National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity


The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program is managed by NSA's National Cryptologic School. Federal partners include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense Office of the Chief Information Officer (DoD-CIO), and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM).

NCAE-C program aims to create and manage a collaborative cybersecurity educational program with community colleges, colleges, and universities that:

  • Establishes standards for cybersecurity curriculum and academic excellence,
  • Includes competency development among students and faculty,
  • Values community outreach and leadership in professional development, 
  • Integrates cybersecurity practice within the institution across academic disciplines,
  • Actively engages in solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education.

Academic institutions may choose from three designations. The designation process is a combination of elements related to the institution focused on outputs for determining academic achievement. This combination assures that the institution meets the desired characteristics of a CAE institution, and that the academic delivery to students is producing the qualified workforce needed by the nation.

CAE-designated institutions must complete validation of a Program of Study, which is a series of courses and experiences that a student can reasonably accomplish in the course of attaining a degree or completing a certificate.

Cyber Defense

The CAE-CD designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity degrees and/or certificates at the associate, bachelor’s and graduate levels.

Cyber Research

The CAE-R designation is awarded to DoD schools, PhD producing military academies, or regionally accredited, degree granting four-year institutions rated by the Carnegie Foundation Basic Classification system as either a Doctoral University - Highest Research Activity, Doctoral University - Higher Research Activity, or Doctoral University - Moderate Research Activity.

Cyber Operations

The CAE-CO program is a deeply technical, interdisciplinary, higher education program firmly grounded in the computer science, computer engineering, and/or electrical engineering disciplines, with extensive opportunities for hands-on applications via labs and exercises.

Program Resources

NCAE program guidance, resources and requirements are available.

Current NCAE Institutions

A list of NCAE colleges and universities is available.

NCAE Program Book

NCAE publishes a program book for your convenience.