Is your educational path leading to Maine? We’ve got a list of cyber security degrees and certificates as well as a quick summary of online options, financial aid, events and jobs for cyber security professionals.
Studying Cyber Security in Maine
The entire University of Maine System (UMS) is recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, meaning you’ll benefit from an industry-standard curriculum in on-ground or online programs from University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Fort Kent, or University of Southern Maine.
Let’s tour the state to see how UMS schools and other institutions are involved in cyber security:
- The Maine Cyber Security Cluster (MCSC) is a physical center at University of Southern Maine with a virtual reach to University of Maine at Fort Kent and York County Community College via the Collaboratory, a National Science Foundation-funded project that simulates a fictional city environment where students can practice security exercises.
- The University of Maine’s flagship campus at Orono houses its own UMaine Cybersecurity Lab, which hosts guest speakers and workshops for students within the School of Computing and Information Science. It’s also a training ground for the school’s Cyber Defense Team, which has qualified for the Northeast Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition since 2009, finishing in the top three twice.
- Southern Maine Community College used a $13 million training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to establish its own associate degree in Cyber Security.
- Thomas College, a private institution in Waterville, is an international academic partner of (ISC)2 — the International Information System Security Certification Consortium. The partnership gives its professors access to additional professional development and makes it easier for students to pursue industry-recognized certifications.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Maine
The University of Maine System (UMS) is the first place to look for online cyber security programs because its schools offer credentials at multiple levels and enrollment is typically cheaper than at private institutions, especially for in-state students. However, several private colleges, namely Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and for-profit Kaplan University, also maintain a distance learning presence.
Online Associate Degrees in Cyber Security
Although it’s a four-year institution, University of Maine at Fort Kent offers the occasional two-year degree, including an online Associate of Science in Information Security. The degree has more meat than a standard associate program in the field, going beyond network setup and security to delve into defense techniques and cryptography. That combo may be enough to snag a job as a low-level security specialist.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Your options really open up at the bachelor’s level. UM-Augusta, UM-Fort Kent and University of Southern Maine collaborate on a BS in Cybersecurity, available online or via interactive television. It’s a multidisciplinary degree with plenty of room for both the technical and theoretical. One advantage of the programs — completed either through UMA or UMFK — is the internship. Although the programs at UMA and UMFK are part of a collaborative effort, they aren’t identical. Students at UMA, for instance, can choose between two focus areas: Information Assurance and Network Security. Additionally, students looking to add a second degree can also condense the UMA degree into a post-baccalaureate program.
But you don’t have to do a full-fledged major in cyber security online. If you’re looking to get hired in a more general IT field, consider the BS in Computer Information Systems at UMA, which allows for a Cyber Security concentration.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
Let’s deal with the available distance learning certificates in order of intensity. The quickest is at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, which can prepare you for the Certified Information Systems Security (CISSP) credential with a three-credit prep course. There are no prerequisites, so this is a simple way to work toward an advanced certification.
If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree, you might consider the Computer Forensics Certificate from Kaplan University, which runs online programs to complement its on-ground facilities in Augusta, Lewiston and South Portland. The certificate prepares students to sit for entry-level certifications such as CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE). Another option is Kaplan’s Information Security Post-baccalaureate Certificate, which prepares enrollees for the CompTIA certifications plus the CISSP exam.
Next is the UMFK Graduate Certificate in Information Security. Enrollees into this 20-credit program get much of the same coursework that their peers in the associate program do, but without the general education requirements.
Last is UMA’s Information Systems Security certificate. It’s 30 credits long and is essentially a scaled-down version of the school’s Cyber Security baccalaureate that provides equal exposure to that program’s focus areas in Information Assurance and Network Security.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Maine
In terms of scholarships specific to cyber security majors, school foundations are the starting point for a search, while individual departments may also have funding. Here’s what we’ve found:
University of Southern Maine
- Systems Engineering Scholarship: Cyber Security enrollees (along with students from several other majors) are eligible for $1,000 to $2,000 from the Systems Engineering Scholarship Fund. The award goes to an upperclassman Maine resident with a 3.0 or better.
- William G. and Laura S. Hooper Scholarship: The USM Cyber Security program is housed in the Department of Technology, which is where recipients of this award must be enrolled. The other required qualifications are financial need and a 3.0; the committee prefers to fund nontraditional students.
Cyber Security Events in Maine
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Maine
Many of Maine’s professional communities for cyber security are lumped together with other northeastern states. One example is the New England Chapter of ISACA, formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. But we’ve managed to find a couple of formal groups that regularly meet within the Pine Tree State’s borders:
- (ISC)2 Maine Chapter: The northernmost US outpost of the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, aka (ISC)2, is in Portland. The group meets monthly to hear sponsored presentations from local (certificate-holding) professionals.
- Maine Hacker Club: This group is less concerned with security and more focused on collaborative creation. Still, since it meets four times a month for individual hacking projects, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pick up security techniques from the programmers within the group.
- OWASP Maine: The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is a global nonprofit movement. The Maine branch meets quarterly and is open to anyone interested in taking part in the group’s discussions, presentations and networking events.
Other communities exist on a more informal scale, such as the Maine 2600 gathering for hackers, which happens every first Friday of the month at a Portland food court, and DC207, a similar collective of DEF CON lovers that meets the third Saturday of the month.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Maine
Although membership organizations and Meetups are your best bet for networking within the cyber security community, we’ve found three Maine tech conferences that can introduce you to IT professionals across other disciplines while filling you in on cyber security developments within the state:
- Maine Digital Government Summit: State employees are the target audience for the Maine Digital Government Summit, which covers a range of basic tech concepts, including the importance of establishing and enforcing computer security protocols. IT professionals who get in can network with state decision makers.
- Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference: This two-day conference for public and private sector actors with a stake in the state’s infrastructure skews toward physical disasters but increasingly incorporates cyber security. It was the theme in 2016, and later conferences incorporate security and tech track breakout sessions.
- Maine Technology Users Group (MTUG) Information Technology Summit: This daylong event includes a security track where pros can attend workshops on related IT management issues.
Cyber Security Jobs in Maine
Although Maine ranks toward the bottom of states for cyber security job openings, it conversely ranked near the top for growth rate from 2010 to 2014 using that same metric. To claim one of these jobs, you have a few routes. While, of course, you can search standard job sites, we’d recommend participating in Project>Login, a program from Educate Maine. Project>Login helps college students find tech internships and participate in on-campus receptions with recruiters. Via TechHire Maine, the project also runs training and bootcamp programs for adult learners trying to quickly transition into employment.
Once you’ve networked or interned, you might find placement developing secure payment processing solutions within WEX Inc.’s South Portland branch offices, serving as a cyber security consultant for government agencies at Trowbridge & Trowbridge’s Kittery offices, or consulting on SCADA for engineering projects at Burns & McDonnell’s Portland location, just to name a few local employers.
All Cyber Security Programs in Maine
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 7 Maine schools.
Central Maine Community College
Southern Maine Community College
|South Portland, Maine|
University of Maine at Augusta
University of Maine at Fort Kent
|Fort Kent, Maine||NSA
University of Southern Maine