MS in Cybersecurity from UMUC vs MS in Information Assurance from DSU

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by chris2010, Oct 25, 2010.


Which program?

  1. MS in Cybersecurity from UMUC

  2. MS in Information Technology: IA Specialization from UMUC

  3. MS in Information Assurance from DSU

  4. Other

  1. cyber_student

    cyber_student New Member

    I'm a currently pursuing a UMUC cybersecurity masters and I have to say the criticisms jadenton has mentioned are completely true.

    Through the first 1.5 semesters I tried to be very diligent about going through the course modules that each class provides but eventually became frustrated with them because they were often incorrect, did not make total sense, and fail to give a good enough explanation of concepts that I think would be appropriate at the graduate level. The assigned readings have gotten better in the later courses, but initially they were awful (i.e. the intro course has you reading 40-50 pages on topics such as the differences between a cd/dvd/blu ray). The readings now are a lot more cyber security focused and seem more relevant to me. However, the problem that is you're discussing these topics with students that have absolutely no background in cybersecurity and most have no technical background either. The course may say state that it goes over some interesting technical stuff, but if your starting point for learning about cryptography is the caesar cipher, then it's clear that this class isn't meant to be taken seriously. Fortunately for me, I have a technical background and studied security concepts before enrolling in classes and I assumed that I might have a little bit of a head start but would the courses would catch up and surpass my knowledge and I would delve much further into detail or introduce new concepts, however this has not been the case. The conferences that jadenton refers to are 90% students just quoting from the textbooks and not bothering to do much more in depth research to bring anything new. It's frustrating that I bother researching dozens of research papers each week for my conferences, when most others just give superficial answers to these conferences. Grading is a joke as well. You can not get any honest feedback from professors regarding why you were given a certain grade. During one course, multiple students asked for feedback from one professor and he promised to deliver personalized feedback to us but never did. We simply gave up asking after a while. My last professor did not even have any cyber security experience at all, I don't know how he was hired to be an adjunct professor for the course. I have a 4.0 thus far so I guess I can't complain too much, but I find that I'm just learning what the minimum amount of work is to get an A and less learning and mastering new concepts.

    Also, plagiarism is not taken seriously. I brought up instances cases of plagiarism in a couple classes to my professors and the head of the department and nothing was ever done about it. No one was failed for it and the most egregious plagiarizer, who plagiarized his entire portion of my group paper, passed his class. I don't understand what it would take for them to take plagiarism seriously. At the University of Maryland College Park if you're caught plagiarizing, you must go before the honor board and explain yourself and even then, 99% of those receive XF's to indicate that they failed for cheating. All this has taught me is that you can cheat here cause you won't be punished for it.
  2. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    The below is an excellent example of well-spoken complaint.

    It would seem that you're a technical professional with a significant amount of experience being brought to the table. The content issues you present are valid, and there's a responsibility for the school to advise students appropriately of the level of complexity of the curriculum as part of admissions and on the student, to ensure that he or she is in a program that is going to meet their needs.

    If you're highly technical to begin with, you're probably best suited for (regardless of their accreditation status they're highly technical) or another highly technical program that requires a technology undergrad.

    The issue with any program that allows people without a technology background to sign up is that there's going to be some time spent trying to level the field. Your complaints speak to that phenomena, but it's hardly an issue only faced by UMUC. Same can be said for students doing the minimum necessary.

    In my opinion the root causes of the problems you present are twofold:

    1. Instructors are likely evaluated in part by student reviews.
    2. Instructors are not full-time and pressed to meet too many responsibilities.

    The plagiarism situation ties back to point one. There's no reason for plagiarism to be missed due to services such as TurnItIn, so it's a management decision not to hassle the students to the point where the instructor risks his review and makes more work for his chair.

    The quality situation tends to point to point 2. In many cases instructors are hired that have excellent credentials and experience but are lured into the fold by being advised that the curriculum is prepared ahead of time, labs work well and there are no hurdles to cross except conveying the concepts.

    This presents an excellent value proposition to the instructor who may be being paid well if only contact hours are concerned, but quickly turns south when labs don't work, students aren't really ready for a program or the reality of the job doesn't match the expectation being provided during hiring.

    Nothing in my explanation excuses UMUC from presenting you with an adequate education. My point here is to present the other side of the coin. But I do think that you're not in the right program for your skill level and I do think that you have the power to correct that.

    Research some programs and:

    1. Find a program that has a strong correlation between full-time faculty and the faculty that teaches the program you want to join. This program will not be as strongly affected by student reviews.

    2. Find a program that has a strong name value for the field it's presenting to you. Suggestions are DSU, CMU, and SANS.

    3. Go on LinkedIn and find students in the program currently. Send InMails and see if you can get some feedback on the program before you sign up.

    Choosing a program is much like choosing who you're going to marry (on a much smaller scale) It's a choice that you're stuck with and if you make the wrong one, you're setting yourself up for a lot of passive stress that's entirely unnecessary.

  3. jaer57

    jaer57 New Member

    If this truly is the case, I would not stop at the department head (what department is the MS Cybersecurity, anyway?). Take it to the dean or beyond if necessary, because they are not following UMUC policy if what you say is true:

    Policy 150.25 - Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism - UMUC

    Several of my UMUC professors required turnitin reports for papers to help catch plagiarism. I'm surprised yours don't:

    Turnitin - UMUC Library

    If you catch plagiarism in a group paper, why in the world would you turn it in with your name on it? I would have re-written the portion before I would turn it in as such. After submission, YOU and the other group members could be accused of plagiarism before presenting evidence of the sole member who was guilty of it. Now sits a paper in UMUC's servers with a plagiarized portion and your name on it. You will hear about this again when you're running for vice president.

    Anyways, clearly you're dissatisfied; why haven't you switch to another program?
  4. cyber_student

    cyber_student New Member

    I confronted him about it early enough so we could force him to re-write his portion of the paper. His initial defense was that he would plan on having us submit it to turnitin and basically rewrite enough of his section until we fell below the threshold for "cheating." The other instances of him plagiarizing was in his conference posts, which don't require the turnitin service. He was so brazen about it that he was actually copying and pasting the hyperlinks encoded into the text. I went as far as compiling all of his conference posts and submitting that to turnitin to see what kind of score it would get and it was awful. I submitted that to the professor as well and still that wasn't enough to get him to do something about it.
    The other class where I caught someone plagiarizing their conference posts over several weeks, the professor just gave a warning that it would not be tolerated and they could be graded down because of it. However, all of the past work that was plagiarized was fine by him. I was a bit confused on that call as well.

    So why haven't I switched? Well, I wanted to get a degree in as little time as possible and UMUC only requires 6 classes that can be completed in 2 years. I think most employers in my area care more that the graduate degree box is checked rather than how much you learned in your coursework. If I were to transfer, I'd probably have to start over if I transferred to another school. I wasn't totally naive about what I was signing up for when I started down this road, but I guess I'm a little disappointed at what the reality is.
  5. tavo59

    tavo59 New Member

    Four years later, UMUC has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education (CAE IA/CD) for the academic years of 2014 to 2021 from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. Also, it has been designated as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center, known as DC3. Not many, if any have all of the three designations.

    As a student in the Cybersecurity Management & Policy bachelors degree, I find the school to be excellent. UMUC's Cyber Padawans team won the 2014 Global CyberLympics in Barcelona and recently the 2015 Cyber Diplohack competition, amongst many other awards. I am very happy with my school and will continue onto my Master's degree.
  6. CryptoJones

    CryptoJones New Member

    I just finished my undergrad at UMUC, granted it wasn't in CyberSecurity. Based on the nature of adjunct faculty, sometimes you'd have professors that were overzealous and required graduate-level amounts of work, and some were so lenient that if you had a pulse you could get an A. But with any educational program you get what you put into it, and I would recommend the school to others.

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