New master's degree begins this fall in response to growing need for cybersecurity professionals

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

As our world becomes increasingly connected, cyber threats and data breaches are becoming more frequent and severe. Yahoo, Equifax, the city of Baltimore—cyber attacks can be devastating to an organization’s finances and public image. These and other high-profile breaches have led to a dramatic rise in demand for cybersecurity professionals in recent years.

In response to market demand, the University of New Hampshire at Manchester is launching a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Engineering this fall.

The New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Information Bureau reports 28 percent more cybersecurity jobs in the state between 2016 and 2026—more than four times the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national average growth rate for all occupations. Mihaela Sabin, associate professor of computer science and chair of the department of Applied Engineering and Sciences, says the new program will help to build that workforce by preparing graduates to develop, engineer and operate secure information systems.

“Data and system security are critical in our connected world, in virtually every industry,” Sabin said. “The demand for cybersecurity engineers has never been higher, and this program focuses on building the technical skills to find solutions to today’s cybersecurity challenges.”

With increasing emphasis on data collection and storage, information security and cloud computing, cybersecurity has become a critical investment area for public and private sector organizations. Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading researcher on the global cyber economy, predicts 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021. Research from the International Data Corporation shows that global spending on cybersecurity will top $103 billion in 2019, a 9.4 percent increase from 2018.

“There is a growing investment in cybersecurity, a growing need for cybersecurity professionals and a growing gap between that need and workforce supply,” said Mike Decelle, dean of UNH Manchester and board member for the New Hampshire Tech Alliance. “This program prepares graduates to meet the demand that exists both locally and globally in this high-need, lucrative field.”

"The demand for cybersecurity engineers has never been higher, and this program focuses on building the technical skills to find solutions to today’s cybersecurity challenges."

UNH Manchester is a workforce engine for the state, Decelle said, sharing data from a recent survey that shows 90 percent of UNH Manchester graduates choose to settle in New Hampshire. The state is home to offices for IBM and BAE Systems, both ranked among the top 10 cybersecurity companies in the U.S. by Investing News Network. These powerhouses employ thousands—but the area is also a hotbed of industry leaders and start-ups who are always on the lookout for talent, said tech entrepreneur and investor Jason Syversen.

“There are small and large firms in New Hampshire and throughout New England that are creating tons of jobs in cybersecurity,” Syversen said. “The challenge for these companies is finding local talent to fill the roles.”

Syversen faced that very challenge when filling positions at Siege Technologies, the New Hampshire-based cybersecurity solutions company he founded in 2009. The jobs exist—but the homegrown workforce is lacking.

UNH Manchester’s new M.S. in Cybersecurity Engineering seeks to foster local workforce development by bringing today’s cybersecurity challenges to life in the classroom, Sabin said. Through hands-on learning and authentic project experiences, students will learn the theoretical underpinnings of information security and the technical skills to secure information, communications, networks and control systems.

“Cybersecurity Engineering graduates will be able to identify, analyze and respond to the complex information security threats that are becoming more common and serious,” Sabin said. “With the skills and experience they’ll gain in core and advanced information security, graduates will be prepared to develop, integrate and evaluate secure IT systems and services for virtually any organization.”

Designed for working professionals and those with a strong interest in cybersecurity, the M.S. in Cybersecurity Engineering offers part- and full-time enrollment. Learn more about the program online, or contact the UNH Graduate School for more information at or (603) 641-4313. Apply by August 1 to be part of the inaugural fall 2019 cohort.

David Vogt | Freelance Photographer