Vermont might have more cyber security programs than Ben and Jerry’s has ice cream flavors. Don’t believe us? Here’s our complete list. Learn what makes the Green Mountain State’s schools special, get an overview of distance education degrees and certificates, and see what employers and interest groups you should link up with after graduation.
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Studying Cyber Security in Vermont
Cyber security studies in Vermont are dominated by two well-respected private institutions: Champlain College and Norwich University. Both are designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They are also two of just 13 schools named as National Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center.
- SC Magazine gave its award for Best Cybersecurity Higher Education Program to Champlain College in 2015. The school’s sweet spot is forensics, and its Leahy Center for Digital Investigation (LCDI) is not just a laboratory facility but also a consulting service that works with law enforcement agencies to recover data, with private companies to review organizational security procedures, and with law firms to provide criminal analysis.
- Cybersecurity students at Champlain can take up to six courses within the major during their first year, putting them on track to intern as early as sophomore year. Recent students have landed spots with the NSA, DHS, MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Dell SecureWorks.
- In 2014, a survey of 5,000 IT and information security experts ranked Norwich University the second-best school for cyber security in the country. That reputation helped Norwich, a military college, receive a $700K grant the following year to provide scholarships to U.S. Army Reserve soldiers in its online graduate certificate programs. It’s one of six universities that partner with the U.S. Army so that reservists can claim cyber security jobs.
- The Cyber Conflict Research Institute within the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) specializes in simulation and cyber exercises. It won a $10 million contract from the DHS in 2013 to build the Distributed Environment for Decision-Making Exercises – Financial Sector, game software that allows big banks and government regulators to test out responses to a cyberattack against Wall Street.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Vermont
Champlain College is atop the leader board for distance learning in Vermont, with multiple baccalaureates, master’s degrees and certificates for aspiring cyber security pros. Norwich University, a private military college, comes in a strong second, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and graduate certificates of its own. It also offers individual pen testing CISSP prep courses online. For a public option, look at University of Vermont, which runs a certificate program.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security
A degree completion program, the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security at Norwich University is only offered online. Students must have 30 college credits before entering. From there, they’ll have a broad range of foundational courses to take and will also choose between two concentrations: 1) Computer Forensics and Vulnerability Management and 2) Information Warfare and Security Management. They’ll finish with a capstone research project.
Champlain College’s online BS in Cybersecurity, like Norwich’s program, is aimed at working adults. Unlike Norwich’s, it’s a full bachelor’s program that you can move to with just a high school degree. Students in the program can structure electives to earn certificates in Computer Forensics & Digital Investigations, Computer Networking, System Administration or other specializations before they graduate. Students in the online BS in Computer Forensics, a criminal justice-minded program, can also specialize and earn one of three certifications on their way to graduation: Computer Forensics & Digital Investigations, Cybersecurity, or Forensic Accounting.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Champlain College puts two master’s degrees exclusively online. The 30-credit Digital Forensic Science master’s, designed for students in the criminal investigations wing of the discipline, requires enrollees to have work experience or substantial undergraduate coursework in digital forensics or computer science. Students use a virtual learning environment to develop software; practice preserving digital evidence; and analyze data on networks, software and hardware. Students are also exposed to legal issues before completing a research thesis. Champlain’s other graduate degree, the MS in Information Security Operations, is for advanced practitioners with work and/or academic experience in IT or computer science. Students are exposed to offensive and defensive tactics interwoven with management techniques that teach them how to probe for vulnerabilities and threats to organizations.
Norwich University’s Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance is different because students need not have IT experience before entry. The degree discusses the technical side of the discipline but values managerial and business skills over keyboard-based competencies. Students choose a concentration from the following: 1) Computer Forensics and Incident Response Management, 2) Critical Infrastructure Protection & Cyber Crime, 3) Cyber Law & International Perspectives on Cyberspace, 4) Project Management, or 5) Vulnerability Management.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
There’s a lot to go over here. Let’s start with undergraduate certificates, as Champlain College places a whopping eight of them online. Just one of them is nontechnical: The nine-credit Certificate in Enterprise Security Fundamentals attracts managers who need to quickly understand the risks they face. On the practitioner side of things, the Certificate in Cybersecurity is a quick 15-credit program that dives into basics and teaches defensive, offensive and investigative techniques. The Security Administrator Certificate, meanwhile, skips the broad overview and gets students ready to set up and maintain networks for businesses in 15 credits. The 12-credit Security Fundamentals Certificate does somewhat the same thing but is geared toward students in organizations starting security efforts from scratch. And the Software Security Certificate, a 15-credit program, swaps out the network setup for programming coursework.
Champlain’s 18-credit Certificate in Computer Forensics & Digital Investigations is geared toward folks with law enforcement aspirations; the curriculum focuses on solving cyber crime. The Forensic Accounting Certificate, which is 21 credits, overlaps but recruits financial auditors looking to trace money laundering, illegal betting and other misdeeds with digital breadcrumb trails. The 12-credit Incident Response Certificate has the same kind of after-the-fact focus, but is generalized to appeal across industries.
