St. Mary’s University wins national cybersecurity designation

St. Mary’s University is the latest San Antonio school to be recognized for its cybersecurity training programs by the National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The West Side university on Thursday was named a National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

It joins San Antonio College, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Our Lady of the Lake University and St. Philip’s College, all previous designees.

But St. Mary’s is the only local school to receive recognition for a master’s degree program in cybersecurity, according to Ayad Barsoum, an associate professor of computer science and cybersecurity graduate program director at St. Mary’s.

“This means our cybersecurity program meets national standards,” Barsoum said. “We are producing students going through a validated curriculum.”

The announcement comes as federal agencies ramp up efforts to hire cybersecurity workers.

In 2020, Texas counted 13,410 people working as information security analysts, earning an annual median wage of $113,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. job outlook for these positions is expected to increase by 33 percent to 188,300 workers through 2030.

San Antonio remains a hot zone of federal recruitment. It’s the nation’s second largest cybersecurity hub outside of Washington, D.C., and home to the NSA’s Texas Cryptologic Center and the Air Force’s cyber warfare team at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

While the St. Mary’s designation doesn’t come with federal funding, school administrators said it provides opportunities for students to apply for scholarships from the Department of Defense. And it could help when it comes time for St. Mary’s cybersecurity graduates to apply for jobs.

“To receive this elite designation from NSA and DHS will open doors for the students and graduates of St. Mary’s University in this high-growth industry,” said Ian Martines, interim dean of the St. Mary’s University School of Science, Engineering and…