Cyber attacks aimed at colleges have seen a major spike since the coronavirus pandemic began. And cybercrime can have a significant impact on a college’s ability to provide a high-quality education. It can also lead to significant ramifications for students and other college community members. For instance, some colleges, such as the University of Utah, have paid cybercriminals significant sums of money following attacks. Others, such as the University of Colorado, have seen cybercriminals access personal information such as social security numbers and medical information. But certain colleges have been successful in preventing cybercrime and have improved the entire cybersecurity industry. This article is going to highlight 30 American colleges that have robust cybersecurity systems and centers in place.
Students should not have to worry about the impact of cybercrime when they are at college. Sadly, this is not the case for many. But some students know that their colleges have invested in security systems that have a strong ability to keep their information is safe. Of course, no college can ever be 100% secure from a cyber attack. Yet, some colleges can demonstrate that they have prioritized cyber safety.
Cybercrime is constantly evolving. That means that a college’s cybersecurity efforts need to be evolving similarly. Some colleges are able to demonstrate that they are doing this. Others can demonstrate that they are not just protecting their communities from cybercrime but leading the fight against cyber criminals before they can act. These colleges have been given the highest rankings on this list.
Any one of the colleges below is a strong choice for a student who wants to get an education in an institution protecting its community from cyber attacks. However, it’s also possible that none of the colleges below are right for you. If that’s the case, then this ranking can still be a vital resource. Every entry has a detailed summary of how the college is taking cybersecurity seriously. These have been included for you to contrast and compare their efforts to your own college options. If any of your potential colleges is taking cybersecurity as seriously as the colleges in this ranking, then that’s a strong sign that it’s a college worth attending!
To create this list, we used a number of ways to identify colleges that have been proactive or inactive when it comes to cybersecurity. Initially, we found many sources that highlighted cyber-attacks that have taken place on college campuses. This served as a means to discount colleges from the final ranking or to assess the improvements that colleges had made since a cyber attack. These sources are as follows:
- Inside Higher Ed, Cyberextortion Threat Evolves
- Inside Higher Ed, Colleges a ‘Juicy Target’ for Cyberextortion
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, Why Colleges Are Ripe Targets for Cyberattacks – and How They Can Protect Themselves
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cyberattacks Are Spiking. Colleges Are Fighting Back
- Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center, Cybersecurity Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education
Additionally, we wanted to identify top colleges for cybersecurity in another manner to highlight institutions with strong systems that had not been reported in news updates. We found these colleges by analyzing lists of the colleges with the best cybersecurity college programs and a list of the most technically advanced colleges in America. These sources are as follows:
- Best Colleges, The Most Technically Advanced Colleges
- Noodle, The Top Cyber Security Schools Can Prepare You for a Recession-Proof Career:
- Cyber Defense Magazine, Top 100 Cybersecurity Universities
Lastly, we conducted further research into the colleges that we sourced to ensure that the college cybersecurity efforts were still up to date and that the colleges were meeting the rising challenge of preventing cyber attacks. Our final ranking uses the following criteria: Evidence of a strong cybersecurity system, efforts to fight cybercrime in innovative ways, and combined ranking on the methodology lists.
Our final ranking, from 30 to one, is below:
30. University of Hartford
Thanks to a range of safeguards, the University of Hartford has strong cybersecurity. For example, the college can terminate a student’s access to the internet if they detect a virus on one of their devices. The college also helps students with the removal of viruses from their computers. In late 2020, the college increased its cybersecurity activities. For instance, it formed a cybersecurity club and presented the first-ever Regional Cyber Security & Tech Virtual Career Exposition event. The Chronicle of Higher Education interviewed one of the University of Hartford’s cybersecurity experts to discuss how colleges can prevent cyber attacks.
29. Chatham University
In late 2020, Chatham University formed a partnership with the Mission Critical Institute for Cybersecurity, an organization which, “launched the first performance-based, employer-driven, Department for Homeland Security and practitioner-taught certificates for risk management and cybersecurity framework.” This partnership allowed the college to offer a certificate in cybersecurity risk management, focusing on protecting the healthcare industry. Today, the college offers three different 8 to 10-week boot camp programs that allow those who enroll to earn strong salaries upon completion. Best Colleges names Chatham University as the 21st most technologically advanced college.
28. Villanova University
A number of centers within Villanova University are currently working to improve cybersecurity. One of these is the Center of Excellence in Enterprise Technology, working on a DARPA-funded project that analyzes and mitigates the cybersecurity risks to The Internet of Things. But the center with the most proactive focus upon cybersecurity is the Security & Cryptography Lab. This lab is researching how a range of emerging technologies can be used to improve computer security, such as using post-quantum cryptography for security analysis. Best Colleges names Villanova University as the 17th most technologically advanced college.
27. Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey
The cybersecurity team at Princeton University is proud of how it has integrated its mission into the culture of the college. The team did this in several ways, such as hosting weekly roundtable discussions, creating guidance papers, and providing training. Currently, one of the college professors who is innovating the cybersecurity industry is Amit Levy. Levy has the goal “to improve the security and reliability of the small electronic devices that we’re carrying around these days.” Best Colleges names Princeton University as the 15th most technologically advanced college.
26. Maryville University
St. Louis, Missouri
Maryville University’s Cyber Fusion Center is “one of the most technology-rich spaces” on campus. It exists to provide free cybersecurity solutions to non-profits, charities, schools, and small businesses. It has a range of cutting-edge technology, such as a telepresence robot. The college also organizes a range of events that aim to improve the cybersecurity workforce. For example, in 2021, it held a panel that discussed supporting and empowering women in cybersecurity. Cyber Defense Magazine names Maryville University as the 19th best college for cybersecurity.
25. Georgetown University
The leadership at Georgetown University is taking the increased risk of a cyber attack seriously. In 2020, it announced that every student had to install protective software on their devices before accessing any university system. The primary home for cybersecurity development at the college is the Center for Security and Emerging Technology. This center focuses on artificial intelligence, advanced computing, and biotechnology and produces data-driven research for the policy community. Additionally, in 2021, the college’s Cyber SMART Research Center was able to gain $1 million in funding to expand cyber research in a multidisciplinary manner. Cyber Defense Magazine names Georgetown University the 18th best college for cybersecurity.
24. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
The research into cybersecurity at the University of Notre Dame is focusing on a range of developing technologies. For example, one professor is conducting research into defending against attacks upon iris recognition software. The Center for Research Computing also has a range of cybersecurity projects in progress. It also collaborates with a wide range of industry partners, such as IBM. And in addition to partnering with companies, the college has previously teamed up with Purdue University to create cybersecurity solutions for the US military. Best Colleges named the University of Notre Dame the 22nd most technologically advanced college.
23. United States Military Academy
West Point, New York
The Cyber Research Center at United States Military Academy traces its origin to 1985, though it was originally named the Office of Artificial Intelligence Analysis and Evaluation. In 1997, it decided to focus heavily on cybersecurity. The college is also home to the Army Cyber Institute, which is performing a wide range of research into the challenges that the US Army will face in the cyber domain over the next decade. One example is the Jack Voltaic Cyber Research Project, which develops critical cyber infrastructure from the bottom up. Cyber Defense Magazine names United States Military Academy the 21st best cybersecurity college.
22. University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
One of the University of Michigan’s latest cybersecurity achievements is the development of a chip that is so secure that over 500 cybersecurity researchers were unable to hack it during a recent hackathon. The college is home to the Center for Computer Security and Society. This center investigates a range of emerging cybersecurity threats. It is currently working on a range of cybersecurity initiatives. For instance, it recently developed a smart speaker that is much more secure than other devices currently on the market. Best Colleges considers the University of Michigan to be the 16th most technologically advanced college.
21. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been able to gain generous amounts of funding for its cybersecurity initiatives in recent years. In 2020, it managed to gain $4.9 million for cybersecurity scholarship programs. And in 2021, a professor was awarded $500,000 to develop cyber defense systems. The home for cybersecurity at the college is the Cake Lab. The National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and Google Cloud support Cake Lab’s research. Cyber Defense Magazine considers the Worcester Polytechnic Institute to be the 12th best cybersecurity college.
20. University of Maryland Global Campus
The Center for Security Studies at the University of Maryland Global Campus “works with industry and government to meet cybersecurity and homeland security needs for our nation.” It does this via conducting research, providing advice, assembling specialized courses, developing teaching tools, hosting conferences, and much more. The center’s industry partnerships include Cisco, Microsoft, the National Security Agency, and the US Department of Justice. It also runs a virtual summer camp for high school teachers, which helps these teachers incorporate cybersecurity into their curriculum. Cyber Defense Magazine considers the University of Maryland Global Campus to be the 10th best cybersecurity college.
19. Naval Postgraduate School
In 2009, the Naval Postgraduate School decided to create the Center for Cyber Warfare. This center focuses on problem-solving research with an interdisciplinary team. It also collaborates with a range of other colleges and companies. However, the Center for Cybersecurity and Cyber Operations is also based at the college. It has its roots in a program that the college offered in computer and network security in 1990. Cyber Defense Magazine names Naval Postgraduate School as the seventh-best college for cybersecurity.
18. Seton Hill University
In 2018, Seton Hill University’s cybersecurity efforts received a major boost. It partnered with the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance. This brought high-quality internships and research opportunities to the college. When this partnership was announced, the college’s provost said the following: “Seton Hill students will have a real edge with real-world opportunities.” These internships have been documented as converting into jobs. Best Colleges considers Seton Hill University to be the 20th most technologically advanced college in America. Cyber Defense Magazine names it the 28th best college for cybersecurity.
17. University of Minnesota
In 2021, the University of Minnesota has focused its attention on cyber attacks that affect the food and agriculture supply chain. It is doing this via its veterinary college’s Food Protection and Defense Institute by working with both figures within the government and the agriculture industry. In 2019, the college received a major boost to its cybersecurity program, thanks to a $250,000 donation from the retailer Target. Much of the college’s cybersecurity efforts come out of the Technological Leadership Institute, which has been in existence since 1987. Best Colleges considers the University of Minnesota to be the sixth most technologically advanced college in America.
16. Kansas State University
The Center for Information and Systems Assurance at Kansas State University has managed to gain some strong achievements in the last few years. In 2020, the National Science Foundation renewed the college’s CyberCorps program with a $3 million grant. And in 2019, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security redesignated the college as a national center of academic excellence in cyber defense research. Additionally, the college’s cyber defense programs collaborate with a range of industry partners, such as Microsoft Research and HP labs, and a range of government entities, such as the US. Army Computer Networking and Electronic Warfare Proponent and the Food and Drug Administration. Cyber Defense Magazine names the college the fifth-best cybersecurity college.
15. Drexel University
Researchers at Drexel University were selected in 2021 to join a $220 million study into utilizing artificial intelligence in a range of key industries. A significant part of this project is cybersecurity. And since 2014, Drexel University has run the Cybersecurity Institute. This institute “conducts state of the art cybersecurity research, aids in the coordination, improvement, and expansion of Drexel’s cybersecurity degree programs, and facilitates engagement with government, military, and industry cybersecurity partners.” Cyber Defense Magazine names Drexel University the 17th best cybersecurity college. Noodle states that the college has some of the best online cybersecurity programs.
14. Johns Hopkins University
A website launched by Johns Hopkins University in late 2020 works as a database to showcase which nations are most likely to launch cyberattacks against one another, based on previous attacks and a range of other factors. The college’s school of engineering also runs the Information Security Institute. The institute has been in existence since 2001 and was one of the first college research centers to focus on information security. Additionally, the college provides cybersecurity advice for engineering professionals. Cyber Defense Magazine considers Johns Hopkins University to be the 14th best college for cybersecurity. Noodle lists it as a top cybersecurity school.
13. California Institute of Technology
The Center for Technology and Management Education at California Institute of Technology is rapidly addressing the demand for increased cybersecurity in the world. It is doing this by running a 100% online cybersecurity boot camp. In as little as 12 weeks, people can become qualified to take on an effective cybersecurity role. The college is also fighting cybercrime in other ways. For example, it has partnered with the Los Angeles Cyber Lab to develop critical workforce cybersecurity skills. Best Colleges considers the California Institute of Technology to be the third most technologically advanced college in America.
12. Massaschusetts Institute of Technology
Two different departments within the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have a focus on cybersecurity. The Lincoln Laboratory has developed Keylime, a cloud security software which, in 2021, was adapted into IBM’s cloud fleet. The Sloan School of Management hosts an interdisciplinary consortium for improving cybersecurity infrastructure. Many leading businesses have partnered with this consortium, including Microsoft, Exxon, Cisco, Google, NASDAQ, and Mars. Best Colleges names Massachusetts Institute of Technology the 12th most technologically advanced college. Cyber Defense Magazine considers it to be the 37th best cybersecurity college.
11. Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina
In late 2020, Clemson University announced a major advancement of its cybersecurity activities. It became a managing partner of the $111 million public-private Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Part of the college’s role in this organization is to produce cutting-edge cybersecurity programs for the manufacturing sector. Even before this announcement, Clemson University had been an active participant in improving cybersecurity for over 10 years, thanks to its Cybersecurity Center. Best Colleges considers Clemson University to be the fifth most technologically advanced college in America.
10. The University of Texas, San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
In 2021, The University of Texas, San Antonio, is celebrating 20 years of The Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security helping to prevent cyber attacks. This center is known for running leading cybersecurity competitions, such as the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which has been running since 2005. And in early 2021, the college received a $1.2 million grant from The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which will go into a program that helps different parts of the American Government identify critical assets to protect from cyber-attacks. Best Colleges considers The University of Texas, San Antonio to be the 18th most technologically advanced college. Cyber Defense Magazine names it the 11th best cybersecurity college.
9. Arizona State University
Thanks to the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics, Arizona State University is one of the leading colleges in the fight against cybercrime. This center’s focus on utilizing cross-disciplinary personnel to boost cyber defense is part of what makes it so innovative. In fact, faculty members from the law, business, engineering, psychology, public service, social sciences, and criminology departments collaborate upon solutions. This center also partners with some of the largest technology companies in the world, such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Paypal, and Samsung, ensuring that its cyber defense solutions have a real-world impact. Best Colleges considers Arizona State University to be the second most technologically advanced college in America.
8. Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The closest thing that Wake Forest University has had to a cyber attack is a 2020 Zoom meeting interrupted by hackers. This event resulted in no private information being stolen or held to ransom. Wake Forest University has prevented major attacks, possibly because of its leading researchers. In 2012, the college’s researchers were pioneering a computer program that could repel cyber attacks as they took place. Best Colleges considers Wake Forest University to be the most technologically advanced college in America.
7. New York University
New York City, New York
The Center for Cybersecurity at New York University results from a collaboration between the college’s schools of law, engineering, and other departments. Thanks to this center, the college has created the largest student-run cybersecurity conference, leads a range of research projects, has produced security systems for leading tech companies, and much more. In 2021, this center is researching a range of important technologies. For instance, researchers have recently identified that generative adversarial networks, which use machine learning to remove personal identity from the internet, actually leave significant amounts of data online. Cyber Defense Magazine considers New York University to be the 16th best college for cybersecurity. Noodle states that it has some of the top online cybersecurity programs.
6. Carnegie Mellon University
The CyLab Security and Privacy Institute at Carnegie Mellon University allows “experts from a variety of disciplines across the university to collaborate on cutting-edge research and educate the next generation of security and privacy professionals.” In fact, the institute has 30 core faculty members and 60 more affiliated faculty members from 20 different departments. In the 2019 to 2020 academic year, the institute partnered with some of the top technology businesses globally, including Boeing, Facebook, IBM, LG, Microsoft, and Siemens. Cyber Defense Magazine considers Carnegie Mellon University to be the second-best cybersecurity college. Best Colleges names it the seventh most technologically advanced college in America.
5. Indiana University
The cybersecurity technology at Indiana University has been innovating the sector since 2003. In that year, it opened the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. Over the course of its existence, the center has become “distinctive in interweaving technical and policy expertise.” Currently, the center is working upon several cutting-edge cybercrime projects, such as collaborating with the Rochester Institute of Technology to create ASSERT, which uses machine learning to categorize cyber attacker behavior. Cyber Defense Magazine names Indiana University the fourth-best college for cybersecurity. Inside Higher Ed references the college in its article on cyber extortion, but the reference is a quotation from the college’s senior security analyst on the challenge of securing colleges from cyber attacks.
4. Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana
The Center for Education Research in Information Assurance and Security at Purdue University is “the world’s foremost interdisciplinary academic center for cyber and cyber-physical systems.” In fact, it employs over 100 researchers. The college’s online division also runs a cybersecurity center. This center focuses on broadening the college’s cybersecurity scope by engaging with the cybersecurity community through industry engagement, producing faculty articles, performing community outreach, and providing education. Best Colleges names Purdue University the fourth most technologically advanced college in America. Noodle lists it as one of the best cybersecurity schools. Cyber Defense Magazine names it the 39th best cybersecurity college.
3. Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York
2020 and 2021 have both seen major strides forward in Rochester Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity infrastructure. In 2020, it opened the 52,000 square foot Global Cybersecurity Institute. In 2021, IBM announced that it was providing $3.3 million to make this institute even better. 2021 also saw students of the college win the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition. This tested students’ hacking skills and improved cybersecurity systems by encouraging the participants to find weak spots in computer networks. Cyber Defense Magazine considers Rochester Institute of Technology to be the ninth-best college for cybersecurity. Noodle names it one of the top cybersecurity schools.
2. California State University, San Bernardino
San Bernardino, California
In late 2020, the Department of Homeland Security designated California State University, San Bernardino, as the location for the National Center of Cybersecurity Education. It also gave the college a two-year $10.5 million grant to help increase the nation’s output of cyber defense experts. Before this news, the college’s Cybersecurity Center had already gained a reputation as a pioneer of cybersecurity education. In fact, the government designated it as a center of academic excellence in information Assurance in 2008. Cyber Defense Magazine names California State University, San Bernardino, as the best college for cybersecurity.
1. Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center notes that Pennsylvania State University took strong action after a 2015 cyberattack affected their college of engineering. The Chronicle of Higher Education references the college’s chief information-security officer in one of its articles about cyber attacks. Best Colleges names the college the 10th most technologically advanced. Noodle states that the college has one of the top online cybersecurity programs. Cyber Defense Magazine names the college the eighth-best for cybersecurity. Pennsylvania State University is leading the fight against cybercrime at the LIONS Center. Since 2002, it has published over 400 pieces on cybersecurity. In 2020, one of its professors, in collaboration with professionals at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, managed to gain a $1.2 million grant to focus on security for the Internet of Things as it develops.
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