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Virginia Tech, NVCC partnership provides path to cybersecurity degrees

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

A new partnership between Virginia Tech and Northern Virginia Community College offers students in the Washington, D.C. area a path to a degree in cybersecurity.

Originally launched by Virginia Tech in the fall of 2019, the joint program known as BIT-Cyber is a work-based course of study in cybersecurity and analytics within the university’s Business Information Technology major. The work-based method of teaching allows students to put what they learn in the classroom into practice with real-life experiences.

NVCC has been expanding its footprint in the tech field. The community college announced in March 2022 that a $5.1 million data center lab would be constructed at its Woodbridge campus as part of the school’s Workforce Development Center.

The goal of the program seeks to fill some of the 64,000 openings in the cybersecurity field in the Greater Washington D.C. area, including Northern Virginia.

Because of the program’s online accessibility, many who would not have been able to take such classes without physically attending the university’s Blacksburg campus have benefited from the program.

According to an impact study by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business, 80 percent of those beneficiaries have been born outside of the U.S. The majority of the students, about 95 percent, are citizens of the United States while the remaining students hold green cards.

“It is my privilege to help serve a population that would not normally have an opportunity to access a Virginia Tech undergraduate degree,” said Program Director Svetlana Filiatreau in a comment on the Virginia Tech website. “BIT-Cyber has positioned Virginia Tech to reach a very diverse student population, who are often unable to come to our Blacksburg campus due to their unique circumstances.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic, educational institutions such as Virginia Tech and NVCC have further adapted their online class offerings in order to accommodate students. Many of these offerings have benefited students across the social-economic spectrum giving them access they may not have gotten prior to the pandemic.

Potomac Local News recently reported on Germanna Community College’s College Everywhere program which has shown high success rates among male students, particularly African-American male students. The number of male students graduating from educational institutions like Virginia Tech and Germanna had been on the decline for several decades.

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