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National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)

This program, sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was established as a joint effort in 2004. The program focuses on cyerbsecurity and the reduction of vulnerabilities in our information structure through the promotion of higher education and research. There are several options with this program to include two and four year opportunities at accredited institutions across the United States. Schools must meet extremely stringent criteria before approval of a core cyber curriculum and U.S. Government recognition.

Cyber Security concept. Cloud containing words related to Cyber Security.

Institutions receive prestige for their status as CAE-CD and represent the goal of vulnerability reduction in national information infrastructure. Promoting cyber defense in higher education and through research fosters critical cyber expertise and professionalism, worldwide.

In addition to NSA and DHS, CAE funding is available from other sources such as the National Science Foundation. The programs as such include critical technologies surrounding cyber operations and specialties (collection, exploitation, etc.) that protect our national security infrastructure and are key elements for intelligence, law enforcement and military operations.

As a CAE for the academic years 2014-2021, the University Maryland, University College (UMUC), serves as a leader in educating cybersecurity workforces worldwide. As a participant in the Cybsercurity Management and Policy program, I was exposed to the most innovative, strategic, world class program in cyber. Specifically, the coursework, milestones and deliverables that surround the core principles of leadership, strategic and critical thinking and innovation in the application of cybersecurity.

Students from all corners of the globe flock to UMUC and to this program, bringing a wealth of knowledge, skills and abilities to share in the fight against cyber terror and crime. The value of this diversity, worldwide, for one cause is dynamic and as a CAE, an opportunity that UMUC prides themselves upon. To date, I have worked with a myriad of students with diverse backgrounds within the intelligence community; my classmates are military, contractors and civilians, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, CEOs and company Presidents. Each aspect of learning within a CAE encompasses real world scenarios, hands-on expertise, solution-oriented learning as well as cooperative decision making, resulting in a well-rounded, fully educated cyber warrior. A challenging and technical environment, the ability to absorb this information under one roof with a multitude of talent is limitless. New and emerging areas are constantly offered, continuously preparing students for a variety of careers and positions in the cyber sector.

Overall, CAEs provide students with the holistic knowledge, skills and abilities they need to develop protections vital for our nation’s security. Some of the benefits achieved when participating in CAEs include: specialized education and experiences, exposures to other cultures, languages and organizations, interaction with the intelligence community, opportunities for employment, internships, and more. Students also have the ability to supplement their cyber interests with forensics, policy, software or networks, for example, all while obtaining a thorough understanding of legal and ethical issues surrounding cybersecurity and cyber operations as part of the coursework offered by the CAE.

For more information on program guidance, requirements and resources as well as a link to CAE schools, please visit the reference below.

References & Career Planning Tools 

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About The Author

Dr. Donna Day is a Manager at the Department of Defense, where she has been for more than 30 years. With a background in Information Assurance, Customer Engagement and Marketing, more recently she has been studying Cyber security Policy and Management at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC). She earned her Doctor of Management, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science Degree in Technology Management at UMUC and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing at the University of Baltimore. Dr. Day is also an Adjunct Professor at Norwich University in Vermont, where she teaches Cyber security, Critical Infrastructure and Information Assurance courses to a myriad of students, worldwide, from across the intelligence community. A published author, Baltimore Ravens fan, and life-long learner, she enjoys writing, traveling, cooking, and most importantly, spending time with her family and friends.