The Sunflower State provides ample avenues for studying cyber security, and we’ve got a list of all the degrees and certificates. Keep reading for a concise introduction to Kansas’ on-campus and online programs, as well as scholarships, professional organizations and employers.
Studying Cyber Security in Kansas
Three Kansas schools get top marks from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency for their cyber defense instruction and research efforts: Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University and University of Kansas. Here are some quick facts about these and other schools in the state:
- The Early College Cyber Security Academy from Butler Community College is a dual-enrollment program. Spend your morning at your high school and your afternoon working toward an Associate in Applied Science in Cyber Security.
- Kansas’ capital, Wichita, is famous for manufacturing aircrafts. So it was only natural when, in 2015, K-State’s Polytechnic Campus in Salina began offering a concentration in unmanned aircraft systems cyber security to students in its Professional Master of Technology program.
- University of Kansas popped up on a 2014 survey of the best U.S. schools for cyber security. IT professionals ranked it #41 out of over 180 programs.
- Fort Hayes is a top-20 school for undergraduate distance education, according to U.S. News & World Report, improving the value of its online cyber security degree (discussed below).
Online Cyber Security Programs in Kansas
Although other distance education providers may expand their catalogs to include cyber security at some point, Fort Hays State University is the only public college that has online degrees available now at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, one private school, Friends University, offers a master’s degree.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Fort Hays offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Networking and Telecommunications. That may not sound particularly relevant, but the degree is extremely dynamic, allowing students to choose a concentration in Computer Networking and Telecommunications with a further emphasis in Information Assurance. The program aims to get students ready to pass advanced Cisco security and networking certifications.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security
In the graduate sphere, Fort Hays runs a Master of Professional Studies with a concentration in either Cyber Security or Information Assurance Management. MPS degrees are more practically oriented and interdisciplinary than standard MS degrees, and the Cyber Security degree is highly technical with some theory and research methods instruction. The Information Assurance Management concentration follows mostly the same path but, obviously, adds in management courses.
Friends University’s MS in Information Security, meanwhile, is even more geared toward managers. Still, while there are no specific technical requirements for entry, incoming students typically have work experience in an IT field.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Kansas
The National Science Foundation distributes millions of dollars a year for full cyber security scholarships. Two Kansas schools are recipients. We discuss these and smaller departmental awards below:
Fort Hays State University
- Lowen Corporation Informatics Scholarship: Upperclassmen undergrads in the Informatics Department, which runs the aforementioned Computer Networking and Telecommunications program, can compete for this scholarship. Lowen Corporation prefers when the award goes to students who have taken Cisco Academy courses.
Kansas State University
- Computer Science Department Graduate Assistantship: You can earn a $1,000 monthly stipend and lower your tuition costs to (potentially) $0 by helping a professor teach lower-level undergraduate courses. The Department of Computer Science, which the MSE with Security specialization falls under, advertises roughly 10 to 15 openings each year.
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Any student planning to study information assurance at K-State can apply for this generous award, which gives each recipient $22,500 (undergrads) to $34,000 (grad students) a year in stipends to go along with free tuition and fees. Winners will work in cyber security for a government agency for several years after graduation.
University of Kansas
- Jayhawk Scholarship for Service: KU also receives funding from the National Science Foundation to give CyberCorps scholarships to students willing to work for a government agency after graduation. Under KU’s guidelines, bachelor’s and master’s degree seekers in a cyber security program can win $22,400 in annual stipends for two years plus tuition.
Cyber Security Events in Kansas
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Kansas
While you’re in school, you can join a student group like the Information Security Club at KU or the Cyber Defense Club at K-State to take part in regional and national competitions. As you look to transition into the workforce, however, you’ll want to join a group of professionals. Doing so will enhance your network and keep your knowledge up to date. Here are the most active cyber security groups within Kansas:
- Central Plains ISSA: Members of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) who are based in Wichita meet the first Friday of the month for presentations or discussions. Student members are welcome and receive a big discount.
- Greater Kansas City 2600: Looking for a more laid-back way to spend your first Friday of the month? Hackers in Overland park converge on the Oak Park Mall from 5 to 7 for informal discussions on technical topics. There’s no cost to attend beyond the obligatory cup of coffee. Wichita hackers also hold a 2600 meeting during the same time at Riverside Perk.
- (ISC)2 KC Chapter: Overland Park’s branch of the International Information System Security Certification Consortium meets every first Wednesday of the month. Many members hold advanced certifications, including the CISSP, and use meetings as a chance to keep up to date in the field. Expect free food and lively discussions sparked by guest facilitators.
- SecKC: Overland Park’s information security professionals rent out Kanza Hall once a month for quick presentations from members.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Kansas
Security seminars and symposiums do pop up throughout the year, but they’re typically for folks with little pre-existing knowledge of the subject. However, we did find one event aimed at cyber security specialists:
- SecureWorld Kansas City: This daylong conference at the the Overland Park Convention Center features several open panel sessions and exhibitions. Getting in on expert presentations requires purchasing a conference pass and delivers continuing professional education credits.
For Kansas City conferences and workshops on the other side of the river, check out our Guide to Cyber Security Programs in Missouri.
Cyber Security Jobs in Kansas
Kansas just doesn’t have as many cyber professionals as it should, but it’s catching up. The state boasted the 10th-highest percentage increase in cyber security job postings from 2010 to 2014. That growth was concentrated in the eastern portion of the state due to the influence of Kansas City, MO, which ranks 17th on SmartAsset’s 2016 list of the best cities for tech workers and 28th on CBRE’s Research’s list.
Fortunately for Kansas, that tech scene bleeds over to the other side of the border. FireMon and LockPath, both located in Overland Park, are Kansas’ representatives on the Cybersecurity 500, a list of the coolest companies in the field. Overland Park is also where you’ll find the headquarters of UnitedLex Corporation, which helps businesses create cyber security strategies, Black & Veatch, an engineering contractor for power and telecommunications, and Alexander Open Systems, an InfoSec solutions provider for businesses throughout the Midwest.
Jobs do exist elsewhere in the state. Northwest of Kansas City lies Fort Leavenworth, which runs the Army Mission Training Complexes. Defense contractors such as Trideum, Northrop Grumman and Booz Allen Hamilton occasionally have openings for civilian security contractors. Wichita, meanwhile, is a hub for airport manufacturing. Fortune 500 company Spirit AeroSystems is based there and regularly hires cyber security specialists.
Cyber Security Salaries in Kansas
Salaries for information security analysts, as tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, are below the national average of $90,000. Wichita wages are closer to $60,000, while the Greater Kansas City area pays up to $82,000. Indeed.com reckons the average across the state is $75K, but also points out that there are different job titles. IT security specialists, for instance, can earn $105K, but network security engineers make just $70K. However, Kansas’ low cost of living (eighth-lowest in the U.S.) means your earnings go further.
All Cyber Security Programs in Kansas
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 6 Kansas schools.
Butler Community College
|El Dorado, Kansas|
Fort Hays State University
BA or BS in Information Networking and Telecommunications, Concentration: Computer Networking and Telecommunications with Information Assurance Emphasis
Kansas State University
Manhattan Area Technical College
University of Kansas