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Maryland to Bridge Cybersecurity Workforce Gap with Groundbreaking Bachelor's Degree Program

  • Bethesda, MD
  • October 1, 2020

The Maryland Higher Education Commission has approved a groundbreaking professional cybersecurity bachelor’s degree – the Bachelor of Professional Studies in Applied Cybersecurity (BACS) to be granted by the SANS Technology Institute (SANS.edu), a regionally accredited college in Maryland.

BACS graduates will complete immersion training taught by nationally recognized cybersecurity professionals. The program will include extensive hands-on lab work, and students will earn eight professional cybersecurity certifications demonstrating that they have the practical skills to excel in cybersecurity careers. BACS graduates will also complete all Maryland requirements for general education (English, math, science, arts, and humanities), a robust set of foundational IT and computer science courses, a targeted professional development curriculum to develop effective cybersecurity-focused written and oral communications skills, and an internship as a handler and analyst at the Internet Storm Center.

Expands access and lowers costs by partnering with community colleges

To expand access to the BACS, Montgomery College, Maryland’s largest and most technically advanced community college, has established a pathway that enables its students to directly transfer into the BACS program. High school graduates may also be accepted directly into the BACS program, but they must complete their general education and foundational IT courses at Montgomery College before diving into SANS.edu immersion courses. In addition, under Montgomery College’s dual enrollment program, high school students who demonstrate a strong aptitude for careers in cybersecurity can complete some of their BACS courses while still in high school. This will enable them to graduate from high school with college credit, saving money in tuition, and to accelerate their completion of the BACS program.

Margaret Latimer, vice president and provost for the collegewide STEM unit at Montgomery College, says, “BACS removes the barrier faced by many community college graduates: industry demand for a bachelor’s degree, while leveraging what community colleges already offer to provide an option that is less expensive than many 4-year programs. It is another example of how Montgomery College is meeting its vision to be a national model of educational excellence, opportunity, and student success, characterized by agility and relevance.”

Establishes a model for the future of higher education

Sanjay Rai, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Montgomery College, added that “Montgomery College sees the BACS as an extraordinary illustration that the future of higher education is here. The BACS is an innovative next generation opportunity, building on the work that MC has done over the years to address the need for a well-developed, inclusive and varied talent pipeline for cybersecurity employer needs. Cyber threats have disrupted every sector of our lives; the SANS Technology Institute and MC are responding with a program that improves upon the traditional higher education model in order to address a critical need in the public, private, and government sectors. Our students, including our dually enrolled students, will have the opportunity to be accepted directly into the BACS program, and complete a baccalaureate degree with the expertise they will need to be successful in cybersecurity careers.”

“With the help of Montgomery College,” said Alan Paller, President of the SANS Technology Institute, “BACS will enable thousands of talented Maryland students to establish strong academic foundations and develop high levels of professional skills giving them a powerful advantage in competing for the important cybersecurity jobs that protect the nation and its infrastructure.”

Takes the risk out of finding and hiring new cybersecurity employees for employers

Cybersecurity employers currently invest in sending more than 40,000 of their employees to pursue SANS training and GIAC certifications each year, confirming the value they see in the up-to-date, real-world training SANS provides and in the skills validation of Global Information Assurance Certifications (GIAC). By completing those same SANS courses at SANS.edu, an independent division of the SANS Institute and a sister organization to GIAC, BACS graduates will bring those same cutting-edge and validated skills to employers as new hires.

How to learn more and how to apply to BACS

Applications to the first BACS class will be accepted beginning on November 1, 2020 and ending on December 15, 2020 at www.sans.edu/bacs. 

Free Online Information Sessions
October 15: 12 p.m. (ET)
October 21: 4 p.m. (ET)
October 29: 11 a.m. (ET)

Students can learn more about the bachelor’s degree program at upcoming free online information sessions featuring Margaret Latimer, the Vice President and Provost for the STEM unit at Montgomery College and Alan Paller, the President of the SANS Technology Institute. More info at www.sans.edu/bacs.

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 60 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates a practitioner’s qualifications via over 35 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers master's degrees in cyber security. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community. (https://www.sans.org)