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New master's program at UW-La Crosse designed to address cybersecurity talent gap

New master's program at UW-La Crosse designed to address cybersecurity talent gap

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A new program at UW-La Crosse and other UW System schools is designed to address a regional shortage of cybersecurity experts.

The Board of Regents has approved the creation of a 12-course, 34-credit online master’s program in cybersecurity — a collaborative effort by UW-L, UW Extended Campus and seven other universities in the system.

If it receives final approval by the Higher Learning Commission, the program will launch in September.

Jennifer Butler Modaff

Butler Modaff

“I think this is a really innovative program, because we’ll be teaching the technical skills, but we’ll also be teaching the communication skills,” said Jennifer Butler Modaff, the program’s academic director at UW-L. “When we talk to businesses, they have a lot more openings than they have staff. So I think there are real job opportunities for students who graduate.”

The program begins with a series of core classes before branching off into four unique tracks: digital forensics, cyber response, governance and leadership, and security architecture.

Butler Modaff said she and other faculty built the curriculum after receiving feedback from industry leaders. Classes will include elements of computer science, engineering, communications, economics and mathematics.

The program, as it is currently proposed, would offer every course each semester and would have no cap on enrollment. This, faculty say, is meant to accommodate working professionals who are looking to further their education, but at their own pace.

“Most programs that have been designed by Extended Campus have been intended for working professionals, adult students who are maybe looking to switch careers or move up in their career,” Butler Modaff said. “When we designed the curriculum, those were the students we most had in mind. We want to tailor the program to them and reduce any barriers.”

If approved by the Higher Learning Commission, this will be the fourth collaborative master of science degree coordinated by UW-L Extending Learning, joining programs in data science, health care administration and information technology management.

Meredith Thomsen

Thomsen

“The collaborative graduate programs developed by UW Extended Campus provide an exciting opportunity for faculty to work with graduate students in programs we could not develop on our own,” said Meredith Thomsen, director of graduate studies at UW-L. “We thus broaden expertise on campus in cutting-edge areas like cybersecurity, which feeds back to enrich the experience of on-campus students.”

The cybersecurity program is open to all interested graduate students, but is geared toward those with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering or a similar discipline. Those with professional experience in information technology also are encouraged to apply.

UW-Platteville will serve as the lead campus for the program, which also will be offered at the Green Bay, Oshkosh, Parkside, River Falls, Stevens Point and Superior campuses.

Prospective students can learn more by visiting ce.uwex.edu/cybersecurity/, calling 1-877-895-3276 or emailing learn@uwex.edu.

“There is an incredible talent gap in cybersecurity both in Wisconsin and around the globe,” said Aaron Brower, executive director of UW Extended Campus. “We believe this program meets market needs while offering students the skills and education employers want.”


“I think this is a really innovative program, because we’ll be teaching the technical skills, but we’ll also be teaching the communication skills. When we talk to businesses, they have a lot more openings than they have staff."

Jennifer Butler Modaff, the program’s academic director at UW-L

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