WGU Indiana jumpstarting Hoosier cybersecurity careers with $50,000 in scholarships
If recent headlines have you kicking yourself for not learning more about cybersecurity before now, you’re not alone. News that the global cybersecurity market will more than double to $300 billion over the next few years is reason enough to take note. Indiana has an oversized role as home to major defense and government software contractors, to say nothing of the fast-growing community of cloud-based SaaS companies located here, which truly makes this state the “Crossroads of Cybersecurity.
Of course, it’s never too late to learn, and for those interested in pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, it’s probably more within reach than you’d expect. WGU Indiana, the state’s nonprofit competency-based online university, has bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance that cost less than half of what other accredited Indiana state schools charge per year.
As a bonus, WGU is offering multiple $5,000 Cybersecurity Scholarships ($50,000 worth), but this opportunity is only available through December 31, 2019.
Learn more about scholarships and about WGU Indiana’s IT degree programs.
“One of the things that really sets WGU Indiana apart from other cybersecurity degree programs in the state–actually, this is true for all of our IT degrees–is that we include many major certifications with the standard, flat rate tuition,” said Chancellor Alison Bell. “These industry certifications could cost students hundreds or thousands of dollars if taken independently.”
When you consider that most students complete their degrees in as few as six and no more than 30 months, (that’s just 2.5 years compared to the 5+ years national average for degree completion), the value you can extract from the shortened timeline and significantly lower cost is tremendous. However, don’t let the savings and brevity of the programs convince you that they are any less rigorous or thorough, Chancellor Bell explained.
According to a 2018 Harris Poll survey of employers, 87% reported that the technical skills of WGU grads were either excellent or very good. The curriculum is closely aligned with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework, and the programs were designed in collaboration with national intelligence organizations and IT industry leaders, ensuring students learn emerging technologies and best practices in security governance.
Putting their skills into practice, 19 WGU students took top honors last month in the national Cyber FastTrack competition, which is designed to identify top cybersecurity talent from colleges and universities nationwide. Of the 24 perfect scores leading into the semifinals, nine were held by WGU students, which was the highest rate for any school.
After launching in the state in 2010, WGU Indiana has gone from enrolling 200 students that first year to more than 5,600 students currently enrolled, and Alison was very proud to share that to date there are more than 7,000 WGU Indiana degree-holding graduates.
“WGU Indiana has grown exponentially, but we still have that personal touch that makes all the difference for our working, adult students,” Bell said. “For those who may not know, each of our students has a faculty mentor whom they meet with every week and they go through everything together. Whether it’s challenging coursework, having a baby, the loss of a parent or just the everyday juggling of life and education. The positive impact of having someone on your journey with you who cares about your success is a big deal.”
You can learn more about the WGU approach to working adult education in this TechPoint Index story: WGU Indiana is obsessed with student success.
In addition to offering the Cybersecurity degree and other IT degrees in software development, cloud and system administration and more, WGU Indiana has begun a direct focus on what it considers the other end of the funnel–what happens after students graduate and how to set them up for success through the hiring process and beyond.
“More than 80% of our students work full-time, so I think we made the assumption that finding, getting and keeping a job was something they had already mastered, but that doesn’t account for changing careers, changing industries and the rapid change of every workplace,” said, Lindsay Taylor, Strategic Partnerships Manager for WGU Indiana. “We’re forging new relationships and forming partnerships with employers across all sectors, but we’re especially keen to partner with organizations like TechPoint and the tech companies [they] represent that are experiencing explosive growth and need qualified tech talent.”
As WGU Indiana heads into 2020, it’s 10th anniversary year, it will be launching a new outreach program tentatively called “Community of Scholars” that will be a more formalized path for professionals to get connected to WGU students and form industry mentor relationships with current students or recent graduates, as well as opportunities to guest lecture and more. “It’s all in service of student success and creating the quickest, most affordable path to a career of their dreams,” said Chancellor Bell. “We know there are plenty of tech professionals out there who will jump at the chance to get more involved.”
More about the Featured Image: Ramona Wells is an Ivy Tech student who was awarded a $5,000 scholarship during the Indy Women in Tech Summit in September at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to continue her education at WGU Indiana after she completes her associates degree at Ivy Tech.