Featured San Diego City College may soon offer cybersecurity bachelor's degrees

Published on November 23rd, 2022 📆 | 8524 Views ⚑

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San Diego City College may soon offer cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees


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Rhinerson is a trustee with the San Diego Community College District and lives in Scripps Ranch. Shabazz, Ed.D., is president of San Diego City College and lives in La Mesa.

On Nov. 14, representing San Diego City College, we traveled to Sacramento to present on our efforts to launch a bachelor’s degree in cyber defense and analysis to the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. We were joined by two fellow community colleges which also presented their respective programs. This matter will go before the Board of Governors in January for its consideration.

Our presentation shows how the expansion of 30 additional baccalaureate degrees in California community colleges will help offer key workforce training for growing industry sectors that are not currently offered by the University of California or California State University systems.

Currently, there are no UC or CSU transfer option for a bachelor’s in cybersecurity. Employers regularly post a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for cybersecurity. This can often lead community college students and other job seekers to expensive for-profit and online colleges.

Passage of Assembly Bill 927 last month allows for California’s community colleges to offer more bachelor’s degrees in high-need industry sectors that lead to above “livable wage” careers. Since the baccalaureate program was launched in 2014 with Senate Bill 850, 15 of California’s 116 community colleges currently offer bachelor’s degrees in career-specific areas that create a highly trained workforce for industries that are hard-pressed for skilled labor.

An August study conducted by the UC Davis Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research reported that 56 percent of students graduating from one of the 15 baccalaureate programs would not have pursued a bachelor’s degree had they not been offered by a local community college.

While California is often the leader in higher education, with many of our UC and CSU campuses placing in the top 10 percent of public universities nationally, admission into these universities has become highly selective and costly to the average working family.

The Wheelhouse report stated that the graduation rate for community college baccalaureate students is nearly 26 percent higher than students who transfer to a CSU. This shows that California’s baccalaureate program is successfully preparing much-needed skilled workers and placing them into high-demand fields such as biomanufacturing, automobile technology, health information management and others that are not currently offered by the state’s public universities.

In January, City College applied to offer a bachelor’s degree in cyber defense and analysis. We are eager to join our sister college, San Diego Mesa College, which currently offers a bachelor’s in health information management. City College currently offers a successful associate degree in cybersecurity that places students in entry-level positions, helping fill the nearly 3,000 vacancies in cybersecurity annually in San Diego County.

In 2021, there were nearly 28,000 known cybersecurity incidents worldwide. In the U.S. alone, there were more than 310 million individuals affected by data compromise. A bachelor’s degree in cyber defense and analysis is necessary to fulfill the California Community Colleges’ mission to provide an affordable and accessible education for all Californians to achieve above “livable wage” careers. Median pay for careers in cybersecurity in San Diego County is approximately $103,590 annually.

A 2019 report by the Cyber Center of Excellence indicates that there are nearly 900 cybersecurity companies in San Diego. Nearly 61 percent of these companies indicate that they intend to increase their number of employees. According to the report, most of the cyber employers indicated they are having trouble hiring qualified workers.

From 2020 to 2025, careers in cybersecurity are projected to increase by 12 percent. Labor market statics indicate a great need to diversify the tech industry, such as cybersecurity. A 2021 Forbes article backs this up. The article indicates that women make up 18.2 percent, Black individuals 11.8 percent, Asian people 9 percent and those of Latinx descent 7.4 percent of the cybersecurity labor market.

San Diego City College is one of the nation’s most diverse community colleges, serving nearly 51 percent Latinx students, 22 percent White students, 10 percent Black students and 9 percent Asian American and Pacific Islander students. More impressively, the faculty who teach at the college closely mirror the student demographics. Students who attend City College come from diverse backgrounds that could help diversify the cybersecurity industry.

Last year, 141 community colleges nationally conferred over 560 bachelor’s degrees in 24 states. California needs to be part of this growing trend because our economy needs community college students graduating with the high-level skills that workforce baccalaureates provide.

Community college students also tend to be place bound, needing to seek affordable education in their local communities provided by institutions like San Diego City College. Hopefully, the Community College Board of Governors and California’s UC and CSU colleges can join together to support the expansion of the baccalaureate program at California’s community colleges to give our diverse student body a clear pathway to high-demand careers that require a bachelor’s degree.

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