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National Centers of Academic Excellence

What is a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE)?

NSA sponsors two types of Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE): one in Cyber Defense and one in Cyber Operations. NSA also supports the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence

National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) program. The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise.

The CAE-CD program comprises the following designations:

  • CAE in CD Education (CAE CDE) for Associate, Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral Programs
  • CAE in CD Research (CAE-R)

All regionally accredited two-year, four-year, and graduate level institutions in the United States are eligible to apply to become a CAE-CD school. Prospective schools are designated after meeting stringent criteria, and may elect to specialize in several possible focus areas. CAE-CD institutions receive formal recognition from the U.S. Government for participating in the program. NSA and DHS do not provide funding to CAE schools but funding opportunities may be available from other sources such as the National Science Foundation.

For CAE-CD program guidance, requirements, and resources click here

For a current list of NSA/DHS CAE-CD institutions, click here.

National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations

NSA's CAE in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) program supports the President's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE): Building a Digital Nation, and 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 firmly grounded in the computer science, computer engineering, and/or electrical engineering disciplines, with extensive opportunities for hands-on applications via labs and exercises.

The CAE-CO program complements the existing CAE in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) programs, providing a particular emphasis on technologies and techniques related to specialized cyber operations (e.g., collection, exploitation, and response), to enhance the national security posture of our Nation. These technologies and techniques are critical to intelligence, military and law enforcement organizations authorized to perform these specialized operations.

For application guidance and requirements for the fundamental program, click here.

For application guidance and requirements for the advanced program, click here.

For a current list of NSA CAE-CO institutions, click here.

CAE-CD Program Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary!

Since 1999, CAE-CD colleges and universities  have educated our nation's cyber first responders. Learn more about the role of CAE-CD schools in developing the tools and talent needed to help defend our national security: