Certificates in Cybersecurity at CofC

by Barry Walman

Cybersecurity is a major concern for enterprises of all types in the 21st century, and its impact is accelerating, with the cost of a data breach reaching $8.64 million in 2020 in the U.S. The market for cybersecurity support is expected to more than double in just the next seven years from a starting point of nearly 100,000 cybersecurity jobs on the LinkedIn job board today. With cybersecurity positions paying six figures and rising, it is a great time to have expertise in the field.

The College of Charleston and The Citadel are making it easy for anyone with a computer or IT background to develop the expertise necessary to secure a job in cybersecurity and rise in the field. Their cybersecurity graduate certificate allows working professionals to earn a credential in the industry with just four graduate courses. It requires less time, money and commitment than a full master’s degree in computer and information science, which the schools also offer, and can be completed in 18 months.

CofC’s website says, “many former students have advanced to become red team penetration testers, blue team information system defenders or successful entrepreneurs of cybersecurity firms.”

The Need for Cybersecurity Training

The business community in the Charleston region has asked local colleges to provide cybersecurity training. The burgeoning “digital corridor” here now includes roughly 500 companies, with the region producing the second fastest tech employment growth in the nation in 2019, the last year prior to Covid. Many of them are being asked by clients to provide cybersecurity solutions and need a source of training on the specialized topic.

The cybersecurity certificate is not for liberal arts majors who have an interest in the field. Prospective students need a background in computer networking and programming. “If you’ve never written a single line of code, or you don’t know the Linux operating system, you won’t succeed,” said Dr. Jonathan Sun, associate professor at the College of Charleston and director of its computer and information science program.

Courses are held in-person, at night, once-a-week to accommodate working professionals. Classes are practical, hands-on and cover real-world issues.

What Students Learn in the Cybersecurity Certificate Program

“Students who graduate with our certificate have advanced knowledge and skills in major fields of cybersecurity, such as network security, information privacy, digital forensics, cyberattacks and defenses, etc. They are able to take key roles in the cybersecurity industry, government agencies or academic institutions” said Dr. Sun. He noted that eight master’s degree students who recently won a cybersecurity competition all had job offers for more money than he makes.

The four three-credit courses for the certificate are: Advanced Operating Systems, Principles of Computer Security, Data Communications and Networking, and Advanced Cybersecurity. All four are part of the master’s level coursework and are taken with master’s degree students. Class sizes are generally 10-20 students.

Applications for the certificate program in the fall semester are due July 1. For more information, click here.