UTSA faculty hopes to institute new online cybersecurity degree


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Danielle Throneberry

The UTSA curriculum committee reviewed two proposals and recommended them for approval by the faculty senate. The first is a Bachelor of Arts online degree in cybersecurity and the second is a minor in intelligence and security studies. The necessity for the programs is two-fold; there is a high job market necessity for the studies and a paralleled need for an online learning program.

According to the Computer Science Department Chair Rajendra Boppana, “The B.A. cybersecurity degree program is based on and includes many of the required courses in the current B.S. computer science degree. It provides a strong foundation of computer science and broad coverage of various cybersecurity topics.”

The program complements an online B.B.A. program in cybersecurity, which recently emerged. However, the B.A. degree is geared more towards the learning and developing of new technology, whereas the B.B.A cybersecurity degree is more focused on the application of technology.

The program is projected to attract more students to UTSA who may not have the ability to attend otherwise. Furthermore, Boppana reports, “It also includes 18 hours of free electives, which can be used by students to customize their B.A. degree plan.” This means students will be able to seek a minor in another area without having to accumulate credit hours beyond the 120 hours required for the degree.

Another benefit of the program is the ability for both B.S. computer science and masters students to take some classes online, which is intended to improve graduate enrollment. UTSA has seen an increase recently in graduate and undergraduate enrollment of 1.35 percent. Many other UT System schools have seen a decrease in their master’s program enrollment. UTSA hopes to capitalize on the trend through the accessibility of its courses along with curriculum development.

The courses are designed for students with previous experience in cybersecurity to attain credit for their knowledge based on competency tests. From here, students can essentially customize their own degree plan, which curtails the amount of time spent on completing the degree. The level of personalization separates the online degree from a traditional course-based degree program.

Ultimately, Boppana states, “the B.A. cybersecurity degree is designed to be suitable for those looking for job opportunities in cybersecurity as well as for those interested in advanced graduate studies.”

Funding and course modifications are completely funded by the Institute for Transformational Learning (ITL), meaning UTSA students do not finance the endeavors directly.

Additionally, the minor in intelligence and security studies includes two foreign language courses and four to five courses in intelligence and security studies. The goal is to train students to pursue careers in intelligence and security fields such as the NSA, CIA, FBI and several other government entities. The program hopes to attract students from a range of disciplines including, but not limited to, business and the sciences. The curriculum will establish six new courses justified by the swelling job market.

UTSA’s development of a completely online degree is intended to increase enrollment numbers and the overall brand of the university. Initiatives such as the expanding of online degrees is one of many initiatives that UTSA is implementing to reach tier-one status.