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The Technical College of the Lowcountry’s burgeoning cybersecurity program just took an even bigger step forward with the introduction of a new associate degree program.

Recently approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, TCL’s Cybersecurity Associate Degree program will feature 63-credit hours of coursework that can be completed in as little as two years. The deadline to register for spring courses is Jan. 5.

The new program is just the latest in work and planning that began in earnest in 2017 when TCL launched its certificate program in cybersecurity. As Angel Kern, TCL’s Cybersecurity Program Director said, building on those earlier efforts and expanding to an associate degree has always been the idea.

“The certificate program essentially became the second year in the associate program,” she said, adding that the earlier program was initially designed for people already working in the field who wanted or needed to add cybersecurity to their skill set.

The new associate degree program will provide students who are new to the field with a solid foundation in networking and programming before moving on to information security. Classes will include operating systems, cyber law, ethical hacking and penetration testing, among others.

But that’s not all the big news to come out of the department, Kern said. TCL is also planning to launch a separate certificate program that will serve as an introduction to the field and is working to introduce cybersecurity as a dual enrollment program within high schools.

“The dual enrollment/cyber essentials program would feature an eight-course sequence that students can take in their junior and senior years,” she said.

By the time these high school students complete the program, they will have completed their first year of the cyber associate degree program and have those credits out of the way.

And the news doesn’t stop with program additions. The computer labs are getting a fresh look as well.

TCL recently updated a large classroom to serve as the new computer lab by adding new furniture, computers and group workstations. 

The college is also scouting for space to install a cybercafé where students will be able to interact, work collaboratively on projects and of course, have a coffee.

All these initiatives could not come at a better time, Kern says, given the increased demand for information and computer security professionals.

In fact, the demand for cybersecurity specialists is so great the U.S. Department of Commerce reported last year that nearly 600,000 jobs were going unfilled.

“And that number is closer to 700,000 (job vacancies) now,” Kern said. 

“More and more companies are waking up to the idea that they need more people in place who have these skills and can help reduce their cyber risk/exposure,” she said. “So, we need to get people through these programs faster.”

For more information about the program, visit TCL.edu and search cybersecurity.