The Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations (CYAOP) program prepares students to protect digital information from attack through cyber-defense strategies. With a foundation in mathematics and computer programming, students will be prepared to recognize, analyze, defend against, and manage risks related to a wide range of threats to online information, data stores, and networks.
Whether it is the hacking of critical datasets by a nation-state, the theft of personal information by cybercriminals, or cyberattacks by terrorist groups or other aggressors, students will analyze security issues from the perspective of human and information systems. They’ll learn to anticipate and identify threats through the mastery of technology, articulate potential impacts to stakeholders, and ensure the safety of online information.
Penn State and the College of IST are designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The CAE Program was established to meet the growing need for knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity professionals within the government and industry.
CYAOP majors can earn a Letter of Recognition as well as a Certificate of Achievement upon completion of certain coursework.
Skills for the Real World
The Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations major is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for careers as cybersecurity professionals. It educates students on the essential concepts of cyber-defense and the analytical fundamentals of cybersecurity, with a focus on the analytical and risk management underpinnings and associated cyber-defense techniques and strategies for ensuring the safety of online information stored in large and heterogeneous networks that are embedded within and across the complex socio-technical infrastructures that are pervasive in today's business, government and military organizations.
Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to critically assess and respond to modern information security threats, using approaches that are grounded in a holistic understanding of adversarial strategies and effective responses. More specifically, it will offer an in-depth and domain-independent approach to the development of skills in cyber defense technologies, tools and processes; cybersecurity analytics and visualization; and cybersecurity risk analysis and management.
In the senior capstone course students work collaboratively in teams. Each team is given a significant real-world problem or issue in which information technology is part of the solution. Teams will be expected to manage the project effectively and to communicate its results clearly to a variety of audiences within an organization.
The major draws from concepts and skills associated with a number of disciplines, including information science, management science, statistics and data science, human behavior, and law/policy. Graduates will be prepared to join the rapidly growing cybersecurity workforce deployed across organizations of diverse sizes and missions.
Concentrations or Academic Tracks
Students completing the CYAOP degree must take twelve credits within a specialized application focus area, with at least two of the courses being at the 400-level. Students will be encouraged to take introductory courses that fill enforced prerequisites in the specialization while also meeting General Education knowledge domain requirements. The student must take all twelve credits in a single application focus area. Students may not mix and match.
Learn more about the Focus Areas, or view the Suggested Academic Plan.
- Application Development
- Law and Policy
All CYAOP students are required to complete an internship in a CYAOP-related field. Internships can be part-time or full-time and paid or unpaid. Internships enable students to apply what was learned in the classroom to a dynamic, real-world technical situation. Internships enable students to apply what was learned in the classroom to a dynamic, real-world technical situation. To receive credit for the internship, students complete the 1-credit IST 495 course and must complete at least 300 hours of supervised employment.
CYAOP students have the opportunity to conduct research with faculty members. Working one-on-one with a faculty member or as part of a supervised research team, students investigate important issues related to their academic interests. Students gain valuable experience to include on their resumes or graduate school applications, make professional contacts, and have even earned co-authorship on scholarly publications and conference presentations.
Students can pair the following programs with this degree program for a double major:
Students can pair the following minors with this degree program:
- Information Sciences and Technology
- Security and Risk Analysis
- Entrepreneurship & Innovation
CYAOP graduates are in high demand by top companies and government agencies. Their technical expertise combined with interpersonal skills and business savvy means they have the versatility employers want. Many jobs in the security sector have higher than average growth and salary rates, with flexibility and high levels of job satisfaction.
CYAOP graduates can be employed in positions such as:
- information security analyst
- AI engineer
- cloud data engineer
- IT consultant and project manager
- security operations center analyst
- systems engineer
- IT systems analyst
Although CYAOP graduates do not need additional education to begin their careers, our graduates may decide to continue their education in graduate programs that further enhance their knowledge and skills. Some programs that students have continued their study in include Information Systems, Cybersecurity, Business, and Management.
Graduates can also pursue technical certifications such as: