Academic Programs

The NMU College of Business has four different options for students looking to explore education in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense: 

  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Minor
  • Associate Degree
  • Certificate

Where Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Can Take You

This degree will open up a huge range of job opportunities for you across the country. In the public sector, you could go to work for law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation doing forensics work, or become a part of the Department of Defense, helping to foil the plots of cyber terrorists.

In the private sector, companies are beginning to realize the importance of protecting not just their own business information, but that of their customers. You could work for large corporations, helping protect against cyber-attacks while also formulating corporate security policies that will keep vital information behind closed doors.

The rapidly growing healthcare industry, along with internet-based companies like Google or Paypal, will also need to people to help keep hackers from infiltrating.

Cyber Defense student working on a computer

"From installing the physical servers, to the Windows virtualized servers, network hardware and workstations, as well as the security policies and training for the new systems, it was an incredibly valuable experience that helped me establish connections and get professional experience that will help me land a job."

Jeremy Donohue '16

Cyber Defense Graduate

Program Major

This program will give you a unique, on-the-job perspective by offering courses dealing specifically with cybersecurity as well as business and computer information systems. You’ll leave Northern with the knowledge of not just how to protect vital business information, but what information needs protecting most. And you'll also have earned a degree from a college of business accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Northern runs a cyber lab where you will learn to apply cybersecurity skills in a hands-on environment. You learn computer networking using the same equipment that networking professionals install in large enterprises. The cyber lab also houses a private cloud infrastructure that lets you perform ethical hacking on systems designed to replicate real-world business systems. You'll learn to think like a hacker so that you can better protect against them.

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Program Minor

A minor in cyber defense will help you learn fundamental computer networking skills, understand how complex information systems work, and how to protect individuals and organizations from criminals. No prior experience with computer classes is expected.

The minor starts with basic computer concepts and ends with advanced cyber defense skills such as ethical hacking. The minor is often chosen by Mobile and Web App Development majors and other technical majors, but humanities students have also been successful.

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Associate Degree

This program provides a basic foundation of knowledge in the computing area and the ability to apply computer theory to business applications especially in the area of cyber defense. Graduates find employment in organizations ranging from small firms to large corporations as computing technicians, security analysts, providers of help desk services and software trainers.

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Certificate Program

The courses within the certificate program provide a strong foundation of cyber defense skills. This program is a pathway for students to develop a skillset in the area of cybersecurity/information assurance.

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Why study information assurance and cyber defense at NMU?

Information Assurance and Cyber Defense is a great career path for those who enjoy problem-solving and working with computers. In NMU's curriculum, students will gain valuable hands-on experience in their career field while learning from a team of highly respected faculty.

Discover if NMU could be the right fit for you:

CAE-CDE Distinction

Northern Michigan University is the first Upper Peninsula institution to be designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE), a program jointly sponsored by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

The goal of the CAE-CDE program is two-fold: to reduce vulnerability in the nation's information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense; and to produce a growing number of professionals with expertise in the discipline, contributing to the advancement of state-of-the-art cyber defense knowledge and practice.

NMU offers four options for students seeking education in information assurance and cyber defense. These range from an academic minor and certificate to associate and bachelor's degrees.

Achieving the CAE-CDE designation was one of the first goals Professor Jim Marquardson identified when he joined the NMU faculty in the fall of 2015, shortly before the program generated its first graduate. He said it took years of preparation to be in a position to apply, followed by an intensive, nearly two-year application process.

“This will enable us to offer new opportunities to Northern students, whether that's through increased collaboration with industry partners, enhanced internships available only to students from CAE-CDE institutions, or having them help us plan and run summer youth camps. One of the requirements of achieving this status is that we give students a certificate upon graduation that says their degree was approved by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. That's something they can definitely use to their advantage with prospective employers.

“At an institutional level, being a CAE-CDE opens up opportunities for grants to support cyber education. And there's an element of prestige to have NMU advertised on the National Security Agency's map of designated programs.”

Aside from demonstrating that NMU has a quality cybersecurity program that leads to successful careers after graduation, Marquardson said community outreach is one of the other qualifying requirements for the CAE-CDE distinction. Prior to the pandemic, the Student Cybersecurity Association participated in a technology drop-in program at Peter White Public Library, during which members answer questions from patrons about the use of personal devices. They also plan to talk about cybersecurity at senior living centers when conditions allow.

NMU would not have achieved the designation without the Upper Peninsula Cybersecurity Institute located on campus.

“That was a necessary component because it shows we are focusing not only on the classroom, but extending the reach into the community,” Marquardson said. “[UPCI Director] Doug Miller has championed community outreach and working with industry stakeholders. We had close to 300 high school students on campus recently doing cybersecurity exercises; that was all Doug. He's also done a great job establishing internships and placing students. Being able to submit that evidence with our application made a difference.”

The CAE-CDE designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity degrees and/or certificates from the associate to graduate levels. To learn more about related NMU program options within the College of Business, visit For more on the U.P. Cybersecurity Institute on campus, visit For additional information on the CAE, visit

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