Laker Major Spotlight: Cyber Security Major

Ryan Davey, Contributing writer

It is not a shock that when you turn on the news, you hear almost daily about cyber breaches, ransomware, and identity theft. According to the Mercyhurst Department of Cyber Security, there are many of these dangers that affect our everyday lives, including the colonial pipeline affecting gas supplies to other critical infrastructure. Cyber threats are never ending and continue to grow every day. Cyber criminals are out there to target us, no matter what field we are in: from financial services, government services, and manufacturing.

Every aspect of our lives is a target for cyber criminals to commit high-profile domestic and global cyber-attacks. The nation’s future success is contingent on personnel trained in the art of Cyber Security. Cyber threats are serious, the stakes are incredibly high, and there are currently not enough cybersecurity experts to satisfy the rising demand in the workforce. 

Mercyhurst University decided to rise to the challenge and became the first institutions in the United States to create an undergraduate and graduate level program in cybersecurity. Upon graduation, students are awarded a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Cyber Security. 

The program is unique because students from day-one get to utilize several cybersecurity tools used in the current industry to defend and protect against cyber attacks. According to the Mercyhurst Department of Cyber Security, cyber security students will learn different skill sets that are necessary to protect businesses and infrastructure. The skill sets vary from networking and hacking skills to data analytic skills and forensics. Several of the courses that students will take are Cryptography, Networks Security, Communication Networks, Digital Forensics, Cyber Law and Policy, and Systems and Applications Security.

The Cyber Security program aligns with guidelines recommended by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and National Security Agencies. Also, integrated in the program is the body of knowledge that major certifying cybersecurity organizations recommend.

Classes and projects will be completed by undergraduate students at Mercyhurst University in the advanced center called the Federal Resources Corporation Cyber Education Center. It is an 8,000-square foot cyber training facility providing facility classrooms and experiential learning. Additionally, undergraduate students have the opportunity to pair their cybersecurity degree with other majors that add a lot of value such as Intelligence Studies or Data Science.

The graduate Cyber Security program is fully online and covers topics such as Cloud Security, Web Security, and Ethical Hacking Penetration Testing Skills which all meet key industry certifications.

Mercyhurst University’s cyber lab and networks operation center, a joint venture with Erie-based firm Federal Resources Corporation, provides experiential learning opportunities for Mercyhurst undergraduate and graduate students to conduct projects on behalf of real-world clients.

Per the Department of Cyber Security, graduates from the program  will have the necessary skill sets and will be well set up to meet the fast-growing demand of cyber security jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession of cybersecurity is estimated to grow at a 31% rate through 2029, a rate that is over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.