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Designed with the Working Professional in Mind: EIU to Offer Graduate Program in Cybersecurity Beginning in Fall 2017


EIU to offer information technology professionals a future in cybersecurity.

Months of preparation and planning led to this month’s official introduction of Eastern Illinois University’s new Master of Science in Cybersecurity, offered collaboratively through the School of Business and the School of Technology in the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences.

Pure coincidence allowed it to happen during October, also recognized as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in the state of Illinois.

“We expect this two-year program will meet the needs of working professionals throughout the state, as well as throughout the country,” said Austin Cheney, technology chair. “In fact, we anticipate interest from students from around the world as the demand for cybersecurity specialists continues to grow.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of information security analysts is expected to rise 37 percent from 2012 to 2022, with the median salary currently at $86,170 a year. Additionally, employment of information security analysts in Illinois is among the top quartile in all 50 states.

“There are existing information security master’s degree programs in Illinois, but there is no such program approved for online delivery among Illinois state institutions,” Cheney said. “Our program will provide an affordable option for practicing information technology professionals, as it is designed as a part-time program with minimal EIU residential requirements.”

Eastern’s cybersecurity master’s degree program requires the successful completion of 32 semester hours of coursework, at least 21 of which must be taken through EIU. Six of the 11 required classes are offered entirely online. Four others are taught mostly online, with a two-day laboratory residential requirement at the end of each course. A culminating residential experience is delivered through a cybersecurity capstone class, where students can integrate all prior learning and extend their professional network. Teams of students design and program a defense network and attack opposing teams’ systems, and debrief and evaluate lessons learned after the experience.

According to Cheney, Eastern projects rapid enrollment growth in the program, which will be offered beginning with the Fall 2017 semester.

“The addition of this specialized master’s program focused on information security is a natural extension of our existing post-baccalaureate certificate program in information security,” Cheney said. “The distance delivery format allows us to reach a much broader audience geographically and follows the trend at EIU of implementing online and low-residency graduate programs.”

Successful graduates, he added, will be prepared to become leaders and technical managers in cybersecurity, which requires solid understanding of security technology and organizational management principles and practices. Typical positions will include (but not be limited to): cybersecurity consultant, network security specialist, information assurance specialist, computer security system analyst, web security engineer, information security officer, information security operations manager, cybersecurity administrator, identity management analyst and IT security manager.

For more information regarding EIU’s cybersecurity master’s degree, contact Rigoberto Chinchilla at



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