MSU re-designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by National Security Agency – Mississippi State University

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Mississippi State University’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations has been reaffirmed by the National Security Agency, building on more than 20 years of MSU history in the NSA program. (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

Contact: Camille Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University has achieved another significant milestone in cybersecurity with its renewed designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the National Security Agency.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum expressed pride in the achievement and said this designation further signifies the university’s commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education and research.

“I am extremely proud to see our cyber programs once again affirmed as a National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency,” Keenum said. “Cybersecurity is a critical component of our country’s national security, and our outstanding academic and research programs are developing the workforce that will continue to grow U.S. capabilities in the cyber domain.”

MSU has been continuously credentialed as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency since 2001 and is one of only a few universities to hold all three NSA cyber designations—Cyber Defense, Cyber Research and Cyber Operations. Additionally, MSU’s National Science Foundation CyberCorps program is among the oldest in the nation, graduating more than 140 cyber professionals into the federal workforce.

The NSA’s CAE in Cyber Operations program identifies institutions that meet rigorous criteria and standards. It is a “deeply technical, inter-disciplinary, higher education program with a particular emphasis on technologies and techniques related to specialized cyber operations, critical to intelligence, military, and law enforcement organizations authorized to perform these specialized operations.”

MSU’s CAE status reflects its comprehensive approach to cybersecurity education, which encompasses a diverse range of disciplines. The university’s robust curriculum, facilities and innovative research initiatives equip students enrolled in cybersecurity programs with the knowledge and skills needed to protect critical systems and infrastructure from cyber threats. MSU’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in cybersecurity, as well as two certificate programs.

Reflecting on the designation, Department of Computer Science and Engineering Department and Gloria and Douglas Marchant Endowed Chair Shahram Rahimi commended department faculty and the university for their hard work and dedication.

“Our faculty and staff’s unwavering dedication, groundbreaking innovation, and commitment are the cornerstones of our exceptional achievement in retaining this prestigious Center of Academic Excellence designation,” Rahimi said.

Jason Keith, dean of MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering, said MSU’s cybersecurity programs are preparing students for the critical challenges that graduates will address as operations in all sectors become increasingly reliant on digital systems.

“I am proud of the faculty and staff associated with our cybersecurity programs at Mississippi State University,” Keith said. “They truly embody the mission of a land-grant university—preparing students for future careers in relevant industries.”

In addition to academic excellence, the designation recognizes MSU faculty actively engaging in cybersecurity research and contributing innovations and insight to the field. As a designated CAE institution, MSU continues to collaborate closely with the NSA and other CAE-designated schools to enhance cybersecurity education nationwide. In 2022, MSU partnered with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to host a national conference for high-level administrators and faculty representing CAE-designated institutions.

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is online at and can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Bagley College of Engineering is online at and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube at @msuengineering.

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