Chair’s Message | The First Two Years: Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity

March 26, 2021

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy community,

This week included a mid-semester break from instruction, so I hope you had a chance to take some time for yourselves.

The school has been working this semester with Georgia Tech Professional Education, which administers the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree program (OMS Cyber), to put together a bigger picture of how the program has developed in its first two years.

We can now share some details on enrollment and industry sectors for employment. The program continues to grow. The 223-student spring 2021 cohort is the program’s largest (28% above 2020) for a spring semester. You can read about some of the OMS Cyber students here.  It’s been great to see the level of student engagement with the new school. Let us know if there are other ways we can help you connect with your professors and classmates.

2020 was a difficult year for everyone, but even in the middle of a pandemic there is reason to be optimistic about the direction the program is taking. Here are some of the highlights from the program as of December:

  • 80% of student enrollment is U.S.-based
  • Top 5 states for enrollment are Georgia, California, Virginia, Florida, and Texas
  • 84% of students are employed
  • Top sectors for employed students are technology, finance, and defense, each with ~10% or ▲
  • 1 out of every 4 new students in 2020 in the policy track identify as female
  • Enrollment of women increased in all three degree tracks in 2020
  • Black and Hispanic groups each make up at least 10 percent of enrollment

The school has developed an interactive graphic for OMS Cyber’s 2-year birthday that you can explore for yourself and use to find more insights into the program. Faculty have built a solid foundation with OMS Cyber, and combined with residential graduate degree programs, undergraduate courses, training certificates, and bootcamps, the school is in a good position to lead Georgia Tech in its next steps in cybersecurity and privacy education.

On another front: the Commission on Research Next just published its Phase 1 Report. The Commission was launched by Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research Chaouki T. Abdallah. The report is designed to identify and better understand research challenges universities will face in the next decade.

A major subsection of the report, “Research that Matters,” identifies seven societal challenges that will shape Georgia Tech’s research direction, and the topic of security makes two appearances:

  • Food, water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Healthcare and medicine
  • Transportation, energy, and infrastructure
  • Cybersecurity and privacy
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Education
  • Security, defense, and prevention of nuclear terror threats

Georgia Tech has a long record in cybersecurity research going back more than 20 years to the Sam Nunn Forum, which drew attention to the vulnerabilities of emerging computerized financial systems. As a former director of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center, I’m keenly aware of the opportunity and necessity to build our research enterprise in cybersecurity and privacy alongside our education programs. 

Wen Masters, deputy director of Information and Cyber Sciences in GTRI (and an advisor to SCP), is co-chair of Commission on Research Next. I encourage you to reach out to Wen or Wenke Lee, executive director of the Institute for Information Security and Privacy, to find out how to engage in this effort. Phase 2 is already underway.

Next Tuesday, March 30, is SCP’s monthly faculty meeting. Please join us as we share more news about the school’s ongoing development and how you can get involved.

On March 31, the National Security Agency will recognize Georgia Tech students for their top performance in the 2020 NSA Codebreaker Challenge (they placed 2nd). School faculty who are interested in attending the virtual celebration can contact Taesoo Kim, who has led GT participation in the program since it started in 2015. You can read about some of the students from the challenge and the invaluable experience it gave them in advancing their cybersecurity skill sets.

Please take a minute to see how you can connect with the school through events, my open office hour on Friday afternoons, or other opportunities. And if you have questions, drop us a note or contact me directly.

Thanks for reading.


Richard DeMillo 
Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing 
Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy  

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