Microsoft gives IT security professionals their own degree

Complementing the launch of its Certified Systems Engineer and Administration IT security certifications in June this year, Microsoft has announced a new IT security postgraduate degree in conjunction with Charles Sturt University.

Enrolments are now open for the Master of Information Systems Security (MISS) program, which is scheduled to begin in early 2004. The masters program is co-ordinated and run on behalf of the university by its partner IT Masters.

The MISS course is based on the software giant's Windows 2003 operating system and consists of 12 subjects. Core topics include network and information security, IT risk management, operating system essentials, and supporting network infrastructure. Elective subjects range from systems development project management and database management to IT management issues.

Students undertake all coursework online through IT Master’s e-learning partner KnowledgeNet.

The course is expected to take two years to complete. Academic credit, however, is available for up to 50 per cent of the course to those who have already passed select Microsoft certification exams (full guide available at: or have already completed some of the program’s core IT subjects with the university.

Individuals who complete the masters program will be awarded both the Computer Technology Industry Association Security Plus (CompTIA Security+) certification and the security specialisation of the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE: Security 2003) certification as well as a masters degree from the university.

The MISS course is being offered as part of the IT Masters program, a joint venture between Microsoft, Charles Sturt University and online education provider IT Masters. The program is designed to provide masters-level certification to network administrators.

Other Microsoft-based masters degrees being offered by Charles Sturt University through IT Masters are Systems and Network Administration for both Microsoft and Cisco software, and a masters of system development, based on Microsoft’s .NET framework.

Alongside the Microsoft IT security stream, Charles Sturt University is also looking at offering a masters in Information Systems Security based on Cisco’s Certified Security Professional (CCSP) stream in May 2004, and has plans for a multi-platform stream. Both are centred around the same topic areas as the Microsoft-based course and should take students two years to complete.

According to IT Masters CEO, Martin Hale, a total of 444 applications have been received across all of the IT masters courses since their inception in December last year. Of these, 63 per cent were for the Microsoft Master of Networking and Systems Administration, and 15 per cent for the Cisco-based equivalent. Applications for the Microsoft .NET Master of Systems Development (MCSD) totalled 21 per cent.

Hale said the Microsoft-based IT security masters degree would initially have an intake of 400. This figure might need to be increased, however, if Microsoft decided to extend the Charles Sturt University masters program into the US, he said.

This decision is expected to be made by the end of the week.

“I’m 70 per cent sure it’ll happen,” Hale said.

To be considered for any of the IT Masters programs, applicants should possess a degree in any discipline and at least two years experience in the IT industry. Those without an undergraduate degree will need at least four years experience in the IT industry as a senior network manager or system administrator.

More information on the masters programs is available at:

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