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Justin Chik was working as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton when he learned about UVA’s 18-credit graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Management. “It sounded like a wonderful opportunity,” he says. “UVA is a great school, and I knew the quality of the program would be excellent.” Chik had a degree in information technology from George Mason University, but he was eager to expand his skills to include cybersecurity. Tuition reimbursement from his company and in-state tuition made the program very affordable.
Once he started taking classes, Chik found the coursework to be as challenging as he hoped it would be. One of the first classes he took was in cyber security policy, which required a 25-page paper. He wrote about privacy issues and social media, an experience he felt was extremely valuable. “I was looking for a program that wasn’t completely technical,” he says.
Chik also praised the hands-on aspect of many of the courses. In his “Applied Wireless Network Security” course, for instance, he worked with some of the most common hacking, cracking, and wireless security network analysis tools and used them to assess and secure wireless networks. “All the material we used was current,” he says, “and the instructors were excellent.” I also appreciated that the instructors brought in guest speakers with expertise in cybersecurity.
In fact, when UVA moved the program online while Chik was in the middle of his coursework, his instructors made the move effortlessly. “The transition made it even more convenient for working professionals,” he says. “Collab, the UVA instructional environment, is well designed for online learning.”
After completing the certificate in three straight semesters, Chik didn’t rest on his laurels. He successfully passed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional examination and has enrolled in a master’s degree program in Telecommunications at George Mason University.
Thanks to an agreement with UVA, George Mason accepted 12 credits earned in the certificate program, cutting his time to completion by one third. “The Certificate in Cybersecurity Management was full of useful information and hands-on experiences,” he says. “It provided the foundation I needed to begin building a career in cyber security.”