Cybersecurity Programs in Missouri
| CyberDegrees.org Staff
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The Show Me State really shows up when it comes to cyber security degrees, with more than a dozen schools contributing programs. (See the full list of degrees and certificates in Missouri here). We’ll help put the academic landscape in context by pointing you toward cyber security research centers, scholarships, professional communities and job prospects.
Studying Cyber Security in Missouri
Lindenwood University runs an accelerated cyber security bachelor’s program that lets enrollees finish their baccalaureate 50 percent faster than a standard degree. And online WGU Missouri builds the cost of professional certifications into its program. Every school and program is different. Here’s what some of Missouri’s schools are doing to stand out in cyber security:
- University of Missouri-St. Louis unveiled a shimmering Cybersecurity and Information Technology Innovation Lab in fall 2015, a year before the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognized it as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
- UMSL joins Missouri University of Science and Technology on the NSA/DHS list. Missouri S&T is a top destination for graduate research in part because it runs the interdisciplinary Intelligent Systems Center, a collective of on-campus research laboratories with five aims, one of which is to make complex networks and systems more trustworthy, whether they are related to healthcare, transportation, manufacturing or something else entirely. If you are a cyber security purist, it’s also got the Cybersecurity Laboratory led by Dan Lin. Professor Lin won multiple National Science Foundation grants in 2016, including one to develop a privacy-centric social network and another for a project to recommend personalized privacy settings for photo sharing .
- A 2014 HP survey of cyber security practitioners listed University of Missouri-Columbia in the top 25 of U.S. schools for the discipline. Yet to date, the school remains a research hub while eschewing undergraduate degree programs; the College of Engineering houses the Cyber Security Initiative, which receives federal funding to explore methods to increase the reliability of the nation’s cyber-infrastructure.
- Maryville University has an innovative way of getting its enrollees real-world experience. Students manning the school’s Cyber Fusion Center provide St. Louis area nonprofits with free information security analysis, garnering academic credit in the process.
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Online Cyber Security Programs in Missouri
Starting at the baccalaureate level and working up through master’s degrees and certificates, Missouri’s distance learners can choose between multiple schools for a cyber security education. The most prominent online providers are Missouri State University, Maryville University, and WGU Missouri, although you’ll see several other names pop up below:
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Pick between three degrees as an undergraduate. The benefit of Maryville University’s BS in Cyber Security is that it features three tracks: hackers migrate toward the Offensive Track, aspiring digital forensics experts go to the Defensive Track, and students who want to keep their employment options open stick to the General Track.
WGU Missouri also has an online BS in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. Its selling point is that training for industry certification exams, including entry-level CompTIA credentials and more advanced (ISC)2 distinctions, is included within the curriculum, and you’ll sit for the exams for free.
The last option is an online BS in Computer Information Systems from Saint Louis University. Its concentration in Information Security & Assurance is not as intensive as a full-fledged cyber security degree program would be, but the foundational courses provide a strong base in other computing concepts, including networking, programming and database design.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security
The MS in Cyber Security at Maryville University is designed for students with undergraduate exposure to security concepts and techniques. Its goal is to give them, over the course of 30 credits, the hands-on technical experience and analytical frameworks necessary to manage other cyber security professionals.
The WGU Missouri online MS in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance is similar but emphasizes (and includes) two EC-Council certifications: Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures as well as Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator.
Missouri State University’s MS in Cybersecurity is available on-campus and online. Unlike the programs at Maryville and WGU Missouri, it doesn’t assume enrollees have previous academic or professional experience in security. In 30 credits, the curriculum will take you from fundamentals of the discipline to project management.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
Don’t want the full master’s? Missouri State University’s Cybersecurity program also comes in a graduate certificate format. It’s just 12 credits and falls under the MBA program, so expect a dose of coursework designed to get you up to speed and managing/preventing incidents.
Webster University jumps into the fray with a 12-credit Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity – Threat Detection. It’s more of an overview to the discipline than a nitty-gritty tech degree; students should emerge comfortable with discussing developments in the field but not getting behind a keyboard to stop them.
But it’s Missouri University of Science and Technology that has the most diverse offerings. The school’s Graduate Certificate in Big Data Management & Security is a four-course sampler for holders of an IT baccalaureate who want to properly store and share analytical data. The Graduate Certificate in Information Assurance & Security Officer Essentials, also four courses long, focuses on networks; it admits students with undergraduate credentials in engineering or computer science. Finally, the school has a Cyber Security Graduate Certificate program. Entrants to that program will find a bit of the big data and network security coursework from the other two certificates but will also be able to establish a broader base of knowledge through other technical and theoretical coursework.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Missouri
Want money toward your cyber security degree? Of course you do. Many academic departments fund cyber security students. We’ll show you where to look at five Missouri universities:
Missouri State University-Springfield
- Computer Information Systems Department Scholarship: Missouri State’s Cybersecurity minor falls under the Department of Computer Information Systems (CIS), which gives out a one-time award to majors within the department who have financial need and a 3.0 GPA.
