Information Security Scholarship Offers Career Boost

Scholarship for ServiceWhy choose graduate school? With only a bachelor's degree, sometimes recent grads feel limited by the paths they can take. The Scholarship for Service (SFS) program is an attractive option in information security for American engineering and computer science grads—a tuition-free way to broaden skills and open up amazing job opportunities.

U.S. citizens who enter the INI's master's programs in Information Security Technology and Management (MSISTM) or Information Technology - Information Security may be eligible to participate in SFS. Admission is competitive, but those students who are accepted earn a huge reward. The federal government offers SFS scholars a full scholarship and stipend in exchange for a year-for-year commitment to work for the government after graduation.

"Getting a professional master's degree fully paid for is rare. It's unheard of," said John Truelove, and '09 INI alumnus and SFS scholar. With a bachelor's from Johns Hopkins, he had been working in defense contracting for two years when a friend, who was an alumnus, encouraged him to look into the INI's graduate programs.

Truelove was accepted into the 16-month MSISTM program and offered the SFS scholarship. When INI students enter the SFS program, they make two promises: to take a summer internship with the federal government and to work for the federal government for two years after graduation. Truelove saw this commitment as a win-win situation.

"A good network exists for Carnegie Mellon SFS students at many government positions. Wherever I applied, I was able to talk to former SFS or INI alumni. Recent INI alumni are located at all the best places to work," he said.

By the summer, he had secured an internship with CERT (Computer Emergency Readiness Team), a lab that met the SFS requirements and, conveniently, allowed him to stay in Pittsburgh. During his second and final year at Carnegie Mellon, Truelove received multiple job offers, and decided to accept an engineer position at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC). From his class, all of the SFS scholars received job offers by December, according to Truelove.

"I received a free master's degree and a job at a place I really wanted to work," he said. "I likely would not have been offered that kind of job with just an undergraduate education."

In the spring of 2009, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security re-designated Carnegie Mellon as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and, for the first time, designated it as a Center for Academic Excellence in Research until 2014. This designation ensures that INI students in information security will be eligible to participate in the SFS program for years to come.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0830879.