Target, P.F. Chang, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, Sally Beauty..

The list of companies that have fallen victim to data breaches involving customers' credit and debit accounts grows every day.

Private businesses are not the lone victims of cybercrime. Governments, health care, finance, law enforcement and academia all need information security professionals who can protect their organizations' data assets.

"There is increasing demand for specialized security professionals to protect the computing resources, intellectual properties and security of our organizations and country," says Dr. Vyas Krishnan, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science & Information Systems in Saint Leo's Donald R. Tapia School of Business.

"Even the President of the United States has said that America's economic prosperity in the 21st century depends on cyber security. But right now, there's a critical shortage of qualified cyber security professionals."

According to Krishnan, that shortage was part of the reason for creating Saint Leo's new Master of Science in Cyber Security program. The 36-credit-hour program for information technology professionals is designed specifically to help meet this urgent need.

Is Saint Leo's cyber security program right for you?

Anthony Cicanese is an enrollment counselor in Saint Leo's Graduate Admissions Office*. He works with prospective students every day, answering their questions about the university's Master of Science in Cyber Security, which begins on-ground at University Campus with the Fall 2014 semester, and online with the Spring I term, which starts Jan. 5, 2015.

Here are five things he says make someone a good candidate for Saint Leo's cyber security program.

1. You have been working in the information technology field.

Unlike the university's MBA degree program, work experience is not a requirement for Saint Leo's Master of Science in Cyber security. However, if you have been working in IT and your bachelor's degree is in an unrelated discipline, your professional experience may help in meeting minimal prerequisite requirements.

2. You have a bachelor's degree in computer science, management information systems, computer information systems, or a related area.

Since the Master of Science in Cyber Security prepares graduates for initial placement in the information security field, as well as for mid-level positions, applicants may roll over directly from an undergraduate degree program in this graduate-level program.

3. You want to advance your IT or cyber security career.

If you're an experienced professional, earning an advanced degree will enhance your skills and provide you with the deeper knowledge that will enable you to step up to the next level in your career. Saint Leo's master's degree in cyber security is also a good fit for professionals looking to pursue consulting work.

4. You have earned leading professional certifications in the cyber security field.

Even if your undergraduate degree is in an unrelated discipline, if you have any number of entry-level, advanced or specialized professional certifications under your belt, you have sufficient knowledge and experience to make you a strong candidate for Saint Leo's program.

5. You have a deep understanding of the design, administration and management of operating systems and networks.

Saint Leo's master's degree program in cyber security is highly technical. If you already have strong foundational knowledge and skills, you may be well prepared for this rigorous and deep dive into the technical aspects of information security.

"I talk with IT professionals every day who are excited about this program, because it is highly technical and 100 percent focused on cyber security," says Cicanese. "It meets their needs for career advancement, as well as the needs of more recent computer science grads looking at entering a field with outstanding job opportunities."

* If you have any questions about Saint Leo's Master of Science in Cyber Security, you can reach out to the current graduate admissions counselors for this program, Keithy Tamanini at or Rhet Rheinlander at or call them at 800.707.8846.

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

What Sets Saint Leo's Cyber Security Master's Degree Program Apart?

For The Best Cyber Security Jobs, Don't Overlook Certification

Ethical Hacking: Do You Have What It Takes?

Careers In Cyber Security: What Women Need To Know

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