Norfolk State University and Hampton University have some of the best cybersecurity graduate programs in the United States, according to CyberSecurityMastersDegree dot org.

To come up with the list of best online cybersecurity master’s programs, the information security group narrowed down  130 schools offering master’s programs with the coveted National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense or CAE-CD designation.

The CAE-CD designation is granted by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to four-year schools and universities that stand out as leaders in education and research designed to further the goal of defending the nation’s critical information infrastructure.

“Hampton has been among the schools setting the pace in Virginia when it comes to computer science,” the citation read. “Hampton is also the alma mater of Mary Jackson, the NASA engineer made famous in the book and movie Hidden Figures.

“The school continues to have strong ties to the space agency, with guest speakers coming in to lecture students in the science departments. The school also has other strong collegiate and corporate partnerships, with many internship opportunities for MSIA students to gain valuable real-world experience.”

The Information Assurance and Cyber Security Center at Hampton University provides workshops, outreach to other historically black colleges, community colleges, and access to IA research resources.

The center is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE/CDE) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA) through 2021.

“In addition to its CAE-CDE relationship with DHS and the NSA, Norfolk State University has numerous affiliations with cybersecurity-related organizations, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),” the list says.

Dr. Aurelia Williams, professor and chair of the Norfolk State University computer science department, and Dr. Cheryl Hinds, the program’s coordinator, said the award shows the quality of education provided to students.

“The recognition provides current and prospective students with an assurance that the material covered in the program is comparable to other schools; therefore, students can rest assured that the quality of the degree earned at Norfolk State University satisfies the expectations of employers,” Williams said in a statement.

In addition to national designations, Norfolk State University’s master’s in cybersecurity degree provides many more technical elements than other programs, Hinds said.

Williams added that students use virtual machines to perform tasks they would in the professional world. That, combined with the program’s diversity, makes it one of the best in the nation, she said.

“The program also welcomes those with nontechnical degrees who are willing to work hard and provide them with a skillset to compete in the cyber job market,” Williams said. “To date, we have had great success with our graduates securing professional positions.”

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