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Pacific launches cybersecurity program

Next generation of internet security force trained at university
Mar 15, 2017

Pacific this fall will begin training the next-generation cybersecurity workforce to combat cyberattacks threatening personal privacy and the confidential data stored by businesses, government and other organizations.

The university's School of Engineering and Computer Science will offer a master's degree in cybersecurity, a field expected to continue extraordinary growth as information becomes more vulnerable to hacking by increasingly well-organized criminal and quasi-governmental groups. U.S. News & World Report ranked information security analysts at No. 7 on its list of Best Technology Jobs. The program will be offered on its Stockton Campus.

"With the master of science in cybersecurity, we have an incredible opportunity to be at the forefront of protecting the information collected through our various electronic devices, including mobile devices and smart homes," said Steven Howell, dean of Pacific's School of Engineering and Computer Science. "That means protecting personal privacy, but also bolstering public safety and our economy by protecting our financial institutions, telecommunications and utilities from cyberattacks. This is going to be a degree with great potential for professional success."

The global demand for cybersecurity professionals is higher than supply and the talent shortage is considered a critical issue.

"The problem is that cybersecurity professionals - who combine broad technical skills with specific security expertise and an understanding of business risk - are hard to find," according to job search engine giant Indeed. "For instance, Cisco estimates that there are currently 1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide, while industry giant Symantec predicts that by 2019 the number will be 1.5 million."

Pacific's program will help close that gap.

"This program offers unique, hands-on laboratory training that prepares students to be cybersecurity professionals in a burgeoning career field," said Jeff Shafer, founding program director and an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Job postings for master's level cybersecurity experts have increased by 88 percent locally and 60 percent throughout California from 2013 to 2016 in the fields of finance, technology, health care, you name it. The career outlook is very bright for people getting into cybersecurity."

Similar degree programs elsewhere target students pursuing doctorates and careers in research. Others involve courses toward a certificate that may not be enough to meet an employer's need for cybersecurity expertise.

A master's degree can increase a salary by 15 to 25 percent over a bachelor's degree, according to industry experts, and estimates graduates with a master's in cybersecurity can earn as much as $94,500 or more per year in California. With time and experience, top IT security salaries can average $233,000, according to a 2016 Forbes story on the top cybersecurity salaries.

Computer savvy students with a bachelor's degree in any field can apply to Pacific's program. (Computer programing and discrete math skills are required.) In the highly technical, interdisciplinary curriculum, students will learn in-demand skills such as:

  • Detecting and preventing computer network attacks
  • Network reconnaissance, intrusion and data exfiltration from defensive and offensive standpoints
  • Reverse engineering malware to understand its design, operation and communications protocols
  • Identifying and preventing vulnerabilities in software applications
  • The role of cryptography in securing software development
  • Cybersecurity law and policy

To learn more about Pacific's Master of Science of Cybersecurity program, visit

Cybersecurity is the latest graduate program in technology added by Pacific to meet workforce demand. The Master of Science in Data Science program for working professionals focuses on the collection, analysis and visualization of big data. The program began in fall 2015 at Pacific's San Francisco Campus and has since expanded to the university's Sacramento Campus. To learn more about data science, visit

Media contact:
Keith Michaud | 209.946.3275 (office) | 209.470.3206 (cell) |

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