December 7, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Brenda Lange
Associate Director of Communication
At the Forefront of Cybersecurity
PHILADELPHIA — Chestnut Hill College is poised to launch a new undergraduate degree program in cybersecurity — one of the first of its type in the region.
The new Cybersecurity major, also known as the Cyber Sentinels Program, welcomes its first class of students in the fall semester, 2018, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and assistance from cybersecurity experts from industry and government agencies.
These subject matter experts, from government and law enforcement agencies, and corporations and private security companies collaborated with Chestnut Hill College to design the new curriculum and will serve as adjunct professors and advisors. In many cases, they also will welcome CHC’s students into their organizations as interns, with potential jobs waiting after graduation.
An intriguing component of CHC’s Cybersecurity program is that students will work with local small companies, hospitals, high schools and others to help them learn best practices to secure their systems and help them gain awareness of potential threats. This service aspect of the major will include offering basic security systems assessments and awareness of threats to their security.
The program also will emphasize top-notch internships. It’s not enough for students to simply read about security skills in this rapidly changing field. Hands-on experience with evolving hardware and software is crucial. More than classroom theory, the Cyber Sentinel Program will teach students how to build and secure networks and computer systems.
The cybersecurity field has exploded in the last few years, and currently, jobs are outpacing available professionals. It is expected that this lucrative field will see unprecedented growth within the next decade. King quotes the Bureau of Labor Statistics as reporting that the rate of growth for jobs in information security is projected at 37 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm)
Surprisingly, of the nearly 50 colleges and universities in the Philadelphia region, only a handful offer cybersecurity programs at the undergraduate level, and often those are tracks or certifications, but not a full major.
“We are so fortunate to have received this grant and to work with this group of subject matter experts,” says Pamela King, instructor in the Computer Science and Information Technology Department. “The Cyber Sentinel Program at CHC will offer students a wonderful opportunity to begin careers in a cutting-edge field with high job growth and good salary potential.”
King has taught at CHC for nearly 10 years. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked for the FBI and worked in law enforcement for nearly 20 years. She also has had her own digital forensics consulting company since 2008.
King adds that once the program is up and running, CHC will apply to be designated a Center of Academic Excellence through a program offered jointly by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The college follows the National Infrastructure for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework and complies with guidelines of the NSA and DHS in their program, National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). These initiatives aim to reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise for the country.
“Earning the CAE designation would put us on a national list,” says King. “It’s very exciting and wonderful for our students and for CHC.”
CHC also has an articulation agreement in place with the Community College of Philadelphia creating a pathway for those students to seamlessly transfer credits earned at CCP. Additional agreements with local community colleges are currently in the planning stages.
King is passionate about this field and the possibilities it holds for CHC students. “We’re building something that will lead to students getting steady, lucrative careers,” she says. “I’m excited that they will have this lifelong learning in the type of careers that are exciting interesting, secure and pays well. I think it’s great.”
Photo: Pamela King presents at CHC’s Second Annual Cybersecurity and Forensics Conference.
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About Chestnut Hill College
Chestnut Hill College offers a rigorous four-year undergraduate curriculum that provides students with a broad background in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Today, we have added programming such as cybersecurity, exercise science and forensic sciences designed to help our students find successful careers.
CHC also offers accelerated undergraduate degrees, master’s degrees and a doctoral program. Visit www.chc.edu.