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Information Sciences and Technology

Last Updated July 26, 2017