BYU has been recognized as one of the nation’s premier academic institutions in the area of cybersecurity education.

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security has designated BYU as a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE), a designation that honors schools excelling in the development of professionals who help protect national security information systems.

Only seven schools nationwide were newly minted with this specific designation, and BYU is the first school in the state of Utah to receive the award, which goes from 2012 to 2017.

“We are honored to be named as one of these National Centers for Academic Excellence,” said BYU cybersecurity expert Dale Rowe, a professor in the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology. “Not only will this give BYU access to important funding, but also the recognition will open doors for collaboration with other universities in this field of study.”

BYU offers a complete cybersecurity curriculum in the Information Technology program, which includes courses on everything from core information assurance principles to digital forensics and ethical hacking. BYU’s Computer Science and Information Systems programs also offer security-related courses.

The NSA/DHS designation comes to schools who develop cyber experts for both the private and public sectors and “meet the increasingly urgent needs of the U.S. government, industry and academia,” according to an NSA press release.

BYU graduates who want to work in government and military positions will also have a head start on the competition, thanks to this designation.

The award allows BYU and BYU Information Technology students to apply for special grants and scholarships from the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation only available to Center for Academic Excellence schools. There are currently about 130 CAE/IAE institutions in the country.

Becoming one of these centers requires each institution to pass a rigorous review of the school’s cybersecurity systems and curriculum. The BYU Information Technology program has been building security into the curriculum since 2004. 

“The addition of Dr. Rowe to our faculty in 2010 provided the final key to our achieving the certification and starting serious cybersecurity research efforts,” said Dr. J. Ekstrom, chair of the Information Technology program.

Reviewers specifically commended BYU for its fine curriculum, expert faculty publication and campus-wide outreach.

“We had to show that security was being used appropriately across the campus, from nursing to law and management,” Rowe said. “After going through the certification process, it became clear that we definitely have excellent security coverage throughout all of our programs.”