University of Alabama to offer degree in cyber security

University of Alabama to offer degree in cyber security
The University of Alabama's new bachelor's degree in cyber security, offered beginning this fall, will provide rigorous instruction to prepare students for jobs in this rapidly growing field. (contributed)

In response to the growing need for professionals skilled in the protection of digital information, the University of Alabama will offer a degree in cyber security.

The University’s board of trustees recently approved the Bachelor of Science degree, which will be offered this fall. The degree will be housed in the UA department of computer science within the College of Engineering.

“We are always looking for opportunities to expand our degree offerings in response to the needs of industry and the desires of our prospective students,” said Dr. Chuck Karr, dean of UA’s College of Engineering. “Certainly, we expect the new degree program in cyber security to produce graduates who will accept important jobs in Alabama, and across the nation, in this area that is becoming critical to a wide array of entities. Our faculty have worked hard to ensure the degree program will be of value to our industrial and government partners.”

UA will be the first institution in the state to offer an undergraduate cyber security degree within a computer science department, making UA’s track unique in its focus on the technical aspects of protecting digital information from cyber attacks. In addition, students in the degree will be exposed to the hardware side of the field through required computer engineering courses.

Cyber security has become a huge concern for companies, especially the military and defense contractors that are critical to Alabama’s economy. (contributed)

“As more and more of our daily activities are conducted online, there is an increasing demand to keep these interactions safe from attacks,” said Dr. Susan V. Vrbsky, interim head of the computer science department. “As a result, experts are predicting an unprecedented growth in demand for cyber security experts, with many jobs remaining unfilled because of the lack of a properly trained workforce. Our cyber security students will gain the knowledge and training needed to keep data, software and hardware protected.”

This program is designed to provide a rigorous, technical degree that imparts the necessary knowledge, skills and motivations to protect and defend digital information from attacks. It will share many courses with the computer science degree and include new cyber security courses developed for the program.

Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country. Demand for these jobs is on the rise in Alabama, particularly in industry sectors critical to the state’s economy, including military and defense contractors.

UA cyber security students will gain the specific knowledge needed be on the forefront of designing, identifying and proposing new security strategies. The new degree program will boost students’ abilities to land jobs, such as chief information security officers, security architects, security engineers, vulnerability assessors, information security analysts and security consultants.

“Given the increasing popularity of computing fields and the expected increasing number of cyber security jobs, we expect this to be a popular choice for students who want a rigorous degree to prepare them for the field of cyber security,” Vrbsky said.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

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