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The College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) has developed a solid infrastructure for cybersecurity education, including the establishment of both a strong practically-oriented cybersecurity component to the Computer Science program and a Center for Information Assurance and Security (CIAS). The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Sacramento State's CIAS a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE-IAE) for academic years 2007 - 2012 and again for 2012 - 2017. CIAS was also designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) for 2017-2022, and again for 2023-2028.
In 2010 the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Sacramento State's Computer Science Department a $1.19 million four-year grant to enable 15 students to become cybersecurity specialists as part of the CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. The funding has helped Sacramento State to establish a strong SFS program and to increase security education in our curriculum. In 2015, Sacramento State secured a second SFS grant with over $3 million in funding. The grant attracted an added 40 students with strong placement of graduating students to date, with majority of graduates securing employment in the executive branch of the federal government. This placement success can be attributed to the solid relationships we have established with federal and state agencies.
Sacramento State has been awarded additional funding from NSF that will support students in computer science, computer engineering, management information systems to become cybersecurity specialists over a period of five years starting in Fall 2023. This award is expected to total just over $3 million.
Scholarship recipients must complete either a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (CSc) Computer Engineering (CpE), or Management Information System (MIS), or Master’s degree in CSc/CpE within two years of entering the SFS program. Some students may receive a third-year of funding to extend their studies from the BS to the MS program provided that they meet admission requirements to the Master’s degree program in CSC or CpE. Qualified juniors and seniors are eligible through the undergraduate track. Graduating seniors can also apply through the graduate track if they plan to pursue a graduate degree in CSc or CpE at Sacramento State. New and existing CSc or CpE graduate students are eligible to apply under the graduate track.
In addition to their degrees, SFS recipients who successfully complete the program in Computer Science will receive a Certificate in Information Assurance.
SFS Scholarship Benefits
Beginning in Fall 2023, each scholarship recipient will receive the following benefits for up to two years. Some students may receive a third year of funding to extend their studies from the BS to the MS program.
- Tuition and fees for Fall and Spring semesters (does not include items such as meal plans, housing, or parking). Some students may receive support for summer tuition and fees.
- Annual Stipend (Undergraduate: $25,000 Graduate: $34,000).
- Professional development allowance of $6,000 per year for SFS Job Fair and other travel, conferences, research materials and supplies, one laptop, books, professional training, and certifications.
Scholarship recipients must meet the following requirements:
- Maintain full-time enrollment with good academic standing in Computer Science (CSc), Computer Engineering (CpE), or Management Information Systems (MIS) focusing on cybersecurity with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and 3.2 out of 4.0 for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively. Undergraduate students are expected to earn a passing grade in every course and complete every major course with a grade B- or higher. Graduate students must complete every course with a grade B or higher. Failure to maintain these requirements may lead to termination of the scholarship.
- Successfully complete the required Cybersecurity courses for their major as noted in the SFS Award agreement.
- Receive their degree within two years of the beginning of their scholarship based on a plan of study approved by an SFS advisor. Few CSc or CpE students may receive three years of support for the Senior year plus 2 years of Master’s degree.
- Take Federal, State, Local, or Tribal internship positions in the summer between their first and second year of scholarship study. The SFS program office, through the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), provides numerous tools to assist students in this job search.
- Work full-time in a position approved by the SFS Program Office in the cybersecurity mission of a Federal agency or other qualifying organization, for a period equal to the length of your scholarship or one year, whichever is longer. The OPM provides several tools to aid graduating students in this job search as well.
- Agree to the terms and conditions specified in the SFS Agreement to Serve or Repay and Sacramento State Sacramento State Award agreements.
ECS awards SFS scholarships to motivated students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance and a sincere interest in information assurance and computer security, who meet the SFS eligibility criteria, and who are confirmed as qualified for employment in the Federal Cyber Service by OPM. Applicants must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria:
- Enrolled (or accepted for enrollment) in a full-time program in Computer Science (CSc), Computer Engineering (CpE) or Management Information Systems (MIS) at Sacramento State. CpE and MIS students may need to take a few additional courses beyond what is normally required to get a BS or MS degree in CpE or BS degree in MIS in order to satisfy SFS program requirements.
- Completed a minimum of two years of an undergraduate degree program, or is beginning the first year of a master degree program in CSc or CpE. Undergraduate applicants should have CSc or CpE as their declared major prior to applying for an SFS scholarship.
- Undergraduate applicants: Minimum overall GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0.
- Graduate applicants: Fully-classified based on CSc Department or CpE Program standards.
- Graduate applicants: Minimum overall GPA of 3.2 out of 4.0 in graduate courses taken, and minimum GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 for the Bachelor of Science Degree previously received.
