Institutions that receive a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cybersecurity designation have met the rigorous requirements set forth by the joint sponsors of the program, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The NSA and DHS award the CAE in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) designation to institutions that commit to producing cybersecurity professionals that will reduce vulnerabilities in our national infrastructure.
There are three types of designations schools can pursue Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), Center of Academic Excellence in Research (CAE-R), and Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO). While the NSA and DHS do not provide funding to CAE designated institutions, once a school obtains one of these designations, it can compete for grants like the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship Program (DoD CySP) and can apply for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarship for Service program. Schools are not limited to a single designation and are encouraged to pursue more than one.
All regionally accredited two-year, four-year, and graduate-level institutions in the United States are eligible to apply to become a CAE designated institution. An institution or program must apply for redesignation every five academic years.
The Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) designation indicates that your institution is helping reduce threats to our national infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense as well as provide the nation with a pipeline of qualified cybersecurity professionals. All regionally accredited two-year, four-year, and graduate-level institutions in the United States are eligible to apply to become a CAE-CD designated institution. To maintain the CAE designation, an institution or program must apply to be re-evaluated every five academic years.
The Centers of Academic Excellence in Research (CAE-R) designation indicates that your institution increases the understanding of robust cyber defense technology, policy, and practices that will enable our Nation to prevent and respond to a catastrophic event. Eligible institutions must be a DoD school, a Ph.D. producing military academy, or a regionally accredited Ph.D. degree-granting college or university. Institutions must identify as a Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity (R1), Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity (R2), or Doctoral University – Moderate Research Activity (R3) as determined by the Carnegie Foundation Basic Classification system (and/or other independent body to measure CD) or provide a written justification as to significant CD research. An institution or program must apply for redesignation every five academic years.
The Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations(CO) program is in support of the President's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE): Building a Digital Nation. It furthers the goal to broaden the pool of skilled workers capable of supporting a cyber-secure nation. The CAE-CO program is a deeply technical, inter-disciplinary, higher education program with a particular emphasis on technologies and techniques related to specialized cyber operations (e.g., collection, exploitation, and response), critical to intelligence, military, and law enforcement organizations authorized to perform these specialized operations. All regionally accredited four-year and graduate-level institutions in the United States are eligible to apply to become a CAE-CD designated institution. CAE-CO programs are within a degree path like computer science, electrical engineering or computer engineering department, or a degree program of equivalent technical depth, or a collaboration between two or more of these departments.
For your institution to become a CAE-C, your organization needs to first contact the CAE-C program office with your intention to apply for the designation. Once this information is received, you will be encouraged to fill out the CAE Program Applicant Checklist. Once this information is collected, you enter into the mentor/reviewer program housed by the CAE National Resource Centers (CNRC) located at Whatcom Community College and Northern Virginia Community College. This process will take several months to complete. Upon successful completion of the program, your institution becomes designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity.