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Since April 2002, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have consistently designated the University of Maryland University College as a leader in cybersecurity education. Late last month, the agencies renewed UMUC's status as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education (CAE IA/CD) for the academic years of 2014 to 2021.

The recognition, which was announced at the 18th Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education on June 16 in San Diego with several UMUC faculty members in attendance, reflects the university's credibility and academic reputation for high quality cybersecurity education, says Amjad Ali, associate vice president and cybersecurity advisor to the President.

"It was a great pleasure and honor to receive the letter of designation, as it validates the high quality of our cybersecurity-related programs," Dr. Ali says. "The designation is critical for the university's reputation in the area of cyber workforce education and development."

The goal of the CAE program is to "reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in [information assurance] and producing a growing number of professionals with IA expertise in various disciplines," according to the NSA website.

Having their university recognized as a CAE IA/CD allows UMUC students to apply to the U.S. Department of Defense's Information Assurance Scholarship Program, says Dr. Ali.

Although the recent designation represents a renewal of the university's status, there have been changes in the program. The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security "completely revamped" the knowledge areas in the designation, and changed the name of the center, which used to be called the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education (CAE/IAE), according to Dr. Ali.

The application process, he says, involved a "highly-rigorous review," which demonstrated commitment to academic excellence in cybersecurity education.

"During the application process, UMUC was assessed against criteria such as keeping the cyber programs current and up-to-date, developing and maintaining high-quality faculty, cyber-related outreach activities, students' engagement in cybersecurity professional and research activities, and the treatment of cybersecurity as a multidisciplinary science," he says.

Cybersecurity, according to Dr. Ali, is an emphasis at the university.

"UMUC is a leader in cybersecurity workforce education and development. Providing innovative and world class cybersecurity programs is one of the major strategic goals of UMUC," he says. "To ensure and maintain our leadership in the area of cybersecurity education, the achievement and maintaining this designation is a must, and it fits very well into the university's larger academic efforts in the area of cyber-workforce education and development."

The application required "significant effort" from many UMUC personnel, says Alan Carswell, chair of the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance Department at UMUC. "It was truly a team effort."