St. Mary's University to offer cybersecurity master's degree

Program to combine computer science, engineering, math, business, law


SAN ANTONIO – Beginning this fall, St. Mary's University will offer a master's degree program in cybersecurity.

"What we believe is different about the St. Mary's offering is the breadth and the depth and the concentration with the campus and its resources," said Dr. Winston Erevelles, dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology.

The program will incorporate computer science, engineering and math, along with aspects of business and law, focusing on areas of security policy and risk management.

"We have sensitive information including our credit cards, our financial information, our health information, so we need our students to know how to protect this amount of data," said Dr. Ayad Barsoum, professor and program director. "Not only the data, but the infrastructure upon which this data will be installed."

The program will include two tracks, one course-based and one thesis-based.

"The ideal candidate will have a bachelor's degree in computer science," Ervelles said. "He or she will have a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or software engineering."

However, Ervelles said, those degrees are not hard and fast requirements. Courses can be adjusted to supplement what students might need.

"This is not a field that's going away anytime soon," he said.

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see a 37 percent increase in Information Security Analysts by 2022.

"We've been attacked from all sides. Everybody's looking to the United States to get trade secrets, military information," said engineering professor Dr. Djaffer Ibaroudene. "So all of these assets are extremely important to protect."

Three courses will be created for the program, which include Mathematics for Cryptography, Security Policy and Law, and Risk Management and Mitigation.

The courses will begin being offered during the 2015 fall semester. Ervelles expects to have 15 to 25 students enrolled in the debut semester.

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