Pictured above – A Tennessee Tech student works at the university’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) lab space in Prescott Hall.

CyberCorps SFS program at Tech is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Tennessee Tech University’s CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program was recognized at the Jan. 2024 SFS National Job Fair among the top eight CyberCorps SFS programs in the nation by cumulative new enrollment over the period of 2016 – 2023.

The CyberCorps SFS program at Tech is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and led by Muhammad Ismail, associate professor of computer science. 

Tech has onboarded 55 students in the program since its first CyberCorps SFS grant award in 2016. Currently, 104 institutions across 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have active CyberCorps grants. Another 36 institutions participate in community college pathway programs. 

The CyberCorps SFS grant provides scholarships for students completing an approved cybersecurity program of study. For Tech, the program resides in the cybersecurity concentration of the Computer Science Department. Students can apply for the scholarship the semester before they achieve a junior standing in their program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a GPA of 3.2 overall and 3.5 in computer science major courses. 

Students entering the program as juniors follow the FastTrack program, enabling them to complete their master’s work within the three-year performance period of the grant. Graduate students can also apply for the program with a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and graduate school entrance requirements outlined at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc/education/sfs

The scholarship pays for all tuition and fees, a living stipend of $27,000/year for undergraduates and $34,000/year for graduate students, a $6,000/year professional development fund for supplies, equipment, conference travel and external training opportunities. SFS scholars also participate in paid summer internships before graduation.

Upon graduation, scholars enter the federal workforce as cyber defenders across the hundreds of agencies in the executive branch, national laboratories, state and local governments and higher education institutions. SFS graduates’ average annual salaries range from $77,571 at the bachelor’s level to $105,819 at the doctoral level. Almost 60% of SFS graduates enter full-time employment within three months after graduation, with 83% entering full-time employment within four to six months.

“Building on the work of Dr. Ambareen Siraj and the early days of CEROC, our scholarship program continues to grow in number and impact. Our SFS students are an influential part of our university cyber community and greater SFS community,” said Ismail. 

In addition to the local program operations, Tech hosts the SFS New Scholars Seminar Series (NS3), a national boot camp for new CyberCorps SFS scholars. The eight-week program allows participants to hear from guest speakers from various federal agencies and gain knowledge in research management and ethics, financial management, security clearances and career searches. Over the last two years, 61 unique schools and a total of 260 participants gained experience in the program.

A longtime leader in cybersecurity issues, Tech was selected by the National Security Agency (NSA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) as the sole GenCyber campsite in Tennessee in 2023 and hosts the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the state. Tech is additionally recognized as a center of academic excellence in cybersecurity defense education by the NSA.

The university is home to the Golden Eagle Cyber Certificate program, a dual enrollment program allowing high school students to take college-level cybersecurity courses that contribute to their post-secondary work. 

CEROC focuses on K-16 cybersecurity education programs, research on emerging cybersecurity topics and outreach programs to academia, government, and industry stakeholders. Learn more at www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by emailing ceroc@tntech.edu.

Photo courtesy of Tech.

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