Purdue University Northwest to offer new degree in cybersecurity | Local Education

HAMMOND — Purdue University Northwest will be offering a Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity, pending approval by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. 

PNW students currently enrolled in the computer information technology degree program with a concentration in cybersecurity will be eligible to transition to the new cybersecurity degree. 

Since 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have jointly designated PNW as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education for its computer information technology program. 

The bachelor’s degree will help undergraduates gain technical competency to protect networks, systems, programs and data from criminal or unauthorized use. 

The offering also comes amid a high labor demand in the Chicago metropolitan area. According to a news release from PNW, “the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted in 2020 that domestic cybersecurity jobs would grow by 33% through 2030. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development predicted a nearly 26% increase in cybersecurity jobs between 2018 and 2028.”

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Students work in a computer lab at Pudue University Northwest. 

“Purdue University Northwest constantly assesses how we can serve in-demand education and career interests,” Kenneth C. Holford, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a news release. “Transitioning some of our current Cybersecurity offerings into a four-year degree will help PNW recruit and prepare new classes of technology students well-trained in cybersecurity, who will be highly sought after by employers in this growing field. As an affordable, high-quality metropolitan university, PNW also will offer a significant financial advantage through this degree program compared to other nearby institutions and in Indiana.”

The concentration in cybersecurity with the bachelor’s degree in computer information technology increased significantly from when it was first offered in 2019 to spring 2022. 

Keyuan Jiang, professor and chairman of the Department of Computer Information Technology and Graphics, emphasized the high amount of interest. Currently, there are 81 students in the concentration; it started with nine. 

With the pandemic, Jiang said, technology has become even more relevant. Demand for information technology jobs is increasing, and more institutions are concerned about cyberattacks. 

He said he consistently sees several job postings in IT and companies asking for support in the field. 

PNW is the only public, four-year, in-person institution offering the Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity in the Chicago metropolitan area. Jiang mentioned that there are not a lot of programs with this degree in the area that are affordable. 

“I am very excited to see that this is going to happen,” Jiang said. “We have a great chance of being approved to offer this program.” 

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