KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 18, 2021 – The National Science Foundation is expanding its support of the nation’s cybersecurity workforce and the University of Rhode Island is reaping those benefits as it becomes one of six universities being added to the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program. The program provides full scholarships and stipends of up to $34,000 to students who agree to work in cybersecurity jobs for federal, state, local or tribal governments after graduation.
The NSF is investing nearly $6.9 million overall, with a total of almost $21.2 million expected over the next five years. URI – along with Augusta University, Michigan Technological University, Old Dominion, Central Florida, and Cincinnati – join 78 universities in the program, which represents 36 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“Every day, we see headlines that underscore the urgency of ensuring an adequately sized and well-trained cybersecurity workforce in the United States, particularly in government agencies,” said Kim Barrett, director of NSF’s Division of Graduate Education. “I’m excited that six new institutions will be added to the CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program ranks. These diverse universities have each proposed innovative approaches to cybersecurity education and professional development that not only will support students selected for scholarships, but also increase the vitality of cybersecurity preparedness for the nation.”
“To ensure strong cybersecurity at all levels of government, it is vital that we recruit and develop top talent with the skills to tackle the wide array of threats we face,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems and a member of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which has recommended significantly expanding the CyberCorps program. “I’m thrilled that the University of Rhode Island has been selected as a CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service school. CyberCorps provides an amazing opportunity for our talented young Rhode Islanders to get paid for going to college and get an exciting job in the U.S. government at the end of it. CyberCorps students are often on the front lines helping to secure critical systems, and I am constantly amazed by the alumni I meet in key cybersecurity positions. Congratulations to Dr. Victor Fay-Wolfe and the University of Rhode Island for achieving this milestone and positioning our state to help fill desperately needed technology roles and better prepare us to prevent and respond to cyber incidents.”
Over the next five years, URI will receive about $3.8 million with the first scholarships expected to be awarded for fall 2021. The program will fund about 5 to 10 students, said Fay-Wolfe, professor of computer science. Undergraduates will receive up to $31,000 in stipend and “professional development” funds, and graduate students up to $40,000, along with full tuition and fees. All scholars must complete the Professional Science Master’s in Cyber Security program, but the vast amount of the scholarships will got to students in the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree in Computer Science and Cyber Security program.
“We’re very proud to be part of the CyberCorps program, which is awarded by the federal government to the top cybersecurity academic programs in the nation,” said Fay-Wolfe. “The scholarships are by far the biggest benefit to URI, but it is also a significant investment in our cybersecurity program. Staff and students will be able to attend national conferences and workshops on cybersecurity education, which will help us maintain the quality of our academic programs in the ever-changing field.”
URI is designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education and Cybersecurity Research, one of the few institutions in the nation with both designations. It is the first school in Rhode Island to be added to the NSF’s CyberCorps program.
About 140 students – including about 100 undergraduates – are pursuing degrees in one or more of URI’s half-dozen cybersecurity programs, which span all levels – from minors to Ph.D. degrees – along with an online graduate certificate in cyber security. Many of these students also take part in internships with cybersecurity organizations, compete in inter-school competitions, and are encouraged to participate in state and national cybersecurity organizations.
Community colleges began participating in the CyberCorps program in 2015 and play an important role in several of the recent awards, including URI’s. The University has an articulation agreement with the Community College of Rhode Island, which is similarly designated a Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education and has a thriving cybersecurity program. Under the agreement, CCRI cybersecurity students who earn their associate’s degrees can join the URI program as third-year students.
To learn more about Department of Computer Science and Statistics and its cybersecurity programs, go to web.uri.edu/cs.