Cyber Security Masters California – Before We Get Into The Topic, Let’s Learn Some Basic Of This Topic
Silicon Valley in two words. With internships and job vacancies at the world’s most recognizable organizations just around the block, the hub of technological innovation is the ideal starting point for a cybersecurity degree. If you’ve already taken that step, check out our comprehensive list of cybersecurity programs in California. Otherwise, take the scenic road and study up cybersecurity degrees, careers, and scholarships in California.
Studying Cybersecurity in California
Though San Jose and San Francisco are located in Silicon Valley, some of the state’s most prestigious university programs are located outside of the Bay Area. Perhaps the most well-known is the University of Southern California, which is recognized as the eighth-best cybersecurity school in the country by IT professionals. The Naval Postgraduate School, the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University, on the other hand, are all well-known. (Well, one of them does live in the Bay Area.)
Here are a few significant California university cybersecurity initiatives:
- The University of Southern California, located 300 miles south of Google and Facebook headquarters, is knee-deep in real-world security. It houses the DETERLab, a government-funded virtual sandbox where governments, businesses, and researchers can test new hacks and solutions. The university is also a participant in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded Integrity and Reliability of Integrated Circuits program, which runs for a year (DARPA). Its goal is to assist designers in creating circuits that can withstand hardware attacks.
- The Center for Cybersecurity and Cyber Operations is managed by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, which is located further up the coast (NPS C3O). You can take classes from Dorothy Denning, a famous cryptographer and a member of the National Cybersecurity Hall of Fame’s first class.
- The National Security Agency has designated the University of California, Davis (together with the Naval Postgraduate School and UC Irvine) as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research (CAE/R). Professor Matt Bishop essentially authored the book on computer security, and his textbooks are used in beginning classes throughout the country.
- Stanford University received a $15 million research grant from the Hewlett Foundation in 2014 to launch the Stanford Cyber Initiative, a multi-disciplinary group that studies the junction of technical advancements and societal change. Since then, it has obtained more financing for projects such as consumer privacy, cyber data breach expenses, and government encryption regulations, to mention a few.
Online Cybersecurity Programs in California
Many schools engage in some form of distant learning, but the amount to which they do so is crucial. Computer Forensics I and Cybersecurity Analysis are two online programs offered by Cal State Fullerton, however, they are both certifications. Distance education is reserved for graduate students at some schools, such as USC. There are no online cybersecurity programs at every degree level in the Golden State. Instead, the majority of the major internet players focus their services on a single academic level.
Online Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity
Although there are many certificate programs available, most aspiring cybersecurity professionals aim for an associate degree as their first academic certification. Students can either utilize their associate degree toward a bachelor’s degree or enter the workforce after taking both general education and introductory courses covering basic security concepts, operating systems administration, and networking. Cuyamaca College and Los Medanos College, for example, forego entirely online associate programs in favor of hand-picked online courses. This gives traditional students a taste of distance learning while working toward their associate degree.
Students can study both Introductions to Information Systems Security and Disaster Recovery online at Sacramento City College, for example. Three more hybrid courses are in the works, in which students meet with teachers in person yet attend classes and complete homework online. The curriculum is designed for students who aspire to work as network administrators and have no prior experience with cybersecurity principles. It helps individuals prepare for professional certifications like the CompTIA Security+ exam and some Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) examinations.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
A Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity is required for more sophisticated cybersecurity professions, such as those with federal agencies (or at least a degree with a security concentration). However, there aren’t many online bachelor’s degrees at that level in California. Mt. Sierra College is one of the few, and it’s a good choice if you’re unsure about the distance learning model. That’s because it employs a system called FlexLearn, which allows students to attend classes online or on-campus whenever they want. FlexLearn is an optional component, so if your certain distance education is right for you, you can complete your BS in Information Technology with an emphasis in Information Security entirely online.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
Several master’s degrees in cybersecurity are available online because, unlike with broader computer science or IT degree, students can really specialize and pursue a specific specialization. There are plenty of delivery options to choose from among California-based online master’s programs to find one that matches your work or personal schedule.
If you have the time to periodically visit campus, you might pick USC, which, according to U.S. News & World Report, offers the best online graduate information technology programs in the country. Enrollees in the MS in Computer Science (Computer Security concentration) or MS in Cybersecurity Engineering use DEN@Viterbi to watch live-streaming lectures with their on-campus peers and to ask questions. Alternatively, people can attend seminars whenever they like. Students from southern California must take exams on campus, while everyone else takes proctored assessments.
You also have options if you are not in the region and want more flexibility. The University of San Diego’s online learning environment, for example, is not connected with on-campus programs, unlike USC. This means that online students have their own professors and lectures, and they do not interact with students on campus. Because lectures are provided asynchronously, students have more flexibility during each seven-week term. Students communicate through chat rooms, email, and discussion boards. National University follows a similar online-only model, but adds specialties, with students learning how to be ethical hackers or diving deep into government security policy.
