New online degree programs prepare students for in-demand technology careers.
Update: Since this post was originally published, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security have designated Saint Leo University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through 2021.
To meet the needs of busy professionals seeking the convenience and flexibility of an online degree program to attain their educational and career goals, Saint Leo University has expanded its online programs in the rapidly growing field of computer science and information systems.
In August, the university will launch two new fully online programs: a Bachelor of Science in computer science-information assurance and a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity*. Both are designed to prepare students with the industry-relevant skills and knowledge for in-demand technology careers.
These new programs join other well-established online programs offered through the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems in the Donald R. Tapia School of Business: a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems and a Master of Science in cybersecurity.
While the online cybersecurity degree and computer science degree programs have several courses in common, the cybersecurity program requires six courses specific to cybersecurity, plus two undergraduate courses from Saint Leo's Criminal Justice Department.
Robust demand for computer jobs that require bachelor's degrees
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer occupations are among the fastest-growing career fields with computer systems analysts jobs increasing by 21 percent through 2024 and information security analysts (cyber experts) by 18 percent. (The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.) This robust demand is in a broad variety of organizations – from corporations to government agencies.
According to job market data experts at Burning Glass Technologies, cybersecurity jobs account for 11 percent of all IT jobs; however, 84 percent of cybersecurity job postings specify at least a bachelor's degree.
Three programs provide distinct career paths
According to Saint Leo's Dr. Vyas Krishnan, assistant professor of computer science, the three undergraduate degree programs Saint Leo now offers online prepare students for distinct career paths.
Computer information systems
Saint Leo's Bachelor of Science in computer information systems (CIS) is designed for students interested in careers managing computer, network, and hardware and software purchases and facilities.
"CIS is for those who want to be systems managers and help find technical solutions to business problems," says Dr. Krishnan. "CIS students will develop technical skills in computing, as well as knowledge in key business functions."
The CIS curriculum blends core business courses such as accounting, marketing and management with fundamental areas in computer systems, such as programming, database management, computer networks, computer systems architecture and basic information security, cybersecurity and systems analysis and design.
"Anyone who eventually wants to become a vice president of information technology, a chief information officer or a chief technical officer of a company at a board level would be ideally suited with a computer information systems degree," says Dr. Krishnan.
Computer science-information assurance
The computer science degree with a specialization in information assurance is designed for students interested in pursuing technical careers developing products and software.
"If you're passionate about technology and want to know everything from programming to computer hardware, computer architecture, networks, information assurance, databases, and how to put it all together to develop compelling products, then the computer science degree is for you," says Dr. Krishnan.
Computer science students learn how to develop websites configure computer networks, leverage mobile technology to develop solutions for practical applications, set up databases, secure networks, and more.
"As an added bonus, as part of the computer science degree at Saint Leo, students take four additional courses that cover key areas of cybersecurity, including network security, system security and software security. This prepares students to hit the ground running to function in information security once they graduate."
The cybersecurity program prepares students for careers developing security products or programming security applications, as well as working as cybersecurity analysts, penetration testers, vulnerability analysts, or cyber-legal analysts.
The program provides a broad set of knowledge and skills, covering core areas such as how to manage information technology resources from a cybersecurity perspective and the legal aspects of cybersecurity. The program also includes the technical aspects of computing and cybersecurity, teaching students critical hands-on skills.
"We've embedded numerous high-tech simulation tools into the courses that we deliver online for our students," says Dr. Krishnan, "courses such as network security, software security, day-to-day security, and ethical hacking, which is something that a lot of students get excited about."
Krishnan adds that the bachelor's program in cybersecurity prepares students to pursue Saint Leo's Master of Science degree in cybersecurity.
"The way that we've designed the undergraduate degree program is that it leads right into our graduate degree program. So with just one more year of coursework, you can earn a master's degree in cyber security, which will prepare you very well for some of the leading cybersecurity certifications."
Strong liberals arts foundation
Saint Leo's computer-related online degree programs afford students a valuable liberal arts foundation along with a technically rigorous, hands-on curriculum. All courses are tied to the university's Catholic Benedictine values, which provide a strong ethical base for students of any faith affiliation, or no faith affiliation.
In the video below, Dr. Krishnan explains each program in more detail.
A transcript of the video is available here.
*Pending approval from SACSCOC
Image credit: GlebStock on Shutterstock
Video credit: Mike Dadez, Saint Leo University