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San Diego City College to Offer 4-Year Degree in Cyber Defense and Analysis

January 25, 2023

San Diego City College has secured approval to offer the first bachelor’s degree in the college’s 108-year history. Students at the downtown San Diego campus will soon be able to earn a four-year degree in the burgeoning field of cyber security.

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors gave its approval for the City College Cyber Defense and Analysis Baccalaureate Program at its January 23 meeting in Sacramento. City College thus will become the second campus in the San Diego Community College District to offer a baccalaureate program; San Diego Mesa College was among the first community colleges in California to offer a baccalaureate program after the Board of Governors greenlighted Mesa’s bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management in 2015. Miramar College, meanwhile, has submitted a proposal for a bachelor’s degree program in Public Safety Management.

“The bachelor’s degree program in Cyber Defense and Analysis will provide a pipeline that not only leads to an above-livable wage career in an industry that is clearly in demand, but will also help diversify the cyber security workforce by allowing more women, military veterans, and people of color to find good jobs,” said City College President Ricky Shabazz. “Social justice and educational equity are at the core of our mission at San Diego City College, and the bachelor’s degree program in Cyber Defense and Analysis aligns perfectly with that mission.”

The Cyber Defense and Analysis Baccalaureate Program will launch as early as fall of 2024. City College’s next steps will include hammering out program details, purchasing program resources, preparing campus facilities, finalizing cohort information, and hosting information sessions, before accepting applications next fall through next winter. City College currently offers an associate degree in cyber security.

California’s 116 community colleges received legislative approval to begin offering bachelor’s degrees via Senate Bill 850, which was authored by then-state senator and former San Diego Community College governing board member Marty Block and signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in the fall of 2014. The legislation, which was developed in consultation with representatives from the California State University and University of California systems, permitted baccalaureate pilot programs meeting workforce needs at no more than 15 campuses as long as they did not duplicate existing options at the state’s public universities.

In 2021, the Legislature extended and made permanent the pilot program through Senate Bill 927, a law authorizing up to 30 baccalaureate programs at California community colleges annually. According to a recent study by the UC Davis Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research, 56% of students graduating from a California Community Colleges baccalaureate program said they would not have pursued a bachelor’s degree had it not been offered at their community college. The study also found two-thirds of students in community college bachelor’s degree program students are students of color.

Employment of computer security analysts is projected to grow 35% from 2021 to 2031, with demand fueled by the need for innovative solutions in combatting an increasing number of cyberattacks, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 1,400 information security analysts are now working in the region, but employers are projected to hire 2,849 additional analysts annually to fill new jobs and backfill current positions due to attrition caused by turnover and retirements. Outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego boasts the largest concentration of IT specialists in California, and up to 90 percent of local cyber companies reported being challenged in finding qualified workers, according to a June, 2021, report from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.

The average pay for cyber security analysts in San Diego County reached $111,590 annually as recently as May of 2021, with related jobs offering similar pay, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The San Diego Community College District is centered around equity, innovation, serving our students, and driving our economy, and that is precisely what the new Cyber Defense and Analysis Baccalaureate Program at City College brings to San Diego,” said Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez. “The benefit to our region will be immense.”