Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Kentucky Guide

Learn About Studying Cyber Security in Kentucky, Requirements and Job Growth Careers Guide

Cyber security is an excellent option for anyone looking to gain access to an ever-increasing job pool. As long as technology continues to improve, proliferate, and generally take over our day-to-day lives, the need for information and computer-related security will also increase. In this field, you may find yourself stopping or investigating computer-related crimes. Either way, the pay is good, the hours can be whatever you want them to be if you’re willing to move into a consulting/freelancing role, and you will have access to work no matter where in the country you live, be it rural Kentucky or another country.

Why an Advanced Degree in Kentucky is Needed

As in the rest of the country, Kentucky government, businesses, healthcare, and other employers need to protect their data, information, and computer systems. Health records, credit transactions, and banking have all experienced severe disruptions from cyberattacks. Many businesses operate under government regulations that promote privacy protection and Kentucky has emerging business models that rely upon data and information systems including social media, healthcare, energy, and financial tech hubs.

Kentucky’s computer-based and data intensive activities add to the growing need for highly skilled cyber security professionals. There are many demands for computer science graduates from accredited, well-regarded college programs with majors or concentrations in cyber security. The leading cyber security colleges and universities in Kentucky include innovative institutions like Northern Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and the University of the Cumberlands. In addition, students can access online programs through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). Salaries have followed demand as cyber security professionals command high salaries

Kentucky Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements

Associate’s Degree

These degrees are two-year college degrees that require about 60 hours of college credits. Qualifications for an associate degree program typically include a high school diploma or a GED. Many community colleges offer cyber security degrees in applied science that can prepare students for entry-level positions. Some students use a two year degree to set the stage to transfer to a four-year program and achieve a bachelor’s degree.

There are three general types of associate degrees in common usage; they are the Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), and the Associate of Applied Science (AAS). The AA and AS degrees can help students prepare for a bachelor’s degree, as many four-year schools accept them as proof of completion of two years of college study. Applied Science degrees focus on preparing students to enter the workforce.

Bachelor’s Degree

These are four-year degrees in which the typical program requires about 120 credit hours of study, or around 40 classes. There are two major types of bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS). Bachelor of arts degrees tend to involve a focus on humanities studies, while BS degrees tend to emphasize mathematics and/or the sciences. BA programs require a higher amount of coursework in the liberal arts areas than do BS programs. Liberal arts programs may have courses in foreign languages, fine arts, and/or social sciences. Most cyber security degrees are science based programs that emphasize mathematics and computer science.

Master’s Degree

These are advanced degrees, reaching a level of education that demonstrates mastery of a subject. The master’s degree is considered a level beyond the bachelor’s degree and often requires students to have a bachelor’s in a related field in order to enter a master’s program. Master’s programs may require holders with degrees in unrelated fields to take additional coursework.

Most master’s degrees require one to two years of study and some require a special project, internship, or master’s thesis prior to graduation. Master’s degrees have grown in popularity and some fields regard the master’s degree as the preferred level of education.

Certifications in Kentucky

Earning a certificate is a faster process for gaining and demonstrating knowledge. Whereas associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees take from two to six years, many certificates require one year or less. Certificate programs can run along with or independent of a degree program. Certificates essentially take the core of a subject and teach it in a short period of study but these programs will also have a narrower focus than an associate or higher level degree program.

For many students, certificates enhance an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree but do not replace it. For many professionals, certificates can demonstrate new capabilities and higher levels of knowledge while also fulfilling the need for ongoing education.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is an outside review of the quality of education and resources provided by a school, college, or university. There are two types of accreditation: institutional accreditation covers the entire college or university and its programs and can be regional or national, while specialized accreditation applies to specific subjects taught by a school, college, or university. Accreditation agencies are not viewed as equals by employers, educators, and other educational institutions. The most widely accepted accreditation comes from regional agencies qualified by the US Department of Education. The DOE regional accreditation agency for Kentucky is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

In the field of cyber security, the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) program is an industry leader. This organization is co-sponsored by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The CAE-CD was established to meet expanding federal government needs for advanced cyber security professionals. This organization seeks to increase skills and knowledge within states, local governments, and private industry.

Three Kentucky colleges have recognition by the Centers in Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE). These schools offer programs that meet the standards of the leading cyber security standards. They are the public Northern Kentucky University, University of Louisville, and the private University of the Cumberlands.

