CIS graduate program

Rebecca Dunphy, Staff writer

The beginning of the school year always brings exciting new opportunities: new students, new classes and, this fall, a new graduate program.

Starting in the fall of 2019, the Computing and Information Science (CIS) Department will be offering a four course program that earns students the Mercyhurst Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity.

According to CIS Department Chair, M. Afzal Upal, Ph. D., the program was created to respond to market needs.

“Given the zero percent unemployment rate in cyber security since 2016, employers are looking for short duration programs that can get their existing employees training in the cyber security skills,” Upal said.

Travis Lindahl, director of Graduate and Continuing Education, expands on this.

“With more than 285,000 cyber security job openings ( and a career growth outlook of 36 percent by 2024 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), this is a graduate school opportunity that will not take long to pay dividends,” Lindahl said. “A quick search of your favorite career search website will result in thousands of cyber security and risk management job opportunities with pay ranges from $70,000 to more than $100,000.”

Individuals in this program will take one course each mini semester (for a total of two courses in the fall and two more in the spring) in a number of relevant topics, including systems and application security, enterprise risk management and cyber law and policy. Specifically, indivduals will take CIS 500 Computing & Information Science Concepts, CIS 563 Cryptography & Network Security, RMGT 520 Cyber Risk Management and CIS 565 System & Application Security.

These courses cover all the knowledge areas required to pass two of the most respected professional career certificates in the industry: the Systems Security Certified Practitioner and Security+ certificates.

“These certificates prepare students for jobs as cyber professionals carrying out a variety of roles including: cyber analysts, IT security specialists and cyber security engineers,” Upal said.
Without an application fee, nor the requirement of a STEM background, all an individual needs to do to apply is a college transcript, resume, short personal statement and letter of recommendation.

“We have designed our program to be self-contained allowing anyone with an undergraduate degree in any discipline, a curious mind and a willingness to learn to acquire these highly technical skills,” Upal said.

Interested individuals can apply online at or contacting the Graduate Admissions office at 814-824-3351.