Online Certificate Programs in Cybersecurity
Certificates come in a variety of forms and sizes, including undergraduate and graduate, but only one common length: one year or fewer. If you’re interested in a field but don’t want to commit to a two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree, you can seek an online certificate. Graduate students can earn a certificate to supplement their existing computer science skills and prepare for a new or expanded professional role.
Universities can also dabble in the developing topic of cybersecurity by offering certificate programs rather than launching a higher-level degree program. Some California colleges have developed a sizable catalog of certificate programs, such as California State University-Fullerton, which offers two separate online certificate programs through its University Extended Education portal. Both are aimed at law enforcement officers who have to deal with cybercrime evidence or respond to internet attacks.
California State University-San Bernardino, for example, is proud of its cybersecurity center, which offers unique programs such as combining an MBA with a cybersecurity specialization. However, its online credential program is more focused, intending to provide future network administrators with the necessary skills to execute their jobs.
For remote learners, Stanford offers two options: a four-course cybersecurity graduate certificate or a six-course advanced computer security certificate. The first option is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree and covers essentials (e.g. operating systems, computer and network security, introduction to cryptography, etc.). The second alternative is far more complex, requiring a great deal of technical effort. This course is for people who have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a background in security.
If you’re a military officer or a civilian government official, the graduate degree courses offered by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey should equip you for high-stakes hacking against the US government. For example, the cybersecurity defense graduate certificate teaches practicing cybersecurity specialists how to detect prospective attacks by monitoring network traffic and how to respond promptly to assaults.
Cybersecurity Scholarships in California
As you progress through the ranks, the sources of funding for degrees change. You can focus your funding search at the masters and doctoral levels on private groups that are interested in your study. Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and graduate research jobs are also available. However, one element that remains constant across all academic levels is the possibility of receiving institutional scholarships. Here’s a rundown of what California institutions have set aside for cybersecurity students:
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
- Cal Poly Pomona has been awarded a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s CyberCorps Scholarships for Service program to teach students in cybersecurity. Scholars must complete extensive training, which includes hands-on research, contests, and industry certifications. Students will then assist government entities in enhancing the security of the nation’s information infrastructure.
California State University Sacramento
- Departmental Scholarships in Computer Science: Each year, the department awards three $1,500 scholarships to its students. The Information Assurance and Security program is part of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, which lists its own awards on a complete page, each with its own set of prerequisites.
California State University-San Bernardino
- Scholarship for Service through CyberCorps: With this scholarship for upperclassmen in a bachelor’s-level Information Assurance program who are headed to graduate school, full tuition is just the beginning. A stipend, a summer internship with the federal government, and a job placement following graduation are also provided to recipients.
Naval Postgraduate School
The National Security Agency funds an Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) at the Naval Postgraduate School for masters and Ph.D. candidates in computer science and engineering subjects.
Scholarship for Service: If students agree to a two-year civilian cybersecurity position with a government agency after graduation, they can have their tuition erased and receive $34,000 per year plus benefits.
Sacramento City College
Information Systems Security students with a 3.0 GPA are eligible for this $250 grant from the Computer Information Science Department.
University of Southern California
DEN@Viterbi Scholarship: This half reward is given to online students who work full-time and do not receive school financing from their employers.
Chinese students with a 3.8 GPA can apply for the Ming Qu and Ying Wu Memorial Scholarship, which will fund a $10,000 scholarship for residential master’s study at Viterbi School of Engineering.
Xinran Ji Memorial Scholarship: A $10,000 prize for students with a 3.8 GPA, similar to the Ming Qu and Ying Wu Memorial Scholarships. The main distinction is that the people of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are also invited to apply.
Online graduates who return to Viterbi for a second degree are eligible for exceptional reductions, including a three-unit fellowship in their final term.
Cybersecurity Events in California
Cybersecurity Meetups and Communities in California
California is densely packed with cybersecurity communities, stretching from the Bay Area to the Mexican border. Hackers may be found almost anywhere, but the polite ones tend to congregate at Meetups. Hacker Lab, a real and virtual facility in Sacramento; Los Angeles Hack Night, a meeting of hackers working on different projects in one other’s companies; and OpenLate, which hosts talks and hack nights at OpenDNS headquarters in San Francisco, are all good places to look for some. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), a nonprofit with active groups in San Diego, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles, hosts some cybersecurity events where hacking is less of a focus. Consider joining one of the following huge organizations:
This group is just as likely to network at a happy hour hotspot as it is to listen to incident response presentations from guests. Bay Area Cybersecurity Meetup: Equal parts informational and interpersonal, this group is just as likely to network at a happy hour hotspot as it is to listen to incident response presentations from guests.
Bay Area Cybersecurity Startups: This exclusive club, organized by TechCrunch contributor Mahindra Ramsinghani, is for cyber startup founders, entrepreneurs, and techies. The monthly events are centered on in-depth discussions with CEOs and CISOs.