CAE Accredited Programs in Kentucky

  • Bluegrass Community and Technical College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • Murray State University
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • Northern Kentucky University
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • Owensboro Community and Technical College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • University of Louisville – Graduate Certificate of Cybersecurity
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • University of Louisville, Kentucky
    CAE-CD / 2019-2024
  • University of the Cumberlands
    CAE-CD / 2017-2022

Computer Science IT Programs in Kentucky

  • Sullivan University

    Sullivan University is a private, for-profit institution. Sullivan University primary awards two-year degrees, but their programs include certificate, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and undergraduate and postgraduate certificates. The student body has about 3,600 total enrollments with 2,800 undergraduates. Sullivan offers small classes and a supportive learning environment.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree
    Information Technology Project Management – Master’s Degree
    Network and System Administration/Administrator – Associate Degree & Undergraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $12,870
    Average Net Price: $30,541
    Graduation Rate: 29%

  • Northern Kentucky University

    Founded in 1968, NKU celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2018. NKU is a metropolitan university serving 14,000 students. The 2,000 member faculty and staff work in a thriving suburban campus area in Highland Heights, Kentucky, seven miles southeast of Cincinnati. NKU serves Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati Area; it offers private school education for a fraction of the typical cost. Despite its status as one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, the school prides itself on a student focused, supportive learning environment.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Undergraduate & Graduate Certificates
    Computer Programming/Programmer – Undergraduate Certificate
    Computer Science – Master’s Degree
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management – Undergraduate & Graduate Certificates
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degrees
    Information Technology Project Management – Undergraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $10,032
    Out-of-State: $19,680
    Average Net Price: $9,753
    College Retention Rate: 69% (Full-time Students); 20% (Part-time Students)

  • University of Kentucky

    This four-year public institution is the flagship university for the State of Kentucky University system. It is located in a large city setting in Lexington, Kentucky with a total enrollment of nearly 30,000 students, of which approximately 22,000 are undergraduates. The school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctoral Degrees
    Informatics – Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $12,245
    Out-of-State: $29,099
    Average Net Price: $19,762
    College Retention Rate: 85% (Full-time Students); 39% (Part-time Students)

  • Western Kentucky University

    A four-year, public university offering certificates, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Western Kentucky University offers a small city environment. The student population is around 19,500 with approximately 17,00 undergraduates. The faculty to student ratio is 18:1.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences, General – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees, & Undergraduate Certificates
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Undergraduate Certificate
    Information Sciences/Studies – Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $10,512
    Out-of-State: $26,280
    Average Net Price: $12,486
    College Retention Rate: 71% (Full-time Students); 26% (Part-time Students)

  • Murray State University

    Located in Murray, Kentucky, Murray State University offers a rural location and small town experience to its 9,400+ students. With about 8,000 undergraduates, the school provides a comfortable learning environment with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The school supports certificates and associate, bachelor’s, master’s , and doctoral degrees.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor’s Degree
    Information Science/Studies - Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $9,084
    Out-of-State: $25,540
    Average Net Price: $12,270
    College Retention Rate: 79% (Full-time Students); 100% (Part-time Students)

Kentucky Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

The below-listed colleges and schools offer two-year degrees and one to two-year certificate programs in computer science, information science, and/or cyber security-related programs of study. Associate degrees and certificates can launch a career in cyber security, prepare you for a bachelor’s degree, or enhance an existing career path. Some schools offer programs that equip graduates to enter the job force at an entry-level.

Community Colleges are accredited institutions that most often offer degrees below the level of a bachelor’s degree. Many community colleges offer programs that allow students to transfer to a four-year college or university. Some community colleges have specific agreements that guarantee acceptance of their credits towards a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

  • Beckfield College - Florence

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $13,295
    Average Net Price: $19,454
    College Retention Rate: 18%

  • Ashland Community and Technical College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,248
    Out-of-State: $14,400
    Average Net Price: $5,733
    College Retention Rate: 59% (Full-time Students); 46% (Part-time Students)

  • Big Sandy Community and Technical College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,248
    Out-of-State: $14,400
    Average Net Price: $5,398
    College Retention Rate: 61% (Full-time Students); 34% (Part-time Students)

  • Bluegrass Community and Technical College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $4,328
    Out-of-State: $14,480
    Average Net Price: $7,117
    College Retention Rate: 57% (Full-time Students); 39% (Part-time Students)

Scholarships

  • US Bank Cyber security Scholarship/Northern Kentucky University

    Amount: Varies
    Deadline: TBA
    Link: https://nku.edu/news/2017/170828USBankCyberScholarships.html
    Applicants must be undergraduate students at the Northern Kentucky University, have a 3.0 GPA, and submit a letter of recommendation. The fund awarded three grants in 2018.

  • Ralph W. Whalin Scholarship/Eastern Kentucky University

    Amount: $1,000
    Deadline: Varies
    Link: https://technology.eku.edu/sites/technology.eku.edu/files/files/scholarships/Whalin_wai.pdf
    The Ralph Whalin Scholarship awards funds to a junior or lower level student who is enrolled full-time in the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. Applicants will have three or more semesters remaining before graduation and present a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

  • Professor Ed Swinford Scholarship/Eastern Kentucky University

    Amount: TBA
    Deadline: TBA
    Link: https://technology.eku.edu/sites/technology.eku.edu/files/files/scholarships/Swinford_wai.pdf
    Eligible applicants must be full-time students, enrolled, and in the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. Successful applicants will have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher along with a short essay supporting the use of the Swinford funds for their educational goals.

