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Online M.S. Cybersecurity Graduate

In the fall of 2014, Gabriel Best became one of the first students to enroll in the University of South Florida's online Cybersecurity Master's degree program. In August of 2015, after only three semesters, Best became the first graduate of the program, earning his M.S. in Cybersecurity with a concentration in Digital Forensics.

Prior to enrolling at USF, Best held an IT role at a large university, and like so many others, he often heard news stories about "cybersecurity" breaches.

"That is what originally grabbed my interest," he said. "And the concentrations offered by USF were a major draw. Digital Forensics was my calling. It combined my background of a criminal justice/investigation education with my IT work experience of the last three years."

USF's M.S. in Cybersecurity offers three concentrations: Digital Forensics, Cyber Intelligence and Information Assurance. USF also offers graduate certificates in the three concentration areas. All cybersecurity courses are taught fully online, making them accessible to the working professional.

For some, online learning can be a challenge. Best had taken online courses before at both the undergrad and graduate level, and had sometimes found the complex learning environment disorganized. But he said USF's program structure set it apart from other online courses he had taken in the past.

"USF went out its way to make sure the classes had a solid structure which supported the flow of the curriculum," said Best. "The courses reflected the time and effort that went into planning the curriculum. As technology and best practices change quickly in this field, the true quality of the courses was seen in applying new and updated information to the students."

Best found his instructors engaging and enjoyable, and was impressed with the custom curriculum built around the specific needs of the students in the digital forensics program. Best enjoyed the faculty's attention to detail, and what he liked most was having the opportunity to have so many open discussions with classmates who had experience in the field. These discussions provided him the ability to learn from others who brought a diverse knowledge base from their experiences.

"Being able to pick the brains of some of my classmates was a great benefit I've never experienced elsewhere."

Two weeks before graduation, Best was offered a job as a forensic analyst with a Dallas-based computer forensics company.

"During the interview process, I relied heavily on my education from this program. They were able to put me right to work with the skills and knowledge I gained from USF under some of the best guidance in the industry from their seasoned and respected forensic analysts. This degree is my stepping-stone into a long career in digital forensics."

If you want to learn more about USF's Online Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate Programs, visit the Cybersecurity website.