Business schools train grad students to handle security breaches and protect customer data
Convenience and credibility are what sold Henry Bromley III on James Madison University 's M.B.A. program.
The Virginia-based mechanical engineer, husband, and father needed a reputable business school close to home that allowed him to balance work, family, and grad school. The program's emphasis on information security was little more than an interesting afterthought.
"I went in merely for the M.B.A.," Bromley says. "I wasn't so interested in information security ... little did I know it would really boost my career."
Bromley landed a position with Booz Allen Hamilton, a government consulting firm, before finishing his Information Security M.B.A. in 2008. Now a senior information security engineer consulting for defense industry clients, Bromley's work is all cybersecurity, all the time, he says.
"This is the real deal. The kind of nuts and bolts on how we can protect our information," and what that information is worth, Bromley says. "I feel like I've stepped into the forefront of it."
James Madison launched its Information Security M.B.A. program in 2000 as a response to industry demand after Y2K panic prompted companies and the government to take a closer look at the security of digital data, says Michael Busing, the school's M.B.A. program director.
Other schools carving out niche business degrees in information security include Colorado Christian University , which pairs in-person business courses with online information security classes from the University of Fairfax in Virginia. DeVry University 's Keller Graduate School of Management also offers an information security M.B.A. via a blend of online and in-person courses, and students enrolled in the M.B.A. program at Ferris State University in Michigan can opt to specialize in information security and networking management.
While the number of M.B.A. programs focused on specific industries increased between 2006 and 2010, those focusing on data and E-business dropped slightly, according to a recent report by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an accrediting body for business school programs.
Southern New Hampshire University launched an M.B.A. in information security and assurance, only to discontinue the program a few months later, says Gerard Ross, director of marketing at SNHU. "It was too niche for us," Ross says, acknowledging the program's focus didn't match industry needs in the region.
While New Hampshire is not a hotbed for cybersecurity, Washington, D.C. is. With many of its classes offered in Reston, Va., JMU's proximity to a hub of finance, government, and defense contractors helps sustain the program. Approval from the National Security Agency also adds to the vitality of the program, and graduates receive NSA certification when they complete their M.B.A.
To identify business issues and ensure its curriculum stays ahead of the curve, the College of Business consults an industry advisory board established by JMU's College of Integrated Science and Technology, Busing says. Executives from companies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Microsoft, and CarMax, among others, make up the board.
"We pick their brains and say, 'How does this match with what your needs are?'" he says.
The program combines traditional business courses -- such as accounting, finance, and marketing -- with specialty courses such as information security and ethics and computer forensics to show students how protecting data fits into a business model.
"We're starting to look into things like ... how secure is secure enough? What are your risks? And then relating that to ... the financial implications of a loss," Busing says.
In the cybersecurity industry, a loss can be anything from someone stealing government secrets to hackers snatching credit card information.
"Zappos -- recently their credit card information was compromised. Basically, how do you handle that and what does it do to your brand image?" Busing says. "There are a lot more things that you have to try to put a dollar amount on. Some of it is very hard to quantify."
Delving into the monetary value of information was eye opening, says Bromley, the former JMU M.B.A. student.
"What is information worth, what is good to divulge from a business aspect ... Banks do risk calculations and expect a modest amount of fraud and have insurance to cover those loses. It's a business decision," he says.
"You wouldn't be able to make those decisions if you didn't know what the information was worth. In the line of work I do -- we're talking life or death with national security -- it elevates what the information is worth."
- 7 Steps to Success at Community College
- 4 Tips to Finish Community College
- 5 Tips for Choosing an M.B.A. Concentration
- 3 Steps to Take if Your College Student Fails a Class
- Information Security MBA's Teach Business Side of Cybersecurity
- Obama to High-Priced Universities: 'You're on Notice'
- Tips to Overcome a Bad Grade in College
- Look Out for These Federal Aid Changes in 2012
- The Evolution of American Higher Education
- Consider This Before You Pay for an Online Degree
- Time Management Tips for Online Students
- Weighing Costs of an Online Master's in Nursing
- 3 Career Reasons Why Students Get Online MBAs
- Waste Of Time For Business Students to Take Courses on Government
- 5 Great College Towns for Winter Enthusiasts
- Tips for First-Generation College Students
- M.B.A.'s May Face Lower Salaries in Corporate Social Responsibility
- 3 Ways to Use Foursquare to Connect With Your College
- 3 Tips to Master the TOEFL
- New Guarantees Help College Students Graduate in Four Years
- Tips for College Applicants, Students with Physical Disabilities
- Foreign-Born Getting STEM Degrees at Higher Rates than Native-Born
- How to Get the Most Money for Your Textbooks
- How to Kick Off Your Student Loan Repayments
- With College, Only the Motivated Need Apply
- Government Is Behind the Curve
- Economy Puts a Premium on Postsecondary Skills
- College Graduates Earn Higher Pay
- More, Better Jobs for College Graduates
- With College Degree, One Size Does Not Fit All
- College Is a Safe Bet
- You Can Lead Kids to College but You Can't Make Them Learn
- A College Degree Is Well Worth the Time, Cost, and Effort
- Some Career Pathways Require a Four-Year College Degree, Many Don't
- Going to College Is a Mistake for Many
- Average Student Debt Reaches All-Time High
- Tips for Mastering Alumni Interviews
- 4 Tips for Making the Most of Liberal Arts Degrees
- Even As They Proliferate, Online MBAs Remain Controversial
- High School Teachers Make Video Gaming Academic
- Global Classrooms Use Technology to Prep Students for Workforce
- Yammer Trumps Facebook for Some Graduate Students
- How to Apply to College for Free
- President Lays Out New Student Loan Rules
- Some Recommend Working for Colleges for Free Tuition
- 4 Tech Tips for Parents to Embrace Digital Education
- How to Go to Medical School for Free
- Students Can Ditch Competition by Interning This Spring
- 5 New Ways Colleges Are Reaching High School Students
- College Admissions Officials Turn to Facebook to Research Students
- At Some Colleges, Professors Live in Dorms, Too
- The Viability and Fairness of Value-Added Models for STEM Teachers
- High School Students Learning by Skype
- The Unorthodox Success Strategies of Millionaires
- 7 Ways to Slip Through the Sophomore Slump
- Colleges Step Up to Meet Dyslexia Challenge
- How to Save Time On Your College Applications
- Common Application Goes Mobile With New Site
- Baby Boomers Keep Learning With Continuing Education Classes
- Why Math and Science Education Means More Jobs
- AP Test Results Offer Hope for STEM Education in U.S.
- Companies Must Play a Vital Role in STEM Education
- Output Metrics Increasingly Influence College Decisions
- 6 Ways to Network While You're in College
- SAT Reading Scores Lowest in 40 Years
- Growing Number of College Grads Filing for Bankruptcy Protection
- Back to School and Deeper in Debt
- Dipping Into Your Retirement Account to Pay for College
- Colleges Offer Hidden Savings to Students
- 5 Ways Commuters Can Make Campus Feel Like Home
- Dropouts Rob Government and Economy of Billions
- Student Loans Pack Surprising Benefits
- These Free Websites Help Students With Classwork
- Investing in Education Is Smart Business
- STEM Education - It's Elementary
- STEM Education and Teachers: The Critical Link
Copyright © 2012 U.S. News & World Report