Sacred Heart University in Fairfield will begin a new master’s program in cybersecurity, designed to provide students with an introduction to information security, risk and threat management, and security architecture.

“It’s filling a need,” says Domenick Pinto, associate professor and chairman of SHU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology. “The job market in this discipline is phenomenal, but there are not a lot of cybersecurity specialists. Moreover, there’s a severe shortage in Connecticut of graduate schools that are offering an education in this field.”

Could be completed in 15 months

Students can study in SHU’s 36-credit cybersecurity program on a full- or part-time basis, starting this fall. The courses will be offered in a trimester schedule, with most classes held on weeknights or Saturdays, and the degree can be completed in as little at 15 to 24 months.

Courses will include cryptography, systems security, digital forensics, securing the Cloud and ethical hacking. Most of the courses will be taught by working professionals — people in cybersecurity positions at organizations in the Fairfield County area, including a forensic specialist for a local police department.

‘Economic and national security challenge’

Pinto noted that President Barack Obama has weighed in on the need for more expertise in the field. In a 2009 speech, the president declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.”

On the jobs front, Pinto says that SHU’s computer science program is a frequent source for area companies looking to fill internships and salaried positions.

“If anything, we have too few students to send to jobs,” he said. “And I don’t imagine that’s going to be any different in the cybersecurity field.

“Local and New York City-based companies are expanding in the area of cybersecurity,” Pinto said. “It’s needed by all sorts of businesses everywhere.”