May 23, 2024  
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024 
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024

Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity, PhD

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Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity

Description of Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity (PhD-CY) program takes an applied approach to cybersecurity theory and research. Students will get hands on experience, explore advanced topics, learn the very latest concepts, and prepare for anticipated risks. The degree is designed to prepare researchers and technology strategies applicable to leading positions in private and public sectors. Students will explore governance, compliance, leading frameworks, models, and standards to reduce threats and vulnerabilities. Students will build portfolio of valuable capabilities, addressing internal and external issues through the intelligent manipulation of data while completing their doctoral studies.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Advance theory and practical applications of cybersecurity. 
  • Formulate cybersecurity governance, policy, risk, and compliance. 
  • Devise strategic thought leadership for challenges in cybersecurity architecture and operations. 
  • Assess internal and external threats and vulnerabilities to reduce organizational cyber risk.
  • Evaluate tools, data, and processes to enhance protection and foster resilience. 
  • Facilitate the protection of critical information resources from current and future loss.

Basis for Admissions

Admission to Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity program requires a master’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution.

Degree Requirements

The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university with a grade of “B” or better.

The PhD-CY degree programs have the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instructions must be completed through the University.
  • GPA of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher.
  • Satisfactory completion of the PhD-CY university approved Dissertation Manuscript and Oral Defense completed.
  • Submission of approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound manuscript and an electronic copy.
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University.
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their complimentary diploma

Fundamental Competencies

All PhD-CY students are required to demonstrate competency in these areas:

  • Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency– PhD-CY students are required to complete (  and   ), OR (  and   ), OR (  and   ) at the University. 
  • Graduate-Level Statistics Competency – PhD-CY students are required to complete   at the University.
  • Computer Competency - Doctoral students are required to have computer skills necessary for completing a dissertation. Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents). Students must use computer programs for the statistical analysis of data (e.g., SAS). Students must produce a computer-based presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) for their dissertation oral examination.

Dissertation Completion Pathway

The University’s mission is dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic aspirations and helping them become valuable contributors to their community and profession. To support our mission, the University now offers a dissertation completion pathway for students who have successfully completed their doctoral coursework and achieved doctoral candidacy at a previous institution but were unable to complete their dissertation. The University’s Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offers a unique opportunity for students to complete their doctorate in one of the doctoral programs offered at the University (excluding the PhD in MFT, DMFT, and DNP). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.

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Time to Completion

The University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.

The median time to completion for this program is 44 months.

Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most students are working adults, balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic and finance advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.

Students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 40 months.

Dissertation Process

Faculty assists each Doctoral student to reach this high goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Course Sequence

The PhD program requires a minimum of 60 credits. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.

The PhD in Cybersecurity requires eight foundation/core courses, five specializations, two research, a pre-candidacy prospectus, and four dissertation courses for a total of 60 credit hours. 

*Students select one pair of research methods and directed research courses based on their own research proposal. 

The PhD in Cybersecurity requires the following courses for every specialization:

General and Technology Specialization

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity (PhD-CY), General and Technology specialization degree builds on the core computing principles and cybersecurity best practices, frameworks, and models. The degree provides a broad overview, adding governance and strategic views to compliment forensic, software development cloud, and systems certification content. Students use firsthand experience, explore advanced topics, learn the latest and anticipated concepts, consider the evolution of risks and mitigation, advanced threat detection, and propose their own research. The degree is designed to prepare researchers, consultants, and technology strategists capable of leadership roles and executive positions in private and public sectors. 

Global Strategy and Operations Specialization

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity (PhD-CY), Global Policy and Operations specialization builds on the core program general principles, best practices, frameworks, and models. The specialization adds specific global solutions through an integrated strategy and leadership capabilities to establish global operations. The focus includes a focus on solving challenges of multi-time zone, multi-continent, and a range of laws, languages, and cultures. Specific considerations include diverse technologies, challenging support structures, and cyber target domains. The complication of widely distributed infrastructure, diverse political influences, and complex supply chains form part of the predictive strategy and the creation of operational excellence.

Governance, Risk, and Compliance Specialization

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity (PhD-CY), Governance, Risk, and Compliance specialization combines the four knowledge areas to complete research or synthesize cybersecurity solutions for enterprises subject to national exposures and global threats. The combined resolution of risk, compliance, audit, and privacy will enable graduates to create enhanced solutions while limiting the need for resources. The specialization investigates current and anticipated needs and solutions within all four areas, addressing key issues for larger organizations while providing improved strategic alignment. It includes important access control, and threat discovery across complex environments. The specialization includes an emphasis on preempting future losses.

Secure Cloud Computing Specialization

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cybersecurity (PhD-CY), Secure Cloud Computing specialization builds on best practices, frameworks and models to synthesize unique solutions that optimize organization outcomes. The specialization investigates current and anticipated needs and solutions emphasizing the cloud computing. Learning and research adds practical and strategic insights to enable reduced risks for cloud computing and multi-cloud cybersecurity solutions. The degree is designed to prepare researchers, consultants, and technology strategists capable of leadership roles and executive positions in private and public sectors where advanced or complex cloud computing is important. Competencies include complex secure data communications, identity management, and access controls.

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