Each program we looked at (9 in total) had a different focus. Some were information assurance and policy focused, some networking and Security Operations Center (SOC) focused. Some were malware focused and had stronger software leanings. It helped that my son had some understanding of the roles in security when he made his choice. He likes red team and blue team activities. He targeted universities with strong CCDC teams (Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions). The thought was that if the classwork did not cover some skills, the competition team would. He was correct. The CCDC team and competitions broke new ground in areas his classes did not delve. It was a good choice for him.
Most parents helping students make a school choice for cybersecurity are challenged. The discipline is reasonably young at the undergraduate level. The programs are very different from school to school.
The key questions I receive knowing what I know now:
Computer Science or Security?
How good is the program at XYZ university?
Why so many math classes?
Should my son/daughter do a co-op or internship?
The answers: any school on the NSA accredited list that provides the Scholars for Service scholarship is a good choice. There are more than 100 universities that participate. Your degree program does not matter, but it should relate to security in some way. It is easier to break into the community with a technical degree today, but that will change as universities evolve their programs. If you are interested in certain areas of security, like cryptography, math is essential. I prefer programs that involve internships or co-operative education. Experience never hurts.
What are your thoughts on cybersecurity degree programs?