- Computer Information Systems Outstanding Student Award: No financial need required — just a stellar academic record. The winner gets a $500 injection of scholarship cash.
- Dr. Neil E. Swanson Memorial Scholarship: Think you can manage a 3.5 over your first two years as a CIS major? If you do — and have leadership activities on your resume — you may be able to claim $500 to $750 as an upperclassman.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
- Computer Science Department Scholarship: Students in any of the three Missouri S&T cyber certificate programs can apply directly with the Computer Science Department for awards, which vary in amount.
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Seniors, graduate students and PhD candidates with an eye toward an advanced Computer Science degree may be able to get it for free and then some. This award covers tuition and fees, plus gives recipients $34,000 a year for living expenses, $4,000 a year to attend conferences, $3,000 a year for health insurance, and $2,000 a year for textbooks. If you get it, you’ll work in cyber security for a government agency after graduation for a few years.
University of Missouri-Columbia
- Computer Science Department Assistantships: Like many PhD programs, the Computer Science degree at Mizzou recruits students to teach undergraduate courses and assist professors with research. Becoming an assistant lands you a tuition waiver plus a monthly stipend.
Southeast Missouri State University
- Presidential Rotary Scholarship: This is a highly specific award destined for a junior Cybersecurity major from Cape Girardeau County. If no one fits that criteria, it will go to a junior Cybersecurity major from southeastern Missouri.
University of Central Missouri
- Army ROTC Fighting Mules Scholarship: ROTC students contemplating enrolling in one of UCM’s cyber security programs qualify for this scholarship, which varies in amount each year.
- Brown Scholarship: Sophomores and juniors who have declared a major within the School of Computer Science and Mathematics (e.g., Cybersecurity) can apply for the Brown Scholarship. It’s quite competitive, requiring a 3.3 GPA, grad school potential and financial need.
- Cybersecurity Achievement Award: Want a BS in Cybersecurity at UCM? With a 23 on your ACT and a 3.5 high school GPA (or 3.2 college GPA for transfers and current enrollees), you’ll qualify for this scholarship from the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.
Cyber Security Events in Missouri
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Missouri
There are two routes you can go to build your network and increase your exposure to emerging security threats and concepts. The first is to join a professional organization that admits student members. The Information Systems Security Association maintains a Kansas City chapter, while ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) attracts similar individuals to its Springfield and Greater Kansas City chapters. The second route is slightly less involved. All you have to do is show up to a gathering put on by one of the following groups:
- Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP): The St. Louis OWASP Chapter meets at least every other month to learn something new from sponsored guest speakers. Bonus: Snacks and continuing professional education credits are included. Out west, OWASP Kansas City has the same basic structure of presentations and networking. It aims to convene on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center.
- St. Louis 2600 + DC314: Hackers don’t discriminate, and in this case, that’s a good thing. Regardless of your skill level, come to Arch Reactor on the first Friday of the month to learn more about computer privacy or share your knowledge with others through a short and sweet presentation.
- STL Cyber Security Meetup: Put the first Wednesday of the month at 6:00 on your calendar. That’s when pros and amateurs alike meet at CIC‘s Venture Cafe to listen to expert speakers, blanketed on either end with some beer and networking.
- STLSec: Skip the presentations and go straight to the appetizers. That’s how the security professionals at STLSec roll. They meet every second Wednesday (your Wednesdays are filling up fast) at The Fox and Hounds. Though you’ll likely spot people from professional organizations, they keep the PowerPoints at home for this meet-and-greet.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Missouri
Joining up with one of the groups above should put you in the know about some of the bigger events in Missouri’s cyber security sector. But if you haven’t found your group yet, we’ve listed the state’s biggest cyber security events below:
- BSides: BSides events are locally organized (and practically free) forums for a city’s InfoSec crew to soak up knowledge from their peers and network in a relaxed environment. Choose between multiple tracks at the one-day BSidesKC, or meander over to the hacking villages to learn how to remotely break into a car, a toaster or an enterprise network. Elsewhere, Gateway City residents can attend BSidesSTL, which maintains a single track of speakers and panelists that runs concurrently with a Capture the Flag competition and lock pick village.
