Purdue University Northwest to offer bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity
Purdue University Northwest (PNW) received approval today (April 8) from the Purdue University Board of Trustees to offer a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degree.
PNW plans to transition current undergraduates and welcome new students into the program during the 2022-23 academic year, pending approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. PNW students currently enrolled in the bachelor’s of Computer Information Technology degree, with a concentration in Cybersecurity, would be eligible to transition to the new Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree.
“Purdue University Northwest constantly assesses how we can serve in-demand education and career interests,” said Kenneth C. Holford, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “Transitioning some of our current Cybersecurity offerings into a four-year degree will help PNW recruit and prepare new classes of technology students well-trained in cybersecurity, who will be highly sought after by employers in this growing field. As an affordable, high-quality metropolitan university, PNW also will offer a significant financial advantage through this degree program compared to other nearby institutions and in Indiana.”
Since 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have jointly designated PNW as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education for its Computer Information Technology program. This designation signifies the strength of PNW’s cybersecurity curriculum and its status as one of two institutions in Indiana with this recognition which offer four-year in-person cybersecurity education.
“The bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity will help meet workforce needs that are in very high demand at the state and national levels due to cyber incidents affecting our infrastructure, industry, business and government,” said Niaz Latif, dean of the College of Technology at PNW.
Helping close the gap
The B.S. in Cybersecurity will prepare undergraduates with the technical competency to protect networks, systems, programs and data from criminal or unauthorized use. Students will learn a broad spectrum of subjects, including emerging fields of applied data science and artificial intelligence. PNW’s Computer Information Technology students are often placed in hands-on, lab-based courses with exercises relevant to real-world contexts.
“Cybersecurity is important because we are living in a connected world,” said Keyuan Jiang, professor of Computer Information Technology and department chair of Computer Information Technology & Graphics at PNW. “We are humans. Everything we create technologically will not be perfect, but we can try to minimize the vulnerabilities. All will be impacted by cybersecurity one way or another. We need to have a strong workforce in place to make sure things won’t happen as severely as we’ve experienced in the past. Cybersecurity incidents are shown to have huge costs.”
PNW’s new offering will in turn serve a crucial labor demand in the Chicago metropolitan area and beyond. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted in 2020 that domestic cybersecurity jobs would grow by 33% through 2030. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development predicted a nearly 26% increase in cybersecurity jobs between 2018 and 2028.
PNW’s Cybersecurity degree will prepare students for occupations such as cybersecurity specialist, manager or consultant, software developer, systems or network engineer, and systems administrator. The degree can also prepare students for PNW’s post-graduate programs, particularly the master’s in Technology and pending doctoral Technology degree.
“In Computer Information Technology, we cover every part of computing,” said Jiang. “Our students will have opportunities to be exposed to every aspect of IT. This is important because everything is integrated these days. Employers really like our students. The best comment I hear from them is that our students can wear many hats.”
The new Cybersecurity degree also meets an increased educational demand for undergraduate students. PNW offered a concentration in Cybersecurity with its bachelor’s in Computer Information Technology in 2019. Enrollment in that concentration increased significantly from fall 2019 to spring 2022.
In the Chicago metro area, PNW’s B.S. in Cybersecurity will be the only public, four-year, in-person degree available among neighboring institutions.
Additional PNW Cybersecurity resources
The B.S. in Cybersecurity builds on several resources PNW has grown in Cybersecurity education.
PNW’s Center for Cybersecurity, which is funded by grants from DHS and NSA, promotes cybersecurity education and outreach to the local community through summer GenCyber camps for high school students, as well as workforce training and research in cybersecurity. The Center has earned more than $16 million in federal funding to support its activities.
In fall 2020, PNW’S department of Computer Information Technology & Graphics launched a minor in Applied Data Science to prepare students with new knowledge and skills in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and big data. Faculty envisioned the program could integrate AI with cybersecurity, as AI can help detect cyber threats.