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Master's in Mathematics of Information and Security Leads to In-Demand Careers Employer demand grows for information science and cybersecurity leaders

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Cyber Security Lock and Web

If you want to become a leader in today’s growing field of information security and cybersecurity, look no further than American University’s new master’s degree in Mathematics of Information and Security. The degree combines applied mathematics, data science, and information technology, with courses designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

The program prepares students for a wide range of in-demand jobs, including computer and information research scientist, data scientist, data analyst, computer systems analyst, information security analysts, operation research analyst, and more. “Our program teaches solid theory, cutting-edge research, and shows how to apply these to actual data problems,” says Stephen Casey, mathematics professor and chair of AU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

AU’s new degree gives students a broad and deep mathematical background that isn’t typically provided by cybersecurity programs, says Casey. "For positions like research scientist, successful applicants are expected to innovate, be creative, and above all, think deeply. These are precisely the skills that this degree will provide. This kind of position is what employers are really needing to fill, and it's what we've tailored the degree to solve.”

The Need for Information Security Leaders

We see the headlines every day: organizations grappling with paralyzing cyberattacks, and businesses panicking over massive data breaches. Even government agencies aren’t immune. As our society becomes increasingly data driven, organizations of all kinds are working overtime to manage risks to data privacy and security.

To combat these growing threats, worldwide spending on information security products and services is projected to exceed $100 billion by 2020. Employers are having trouble finding qualified employees who possess the skills they need. Employer demand for information security professionals increased by 90 percent between 2010 and 2015, leading to a workforce shortage. And that shortage is growing.

Why a Master’s in Mathematics of Information and Security?

Information security professionals may possess degrees in computer science, software development/engineering, information technology, or cybersecurity. But American University’s Mathematics of Information and Security degree takes things to a new level. It provides students with a stronger academic background in applied mathematics than the traditional degrees, says Casey. Graduates from AU’s program will be able to create and test the validity of mathematical models of leading problems in the security field. They can develop the software and/or hardware based on these mathematical models—and test their performance using quantitative metrics. The AU program will also give them the skills to explain how these mathematical models can help curate and protect sensitive data throughout its life cycle. And lastly, they will understand the social and policy implications of using these models in the face of data security.

Thus, the degree is designed for national security or defense industry professionals, especially those who want to work in research and development or other areas that require substantial algorithmic, cryptographic, data analytics, information security, computing, and/or computational skills. It’s also designed to build leaders across the cybersecurity and information security fields.

Esteemed Faculty, Important Coursework in Rapidly Changing World

“The field of information science, broadly defined, is at a crossroads,” says Casey. “Although mathematical theory has been instrumental in catalyzing the advances in collecting and analyzing the quickly growing and vast amounts of complex data, the education of new data practitioners has not kept pace. Students are not routinely taught both how to directly manipulate data themselves and the underlying theory that is its genesis. Instead, they are either taught theory divorced from applications, or they are taught how to manipulate data without the theory. Our faculty teach students to cross between theory and practice. We have designed the entire program with this principle in mind.”

AU’s master’s program features the research work of very established researchers, each lending their expertise to create a course of study that is unique and extremely relevant in today’s rapidly changing world. They include Michael Robinson (Computational Topology, Signal Processing, and Computational Science), Stephen Casey (Harmonic and Complex Analysis, Computational Science, and Information Theory), Michael Baron (Sequential Analysis, Change-Point Detection, and Bayesian Inference), Elizabeth Malloy (Functional Data Analysis), John Nolan (Probability, Stable Distributions, and Extreme Event Analysis) and Joshua Lansky (Representation Theory, Number Theory, and Cryptography).