- Missouri Digital Government Summit: This event is put on by the magazine Government Technology in states across the US, but since 2016 Missouri’s governor has made it a focal point in the state’s strategy to turn back cyber threats. The event is a chance for public sector employees across education, law enforcement and state agencies to coordinate responses, so private sector workers need an invite to join, but you can keep track of the discussions at the Missouri Office of Cyber Security website.)
- SecureWorld St. Louis: SecureWorld is a traveling IT expo that touches down in St. Louis every fall for two days. Tickets get progressively more expensive the more events you want to attend. At the cheap end, keynote presentations, exhibitions and panel discussions can keep you busy. At the higher end, you can earn extra CPEs through the SecureWorld training track. The event is designed for working professionals up to the executive level, so you won’t find students or academics there. (See our Kansas guide for details on SecureWorld’s Kansas City expo.)
- ShowMeCon: Local companies Parameter Security and Hacker University put on a two-day conference every year in St. Louis to highlight advanced offensive security threats via presentations and breakout sessions from industry experts. (Get caught up with past presentations at Iron Geek’s video database.) And it wouldn’t be a hacking conference without a massive Capture the Flag competition and a lock pick village.
- St. Louis Tech-Security Conference and Kansas City Tech-Security Conference: Unlike SecureWorld, these events from Data Connectors are free to attend. They’re mainly a showcase for sponsors to exhibit new products, either on stage or in demonstration booths.
- STLCyberCon: University of Missouri-St. Louis debuted this one-day event alongside MasterCard in 2015, and it has since become an annual affair. It’s got all the standard expert and academic panels throughout the day, but suits the needs of UMSL (and other students) by hosting a job fair in the afternoon.
Cyber Security Jobs in Missouri
CBRE identified Kansas City and St. Louis as the 28th and 36th top cities for tech talent in 2016. It also showed that they are two of the few Midwest cities gaining tech workers instead of losing them. For its part, Kansas City more than doubled its cyber security job postings between 2010 and 2014, perhaps thanks to Cerner Corporation’s purchase of Siemens to consolidate its grip on the health IT software and hardware market. The continued presence of Fortune 1000 biggies H&R Block and DST Systems, both of which are committed to the secure storage of financial data, means Kansas City cyber security students have a raft of local options after graduating.
But it’s St. Louis that is doing the most to move up the standings and become a cyber capital. Back in 2015, the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois, the U.S. Transportation Command at nearby Scott Air Force Base, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber pushed for the development of a Midwest Cyber Center. In 2016, that center found a home in St. Louis. The center funds scholarships and sponsors bootcamps for IT administrators to pass security certifications to work in the field; hooks the uninitiated up with apprenticeships with cyber security analysts; conducts the CyberPatriot competition for middle schools and high schools; and connects private companies and academic institutions.
The outcome of those connections are still unknown, but big players are heavily involved. Security Advisor Alliance is noodling on potential mentorship opportunities, while T-REX Innovation Center is coordinating workforce development. On one level, T-REX is a co-working space, but on another it’s pumping out local cyber security firms. T-REX’s downtown complex even houses a cyber security business accelerator, SixThirty Cyber, that provides up to $250,000 to security startups alongside tech startup catalyst iTEN and venture capitalists Cultivation Capital. Across the city, Cortex Innovation Community also houses tech startups and promotes a similar vibe, albeit with less of an emphasis on cyber security. Still, you’ll find the STL Cyber Security Meetup at its co-working cafe every month.
The efforts to turn St. Louis into a cyber hub are paying dividends. In 2015 it ranked 15th for cyber security job postings, nearly doubling the number from five years previous. And by 2016 it had cracked the top 10 list of cities with the most information security analysts.
Cyber Security Salaries in Missouri
There are two main markets for cyber security professionals in Missouri, and each has different salary parameters. The first is Kansas City, which Smart Asset named the 17th best city in the country for tech workers in 2016 due to its combination of reasonable salaries and low cost of living. However, the City of Fountains tends to have a higher floor and lower ceiling than its Arch-adorned counterpart to the east, St. Louis. For instance, those in the 10th percentile of information security analysts in KC made $48,000 in 2016 while those in the 90th percentile made $120,000. Compare that with $36,000 to $139,000 in STL. Still, there are enough high-quality jobs in St. Louis that it raises the average salary in the state, which now stands at around $80,000 for an information security analyst.
But before you budget in your wages, think about making more money by virtue or your Missouri degree. Graduates from the Computer Science departments at Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri and Missouri State University — all of whom have cyber security programs — see above-average returns on their college investment, according to a 2016 PayScale report.
All Cyber Security Programs in Missouri
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 16 Missouri schools.
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