Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to select a cybersecurity graduate school

Upfront disclaimer, I am biased. I am the chair for SANS Rocky Mountain 2017 and Director of Academic Advising for the SANS Technology Institute. That said, I am going to try to offer a range of thoughts from many sources.

This all started when I received an email from the Senior Editor: at (www.cybersecuritymastersdegree.org), recommending their website as a resource.

I went to their website and it looks pretty good and seems to be balanced. But it got me thinking. What if I enter the search string "how to select a cybersecurity graduate school" into Google.

The top ranked, non-ad, site for that query is the University of San Diego.  They offer commonsense advice, There are a number of factors to consider, including school reputation, teacher caliber, cost and curriculum that can help you narrow down your options.

And they ask an important question, (that I do not think they really answer), So how do you determine what schools have the best reputation in your field?

The number two hit was bestschools.org listing the 25 best online programs. According to them the top three are Penn State, Northeastern, and Boston University. This is clearly proof that the Northeast coast rules the cybersecurity roost. BZZT.

Next up, Cyberdegrees.org, with Regis, Capella and Syracuse. They look even less believable. Sigh.

Let's change the search string to simply "cybersecurity graduate school".

The top ranked, non-ad, site for that query is gradschools.com, they have a filter system and run a number of scripts on your browser, the rank is Kaplan, Syracuse, University of Delaware.

The number two hit was a CSO article and their top three were: American Military University, Carnegie Mellon, and Fordham. At this point, I am fairly sure that everyone but the University of San Diego is making this stuff up.

OK, let's try for some ground truth, for each top 3 school let's Google the name of the school and the word cybersecurity and put them in rank order. I am also going to add Norwich and Purdue because I am familiar with their programs and SANS.

American Military University 1.26M
University of San Diego 980k
University of Delaware 829k
Boston University 770k
Penn State 598k
Northeaster 372k
Purdue 321k
SANS Technology Institute 312k
Carnegie Mellon 302k
Kaplan 262k
Syracuse 224k
Norwich 181k
Regis 137k
Fordham 121k
Capella 71.4k

My next step is to reply back to Shaun McKay, Senior Editor and ask for his take.

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