Kent State Bridges Gap With New Cybersecurity Major

The gap between the number of trained cybersecurity professionals and the number of available positions has increased in the past few years. To help bridge the gap, Kent State University’s College of Applied and Technical Studies will be offering an associate’s degree in cybersecurity starting Fall 2021. Adding the Associate Degree to the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Cybersecurity and Forensics allows students to select the academic path that best meets their needs and career goals.

The Board of Trustees approved a cybersecurity major within the Associate of Applied Business degree in Sept. 2019. Later in 2020, the Ohio Board of Higher Education officially approved the major. 

Shelley Marshall, associate lecturer in Information Technology at Kent State, explained the popularity behind cybersecurity.

“There’s a big gap, not only in Ohio, but also across the country with cybersecurity professionals,” Marshall said. “Part of that is because of the shift to online services like banking and shopping, and even the proliferation of apps that we use to manage everyday things. All rely on a strong cybersecurity professional and secure environment.”

Marshall added there had been an increase in cyber breaches and ransomware that requires cybersecurity professionals in areas where they were not needed before.

“Driving the need for strengthened security down to small businesses, schools and daycares and areas where we didn’t used to have cybersecurity professionals, they are necessary now due to the increase in ransomware and data breaches,” Marshall said.

Marshall expressed the associate’s degree can help students land entry-level positions to support higher-level security professionals like chief security officers or network managers.

“The associate degree really focuses on those entry-level skills,” Marshall said. “Technology fluency, policy, best practices, ethical hacking and penetration testing.”

Will Ward, associate professor in Information Technology at Kent State University at Trumbull, expressed his excitement about the new major and explained how the major will help Kent State offer what local community colleges offer.

“This is a degree where students can come in, get the degree, get a job and come back to school if they want to get a bachelor’s degree,” Ward said.

The associate degree fits into the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, which makes the transition simple for students looking to continue their education after receiving an associate degree, Ward said.

“We are excited,” Ward said. “Our enrollment is up in general, but we really believe once this is up that we are going to be able to compete with other programs.”

Marshall and Ward shared that this major would appeal to analytical students interested in problem-solving.

“Our students would be the type of students who would be going out and installing security software on a network versus writing the code for the security software,” Ward said.

Marshall expressed most students find jobs inside school systems, small and medium-sized businesses and healthcare after graduating from school.

“It’s a huge market, and there are going to be jobs for a long period of time,” Ward said.

The need for cybersecurity positions in the United States is expected to increase by 38% by 2028 with the expectation that job openings will triple over the next five years.

For more information about the College of Applied and Technical Studies visit:

POSTED: Wednesday, January 27, 2021 03:31 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 01:44 PM
Jada Miles