Marymount University Adds Doctorate in Cybersecurity Program

As cyberthreats continue to grow more sophisticated and widespread, Marymount University is rising to the challenge with a new doctorate in cybersecurity this fall. It is designed for working professionals who will pursue applied research in the field.

“This program builds on over a decade of educational programs in cybersecurity at Marymount and solidifies our position as a leader in cybersecurity education in the region,” said Dr. Marianne H. Ward-Peradoza, dean of Marymount’s business school. “Our pipeline of undergraduate, graduate and summer programs serves students from middle school through to the doctorate.”

Those programs include Marymount’s summer GenCyber Camps for high schoolers, a  networking and cybersecurity concentration in the undergraduate Information Technology program and nationally recognized master’s program in cybersecurity.

Ward-Peradoza said such offerings give MU’s School of Business the unique opportunity to play an important role in the development of leaders in a key technology field that is growing in its importance to society.

“Our doctorate program is really about cultivating cybersecurity leaders,” said Dr. Diane Murphy, chair of the school’s Department of Information Technology, Management Sciences and Cybersecurity. “It will provide not only advanced knowledge in the field but also the ability to research specific threats and defenses in-depth.”

Murphy said important skills will be the ability to combine data science, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, with sophisticated domain knowledge.

“With everything being logged today, from emails to phone calls, we have incredible amounts of data available,” Murphy said. “The key is how we turn that data into knowledge that can help us learn indicators of cyber criminals, their attack methods and how we can do a better job of protecting our networks. We’re also hoping to produce more cybersecurity educators in this growing field.”

The program has received approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Marymount’s accrediting body, and will start accepting applications in the next month.

“We’ve received tremendous response and expect the program to grow, but we want to start out fairly slowly,” Murphy said, adding that the initial cohort will include 24 students, some of whom are Marymount graduates and others who learned of the new program through co-workers in government and industry. “We always believe that our alums are our best marketing tool.”

A big part of Marymount’s success in attracting students, she said, is that it has a much higher percentage of females than many other programs. For example, its master’s program in cybersecurity is 50 percent female, compared to the industry average of 10 or 11 percent. Since its inception five years ago, it has achieved a 100 percent job placement rate for graduates. Alumni work in both the commercial and government sector at places such as Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, IBM, and the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI, the National Science Foundation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 

“In addition to our success with job placement, many of our graduates have received significant promotions because of their degrees,” Murphy said.

She noted that the Washington, D.C., area is the place to be for the important new academic discipline, with plenty of opportunities with the government, national defense and a wealth of private firms. Marymount’s location also gives its faculty access to the latest in technology law, policies and monitoring techniques. Marymount is a Homeland Security/NSA Academic Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Ward-Peradoza said the new doctorate program keeps with the longstanding tradition of the University’s founding order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, of responding to the needs of the time.

“Moreover, this program is grounded in Marymount’s educational pillars of intellectual curiosity, service to others, and a global perspective. This program will also provide us with the opportunity to educate professionals from around the world.”