Already have a bachelor’s degree? Champlain College also runs two online graduate certificates relevant to anyone working in an organization. The first is the Information Security Graduate Certificate for professionals who want to learn how to mitigate risks and respond appropriately in just four courses. The second is the Digital Forensic Science credential, also four courses. It’s for computer scientists tasked with investigating potential threats and tracing back actual threats to their source.
But Norwich University is the real player in graduate certificates, with four distance learning programs, all of which build toward the school’s MS in Information Assurance. The Graduate Certificate in Vulnerability Management is a 12-credit program that’s basically one long pen testing session. Students use the school’s virtual lab to hone their offensive skills, which they should already have to some degree upon enrolling. Meanwhile, the tongue-twisting Graduate Certificate in Computer Forensic Investigation/Incident Response Team Management is best experienced with a systems administration background. It’s a broad enough program to relate to both corporate employees and law enforcement agents.
That’s not the case with Norwich’s other two graduate certificates, neither of which are technical in nature. The Graduate Certificate Critical Infrastructure Protection & Cyber Crime is for those eying federal law enforcement jobs so they can safeguard the US from terrorism. Another option, the Graduate Certificate in Cyber Law & International Perspectives on Cyberspace is all about policy, which is ideal for students who want to position themselves as “thought leaders” on the subject.
One last program to mention is University of Vermont’s Graduate Certificate in Computer Software. Its a starter credential for students contemplating a Master’s in Computer Science. It allows them to pull out almost any five courses from the Computer Science Department catalog to construct a Cybersecurity Track.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Vermont
Because Champlain College and Norwich University are NSA/DHS-recognized schools, undergrads there can apply for the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship, which is worth a $22,500 stipend and a DoD job after graduation. Students at either school may also be eligible for the following awards:
- Women in Technology Scholarship: Incoming female undergrads majoring in Computer & Digital Forensics or Computer Networking & Cybersecurity should apply for this $10,000 merit scholarship. It’s renewable for four years.
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: The National Science Foundation has been funding full scholarships for Norwich University undergrads since 2002. The school doesn’t advertise details, but students in the Computer Security and Information Assurance program are eligible, and the award typically comes with a generous stipend and a commitment to work for a government agency after graduation.
Cyber Security Events in Vermont
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Vermont
Vermonters looking to connect with professionals and attend information security seminars may have to look out of state. Groups like ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) New England and ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) New England hold events from Maine to Massachusetts. They sometimes land in the Green Mountain State. But if you’re cool with an informal outlet for your InfoSec interests, visit hackerspace Laboratory B, which sponsors the following monthly event:
- Burlington 2600: Hackers unite every first Friday of the month at the Burlington Town Center Mall food court. Come at 5 pm to break bread and talk about information security for a few hours. No memberships, dues or agendas.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Vermont
Vermont’s Centers of Academic Excellence are responsible for most of the cyber security conference and workshop activity in the state. But you’re certain to find InfoSec junkies at other events, such as the Vermont Tech Jam, an annual career fair. See its calendar of events for more programs around the state.
- Digital Threats Forum: Champlain College organized a free one-day conference in 2017 billed as a “briefing for businesses and non-profits.” The inaugural event consisted of five panel discussions with intelligence experts from federal agencies, local academics, journalists, and business managers. No word yet on whether Champlain plans to make it an annual affair.
- Norwich University Cyber Security Summit: Also launched in 2017, the Cyber Security Summit will be an annual event for Norwich alumni without tech experience. Business managers and C-suite executives take three days off to convene with Norwich faculty and guest experts for intimate workshops designed to enhance their understanding of information assurance.
Cyber Security Jobs in Vermont
Just over 800 Vermonters are employed in cyber security jobs. If the concentration of workers were in line with the average U.S. distribution, it would be around 2,000. As of 2016, the growth rate wasn’t that high – with 300 openings available. Yet that’s still way more people than Vermont’s cyber security programs graduate each year. CISSP, CISA and CISM show up frequently in job descriptions, so follow up your degree with an advanced certification to maximize your hiring potential.
One potential destination after graduation is Pwnie Express, which specializes in detecting threats emanating from devices connected to company networks. Headquartered in Boston, the company maintains an office in Burlington and is a member of the Cybersecurity 500, a who’s-who of innovative firms. Another place to send your resume is NuHarbor Security, headquartered in Essex Junction. It provides security assessments and manages certain security monitoring functions for companies.
Cyber Security Salaries in Vermont
Vermont is the second-smallest state in the Union and boasts a comparably small cyber security workforce, so there’s not enough data to make reliable conclusions about salaries and earning potential. That said, Vermonters holding information security analyst positions earned $75,000 a year in 2016, up from $65,000 in 2012.
All Cyber Security Programs in Vermont
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 3 Vermont schools.
University of Vermont