According to the National Security Agency definition, information assurance involves protecting and defending information and information systems by “ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation.” As the world’s dependence upon computers and networks continues to grow, its vulnerability to cyber-attacks increases. Yet, there is an acute shortage of properly prepared security professionals who can meet the needs of organizations and governments to understand, prepare for, respond to, and recover from cyber-attacks at all levels. The federal government has reported that thousands of jobs in the computer/network security area go unfilled every year and the unmet demand continues to grow.
The Masters of Science in Information Assurance and Computer Security (MSIA) degree is designed to prepare professionals who will have the skills to:
- develop and implement security strategies to improve the security poster of organizations; and
- provide technical leadership for the organization’s efforts to adopt new technologies, implement security strategies, and protect organizational assets against attack.
Courses in the MSIA program are offered using a variety of instructional delivery methods:
- Face-to-face site in Madison, SD in a traditional classroom setting;
- Using interactive video-conferencing via the Dakota Digital Network offered at multiple sites in South Dakota (sites arranged to meet student need);
- At a distance via Internet, using a combination of live and/or encoded streaming videos of classes, interactive course web boards, course web sites, and e-mail. All courses are web-enhanced.
The program can be completed on a full or part-time basis. Full-time students will complete the program in two years. On a part-time basis, the time to complete will depend upon the number of credit hours taken per semester. Students must complete the program within 5 years of the semester of their admission.
Admission Requirements Specific to the MSIA
The Dakota State University Masters of Science in Information Assurance and Computer Security program seeks highly motivated and ethical individuals with education and professional credentials that will enable them to be successful graduate students and security professionals. Admission to the program is based upon a combination of the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or software engineering from an institution of higher education with full regional accreditation for that degree. Students who have a degree in a related information science/technology or engineering degree may be required to complete specific computer science courses as a condition for admission. The courses to be taken will depend upon previous academic coursework. International students must have an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree in computer science, computer engineering or software engineering that is the equivalent to a four-year undergraduate degree in the U.S.
- Minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale.
- A satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The test must have been taken within the last five years. The test can be waived if one of the following conditions is met:
- a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale for a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.;
- official admission into and demonstrated success in a regionally accredited graduate program in the U.S. Demonstrated success is defined as grades of A or B in at least 9 hours of graduate work;
- graduation from a regionally accredited college/university in the U.S. at least 15 years ago or more.
- Essay in response to a security problem scenario. The scenario is on the additional information required of MSIA student’s sheet which is included in the application packet.
- Other factors (such as proven appropriate computer science/security experience) may be used to determine potential for success in the program.
Specific Application Information
- Entry semester: Students may enter the MSIA program in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Applications must be received by June 15th for the fall semester; November 15th for the spring semester; April 15th for the summer semester. Assistantship forms should also be sent with the application packet when applying for an assistantship.
- Enrollment as either a full or part-time student will be permitted.
- Full-time students will complete the program in two years. On a part-time basis, the time to complete will depend upon the number of credit hours taken per semester.
Richard Avery, Omar El-Gayar, Pat Engebretson, Steve Graham, Tom Halverson, Sreekanth Malladi, Jeff Palmer, Josh Pauli, Wayne Pauli, Kevin Streff, Manghui (Michael) Tu, Dianxiang Xu
The program requires 30 hours beyond the baccalaureate. All students must take the following:
- Six core courses (18 credit hours),
- A four-course sequence (12 credit hours) in a specialization. Specializations include:
- Banking and Financial Security
Certain courses will have mandated lab components and lab assignments. Lab assignments may require specialized hardware and/or software.
Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering will be required to take specific computer science courses as a condition of admission. Actual coursework required will depend upon previous academic coursework.