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National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity

What is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C)?

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program is managed by the National Cryptologic School at the National Security Agency. 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 US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM).

The mission of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE) program is 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 (PoS) 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.

  • The Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) Designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity degrees and/or certificates at the Associates, Bachelors and graduate levels.
  • The Cyber Research (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 (R1), Doctoral University - Higher Research Activity (R2), or Doctoral University - Moderate Research Activity (R3).
  • The Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) program is a deeply technical, inter-disciplinary, 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.


For NCAE program guidance, requirements, and resources click here.

For a current list of NCAE institutions, click here.

For more information on either program, contact caepmo@nsa.gov.

NCAE Program Book