Cybersecurity Learning Objectives and Prerequisite Knowledge

Hey Pub,

I applied for a Masters of Science in Cybersecurity Program here in Florida. I am a Geographer so this is sort of a career change.

I received a reply from the director, Randy Borum (,

"I know your degrees are in General Studies and Human Resource Management. We recommend, but do not require an undergraduate degree in IT or computer science, but competitive and successful applicants should have a strong foundation of technical knowledge before beginning the MS in Cybersecurity program.

The guidance we offer for technical knowledge is as follows:

Because this is a graduate-level program, to ensure that students possess the foundational knowledge for academic success, students admitted to this program are most likely to be successful if they have academic or work experience in the areas of C/C++ programming, computer networks, operating-system design, algorithms, data structures, and computer organization. An undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, MIS, or IT is recommended for admission.

It is also necessary to have a basic foundation in discrete mathematics and modular algebra before enrolling in the required Cryptography course.

It may be that you have computing/network knowledge and experience that I failed to see in reviewing your application. If that’s the case, please let me know - but I would like for you to be sure you are currently prepared for a graduate level, technical training program. This is not just a matter of will and determination, it is a matter of preparation.

I also want to emphasize that there is a difference between acquiring enough technical knowledge to get through the courses and having a sufficient foundation of technical knowledge that you can apply what you learn in the program to solve real problems afterwards. Your technical foundation will affect your employability in the field and your ability to meet an employer’s expectations. Producing graduates who lack technical preparation also reflects poorly on the program.

Here is a list of learning objectives, just to acquaint you with the kinds of prerequisite knowledge most likely to lead to success in the MS program:

  1. Understand basic discrete mathematics and modular algebra
  2. Explain the basic functions of an operating system and the hardware mechanisms that support these functions, and
  3. Understand computer components, their functions and interconnection, computer memory, cache memory, I/O and operating system support
  4. Explain basic operating system concepts, including processs management, memory management, storage management, protection & security, distributed systems, and special purpose systems
  5. Create programming/coding objects and methods for calling on or using those objects
  6. Know the difference between mutable and immutable objects
  7. Write code in which arrays are declared, created, searched and modified
  8. Write code that creates and modifies arrayLists
  9. Explain the difference between the application and the implementation of an object
  10. Describe the role and scope of variables in object states
  11. Understand a wide variety of data structures (including, balanced search trees, hash tables, priority queues and the disjoint set union/find data structure) and use them appropriately to solve problems
  12. Use linked data structures such as linked lists and binary trees
  13. Know what is meant by “sorting in place” and the “natural order” of a class of objects
  14. Understand the abstract data types of stacks, queues and deques
  15. Understand a variety of techniques for designing algorithms.
  16. Appreciate that the algorithm used to solve a problem will be the main factor in how fast it is solved
  17. Understand the phrases “best case”, “worst case” and “average case” when applied to algorithms
  18. Describe a variety of algorithm design techniques and understand how they can improve either efficiency or clarity
  19. Knows maps, hash tables, lists and other commonly used data structures
  20. Apply knowledge of data structures to write more efficient programs
  21. Understand Network fundamentals and terminology
  22. Describe and analyze the hardware, software, components of a network and the interrelations.
  23. Explain networking protocols and their hierarchical relationship
  24. Explain concepts and theories of networking
  25. Identify infrastructure components and the roles they serve, and design infrastructure including devices, topologies, protocols, systems software, management and security.
  26. Explain how communication works in data networks and the Internet
  27. Identify Recognize the different internetworking devices and their functions
  28. Understand network industry standards such as: the OSI model, Routing Protocols, Address Resolution and Reverse Address Resolution Protocols, IP Addresses and Subnetting, MAC Addressing. "

So, if anyone wants to discuss these topics (it seems like a lot) here as experts, professionals, or novices, that could be fun and motivational for others who may wish to study cybersecurity :slight_smile: Thanks for participating :smiley:


So, I’m thinking you didn’t get in?
I’m sorry to hear that.

Appreciate the honesty and candor!
Keep pushing. We have a whole life to go. :rocket:


Thus far, this is the research that I have done today.

  1. Write code in which arrays are declared, created, searched and modified

  2. Write Code Write code that creates and modifies arrayLists

  3. Explain the difference between the application and the implementation of an object

  4. Describe the role and scope of variables in object states

If anybody could help me with 8, 9, and 10 that would be totally awesome.

I hope to have a decent understanding of all of these ideas before the end of the weekend or this next week so I can decide if I truly want to pursue the Masters in Cybersecurity which is more technical, or the MBA with a concentration in Cybersecurity which is obviously more business management with some classes in cybersecurity.


If you don’t know code and want the degree, go for the MBA.
If you want to learn code, you’ll have to do that before re-applying.

It’s a question of value.

What’s more valuable to you?
Degree? Or Code?


It’s not that I didn’t get in, he just wants to make sure i have a decent understanding of these concepts before I finalize my application/he offers me admission for the sake of the program’s reputation (pass/fail and success of graduates applying knowledge from the program to client’s issues and providing real world solutions) because technical experience isn’t clearly outlined in my resume. I guess I did cut out the first part of the email. Most of the stuff I’ve learned about cybersecurity has been from learning about cryptocurrencies and free onlines courses from edx. I’ve been wondering if I really have enough technical knowledge to be successful in this industry because an older video game programmer told me that cybersecurity is a very competitive industry, hard to get a job in. Then a few weeks later I see 0% unemployment for cybersecurity “experts”… I think that I can succeed in the program, but I wan’t to be properly prepared, not overwhelmed.

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Yeah, I hear you Peter, thanks for the advice.

I guess I could get the almighty MBA (flexible degree) with the Cybersecurity accolade and I could build from there.

I know a little bit of Java, like the concepts, but I can’t just sit down and start coding some app.

Degree >=< Code

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Are these walk in the park topics of conversation for you as a technologist and data scientist, Peter? :grin:

Cybersecurity Science 30 Day Challenge video series, Spring 2018 (sponsored by, Decentralized TV, The BitcoinPub, Patreon, Dogecoin, and ICX) hehehe.

I’m just going to contemplate it this next week as I research and study these topics. I’m glad he could give me a heads up.

Thanks again for the advice, I’m leaning towards MBA with concentration. :slight_smile:

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You should look into training from SANS at They have what is widely regarded as the best cybersecurity training out there. I’ve taken a couple courses myself. Not cheap, but you get excellent training for what you (or your employer :wink:) pay for. Many of the instructors are leaders in the security field.


Thanks for the info, sir. I’ll check it out.

Nice avatar. I just got a new one too, I love it. LOL

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I got in, Peter!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!!

As the story goes, Randy Borum isn’t even the director of the Cybersecurity program that I originally applied for. The lady who was handing my application is a sweetheart, but I think she was very busy coming down to the deadline so she sent it to the wrong director.

Code is more valuable to me than a degree, but I still hope to learn lots and add another accolade to my name for the professional world.

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Ps. If I get REKT, I will pivot to the MBA program with a concentration in Cybersecurity.

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Its great that the University Director provided you with such deep guidance and advice before enrolling you. It was all in good faith. Cybersecurity is an entire immersive career path and ought to be taken seriously. Therefore, your foundations have to be solid and intact, hence why he advised the undergraduate IT courses before jumping straight into a Masters course. The SANS courses are good (and expensive) stuff, and will help you through those topics while giving you practical hands-on and a prestigious certification. Also, checkout the EC-Council courses:

Keep us posted on how your journey goes and best wishes on your new journey!


Thank you for the kind words, encouragement, and additional resource :slight_smile: I agree. Will do! :smiley:


No problem bro. In addition, those courses also provide you with some kool tools and software! :sunglasses::computer:


I can only imagine. I’ve been getting Facebook ads to join the Secret Service since yesterday, hehe. God bless the world.

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I begin in May and I will start with with one course of Business Law: “Risk Management and Legal Compliance” and another course of Mathematics, Special Topics: “Applied Cryptography”

These are the only two 5000 level courses in my degree program of Cybersecurity: Information Assurance

So, if I can’t hack the cryptography course (never say can’t), I will pivot to the MBA because the the Business Law course is also part of the MBA program.

Two courses summer A semester seems like a healthy course load to begin with as I am also working on some other projects, all in line with these first two courses. Then, two more courses summer B. However, maybe I take off summer B to optimize my projects because I am not finding a lot of summer B courses.

Excited for this course of Electrical Engineering, Special Topics: “Data Networks, Systems & Securities” which is a Full summer term course. I think I can do it.

Then, in the Fall: 3 or 4 courses. In the Spring: 3 or 4 courses. This time next year I should be a Master of Cybersecurity in Information Assurance. :smiley:

Planning my schedule now, for success. :computer:

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What would be powerful is if you drop great notes or lectures or whatever to the pub. So we can learn too!


Roger that, Captain! Looking forward to it :slight_smile: Thanks for the recommendation, leadership, inspiration, and community.


I will start with these resources, for context.

MS in Cybersecurity

Online MBA with CS concentration option

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