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Cybersecurity at Oklahoma Christian University: Experiential programs, successful graduates

Cybersecurity is the new buzzword in the US. With more device hacking cases happening, a rise in online financial transactions, and companies being required to protect data as well, cybersecurity professionals are becoming more important.

“Security is the future. Cybersecurity is becoming an everyday part of our lives whether it be physical security or actual security on the computer itself,” Dr. Justin Lewis, Chief Computer Scientist for Missile Software, explains.

More people are using computers at work today but a large majority may not be aware of security threats and may not be technology-savvy either — becoming easy targets for scam artists. At the same time, the current technology is still outdated with security flaws, making industries susceptible to getting hacked.

There is a large cost to such cybercrimes. In 2021, the estimated cost is a staggering US$6 trillion, 50% more than last year.

That means one thing is for sure: professional cybersecurity jobs are in high demand now. Cisco says at least one million cybersecurity workers are still needed to fill in the gap in the market, which means this same number of jobs is available for anyone with a degree in cybersecurity.

But where to study for a master’s degree, especially one that is well-accredited, and easy to fit within a busy schedule?

Enter Oklahoma Christian University. This university is the only four-year institution in the Oklahoma City metroplex to be recognised as a National Centre of Academic Excellence in CyberDefense Education until 2026.

“We are home to some of the best cybersecurity professors in the state of Oklahoma, and our program is attracting talent from all over the world to learn and grow as students and professionals,” Professor Curtis Coleman, director of Oklahoma Christian’s Cybersecurity Education Center, says. “We are the only Oklahoma institution that teaches cybersecurity with the Christian worldview and ethics.”

Indeed, not only does OC have these outstanding recognitions but it also offers the Master of Science in Computer Science with Cybersecurity.

With just 30 credit hours, this degree can be completed in a minimum of one year — whether you are working full or part time — since this course is designed with working professionals in mind.

Amin Taheri from Iran did just that. Even though he did not know any English words initially, he learned English at a local community college and soon excelled in his part-time packing handler job at UPS. He then got promoted to supervising a team within four months of joining UPS.

UPS later offered him US$5,250 in tuition reimbursement, which Taheri used for OC’s master program upon his community college advisor’s recommendation. With a weekly schedule of 30 hours at UPS and 20 hours at OC via the Support Central, Taheri persevered to finish the program.

Like Taheri, other students were also able to have the same scheduling convenience of attending evening classes — once or twice weekly — at OC. The university also has the added advantage of being connected to three main highways from the Oklahoma City area.

Oklahoma Christian University

Students learning together and supporting each other at Oklahoma Christian University. Source: Oklahoma Christian University

“I’ve really been able to fit it into my schedule. We get off work at four o’clock and classes typically start at six and they go on until nine,” explains Brooke Dobbins with delight, a Full Stack Developer for Reel FX.

At OC, learning is as hands-on as it is convenient. Each cybersecurity class has hands-on labs, so you learn how to apply the knowledge you get from this program,” Professor Coleman adds.

Guhan Ramasamy, Analyst, Identity and Access Management for Seagate Technologies, readily agrees: “You can apply that immediately into your real-time industry experience and match up with that, which is a great benefit of OC’s course.”

Besides being able to apply their knowledge to their work, students can choose any two electives on top of completing 12 credit hours on Computer Science Foundation. From there, they can take the specialized courses in the cybersecurity track : Cloud Architecture and Security, Network Forensics, Computer Systems Risk Management, and Offensive Security and Penetration Testing.

They will also be prepared to pass cybersecurity certifications such as Comptia Security+, Risk and Information Systems Control, and Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator.

OC students can expect to receive face-to-face interaction, top-notch support and mentorship from the OC faculty throughout their entire educational journey. Even after graduation, the students’ relationship with their mentors and professors stays strong.

Truly, with all the above mentioned factors, OC Master of Science in Computer Science with Cybersecurity graduates are well on their way to become much-needed and successful cybersecurity professionals.

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