Date ArticleType
4/1/2020 Member News

SPC’s new online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity will train those who fight cybercrime

This fall, St. Petersburg College will launch an online Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity to help meet the high demand for such professionals in the Tampa Bay area and beyond. The B.A.S. in Cybersecurity degree will be the first of its kind at the state college level in the Tampa Bay region.

“Cybersecurity is a crucial need across all industries,” said John Duff, academic chair in SPC’s College of Computer and Information Technology. “The discipline has really emerged as a field on its own. Cybersecurity professionals need to have a firm grasp of how technologies and organizations work.”

According to the annual Internet Crime Report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, total losses in 2019 from cybercrime exceeded $3.5 billion. The top crimes reported were phishing, non-payment and non-delivery, extortion, personal data breaches, business email compromise, confidence fraud and spoofing.

The U.S Bureau of Labor predicts that employment of information security analysts in Florida will soar by 38% through 2026. The Tampa Bay region is home to 19 global corporate headquarters, four major military installations and thousands of corporations and infrastructure agencies, all of which are vulnerable to cyberattack.

Training professionals who can protect networks, devices, and data from unauthorized or criminal use is critical. SPC’s new online degree gives students an affordable, flexible way to train for high-wage, high-demand sustainable careers in cybersecurity.

SPC graduates who have completed the college’s Cybersecurity Certificate or Cybersecurity Associate in Science degree can easily continue their focused education offered in the new bachelor’s degree.

Last fall, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security designated SPC as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-2Y) through the academic year 2024. This achievement validates the program's rigor and viability to promote higher education and develop a high-quality workforce with expertise in cyber defense.

“A lot of our A.S. students are very interested in the new degree,” said Laura Malave, academic chair in SPC’s College of Computer and Information Technology. “They can move into the new program seamlessly.”

To create the degree and enhance existing cybersecurity programs, SPC received an $83,450 grant from the Department of Education as part of its Pilot Program for Cybersecurity Education Technological Upgrades for Community Colleges initiative. In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) National Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance, SPC was able to support faculty and staff efforts to develop curriculum, new equipment for virtual training activities and faculty certification training.

SPC’s bachelor’s degree builds on students’ core knowledge in cybersecurity and technical areas like computer networking, digital forensics and computer security. These upper division courses focus on technologies and practices designed to protect information and physical resources such as computers, networks, programs and data from damage or unauthorized access.

“This degree offers more of a deep dive into cybersecurity,” Duff said. “Students get more technical and hand-on experience, and are prepared for advanced certifications, which is what the field requires.”

SPC also worked closely with the following local employers to make sure courses are relevant, timely and what employers need.

  • KnowBe4
  • Raymond James
  • Tech Data
  • Honeywell
  • Citigroup
  • Bayside Solutions
  • Vology
  • TirOrg Solutions
  • City of St. Petersburg
  • City of Largo

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