RWU Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by National Security Agency

NSA designation reflects RWU's leadership in cybersecurity and commitment to developing cyber experts

Shakour Abuzneid with four RWU students posing for a photo in front of a wall that says "Def Con"
Cybersecurity & Networking majors Drew Lemansky, Mitchel Sykes, Camden Hackett, and Zach Rousseau with Shakour Abuzneid, Professor and Director of Cybersecurity and Networking at RWU, at the DefCon31 conference in Las Vegas in August.

BRISTOL, R.I. – Roger Williams University has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency, identifying the university as a leader in cybersecurity education.   

The NSA’s prestigious designation recognizes RWU’s commitment to excellence in cybersecurity and cyber defense and its ability to develop a pipeline of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals. Roger Williams University has received the national academic certification for cybersecurity education through the academic year 2028.  

“We are proud to receive the Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation, signifying that Roger Williams University has shown an institutional commitment to excellence in cybersecurity both as organizational practice and through the outstanding programs we offer,” said Shakour Abuzneid, Professor and Director of Cybersecurity and Networking at RWU. “This distinction assures our students that they are learning in competitive programs recognized by the top federal security agency and will have exclusive opportunities for scholarships through grants and other funding sources.”  

The demand for cybersecurity professionals only continues to grow as more industries and companies face the challenges of safeguarding their data and systems. With the CAE-CD designation, RWU students will now have direct access to National Security Agency-offered scholarships, grants, internship opportunities, and networking events, launching our graduates into successful cyber careers. The designation further provides Roger Williams faculty members with additional professional development opportunities through the NSA. 

The NSA has identified “the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace” and addressing “the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills” by developing programs that build a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce, the agency said in a letter to RWU. 

At RWU, Cybersecurity majors receive a hands-on education in a workforce-focused cybersecurity program and graduate with knowledge of computer network defense, computer forensics, identity management, information assurance, network management, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and cloud computing. RWU offers 12 cybersecurity programs, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a master’s and juris doctor dual degree in Cybersecurity, undergraduate minors, and graduate certificate programs. These programs are housed in the Center for Cybersecurity, Applications, Research, and Cyber-Defense Strategies (CARDS) at RWU’s School of Justice Studies, an interdisciplinary and intercollegiate center for education, research, training, and community outreach. The center provides the cybersecurity workforce with requisite knowledge and skills, as well as a learning platform in various aspects of cybersecurity and privacy through degree programs, professional certificates, training opportunities, research, and community outreach. All graduate programs are offered online, with stackable graduate certificates that build into a master’s degree. 

With real-world, experiential learning at the core, RWU’s programs are preparing future cybersecurity professionals for what the world needs next. The B.S. in Cybersecurity & Networking is designed to meet the increasing professional needs of the cybersecurity and cyber defense industries. Students learn to design and manage secure networks and how to prevent and defend from hackers through hands-on educational experiences and a guaranteed internship. M.S. in Cybersecurity majors learn the technical skills, situational management, and problem solving needed for careers in information security, while the M.A. in Cybersecurity is designed for working professionals to understand the intersections of cybersecurity with their work.