MSU receives re-designation as National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations

The National Security Agency has reaffirmed Mississippi State University’s status as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, consolidating over 20 years of MSU’s involvement in the NSA program. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University has successfully renewed its distinction as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the National Security Agency, marking another significant accomplishment in cybersecurity.

President Mark E. Keenum of MSU expressed delight in this milestone and highlighted how this recognition underscores the university’s dedication to providing top-tier education and research in cybersecurity.

“I am filled with pride to witness our cyber programs once again validated as a National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency,” Keenum remarked. “Cybersecurity plays a crucial role in our nation’s security, and our exceptional academic and research endeavors are cultivating a workforce that will advance U.S. capabilities in the cyber realm.”

Since 2001, MSU has been consistently recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency, holding all three NSA cyber designations—Cyber Defense, Cyber Research, and Cyber Operations—a distinction shared by only a few institutions. Moreover, MSU’s National Science Foundation CyberCorps program, one of the oldest in the country, has graduated over 140 cyber professionals into the federal workforce.

The NSA’s CAE in Cyber Operations program identifies institutions that meet rigorous criteria and emphasize specialized cyber operations essential for intelligence, military, and law enforcement organizations. MSU’s CAE status highlights its wide-ranging approach to cybersecurity education spanning various disciplines, aided by its comprehensive curriculum, facilities, and cutting-edge research initiatives.

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at MSU provides bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity, along with two certificate programs, preparing students to safeguard critical systems and infrastructure from cyber threats.

Reflecting on this achievement, Shahram Rahimi, the Gloria and Douglas Marchant Endowed Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, praised the department’s faculty, staff, and the university for their dedication and innovative contributions.

Dean Jason Keith of MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering highlighted the university’s cybersecurity programs, affirming that they equip students to tackle the evolving challenges posed by the growing reliance on digital systems in all sectors.

The faculty at MSU actively participate in cybersecurity research, contributing to field innovations and insights, thereby enhancing the collaboration with the NSA and other CAE-designated institutions to further cybersecurity education nationwide. The university also collaborated with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to host a national conference for high-level administrators and faculty representing CAE-designated institutions in 2022.

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