The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Higher Education System Fails to Prepare Leaders for Era of Cyber Threat

Cybersecurity In a new study released March 26, 2013, the Pell Center of Salve Regina University found that the majority of America's "top" academic institutions are failing to provide students with the knowledge and tools necessary to combat cyber threats in the professional world. The report argues that "cyber defense requires not only IT (Information Technology) experts with computer science, electric engineering, and software security skills, but also professionals with an understanding of political theory, institutional theory, behavioral psychology, military ethics, international law, international relations, and additional social sciences." In light of these needs, the Pell Center conducted this study to survey "current efforts by graduate-level educational programs in the United States to prepare non-technical institutional leaders […] for an era of persistent cyber threat. It focuses primarily on the top […] ranked graduate schools […] in each of the major degree programs that traditionally develop leaders across society—Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of International Relations (IR), Master of Laws (LLM), Criminal Justice, and Healthcare Management—to assess what level of exposure to cyber issues students already receive and to what extent they graduate with an adequate understanding of the cyber challenges facing their respective fields." To do this, the Pell Center study examined U.S. News' top institutions that provide the best training in these fields of interest. U.S. News reported the following results: Best MBA programs: Harvard University Best MPA programs: Syracuse University Best MPP programs: University of California, Berkeley Best IR programs: Georgetown University Best LLM programs: Yale University Best Criminal Justice programs: University of Maryland, College Park Best Healthcare Management programs: University of Michigan Based on these rankings, the study examined these schools for their competence in cybersecurity training (i.e. the scope and number of dedicated or elective courses offered) using a Likert scale method of analysis. Each school received a grade on a scale of 0-4, with 4 being the highest score an institution can receive for adequate training. The Pell Center rated these same universities in the following way: Harvard University: 2.5 Syracuse University: 3 University of Berkeley: 2 Georgetown University: 3.5 Yale University: 0.5 University of Maryland, College Park: 2 University of Michigan: 2 These results show that "that there remains a strong imbalance between the evident need to educate future leaders about the complexities of cyberspace and the marginal role that cybersecurity education still plays in most graduate programs." Though some universities score on the high side of the Likert scale, the Pell Center argues that these universities, and others across the nation, need to further develop cybersecurity curriculum for non-technical students in order to more effectively protect our nation against emerging cyber threats.