The Palmetto State is an inviting spot to study cyber security. Start your program search with a peek at our full list of degrees and certificates, or take a quick tour of South Carolina’s online offerings, scholarships, events and jobs related to cyber security.
Studying Cyber Security in South Carolina
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated two Palmetto State institutions as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education: The Citadel and University of South Carolina. Look to these two schools if you want to conduct research. We’ve included them in our rundown of the state’s academic scene:
- The Center for Cyber, Intelligence, and Security Studies (CCISS) at The Citadel is a cross-disciplinary research body composed of Citadel-based fellows and faculty from nearby universities. One of the program directors, Dr. Shankar Banik, is researching new ways to detect incursions, including the use of data mining and mobile agents on peer-to-peer networks.
- University of South Carolina eschews full-fledged cyber security degrees in favor of certificates and specializations. But students are still able to do research with any of three groups at the Center for Information Assurance Engineering: the Information Systems Security Laboratory, which focuses on secure semantics, inter-vehicle communication networks, database inference, and privacy within self-organizing systems; the Secure Protocol Implementation and Development Lab; and the Arena for Research on Emerging Networks and Applications.
- Limestone College specializes in flexibility. The bulk of its online programs, including Computer and Information System Security, can also be completed on-campus in the day or evening. Students who choose the latter have access to eight locations across the state and can opt for an accelerated format.
- The MS in Computer and Information Sciences with Cybersecurity specialization at College of Charleston isn’t online, but it is somewhat flexible. The school offers courses throughout the city, such as at the Lowcountry Graduate Center. The Center combines library and other academic resources from six state schools, including The Citadel and University of South Carolina, to improve student experience.
Online Cyber Security Programs in South Carolina
Two colleges dabble in distance learning for cyber security. Limestone College, a private institution, runs a baccalaureate program for aspiring cyber security professionals. The Citadel, which is state-supported, opens up a master’s programs to working adults without mandating any military requirements.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Limestone College offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in Computer and Information Systems Security. Unlike some other concentration programs in which just a few courses are substituted in, Limestone’s program goes both deep and wide. By the end, students should be ready to sit for not only basic certifications from CompTIA but also advanced certifications, including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security
The Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies is, by itself, not a technical degree but is instead a criminal justice credential with an emphasis on policies for fighting terrorism and transnational criminal networks. But add the Cybersecurity concentration and you’ll get a strong dose of computer science coursework. Applicants must have courses in programming, discrete mathematics, data structures and computer architecture in their undergraduate transcripts to show they can tackle the four courses within the concentration. (The concentration is also available as a graduate certificate.)
Cyber Security Scholarships in South Carolina
Scholarships exclusive to cyber security students are hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look. Start with department websites and, if necessary, scour the college foundation webpage for relevant awards. You’ll find scholarships like these:
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
- George F. Reves Award: The top performing students in the Departments of Mathematics and Computers Science compete for the Reves Award each year. Contact the department for application details.
College of Charleston
- Joint Program Award: Out-of-state grad students working toward the Computer and Information Sciences credential (Cybersecurity specialization or otherwise) co-delivered by College of Charleston and The Citadel are eligible for the Joint Program Award, so long as they don’t hold an assistantship or other large scholarship.
- J M Smith Foundation Endowed Scholarship: The Smith Foundation hands out a $750 renewable scholarship to a Computer Science major each fall. A couple of caveats: Students must be in the traditional day program (sorry, online and evening students) and have a 3.0.
Cyber Security Events in South Carolina
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in South Carolina
South Carolina features a well-distributed assortment of cyber security organizations and clubs, with options extending from the capital to the coast. Here are five groups that meet regularly:
- Charleston Cyber Security Meetup: These “gurus and wannabes” convene roughly every two months for talks from local professionals. Recent presentations have covered emerging ransomware threats, tax phishing scams and IoT botnets.
- Charleston Infosec Group: CHSinfosec has a similar vibe and membership to the Charleston Cyber Security Meetup, but comes together more frequently. Its casual Talks on Tap series every first Wednesday of the month is open to all comers 21 and over who like beer and/or networking. CHSinfosec also runs a subgroup, DC843, that meets monthly for presentations on hacking concepts. Local speakers have discussed everything from payment diversion fraud to Bitcoin.
- ColaSec: Information security isn’t limited to Charleston. This group in the capital comes together at the Columbia Technology Incubator the third Tuesday of every month for casual conversation and beer. It has also created a virtual lab called Soda City Battleground where ColaSec members can test their skills against one another in team competitions.
