by Rachel Richardson
Aug. 9, 2017
In 2014, the University of Cincinnati joined an elite group of just 16 universities in the nation designated by the National Security Agency as National Centers of Academic Excellence in both Cyber Operations and Cyber Defense Education.
Now the university is building upon its impressive certificate in foundations of cybersecurity with the launch this fall of a four-year Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) in Cyber Studies
The new degree is designed to produce graduates who can address the behavioral, political, strategic and technical aspects of cybersecurity — a fast-growing career field with a huge skills gap.
The program is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving the Department of Information Technology and the School of Criminal Justice in UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, as well as the Department of Political Science in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
The need for cybersecurity professionals is real and growing. A seemingly never-ending flood of cyberattacks and increasing demand for safe and secure data means that companies and governments across the globe need experienced, skilled professionals to protect, defend and strike back.
A recent study by Cybersecurity Ventures sponsored by global security advisory firm Herjavec Group shows that the number of cybersecurity job openings will hit 3.5 million by 2021.
It’s a financially lucrative field, as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for cybersecurity professionals in 2016 was $92,600 — more than twice the national average for all occupations.
Despite cybersecurity professionals being among the most sought-after professionals in the tech sector, the industry suffers from a talent shortage of people with the right kinds of skills, explains Richard Harknett, head of the UC Department of Political Science.
And he should know. For more than 25 years, the savvy political scientist has researched and advised senior government officials on how to protect against and deter threats, both real-world and cyber, in an interconnected world.
“Everywhere I go and talk to lawyers and government, they need technical ninjas. But you only need so many technical ninjas,” said Harknett.
“You need people who can understand and translate what the tech ninjas can and can’t do into the policy and strategy of an organization,” he explained. “You’re going to need this level that understands the economic, political and behavioral sides to security so you can make risk management decisions relative to the tech you’re buying and operating on and the choices you’re making about that tech.”
UC’s BIS-Cyber Studies curriculum allows students to choose a concentration in either the technical or behavioral and policy side of cybersecurity aligned with their career goals.
"We are attacking the problem on multiple fronts and providing a wide swath of students the opportunity to help secure the nation and the world in cyberspace."
‒ Richard Harknett
Whether it’s delivering a presidential address on cybersecurity or role-playing as the director of Homeland Security, students will confront with real-world problem-solving simulations. The student capstone project challenges students to design and defend their own cyberattack.
“Cybersecurity is a multifaceted problem that needs multifaceted solutions,” said Harknett. “The University of Cincinnati is distinguishing itself with strong cyber security tracks in traditional computing sciences like information technology, computer science and engineering.
The new program, he added, will give students the in-demand skill sets and critical security thinking necessary for the new digital age.
"We are attacking the problem on multiple fronts and providing a wide swath of students the opportunity to help secure the nation and the world in cyberspace," Harknett said.
Ready to begin?
Read more about the BIS-Cyber Studies degree program and course requirements here. For more information, contact: