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February 20, 2018

Thomas College launches Maine's first master's program in cybersecurity

Courtesy / Thomas College
Courtesy / Thomas College
Students in computer science and cybersecurity programs at Thomas College get hands-on, problem-solving experience as part of their training. Later this year, the Waterville school is set to launch Maine's first master's degree program in cybersecurity.

Starting this autumn, Maine will have its first master's degree program in cybersecurity, at Thomas College in Waterville.

The school already offers an undergraduate major in the field, which 38 students are currently pursuing, as well as a minor.

Frank Appunn, a professor of information technology management at the school who helped put the master's program together, told Mainebiz that he expects interest to be high amid a need for highly skilled employees in the burgeoning field.

"Knowledge in this field is limited, and the pay is so high, so we need to create a leader group" of qualified workers. He added: "Federal agencies like you to have a master's degree, and no one offers that in Maine."

He also noted that industry anticipates many of the less complicated areas will be automated and that specialization will simplify a number of jobs.

"This puts a much higher demand for advanced skills and pulling the pieces together, and that is where this degree excels," he said.

Appunn said the new program is set up so that it can be completed in one year or two. He'll be teaching courses in cyber integration, assurance, risk and project management.

Other courses include cyber engineering, cyber law and ethics, foundations of Homeland Security, data analytics, and others listed here.

Appunn said in designing the program he looked at 45 universities in Australia, Europe and the United States, and that all four instructors provided input. They include Henry Felch, an assistant professor of computer information systems at the University of Maine at Augusta.

By fall of 2019, UMA aims to launch its own master's program in cybersecurity, a spokesperson said via email last week.

UMA President Rebecca Wyke said in an interview last July that she was looking into expanding the commuter school's cybersecurity studies program.

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