IT pros rank University of Texas San Antonio best school for cybersecurity

Norwich University is second and Mississippi State is third in HP-sponsored survey

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) tops a somewhat unexpected list of schools that are considered by security practitioners as the best in the country for cybersecurity courses and degree programs.

In a Hewlett-Packard-sponsored survey of about 2,000 certified IT security professionals, UTSA's 14 undergraduate and graduate programs in areas such as digital forensics, secure design and intrusion detection and response, were ranked first for academic excellence and practical relevance.

The experience and expertise of program faculty and the school's professional reputation within the security community were also factors that contributed to the school's top ranking.

Norwich University, a private military college in Northfield, Vt., garnered the second spot, while Mississippi State University near Starkville was third. Norwich's Computer Science and Information Assurance (CSIA) program and Mississippi State's Center for Computer Security Research are National Security Agency-certified centers of academic excellence in information security.

Rounding out the top 10 were Syracuse University and Carnegie Mellon University, which tied for the fourth spot; Purdue University was fifth; the University of Southern California, the University of Pittsburgh and George Mason University were in a seventh place tie. Eighth place went to West Chester University, in West Chester, Penn., while the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the University of Washington in Seattle completed the list.

The Ponemon Institute, which conducted the survey for HP, compiled the list of top schools based on responses from 1,958 security practitioners, about 65% of whom identified themselves as being at a supervisory level.

Survey participants were given a list of 403 educational institutions and were asked to select and rank up to five of the institutions in descending order of preference. Respondents were then asked to rate each school's program based on their perceptions about the school's academic rigor, faculty quality and other measures.

Schools were assigned weighted scores based on how often survey respondents selected each school, the order in which they were ranked by each respondent and overall perceptions about program quality.

For instance, 98 respondents selected the University of Texas, San Antonio, as one of their top schools for cybersecurity. Of those, 90 ranked it as their first choice. The school also got an average score of 9.40 on a scale of 1 to 10 for program quality, putting it on top of the list.

Similarly, about 91% of the 69 respondents who selected Norwich in their top five list also ranked the university as their top pick and give it an average score of 9.2 for program quality.

The numbers for each of the top ranking schools, by themselves, are relatively small. For instance, only 90 individuals out of the total sample size of more than 1,950 individuals selected UTSA as the number one choice, but that was enough to make it the top school on the list.

It's also unclear how knowledgeable the survey respondents were about each school's cybersecurity programs or how much they might have been influenced by either a positive or a negative experience with a university.

Even so, the survey responses paint a fairly clear picture of what IT security practitioners view as the best schools for cybersecurity in the U.S., said Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute.

The numbers for the top-ranked schools are large enough to show the ratings are consistently positive, Ponemon said. "It shows those particular schools stand out from other schools in the whole area of cybersecurity education," Ponemon said. The results are an unambiguous indicator of educational quality and student performance, he said.

Most the schools that cracked the top-10 list are NSA and Department of Homeland Security-certified centers of academic excellence, Ponemon said. Their curriculums address both technical and theoretical issues in cybersecurity, undergraduate and graduate level programs and hands-on learning opportunities. Typically, schools in the top 10 list also tend to have faculty members who are leading practitioners or researchers in the field of cybersecurity.

This article, IT pros rank University of Texas San Antonio best school for cybersecurity, was originally published at

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

See more by Jaikumar Vijayan on

Read more about education/training in Computerworld's Education/Training Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Syracuse UniversityAssuranceeducationcyberwarfareUniversity of Southern CaliforniaIT managementindustry verticalsHewlett-PackardEducation/TrainingTSAsecurityPurdue Universitytraining

More about Carnegie Mellon University AustraliaHewlett-Packard AustraliaHPMellonNational Security AgencyNSATopicWest

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jaikumar Vijayan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts