(Some) General Advising Notes for Cyber Students….

Every semester I send out some “usual thoughts” for students in the Cyber Security Graduate Program…

If you’re getting the reminder emails that registration starts soon, you can see what is available at datavu.valpo.edu.

The “usual” advice… if you haven’t yet taken the required courses:

  • IT 644 / Tech Law and Policy
  • IT 648 / Risk Management
  • IT 600 / Ethics (which fulfills the communications requirement, if you’re on the earlier edition of the Catalog)

I (generally) suggest you do those first; this is the pattern pretty much everyone follows!

The also-required IT 642 / Info Assurance has generally been offered in the summer. Depending when you’d like to graduate, you may want to grab a seat in that when it becomes available.

For students with family and full-time employment commitments, I recommend two classes a semester as a max. (Again, only a recommendation!)

An additional tip is, if possible, try to balance things — 644/Tech.-Law-Policy is pretty heavy on the reading and writing end of things; pairing that with something hands-on (CYB 53x/the system administration courses, for example) can help keep things interesting.

Note: I’ll try to send out some additional info/pointers on electives when the reminders start!

The Capstone Experience…

CYB students have three options to complete the capstone requirement for the degree….

Some students opt to do an internship; this is a course built around a work experience (and needs to be something distinct from an existing day job).  It does not, however, need to be purely employment – options for this can include service to a non-profit (but do need a clearly identifiable supervisor along with other components to quality).

Most online students opt for a research project.  This involves intensive study of a particular area or facet of the discipline, typically with a written deliverable.  For those students currently working in the field, this is also one way to combine work needs and academic results, as “whitepaper” style results are acceptable. Research projects can be styled many different ways:

  • Some opt for an experimental or comparison style project, where one or more tools are run “against” each other to see which, for example, creates or has a more secure network profile.
  • Some projects end up being analytic or heavily research driven; these can involve the impact or consideration of evolving standards or practices. Policy-driven/focused projects are also typically in this vein.
  • Another approach is the demonstrative or evaluative – doing a careful study of a specific system, configuration, or product “against” certain questions or considerations.
  • “Summative”/summary or presentation style projects are also possible; this can entail preparation of whitepaper style on a particular area of cybersecurity.

(The above is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list! If you’re not sure, please email!)

The last is the formal. traditional Master’s Thesis.  This requires 2 semesters and is usually done over the Fall and Spring semesters, because a minimum of two faculty are required for the thesis committee.  (Summer is not traditionally an option but requests will be considered.)

[If a student is willing to present work from any of these in a suitable public forum, there is the possibility that they will qualify for the University’s Athenaeum honors.  Examples can be see at ValpoScholar.]