Anderson University Receives National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Designation


Anderson, Ind. — Anderson University and its cybersecurity program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) as announced by the National Security Agency (NSA). AU becomes the second private institution in Indiana and just the sixth member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities to actively hold the designation.

“After several years of planning and exceptional work by our dedicated faculty and staff in implementing our cybersecurity initiative at Anderson University, we are very pleased and grateful to announce that we have received the official designation as a Center for Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense,” said Anderson University President John S. Pistole. “With this designation, we look forward to expanding our cybersecurity educational and vocational offerings to a broader audience addressing a key need in today’s society.”

The designation was acquired through a five-year process. AU’s cybersecurity program was required to meet certain benchmarks. The curriculum was intentionally designed to expose cybersecurity students to the wide range of industry needs from policy to technical skills. The program of study aligns certain classes to specific knowledge units, and the university had to demonstrate that a cohort of graduates successfully completed courses covering more than 20 knowledge units. Looking beyond the curriculum, the CAE designation involved evidence of community outreach as well as institutional alignment with cybersecurity principles.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a Center of Academic Excellence, which requires that we not only educate future cybersecurity leaders in the classroom, but also support the needs of state and local communities,” said Dr. Matthew Preston, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

The B.A. in cybersecurity is designed to meet the curricular learning outcomes for a validated program of study described by the National Security Agency.

The cybersecurity major includes additional courses in computer science, political science, mathematics, and philosophy. Students are also required to pursue at least one cybersecurity certification, such as CompTIA Security+ or EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker.

Beyond the curriculum, faculty were required to create an environment where cybersecurity is reinforced in the educational experience of students beyond the classroom. To this end, students had the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, such as interacting with industry leaders in security, participating in educational contests with other universities, and being a part of the Anderson Cyber Team, a club for students interested in cybersecurity.

In addition to the classroom and student life requirements, AU had to demonstrate that it was working with the local community. AU created the Center for Security Studies and Cyber Defense (CSSCD). The CSSCD provides low-cost security services to local and regional constituents, including cybersecurity audits, exercises for testing organizational security threat responses, training and certification for the local workforce, and conferences and publications regarding current security threats.

“Receiving this designation was made possible by the hard work of many across AU’s campus over a multi-year period,” said Preston. “As the need for technological skills continues to grow, this designation affirms that we are well-positioned to graduate students with in-demand technical and policy skills that are fostered in an environment where Christian ethics are at the forefront.”

The NSA’s National Cyber Strategy addresses the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace. Currently, there are roughly 8,500 cybersecurity jobs available in the state of Indiana and the number is expected to grow. Anderson University’s cybersecurity program is working to fill the need.

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.