- ISACA SC Midlands Chapter: The Information Systems Audit and Control Association, now just ISACA, is a professional membership organization. Joining gets practitioners and students discounts to ISACA-facilitated certification review courses. In addition to these classes, the Midlands Chapter stays busy throughout the year by holding workshops, networking events and conferences on a monthly basis in Columbia.
- Myrtle Beach 2600: 2600 meetings are a global occurrence that hit South Carolina in 2017. Every first Friday of the month, hackers and information security enthusiasts gather at SubProto, Myrtle Beach’s hackerspace, for laid-back conversations with likeminded individuals.
- SC Cyber: The South Carolina Cyber Consortium is a collection of academic institutions, businesses, government entities, and individuals united with the mission of defending cyberinfrastructure throughout the state of South Carolina. Based in Columbia, SC Cyber focuses on forging connections and improving communication in the region. It hosts an annual Cybersecurity Summit along with other training events and workshops throughout the year.
There are two other groups worth mentioning, but they have a tendency to go on long hiatuses. The first is the (ISC)2 Charleston Chapter, which caters to cyber security professionals who hold advanced technical certifications or are working toward them. The second is the Information Systems Security Association Charleston Chapter, another professional organization that admits student members.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in South Carolina
The Palmetto State promotes three main annual events revolving around cyber security, each with a different focus and atmosphere.
- BSides Charleston: BSides has been going strong in Chucktown since 2012. It’s a free one-day event featuring fun distractions like Capture the Flag and a lock pick challenge, as well as a slate of local practitioners giving fresh takes on pen testing, shell coding, IoT hacking and the like. Come a day early for free training sessions.
- SC Cyber Summit: SC Cyber is a state initiative to build up the state’s security workforce. In that vein, this one-day summit in Columbia puts government and business leaders from the state in one room to develop a shared understanding of the importance of cyber security. Technical experts shouldn’t expect anything mind-blowing, but may learn something from keynote speakers culled from Congress and tech companies.
- Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference: Network security pros and law enforcement officials in the digital forensics arena fly in from across the nation every year for a four-day conference at Myrtle Beach. There are two to five sessions occurring at any one time, and attendees choose between tracks based upon skill level and audience (e.g., government or private sector).
Cyber Security Jobs in South Carolina
In 2014, the state formed a consortium called SC Cyber. Comprised of colleges, companies and government agencies, SC Cyber is charged with developing the human and physical infrastructure necessary to combat cyber security in the state. The group is looking for ways to expand internship and apprenticeship opportunities for college-age students.
Such a system may be in place by the time you graduate. If not, you can rely on a standard set of military defense contractors, which are there primarily to provide technical support to the Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic, based in Charleston. KSH Solutions, Scientific Research Corporation, KBRWyle and BAE Systems are four of the Center’s most active contractors that call on cyber security specialists. The jobs they post typically require a security clearance because SPAWAR is deeply involved in fighting terror through surveillance operations.
Outside of the defense sector, opportunities are more diffuse. One growing company to consider is PhishLabs, based in Charleston, which protects corporate clients against data breaches. PhishLabs is a member of the Cybersecurity 500, meaning it’s been judged a “hot” place to work.
Cyber Security Salaries in South Carolina
Unfortunately, South Carolina’s information security analysts are on the lower end of the spectrum nationally in terms of salary, pulling in $69,000 on average compared to a US-wide $93,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A shift in title can increase that salary. According to data from Indeed.com, security engineers in the state make $75,000, while IT security specialists can command just under $100K. In fact, Indeed shows security analysts making better than the national average as well, which may indicate that salaries are rising faster than BLS can track them. Salaries have already risen over six percent between 2012 and 2016 as other wages have stagnated, and future growth may be in store. Just look at the deficit in Certified Information Security Managers. In 2016, South Carolina had 229 job postings requiring a CISM and only 101 CISM holders in the state. As it so happens, a CISM is the second-highest-paying IT certification in the US. As more residents emerge from college programs with the advanced skills needed to earn such certifications and claim upper-level jobs, salaries should go up.
All Cyber Security Programs in South Carolina
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 8 South Carolina schools.
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
|Charleston, South Carolina||NSA
College of Charleston
|Charleston, South Carolina|
Horry-Georgetown Technical College
|Conway, South Carolina|
|Gaffney, South Carolina|
Piedmont Technical College
|Greenwood, South Carolina|
Trident Technical College
|Charleston, South Carolina|
University of South Carolina-Columbia
|Columbia, South Carolina||NSA
University of South Carolina-Upstate
|Spartanburg, South Carolina|