– – – – – – – – – – – – LETHAL (Lethical Technical Hackers and Leets) meets once a month, without anonymity, to hear presentations from its 500+ members. Because many of them are new to cybersecurity, the organization holds ethical hacking training sessions regularly.
CyberTECH Cybersecurity is a San Diego-based event that brings security and Internet of Things specialists together with investors and innovation incubators. The NEST, a coworking space for tech entrepreneurs and freelancers, is its home base.
Data Mining for Cybersecurity (SF Bay Area): This group is for researchers, engineers, and hackers in the SF Bay Area who want to learn more about how data collecting and analysis may be used to keep computers and networks secure. It may not meet as frequently as other Meetups, but its events are too unique to be found anywhere else.
Cybersecurity Conferences and Workshops in California
Because California is at the hub of the technological revolution, multiple major cybersecurity conferences pass through the state every few years, many of which are hosted by professional groups. (Think of the Information Systems Security Association.) Others go on the road to provide training all year: the SANS Institute offers multi-day cybersecurity workshops in major California cities. However, a few conferences have taken root in California and are held at the same venue every year:
The Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) is a gathering of researchers, corporate sector security specialists, and government employees in Los Angeles for workshops on industrial control system security, tiered assurance, software security, and reverse engineering.
IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy: The IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy was first held in San Jose in 1980, and it is still a regular event on the calendars of researchers and professionals. The three-day program is structured around dozens of 20-minute lectures, with attendees urged to stay for a fourth day to participate in a workshop of their choice.
The International Cryptology Conference is held in Santa Barbara every year to present the most recent research on passwords, encryption, and ciphers.
The NDSS Symposium (Network and Distributed System Security Symposium) has its roots in San Diego. Attendees include researchers, CTOs, security analysts, and administrators who attend to hear presentations and discuss their consequences.
RSA Conference USA: RSA Conference USA brings together cybersecurity professionals in San Francisco for a week of pieces of training and talks on topics ranging from DevOps to recent legislation to technology infrastructure. At the conference’s Innovation Sandbox Contest, newly launched products compete for funding.
Cybersecurity Jobs in California
California had the highest job postings for cybersecurity specialists in 2014, with over 28,000 unique job postings. However, keep in mind that California is also the most populous state, thus the share of cybersecurity jobs in the total economy is only slightly greater than the national average.
The state government, on the other hand, isn’t resting on its laurels. It established the Cybersecurity Task Force in 2013, which brings together tech businesses, policymakers, educators, and researchers. The goal is for the state to become a leader in cyberspace and to grow its cybersecurity workforce.
It’s in a good position to do so. The task force has already formed a partnership with the state’s Innovation Hub (iHub) Network to promote cybersecurity innovation while also providing opportunities for entrepreneurs. It also houses the University of Southern California’s Center for Computer Systems Security (CCSS). The Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technology (TRUST) is a collaboration between UC Berkeley, Stanford, and San José State University that creates business-centric solutions to cybersecurity issues.
Those centers’ research is relied on by a large number of businesses. In 2015, California was home to over 10% of Fortune 500 companies. While the Bay Area is home to IT behemoths and networking behemoths, cybersecurity jobs may be found as far south as San Diego. Also, don’t forget about other California-based businesses that have a clear need for cybersecurity personnel. Consider banks and lenders that have access to a large amount of consumer financial data. Among the major players are:
The headquarters of Google (Mountain View), Apple (Cupertino), Cisco and eBay (San Jose), and Facebook (Mountain View) are all located in Silicon Valley, which is located in the southern section of the San Francisco Bay Area (Menlo Park). Oh, and there are startups for everything. All of them require assistance in maintaining the privacy of their consumers’ data.
San Francisco is only a short distance across the Bay, but it has its distinct culture. It’s the location of the GAP’s original shop, as well as the corporate offices of Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab. All three companies deal with a lot of money through online transactions and have a vested interest in keeping it safe.
Qualcomm, based in San Diego, is a global pioneer in wireless solutions and a bright spot for cybersecurity graduates. However, the United States Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command employ half of SD’s 6,000+ cybersecurity experts (SPAWAR).
Cybersecurity Salaries in California
Although simply living in California is a prize in itself, you may also be able to earn a good living in the state. California has four of the top 15 best-paying cities for information security specialists, and that is after adjusting for the cost of living. The “three Sans” — Francisco ($119,346), Jose ($99,075), and Diego ($98,303) — as well as Los Angeles ($86,072), are all worthwhile getaways.
Another useful statistic for forecasting possible earnings is a return on investment (ROI). Payscale’s College ROI Report, which examines the 20-year net ROI for computer science-related majors, lists 14 California schools among the top 30. Stanford (#1), UC Davis (#23 with in-state tuition), and UC Irvine (#27 with in-state tuition) are three colleges having cybersecurity programs.