Beginning fall 2020, WMU will offer a fully online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity that will benefit graduates and organizations in multiple ways. Enrollment is now open for the four-year degree program designed to help meet the increasing workforce demand for digital security specialists in areas ranging from government defense to supply chain operations.
Demand for cybersecurity experts has been growing for years as online professional and personal activities have increased. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analyst jobs are expected to grow by 32% through 2028. As of 2018, the median annual pay was $98,350. Available positions are only expected to increase as organizations recognize how vital cybersecurity specialists are to their operations.
“We developed this degree based on the demand from industry,” says Jason Johnson, lecturer in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Companies, nonprofits, governments, schools, and more need individuals skilled in technical disciplines, such as network security and data protection, to avoid breaches that can jeopardize physical safety, security, and finances.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased the number of online users and exposed the safety vulnerability of software and videoconferencing platforms, is further fueling the need for specialists who know how to keep digital data and interactions secure.
WMU’s interdisciplinary cybersecurity major also relies on the Haworth College of Business for a business viewpoint on cybersecurity.
“Companies are hungry for graduates who have tactical skills but also the ability to strategize, collaborate, and communicate. As we have seen with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, data security is more important than ever as organizations provide remote work environments and the required security for their operations. Recent events will serve to accelerate and expand the demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals,” says Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems.
“Security lies in this unique area where you have to understand the business side and the technical side rather than one or the other,” says Johnson. “With security, you absolutely have to understand how to translate between those two worlds.”
Overall, the program will offer the utmost in timing and location flexibility, thanks to an asynchronous learning platform. Students will be able to access presentations and other materials to meet deadlines but will be able to do so at their most convenient times. Meanwhile, online input and interactions between students and instructors will take place during each course.
The program is designed to be taken anywhere in the world and to be expansive enough to train for a wide variety of cybersecurity positions that keep important online information and transactions secure.
“Cybersecurity professionals will be in demand for the long-term. Even after the pandemic subsides and organizations strategize to determine which virtual offerings worked well and which ones did not,” says Rea. “Cybersecurity specialists are one of the best ways to mitigate or manage risk in a company or organization.”