The National Security Agency (NSA) has a new partnership between its National Cryptologic School (NCS) and Dakota State University - an initiative that allows agency employees to apply on-the-job training toward a bachelor's degree in the university's online cyber operations program.
Under the new agreement, military and civilian employees at NSA may transfer up to 56 NCS course credits to the university's bachelor's program. Interested agency employees may begin to register with the university for the fall 2015 semester.
"We are honored to support NSA employees, particularly the enlisted men and women who are already fully engaged in our cybersecurity workforce," said Dr. Josh Pauli, Associate Professor of Cybersecurity at Dakota State.
The partnership marks the first time NCS has entered into such an agreement with a public academic institution. However, it's just the latest example of a federal effort to encourage more people to pursue higher education in cyber operations, including cybersecurity. Cyber threats are only growing in this digital era.
The program's online status makes it especially convenient for military personnel at the agency, emphasized Steve LaFountain, Dean of NSA's College of Cyber.
"Our military employees already go through extensive training to qualify for their roles here," he said. "This partnership provides them with a huge head start toward obtaining a degree in a valuable field of study."
NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have designated Dakota State as a "center of academic excellence" (CAE) in information-assurance education. Additionally, the university was one of the first institutions in 2012 to be recognized as an NSA CAE in Cyber Operations.
More information about CAEs is available on NSA.gov.