Our program provides a comprehensive cybersecurity education, preparing graduates for advanced technical and management positions in cybersecurity. It addresses the core subject areas and skill sets identified in the Cybersecurity Workforce Framework by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS).
The Master of Science in Cybersecurity is a 30-credit program designed for both technical and non-technical students with a bachelor’s degree. A prior background in information technology (IT) or computing is desirable, but not required to enter this program. Individuals without such background can enter the degree program by enrolling in two prerequisite foundation courses. The structure of the program allows students to enter from different disciplines, provides a common foundation and robust subject matter training necessary in today’s Cybersecurity job market.
The Master’s in Cybersecurity is designed to allow partnerships with local technology companies and government organizations. Students will be required and supported to pursue experiential learning and research opportunities during their studies. The program culminates with a team-based capstone project, linked to local industry and government partners. Students will work with faculty and partners to develop suitable research and project questions; collect data, design systems, develop software, protocols, methods and techniques; synthesize their findings or work artifacts into a final product; and present their findings to the partners and scholarly venues.
Explore current IT issues
The curriculum deepens knowledge of the procedures, tools and standards used in Cybersecurity. Students learn systems and network security, computer forensics, cryptography, ethical hacking and contemporary technologies and techniques in web, wireless and mobile security. They also explore current trends and issues and in the process gain valuable insights into Cybersecurity’s role and impact in day-to-day business operations.
Boost professional marketability
Grounded in a thorough understanding of the technical and managerial aspects of Cybersecurity, graduates leave Hood ready to tackle the complex cyber challenges in business, industry, government, education, health and other fields. For students who want cyber training, but not the full master’s degree, there is a stand-alone certificate in Cybersecurity.
Part-time or full-time
By taking one or two courses a semester, students can complete the 30-credit program in three years, or as full-time students, they can take on-campus classes and graduate in 15 months. Both formats provide instruction from highly qualified faculty and adjunct instructors with proven Cybersecurity experience.
Academic Planner/Program Planning Guide
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- How do I apply for admission?
- Students apply for admission following the directions here.
- What are the admission criteria for the program?
- You can find the admission criteria here.
- Do you offer probationary or conditional admission if I don't meet one or more of the admission criteria ?
- We don't offer probationary or conditional admission. After admission, if a student’s GPA falls below 3.0, the student must restore their GPA to a 3.0 within 9.0 credit hours to avoid dismissal from the program. The application review is designed to ensure that admitted students will be well-prepared to succeed in the program. Based on an applicant’s background, the program director may require registration in specific foundational coursework and/or limit the number of credits for enrollment during the student’s first semester.
- How many courses do I need to complete the MS in Cybersecurity?
Students must complete ten (10) courses above the Foundation courses (see the Program Planning Guide).
- Is the program offered part-time or full-time?
Both. Students may study in the program either part-time or full-time.
NOTE: International students in the US with a student visa are required to be full-time.
- Is the program offered on-campus or online?
Both. Students may study in the program either on-campus or online.
NOTE: International students in the US with a student visa are not allowed to take any online courses.
- What is the typical course structure in the program?
Students can expect a carefully integrated mix of lectures, hands-on laboratory assignments, computer-based simulations, individual and small group projects, discussions along with guest lectures by local cybersecurity government and industry leaders and world-renowned experts (see: Cotton Lecture Series).
- What is the typical class size?
Most classes have an average of 14-16 students however there are some very popular courses that average 24 students. At Hood College, in person or online, you will never be in a class that your instructor doesn't know your name or how you are doing in class (that is a good thing!).
What are the Foundation courses?
Foundation courses aim to help students with partial or no preparation in computing or information technology get ready to be successful in the program. There are two such courses: IT 510 Computing Hardware & Software Systems and CSIT 512 Elements of Computer Programming (Python).
How many courses can I take each semester?
In graduate school, three courses (9.0 credits) is considered a full-time load. Part-time students may take anywhere from one to three courses each semester. Full-time students must take three courses each semester. NOTE: International students are required to maintain a full-time course load in order to comply with US student visa requirements.
How much time can I expect to spend on each course each week?
On average, for each course, you will spend about three hours each week in the classroom. The rule of thumb is that you should estimate spending no less than three hours per week for each hour you are in the classroom to study, do homework and work on projects.
What are the easy courses in the program?
There is no such thing as "easy" courses. All the courses are challenging in their own way. There are courses some students find more enjoyable than others but it is subjective and mostly based on personal interests and prior background. If a student is admitted to the program, we make sure they have the right preparation to succeed.
Do I need to always follow the course prerequisites?
What is the CYBR 560 Cybersecurity Capstone about?
Read a sample syllabus (PDF) that explains the Capstone, the process and the student responsibilities and methods of evaluation.
What is the CYBR 599 Special Topics elective course about?
This is a designation for courses covering specialized topics that are not taught on a regular basis. When a CYBR 599 course is offered, students will see it on the schedule along with a meaningful title describing the course.
What is the CYBR 597 Cybersecurity Practical Training elective course about?
This course is designed to provide cybersecurity students with a working knowledge and practical application of the topics covered in our cyber courses. The students will apply current research and accepted practices of the cybersecurity field in a variety of professional settings and will perform work supervised by both a professional advisor and a Hood advisor. Based on the description for the external position, students will craft an appropriate research/professional plan, in consultation with their Hood advisor. This course will help students synthesize previous concepts and training as they transition to the role of a professional. Students should contact the Hood College Career Center to get help in locating potential, relevant positions that could be used to serve as Practical Training sites.
Will the MS in Cybersecurity prepare me to obtain professional certifications?
Our curriculum provides a comprehensive background and practical, hands-on skills to succeed in Cybersecurity. Several of our courses (e.g. CYBR 555, CYBR 521, CYBR 566 and others) cover the same (and more in-depth) topics required by many popular certifications so our students are well prepared when they decide to pursue them. However, our courses are not designed to prepare students for a particular certification or “teach to the test”. Students interested in a specific certification should obtain information about the contents, criteria, and testing from the administering organization.
Why do employers ask for professional certifications? Isn't my degree enough?
Your degree is more than enough from the perspective of what you have learned and what you can do. But Cybersecurity is a fairly new field and employers are asked to review job applications from candidates with vastly different academic preparation and experience. Professional certifications are a convenient way for employers to quickly and easily understand the level of expertise of a job candidate.
Do I need to get professional certifications (e.g. Security+, CISSP, CEH, etc)?
It depends! Job application requirements in the job market vary across industries and employers. There are employers that do not ask for any professional certifications for candidates holding a graduate degree in cybersecurity. Other employers hire graduate degree holders with the expectation for professional certifications to be obtained within a certain period of time while employed. There are also employers that make certifications a requirement to be even considered for a position. Your academic degree has you well prepared to tackle any certification if you begin to see employers asking for certifications for the types and level of positions you are interested in. After you begin working in the field of cybersecurity, obtaining certifications is considered in the industry as a type of professional development, similar to attending workshops or getting trainining.
Janet Hobbs Cotton ’59 and her husband, John Cotton, have given the new cybersecurity master’s program a generous gift by establishing the Cotton Cyber Lecture Series, which will bring nationally and internationally recognized leaders in cybersecurity to campus to speak.
The October 2018 event featured Ronald S. Ross, Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology, which took place on October 18th at the Hood Auditorium, Rosenstock Hall.
In April 2019, Hector Monsegur spoke to guests in Hood College's Hodson Auditorium regarding the lack of preparedness of the cybersecurity industry to thwart major attacks. Hector is a former hacker who breached major corporations and governments. He is currently Director of Assessment Services at Rhino Security Labs and has helped the FBI prevent more than 300 cyber-attacks on systems controlled by the military and NASA.