- United States citizenship is required by majority of State and Federal cybersecurity-related positions.
- Underrepresented minorities, women, and first-generation students are strongly encouraged to apply for the program.
A panel will review all applicants who have applied by the application deadline and meet the minimum eligibility requirements. Potential candidates will be interviewed in-person or virtually before the final selection is made. Preference will be given to those applicants who can stay in the program for two years.
All scholarship recipients must agree to the terms stated in the Agreement to Serve or Repay and Sacramento State Award Agreement, and must participate in activities and meetings organized by the SFS program at Sacramento State, including program orientation, academic advising, colloquiums and workshops on cybersecurity, field trips, mentoring, and socializing events.
The application cycle for 2023-24 academic year is currently open. Each applicant to the SFS program must complete the following steps by September 17, 2023:
- Complete the application form through Qualtrics. This includes uploading i) transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate programs attended, ii) a 500-word essay describing applicant’s interest in information assurance and computer security including any experience in cyber security, iii) resume, and iv) contact information for two references that can comment on applicant’s technical background, motivation, time/resource management, and potential future professional success.
- Two recommendation forms completed preferably by faculty members or employers who can comment on applicant’s technical background, motivation, time/resource management, and potential future professional success. The recommendation letters should be emailed directly by the recommenders to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Optional for Fall 2023 but highly recommended)
The review panel may request additional information to be submitted by candidates. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Information Assurance Program at Sacramento State
The Computer Science department offers an Information Assurance and Security (IA) certificate program at both graduate and undergraduate levels. At the undergraduate level, students successfully passing the following three courses are eligible to receive the IA certificate:
- CSc 152 Cryptography Principles and Practice
- CSc 153 Computer Forensics Principles and Practice
- CSc 154 Computer Systems Attacks and Countermeasures
At the graduate level, a student successfully passing three of the following courses is eligible to receive an IA graduate certificate:
- CSc 250 Computer Security and Privacy
- CSc 252 Cryptography
- CSc 253 Computer Forensics
- CSc 254 Network Security
- CSc 236 Formal Methods for Secure Software Engineering
The department offers an interdisciplinary Minor in Information Security and Cyber Forensics. This is a 21-unit series of courses, including CSc 114 Digital Evidence and Computer Crime, CSc 115 Internet and Law, and CSc 116 Cyber Forensics. Most students in these classes are from our Criminal Justice department. Students in this department are encouraged not only to take the Cybersecurity minor, but also to take any of the above three courses as an elective for their Criminal Justice degree.
Cybersecurity education at Sacramento State is applied and practically oriented. Various courses include hands-on laboratory assignments involving security and forensic tools:
In CSc 152, students implement cryptographic primitives and use the OpenSSL library to secure applications, including the use of private and public key cryptography, public-key infrastructure, and protocols such as TLS.
CSc 153 and CSc 253 require students to participate in a Forensics competition, where they develop evidence storage systems and are evaluated by their peers. Students are assigned to groups of three or four students. Each group creates a scenario based on a case they invent, and then they create an evidence drive based on the scenario. Finally, the groups swap their evidence drives to be analyzed by their peers. Grading is based on creativity, difficulty, comprehensiveness, and the ability to analyze evidence based on successfully answering a set of questions regarding the scenario. To keep our cybersecurity program current, emerging areas such as Reverse Engineering, Malware Analysis, and Mobile system Forensics have been included in the computer forensics curriculum, and SCADA security, specifically Smart Grid security and Advanced Persistent Threat, issues have been included in Network Security courses.
In both CSc 154 and CSc 254, students must participate in and are graded in a cyber-defense competition involving cyber-attack simulation and defense of systems. Typically, the class is divided into groups of 8-10 students. Students are selected by the instructor based on a job application. The groups are designated as either attackers or defenders. After the first round of the competition, the attackers and the defenders switch roles. The defender machines must run specific applications in multiple operating systems, similar to a typical business environment. In addition to defending their systems, defenders must also complete business tasks such as setting up printers, reporting on intrusions, or adding new accounts that are assigned.
Students tackle secure programming assignments in several courses. For instance, students in CSc 250 work on a semester-long programming assignment involving a secure online election system through which they learn how to design systems based on requirements of a secure distributed system. They learn how to apply principles of authentication, confidentiality, access control, integrity, authorization, delegation, non-repudiation, privacy, etc., in a real system.
Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information provided on this website. However, we review the information on a regular basis and reserve the right to make necessary changes without prior notice.
College of Engineering and Computer Science
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6023
Phone: (916) 278-2154