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What is Cyber Security?

Every month, it seems, we hear about cyber-attacks on companies large and small. Worse, states, whole countries, and the utility systems of towns and cities have been threatened. A school district in a southwestern state was hit with a ransomware attack in the fall of 2019 and is still recovering its systems. Cyber-thieves don’t commit their crimes by breaking into a physical business or government agency. Instead, they use their hacking skills to break into electronic devices in order to cause harm. Using code, they trick a computer network into letting them in.

Once the thief is in, they often plant more malicious code and lock administrators and employees out. They may hijack a system and send a ransom demand, to be paid in bitcoin. These attacks disable computer systems and even non-electronic work of companies, steal personal and company information, and bring down systems that are vital to the company or government.

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Online Cyber Security Education in Tennessee

It all comes down to the increasing numbers of cyber-attacks against private businesses and government agencies. Tennessee, along with every other state and territory, needs a strong cyber security force. In response to news reports of the hacking of various agencies and companies, everyone beefing up their information assurance departments. And, in response to that, community colleges and universities are adding cyber security degree programs to their lineup.

At all levels, from associate to doctorate and certificate programs, you’ll be able to take advantage of high-quality online degree programs that put you on the path to a rewarding and lucrative career.

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This is where you come in. While an online associate degree might gain you an entry-level position, if you want to be in the middle of the push to stop cyber-crime, you’re going to need an online bachelor’s or master’s in order to move your way up in this field. Once you earn your degree, you can work in an information assurance department, seeking threats, looking for system vulnerabilities, and hardening the system overall.

Online Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)

At the associate degree level, programs help you to prepare to work in a cyber security department, where you’ll make use of different computer systems, software, and computer languages. While there won’t be much chance for a promotion or a management position, this will help you gain the experience you need to make the best use of a bachelor’s degree if you decide to continue your education.

This degree level may introduce you to topics such as digital forensics and cyber security. Using both theory and hands-on learning, you’ll strengthen computer networks against breaches and learn how to recover data, among other things.

Example Courses

  • Beginning HTML and CSS
  • A+ Hardware
  • Principles of Info Assurance
  • Network Security
Best Ranked Online Cybersecurity Associate Programs

Online Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)

You’re learning the demand for cyber security expertise is high and growing higher. In an online or on-campus bachelor’s program, you could focus on network security or operations. You’re sure to learn more of the needed skills and obtain the credentials you need to turn back hacking attempts.

At this level, you may also have the opportunity to choose from popular industry certifications. When you complete a certification and add it to your resume, you’ll be making yourself increasingly attractive to future employers.

Example Courses

  • Introduction to IT
  • Network and Security - Foundations
  • Network and Security - Applications
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist
Best Ranked Online Cybersecurity Bachelor Programs

Online Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS)

A master’s program in cybersecurity will require that you complete between 20 and 33 semester hours of classes, including your thesis. If you choose a non-thesis program, you may need to complete up to 36 graduate hours of work, plus a project.

If you lack certain academic requirements on admission to the program, you may also have to finish up to 18 hours of extra classes in computer science or math (below the 5000 level).

Example Courses

  • Advanced Computer Networks
  • Computer Forensics
  • Computer Network Security
  • Advanced Database and Database Security (Elective)
Best Ranked Online Cybersecurity Master Programs

Online Certifications in Cyber Security

College-level certification programs allow you to earn certificates that focus on either vendor-specific or technique-specific learning. Once earned, you’ll be able to prove to employers that you know said system, technique, or concept. With certificates, you’ll pick up skills that enable you to protect your employer’s electronic resources by using security systems throughout the computer network.

Example Certificate Options

  • Microsoft Professional OS
  • Network Security
  • Tactical Perimeter Defense
  • Computer Forensics
Best Online Cybersecurity Certification Programs

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is much more than that attractive seal or the paragraph you see on a college or university’s website saying they are accredited. Particularly for cyber security, accreditation is a necessary step and indicator of the quality of the degree programs contained within. Regional accreditation is the first type you should look for. The US Department of Education has approved several regional accrediting agencies; the agency responsible for covering Tennessee is The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. You should look for accreditation from this group before anything else.

Accreditation consists of recognition by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology or DHS and the NSA. DHS and the NSA have designated many universities and colleges with the National Centers of Academic Excellence. This designation indicates high-quality degree programs that have earned a seal of excellence from the two largest employers of cyber security professionals in the US.

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CAE Accredited Programs in Tennessee

  • Jackson State Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • LeMoyne-Owen College
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • Tennessee Tech University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
  • University of Memphis
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
    CAE-R / 2014-2021

Top College Programs in Tennessee for Computer Science and Cybersecurity

  • University of Memphis

    This school’s Computer Science department was brought online in 2005. However, the Department of Mathematical Sciences began to offer courses in numerical analysis in 1971, which led to the development of a bachelor’s program in computer science, which happened in 1982. The department’s growth led to its designation in 2005.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer Science - Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management - Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology - Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology Project Management - Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $9,317
    Out-of-State: $21,029
    Average Net Price: $13,174
    College Retention Rate: Full-time Students - 76%; Part-time Students – 54%

