Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Wisconsin

In the realm of cybersecurity, 2015 was a very good year for Wisconsin. IT staffers at the Bureau of Security Services within the state’s Division of Enterprise Technology recorded a three-year low in cybersecurity incidents on state networks—just 260 security incidents, compared to 1,292 attacks in 2013.

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It’s not due to a lack of trying by hackers, reported Director Bill Nash. In fact, hackers attempted to send roughly 150 million malicious emails to state employees in March 2016 alone—that’s 96 percent of all emails. Nash said on one day in March, there were 45,000 instances of people scanning the state’s networks for vulnerabilities.

In 2013, the state began developing a roadmap for revamping its efforts to fight cyber threats, which included establishing a culture of security awareness and developing a cyber disruption response plan. As a result, the state received federal grants in 2014 that helped bring together state, local, and tribal teams for training exercises.

Jobs for cybersecurity professionals extend far beyond the state government. Wisconsin is home to a number of leading cybersecurity firms, including PKWARE in Milwaukee and SynerComm in Brookfield.

Further, cybersecurity experts ranging from engineers to analysts to consultants to engineers are valued in nearly every industry and sector in Wisconsin, and in major corporations such as Oshkosh Corporation in Oshkosh, Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee, and Johnson Controls in Milwaukee.

Earning a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree or Post-Bachelor Certificate in Wisconsin

Graduates of cybersecurity graduate programs understand the complexity of today’s IT infrastructures and are able to recognize and manage risk, identify and neutralize threats and design inherently secure systems.

The distance-based curriculum of an online master’s degree in cybersecurity allows students to complete all of the program’s requirements from the comfort of their home, making it an ideal choice for busy, working professionals.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) created the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) program, designed to highlight institutions that offer online and campus-based cybersecurity programs that meet specific knowledge unit curriculum standards.

CAE programs at the graduate level may receive one or more of the following designations:

  • CAE/CDE: National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education
  • CAE-R: National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research

As of 2016, there were no campus based CAE programs in Wisconsin. However, thanks to a wide array of CAE-designated institutions offering online cybersecurity master’s degrees, students in Wisconsin can complete a degree in cybersecurity, regardless of their location.

Standard Admission Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Admission into a cybersecurity master’s degree program is reserved for those possessing:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a related field, such as computer science, applied mathematics, or computer engineering
  • Competitive undergraduate GPA (usually a 3.0 or above)
  • Undergraduate coursework in
    • Discrete mathematics or linear algebra
    • Data structures
    • Computer organization
    • Computer programming (Java, C++)
  • Resume detailing related professional experience
  • Letters of recommendation

Candidates without a strong undergraduate GPA and/or related work experience are also often required to submit GRE scores for admission consideration.

Core Courses and Electives

Core coursework, consisting of about 15 credits, includes study in:

  • Cybersecurity technology
  • Managing risk
  • Critical infrastructure protection
  • Secure systems engineering
  • Distributed systems and network security

Electives, which often consist of 15 credits, allow students to focus their program on areas like penetration and vulnerability testing, digital forensics, and security incident response.
Cybersecurity Boot Camps Get You Primed for a Master’s and Ready for Entry-Level Work

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Northwestern Cybersecurity Boot Camp
The Cybersecurity Boot Camp at UT Austin

Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Specialists in Wisconsin

A 2015 Burning Glass Technologies report revealed that growth in cybersecurity job posts increased dramatically—139 percent—between 2010 and 2014, mirroring the growth of neighboring Indiana and coming out ahead of nearby Minnesota (98 percent).

The following job posts provide insight into the types of opportunities available to graduates of cybersecurity master’s degree programs in Wisconsin. They do not, however, provide assurance of employment or represent current job openings:

Senior Engineer, Cyber Security: Oshkosh Truck Corporation, Oshkosh


  • Participates in the global cyber security risk management program
  • Serves as an expert in network or application design, endpoint protection, operating systems, mobile devices, and foundational cyber security risk management technical controls
  • Supports project teams that comply with cybersecurity policies, industry regulations, and best practices


  • Bachelor’s degree in information systems
  • Four years of experience in information security
  • Experience in data governance, vulnerability management, data loss prevention, and risk management systems
  • Experience with host/system security issues
  • Experience identifying intruder techniques
  • Recognized industry certifications

Information Security Engineer: Oshkosh Corporation, Oshkosh


  • Participates in security incident response team (SIRT)
  • Helps SIRT employ strategy, standards, processes, and technology to detect, respond, and recover from security incidents
  • Serves as a security resource in network or application design, mobile devices, endpoint protection operating systems, and foundational InfoSec technical controls


  • Bachelor’s degree in information systems
  • At least two years of information security experience
  • Experience in network protocols, network apps and services, DLP, and understanding network security issues
  • Experience with host/system security issues

Security Analyst: Church Mutual Insurance Company, Merrill and Madison


  • Plays a key role in information security functions, including working with the information security team to compose essential documentation
  • Maps complex technical requirements, functionality, and capabilities to prescribed security controls, policies, and practices
  • Provides support to manage SIEM components


  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field
  • Industry certification
  • Two years of experience in an information security analyst role
  • Working knowledge of information systems, business operations, requirements analysis, and integration/design solutions

Penetration Tester: Wildcard Corporation, Stevens Point


  • Tests the web applications of clients and potential clients
  • Uses penetration tools to simulate real life cyberattacks
  • Documents and explains methods and findings to clients


  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer security, or web development at minimum; master’s preferred
  • Experience as a web developer
  • Working knowledge of security principles, techniques, and technologies
  • Experience with various security tools and products

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