Western Washington University’s Board of Trustees this week approved Western’s 2015-2016 state-funded operating budget, which includes funding for Western’s new cybersecurity program at Olympic and Peninsula colleges.
The Washington State Legislature appropriated $1.5 million in its two-year biennial budget for the program, which will offer baccalaureate completion degrees in computer and information systems security.
The program will be based at WWU’s Western on the Peninsulasinstructional center at Olympic College-Poulsbo.
The rise of cyber-attacks coupled with a shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals is creating serious consequences for individuals, corporations and government agencies seeking to protect sensitive information. Nationally, cybersecurity jobs now account for 10 percent of all Information Technology (IT) jobs. Also, cybersecurity job postings have grown 74 percent nationally from 2007 to 2013. That growth rate is over two times faster than all IT jobs.
“As cyber threats continue, all organizations that maintain electronic records will need employees with the skills to keep the data safe from hackers. Cybersecurity is a program that Kitsap and Olympic Peninsula employers have requested and Western is pleased to serve the Peninsulas in this way,” said Candice Merrill, director, Western Washington University on the Peninsulas.
Western’s West Sound presence was established in cooperation with its partners, Olympic College and Peninsula College, to help address the higher education needs of the many place-bound residents throughout their respective service areas who would otherwise have very limited access to public four-year degree opportunities. The cybersecurity program will expand that access by enabling graduates of the Kitsap-Olympic region’s community colleges, Olympic College and Peninsula College, to complete Western’s BS in Computer and Information Systems Security (CISS) without relocating to Bellingham.
The benefit to completing the bachelor’s degree is that graduates will have the technical skills and education the vast majority of potential employers seek; specifically larger businesses and local, state and federal government positions. The CISS degree will prepare graduates for high-demand professional roles such as computer network security administrator, secure software development specialist, or digital forensic practitioner.
Western on the Peninsulas, at Olympic College Poulsbo, offers four-year degrees, continuing education courses, free educational lectures, local literature book groups, and youth programs.
Classes will begin during the 2016-2017 school year. For more information contact Kathy Johnson at the Western on the Peninsulas office at (360) 394-2733 or Western.Peninsulas@wwu.edu.