NSA adds to Cyber Ops Centers for Excellence

If you’re looking to become a cyber operator on par with the National Security Agency, the list of good places to study just got a little longer.

NSA added five new schools to a list of now thirteen universities recognized as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. According to an agency press release, the new additions include New York University, the United States Military Academy, Towson University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of2012_05_nsa New Orleans.

The new schools will receive CAE-Cyber Operations designation for academic years 2014-2019.


According to Nasir Memon, the head of NYU’s department of computer science and engineering, the university’s polytechnic school of engineering was one of the first universities in the nation to introduce a cybersecurity program.

“We are very proud to have earned the National Center of Excellence designation,” Memon said in a statement. “[We] will continue to provide the hands-on interdisciplinary education and research support so vital for our country’s next generation of cybersecurity experts.”

While the CAEs will teach the technical fundamentals of cybersecurity, Steven LaFountain, the dean of NSA’s College of Cyber, said the centers will also focus on the legal and ethical issues associated with the field.

“In the application process and in all collaboration with selected schools, the importance of integrity and compliance is always paramount,” LaFountain said. “Cybersecurity technical skills are increasingly important in national defense, but it’s equally important to operate within the bounds of the law and Constitution.”

Every year, NSA reviews applications from universities to become designated CAEs in Cyber Operations, which lasts for five years. In order to be considered, an applicant must be a four-year college or graduate-level program with a computer science, electrical engineering or computer engineering department. In addition, the curriculum must meet a set of standards established by NSA.


NSA announced the programs first four schools in 2012 and added four more in September 2013. According to the agency, the program was designed to “cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an increasingly demanding and ever-changing global environment” as a part of President Obama’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.

In addition to the thirteen schools that currently hold the CAE-Cyber Operations designation, more than 100 programs are designated CAEs for information assurance research and information assurance education. Those programs are jointly overseen by NSA and the Department of Homeland Security .

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