School of Information Sciences

University of Pittsburgh designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Research by NSA and DHS


The National Security Administration (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated the University of Pittsburgh as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) for academic years 2014-2021. This designation reflects Pitt’s ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria and contributes to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure. Additionally, this designation helps to distinguish the strengths of each of the CAE institutions, benefitting not only the CAE, but also students, employers and hiring managers throughout the nation.

Pitt’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) is home to the Laboratory for Education and Research on Security Assured Information Systems (LERSAIS), led by James Joshi, associate professor in the Information Science and Technology program. LERSAIS has been central to the establishment of a premier research program on security and the development of high quality education in security and information assurance at Pitt.

Pitt’s continuous designation as a CAE-R also contributed to its Top 10 ranking of schools nationwide for its cybersecurity program. Overall rankings were based on more than 2000 respondents’ perceptions of academic excellence and rigor, the experience and expertise of program faculty, the relevant experience and background of students and graduates and the overall professional reputation of the program in the cybersecurity community.

Both the President’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace (February 2003) and the International Strategy for Cyberspace (May 2011) address the critical shortage of professionals with these skills and highlight the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace. “Like all nations, the United States has a compelling interest in defending its vital national assets, as well as our core principles and values, and we are committed to defending against those who would attempt to impede our ability to do so.”

Pitt has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE-IAE) since 2003 and in Information Assurance Research (CAE-R) since 2008 jointly by the NSA and DHS. Pitt is also one of only 15 CAEs in the United States whose IA curriculum has been certified to meet five Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) standards for IA education.

To apply for the CAE-R designation, applicants must meet six foundational criteria, including: (1) applicant institutions must either be an existing CAE-IAE or meet the revised CAE criteria; (2) the institution must be either a DOD school or PhD-producing military academy or be rated as either Research University/Very High (RU/VH), Research University/High (RU/H) or Doctoral Research University (DRU) according to the Carnegie Foundation’s classification system; (3) list IA faculty with links to curriculum vitae including main areas of IA research/expertise; (4)evidence of a strong peer-reviewed publication record by IA faculty and students and the impact of their research; (5) the production of PhD and Master’s students in IA; and (6) evidence of research funding for the IA aspect of at least 10 research projects.

The NSA and the DHS jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in IA Education (CAE-IAE) and IA Research (CAE-R) programs. “The goal of these programs is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in IA and producing a growing number of professionals with IA expertise in various disciplines.”



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