  • Rural technology Fund Cyber Security Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000
    Deadline: April 15
    Link: https://ruraltechfund.org/rtf-scholarships/
    Eligibility includes graduating high school seniors or college undergraduates attending school in a rural area. They may apply for this scholarship in computer science and cyber security. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in cyber security and show plans to pursue a degree in a computer-related field.

  • Stokes Educational Scholarship- National Security Agency

    Amount: $30,000 tuition assistance and fees
    Deadline: November 15
    Link: https://apply.intelligencecareers.gov/job-description/1133773
    The Stokes scholarship program is a full-time student position and summer internship with the NSA. Students get an annual salary, attend the college of their choice, and get an internship in the field of cyber security. High school seniors intending on majoring in engineering and computer science are eligible for participation. The program requires US citizenship, and a minimum SAT score of 1200. They prefer to award students with GPA’s of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated leadership skills.

Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and workshops offer opportunities for information security professionals, students, and other interested persons to gather and exchange views. The list below describes some noteworthy annual Kentucky conferences and workshops.

Kentucky Digital Government Summit

The 2020 meeting is sponsored by Government Technology, a division of e.Republic,Inc. E.Republic,Inc. is a technology research company focused on public-sector innovation for state, local governments, and education. The Kentucky Government Technology Summit in Frankfort, Ky is an annual event that brings together government sand industry leaders to discuss and promote Digital solutions to public policy and governance.

NKU Cyber security

Symposium is an annual event hosted by Northern Kentucky University. It is a one-day event, consisting of four hour-long sessions. It has a broad agenda and participants can choose among six specialty tracks that include current topics of concern like health care cyber security.

DerbyCon

Located in the center of Louisville, this five-day event attracts a wide range of infosec participants. The program appeals to nearly everyone in the cyber security sector including professionals, entrepreneurs, and hackers. DerbyCon offers five days of workshops, training sessions, and current issue presentations.

Louisville Metro InfoSec Conference

ISSA Kentuckiana Chapter has been sponsoring this annual one-day gathering since 2003. Members get in free, while all others must pay for entry to a packed agenda of security experts from the private sector.

Kentucky Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

Computer related occupations are an important part of the Kentucky economy. They fill important roles in the functioning of an increasingly computerized state economy and they also provide a substantial amount of income for Kentucky workers. The Bureau of Labor statistics reports fourteen classifications of computer related occupations, involving about 33,000 positions. They are technical occupations in high-demand with an overall average annual salary range of $72,000.

Computer and mathematical occupations occupy less than three percent of all current Kentucky jobs. The Computer and mathematics occupations show an annual projected growth rate of 1.5% per year through 2026. The 1.5% annual growth estimate is among the highest rates for Kentucky occupational groups. Available career paths include the below-described positions.

  • Information Security Analysts have a total employment in Kentucky of about 800 jobs with an annual average wage of $84,000.
  • Computer Systems Analysts hold about 4,310 total jobs in Kentucky, with an annual average wage of $71,500.
  • Computer Programmers have about 1,270 jobs in Kentucky, with an annual average salary of approximately $73,000.
  • Database Administrators hold about 960 positions in Kentucky, with an average $79,000 annual salary.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators comprise a significant number of Kentucky jobs at about 3,190 total positions. Their average annual salary is about $65,000.

Resources

Kentucky currently has a relatively low number of cyber security organizations, and some do not maintain regular meetings. The benefits of working with these organizations are important for students as they can gain valuable insights and networking opportunities. Regular meetings are a helpful part of the Kentucky cyber security community; their agendas can highlight areas of interest for students and areas of change, growth, and innovation. They include the (ISC)2 Kentucky Triangle Chapter and ISSA Kentuckiana.

  • ISC2
    Kentucky Triangle Chapter (International Information System Security Certification Consortium) offers information and security professionals a vibrant setting for networking information and innovations. The chapter regularly invites government and leading industry voices to contribute to its educational events.
  • ISSA
    Kentuckiana is the Information Systems Security Association chapter located in Louisville. ISSA members are Infosec professionals and the organization also welcomes student attendance and participation at chapter meetings. The meetings are often based around presentations from government officials and industry leaders from the private sector.
  • OWASP
    Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is an online community that provides an interactive platform for exchanging ideas, projects activities, and information for improving the security of software. OWASP projects offer students and professionals opportunities to engage in the state of the art problem solving, innovation, and research. OWASP is open to everyone and each user can have access to materials and information.
  • ISACA
    formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association - provides information and guidance for participants in the fields of cyber security and information technology. The Kentucky Chapter of ISACA offers student memberships that can support active networking, education, and industry insights. This group does not have regular meetings but they do offer a scholarship with three $500 awards.
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