  • Lipscomb University

    This ABET-accredited program includes plenty of new technology in its computer science programs. The faculty know that computing is vital to all education. Once you begin the computer science program, you’ll be able to gain the knowledge you need to jump-start the career of your choice. The program benefits from support and advice given by industry executives who live and work in Nashville.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s Degree
    Informatics – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $32,144
    Average Net Price: $25,719
    College Retention Rate: 81%

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  • Middle Tennessee University

    At this institution, your instructors know that, once you earn a computer science degree at any level, this will serve as the entry token to the career and industry of your choosing. Most professions and offices now rely heavily on computers, which means your knowledge will be needed wherever you choose to live and work.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Master’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $8,858
    Out-of-State: $27,098
    Average Net Price: $12,294
    College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 76%; Part-time Students – 63%

  • The University of Tennessee - Knoxville

    This university’s computer science department is housed within the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Should you choose to attend this university, you’ll be enrolled in a Top 25 public EECS department. Depending on your choice, you can major in computer science or computer engineering, at the BS, MS, or PhD level.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $13,006
    Out-of-State: $31,426
    Average Net Price: $21,019
    College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 87%; Part-time Students – 67%

  • Nashville State Community College

    Earn your Associate of Science degree from this community college—if you plan to transfer to a four-year institution to finish your final two years of education, take advantage of the school’s guaranteed transfer program (Tennessee Transfer Pathways). As long as you successfully complete all courses listed on the TPP, you’ll be able to transfer to a four-year university.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Associate Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – <1-Year Certificate
    Information Technology – Associate Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,191
    Out-of-State: $16,479
    Average Net Price: $6,818
    College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 45%; Part-time Students – 46%

  • Tennessee Technological University

    This university offers several programs, one of which should fit your needs and plans. Bachelor’s degrees in several concentrations are available for you; should you choose to use the Fast-Track Program, you’ll move more quickly toward your master’s and/or PhD as well. Gain experience working with faculty on different projects.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $8,731
    Out-of-State: $24,595
    Average Net Price: $16,891
    College Retention Rate: Full-time Students – 75%; Part-time Students – 45%

Top College Scholarships in Tennessee for Cyber Security

  • Tennessee Cybercorps: Scholarship for Service

    Amount: $25,000 (undergraduates); $34,000 (graduate students)
    Deadline: Varies
    Scholarship for Service pays for various study programs such as medical implants, Cyber Law and Privacy, Security of Emerging Technologies (Internet of Things), Computer Science or Engineering and Policy. Selected students study in a great cyber security program, gain valuable hands-on experience, follow up on professional development opportunities, and take part in cyber competitions.

  • James K. Goldston INFOSEC Scholarship

    Amount: $1,200 one-time award for the academic year
    Deadline: January 15
    This scholarship was created in 2006 by the Goldston family, who wanted to provide financial assistance to Tennessee students who are enrolled in undergraduate studies. Selected students should be enrolled in a National Security Agency approved information security (INFOSEC) curriculum. Students should reside within select Tennessee counties and be high school graduates, currently enrolled in a college or university.

  • John F. Germ Scholarship

    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: School FAFSA Deadline
    This scholarship looks for students with leadership potential. Financial need may be a factor for eligible students and students should also be in good academic standing.

Conferences and Workshops

Development Days Nashville

This conference is organized locally for the community to participate. conference events are located all throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This is strongly considered to be a technical event and envelopes organizational culture, security, automation, and testing.

Magnet User Summit

This event is for experts in digital forensics and also for new users. Attendees learn about the newest trends and practices in the field.

Hot Topics in the Science of Security

Topics include research on the science of security. This is intended to focus on the basic problems of cyber security in an orderly fashion. Keynote presentations are made by various cyber security experts.

Careers for Cyber Security Graduates

Tennessee is among those states taking cyber security seriously. Within its borders, 1,680 cyber security professionals are employed in the field and the state still needs additional cyber security personnel in government agencies and private companies.

The annual salary of cyber security professionals in Tennessee is $82,180, which is lower than the average annual salary for such professionals throughout the US. However, the cost of living is somewhat lower in Tennessee than in many other parts of the country. Anyone looking for a position as a cyber security professional in Tennessee should be able to find positions on government websites and at various companies. As an example, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has announced a Cloud Cybersecurity Specialist position who can advise administrators of the national lab.

Resources in Tennessee for Cyber Security

  • SANS Information Security Courses
    These are taught and led by top cyber security professionals and offer hands-on training, using practical exercises and immersion labs. The course format is flexible enough that they can be taken in single-course venues or in a classroom setting at multiple-course events. Participants unable to attend in person can participate online through live simulcast or computer based training.
    This is an international online hacking competition aimed at high school students who are enrolled in or interested in computer science. Four-student teams work on reverse engineering, code-cracking, mastering the internet and the design of algorithms. “CTF” means “capture the flag”. At the high school level, the aim stresses competition and moves into other computing areas. Winning teams capture the flag.
  • PentesterLab
    This resource helps interested students or professionals learn how to ethically hack websites more easily. Participants are given exercises that cover basic bugs and progress all the way up to advanced vulnerabilities. The developers of this site know that hands-on learning is the best way to learn penetration testing.
  • Women in Cybersecurity
    This grouping of resources is meant for women who have earned their cyber security degrees and are looking for additional information on diversity statistics, cyber security, and certification and education. Female cyber security professionals are able to find and sign up for live-stream webinars. They can also contribute resources to the website.
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