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Why APUS Is a National Center of Academic Excellence

Why APUS Is a National Center of Academic Excellence
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Get started on your cybersecurity degree at American Military University.

By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, InCyberDefense  

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). The goal of this program is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by:

  • Promoting higher education and research in cyber defense
  • Producing professionals with cyber defense expertise

I recently discussed the significance of this rare achievement with Dr. Kenneth Williams, CISSP, and APUS Program Director of Cybersecurity.

How does a university qualify for inclusion in the CAE-CD program?

Prospective schools must meet rigorous criteria set forth by the NSA and DHS. Schools must go through a pre-assessment process, followed by an assessment, comments, and mentorship. The program allows submission for acceptance twice per year.

To qualify for the CAE designation, schools must ensure their programs are closely aligned with specific cybersecurity-related knowledge units, validated by experts in the field. Here, these knowledge units are spread across 12 different courses.

Do universities receive any type of financial award or assistance for being part of the program?

No. However, membership is a prerequisite for certain grants and scholarships that are only made available to schools in the program. Funding opportunities may be available from other sources, such as the National Science Foundation.

For instance, the Department of Defense (DoD) offers individual scholarships to students enrolled in schools that are admitted to the CAE program. In addition, the DoD also provides capacity-building grants for institutions to hire faculty members and build academic programs related to the field of cybersecurity.

How many schools are part of the program?

Nationwide, only about 200 universities are members of the CAE-CD program. American Public University System is one of those schools.

Does membership provide any other benefits for a university?

Members of the CAE-CD are eligible for certain contracting opportunities with the U.S. government. As an example, military branches may allow only schools in this program to bid on educational contracts to train their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on cybersecurity.

What are the benefits for a student attending a school designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence?

Employers all over the world understand that students who attend a member university are required to complete a rigorous program in cybersecurity. Once students attend a university with the NSA CAE-CD designation, they are much better prepared when they take the test for many cybersecurity certifications. Also, the NSA CAE-CD program is a good thing to have on your resume.

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