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USF To Offer Bachelor's In Cybersecurity

Aug 1, 2018

While the growth of some industries is measured in years, the growth of cybersecurity can seemingly measured in days, if not minutes.  With that rapid growth comes the need for training professionals to fill the jobs of today and the future. 

"I think with the advent of social media and with people developing apps - engineering, science, arts, you name it, it's just become so ingrained in our society, all of these computers," said Robert Bishop, the Dean of the University of South Florida College of Engineering.

"Anything that has an IP address can be hacked, so you're talking about embedded medical devices, you're talking about your automobile, eventually your refrigerator and your stove when they become part of the internet of things," added Bishop.

"There's no end in sight, as far as I can tell, on the rapid change that's occurring."

USF has been attempting to meet the demand for professionals to keep that technology safe with master's degree programs in cybersecurity and cybercrime as well as certificate programs.

Now it's taking the next step as it begins to offer a Bachelor's of Science in cybersecurity.

"I would say that most colleges of engineering across the country have got to be thinking about this, it's just a question of speed of response," said Bishop. "And USF is known for its agility and its ability to maneuver, and this is just another example of that."

Bishop cites experts who predict that jobs in the cybersecurity industry will grow by nearly 30 percent through 2026, with a reported median salary near $95,000 for graduates with a BS in cybersecurity.

"Cybersecurity is a very broad field, but here what we're going to be focusing on is the computer science - computer hardware aspects of cybersecurity," he said, adding that while behavior and ethics will still be examined, the focus will be on "those that are very skilled in programming and coding, those who understand operating system and the hardware."

"Many of the (cyber-) attacks occur because there are design flaws, and so if we can start to look at the design early on at the undergraduate level and continue that through the Masters level, I think, in the long run, society will benefit," said Bishop.

Classes are expected to start this fall with the first 50 new students, along with about 40 other students transferring from other majors. Bishop said the initial response has been impressive.

"What I would call the first class came from information technology - we held a session to see what the interest would be and the interest was overwhelming," he said. "I expect that this program will fill up quickly, but we're going to try to admit and serve as many students as possible because this is so critically important."

For more information about USF's cybersecurity programs, including the new Bachelor's of Science, visit here.

(Editor's note: This story and headline have been updated to reflect that USF is among the first public universities in Florida to offer an undergraduate major in cybersecurity.)