July 2014

Featured Article

The Villanova Cybersecurity Graduate Program

By R. Perry, ECE, Villanova University
June 2014


Villanova's Cybersecurity graduate program started in Spring 2000 with one course on Cryptography and Network Security, which has been offered every year since then and has always had high enrollments. A few years ago we added an Ethical Hacking course and a course on Cybersecurity Threats and Defense, which enabled us to offer a graduate certificate in cybersecurity, which required those three courses plus two non-security electives. More recently we added courses on Trusted Computing, and Security Risk Assessment and Management, and created a plan to phase in an additional six courses to form a comprehensive graduate program in cybersecurity. Our Master of Science in Cybersecurity proposal was approved by the university effective in Fall 2013 and we have already accepted about 20 new students into the program. Two of the additional six courses have been offered already, and the remaining four courses will be offered over the next year and a half.

The curriculum is composed of core and elective cybersecurity courses plus electives from computer engineering, computer science, and mathematics. The program covers the major security areas related to our interdependent network of information technology infrastructures, which includes the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries. The degree is offered in both on-campus and distance learning modes.

In recent years the US federal government has made cybersecurity a priority in the areas of Identity Management, Real Time Monitoring, Situational Awareness, Intrusion Detection, Vulnerability Scanning, Application Security, and Education and Training. Through federal agencies such as NIST, NSA, and NSF, cybersecurity research funding has increased and security standards have proliferated. Corporations with federal contracts are required to follow the federal security standards, and all companies, large or small, must dedicate resources to cybersecurity if they are to survive in cyberspace. The result is an increasing demand for engineers with cybersecurity training.

There is a broad range of cybersecurity programs available to students, and with the increasing use of online/distance education, physical location of facilities hardly matters. Villanova now offers a choice for students seeking graduate education in cybersecurity, together with the Villanova experience, its diverse community of scholars, and dedication to the highest academic standards.


We currently have three full-time and two adjunct faculty teaching courses in our cybersecurity curriculum. Dr. Richard Perry developed the course on Cryptography and Network Security starting in 2000, and also teaches a cybersecurity senior elective, and (together with Dr. Danai Chasaki) a freshman miniproject course on CSI Cybersecurity. Dr. Perry also teaches our Unix & C Programming graduate course and our freshman C Programming course.

Dr. Danai Chasaki teaches the Cryptography and Network Security course as well as courses on Trusted Computing, Computer Organization & Design, and a planned new course on Secure Systems Engineering. Her research areas are computer networks and security, embedded systems, and multi-core processors.

Dr. James Solderitsch teaches our core Cybersecurity Threats and Defense course, as well as planned courses on Critical Infrastructure Control Systems Security, and Computer Forensics and Incident Handling. His research areas are active defense, big data analytics for security, industrial control system security, and data protection and privacy. He formerly served as the R&D Manager for the cyber security group of Accenture Tech Labs.

Dr. Charles Pak is an adjunct professor at Villanova and the Senior Cyber Security Solution Architect at Computer Sciences Corporation. He teaches courses on Security Risk Assessment and Management, Malicious Software Analysis and Defense, as well as planned courses on Secure Software Development, and Legal Aspects of Computer Security and Information Privacy. His research areas are cyberterrorism, cyber warfare, information security, and enterprise security.

Scott Streit is an adjunct professor at Villanova and the chief executive officer of Computer Science Innovations. He teaches courses on Ethical Hacking, Cloud Computing, and Semantic Web. Mr. Streit is the Chairman of the Biometric Open Protocal (P2410) at IEEE, which details Identity Assertion, Role Gathering, Access Control and Auditing as it pertains to e-commerce and banking.


The MS Cybersecurity curriculum consists of core courses in Cryptography & Network Security, and Cybersecurity Threats and Defense, followed by courses in three specialization areas: systems, policy, and operations.

The systems specialization area consists of courses in Trusted Computing, Secure Systems Engineering, Critical Infrastructure Control Systems Security, and Secure Software Development.

In the policy specialization area we have courses in Security Risk Assessment and Management, and Legal Aspects of Computer Security and Information Privacy.

The operations specialization area consists of courses in Ethical Hacking, Malicious Software Analysis and Defense, and Computer Forensics and Incident Handling.

Rounding out the cybersecurity courses are electives from ECE, Computer Science, and Mathematics including Computer Communication Networks, Computer Organization & Design, Mobile Computing & Wireless Networking, Unix and C Programming, Cloud Computing, Semantic Web, Design & Analysis of Algorithms, Database Systems, Distributed Systems, Number Theory, and Abstract Algebra.

Students may also choose to do an independent study project, optionally followed by research courses leading to a MS thesis.

For more information visit http://csec.ece.villanova.edu/

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