Cybersecurity Programs Offer Pathways into Future Careers

Karen Clos
March 27, 2024

At A&M-Central Texas, Center for Cybersecurity Innovation students become the future business leaders, faculty, and security professionals needed to maintain the United States’ technological edge in cybersecurity. The CCI places A&M-Central Texas at the forefront of cybersecurity research, education, and training. Learn more about CCI.

Begun in 2017, the Texas A&M University–Central Texas cybersecurity programs have had more than a few things going for them: program graduates remain in high demand locally, state-wide, and nationally thanks in part to faculty and administrative leadership devoted to creating the best possible program.

Imagine, for a second, the challenges they faced: the need was there, the scholarship and talent of the faculty was there, but what they were trying to teach – cybersecurity – was literally changing every second.

So, as A&M–Central Texas began to develop its program and the elements of it that would create and support the best possible student learning, the focus was on the fundamentals and the future, constantly updating what was known to be the best practices.

“There are eight different domains that are the ‘cornerstones’ of our cybersecurity degree,” explained Anitha Chennamaneni, Ph.D. “[They are] information security, risk management, network security, confidentiality, cryptography, software security development, and compliance and standards.”

Each one of these areas, she said, form the foundation for a series of skill development that students carry forward into health care, business and industry, military service, education, law enforcement, and technology.

In response to the anticipated growth and the need for trained cybersecurity professionals, the variety of options that have been created provide “on ramps” and customized options, including undergraduate degree majors, minors, concentrations, and even a graduate level certificate.

“When we began seven years ago, we had six students,” she said. “And now, we enroll 126. Another 44 students have declared a minor, a concentration, or a certificate in cybersecurity in addition to their undergraduate or graduate degree courses, and we expect to keep growing.”

Her optimism is, of course, informed by a reliable source: the United States Labor Department.

“The number of cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. between 2022 and 2032 is predicted to grow between by a whopping 32 percent in that 10-year time span,” she explained. “Simply put, that means for every 10 jobs now there, three more will be there in the not-too-distant future.”

Even better, Chennamaneni added that it is more than just demand for more cybersecurity professionals in the workplace; the workplace offers on average six-figure salaries for trained employees.

“Today, there are more than 700,000 open roles for cybersecurity in the U.S., and they are paying well with an average salary right at $112,000 per year,” she added, noting that the program’s alumni are thriving.

“Our cybersecurity alumni are a source of tremendous pride for the program, for the College of Business Administration, and for the university,” she added, noting that the business partnerships that have developed with entities like Trideum and Centex Technologies are an important part of what makes the program unique and a valuable investment.

And while teaching and student learning is the cornerstone of any program whose graduates are well-prepared for the workplace, the A&M-Central Texas faculty are also deeply engaged in scholarship and research.

Lavanya Elluri, assistant professor specializing in cybersecurity, recently brought another notable win to the program – gaining prominence at the national level, as well, receiving a National Science Foundation grant for $170,000.

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