Vanderbilt achieves NSA designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has designated Vanderbilt University as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research, positioning the university as a premier institution for cyber-related education and innovation.

Each year, cybercrime grows as a threat to national security and vital U.S. interests around the world. In addition to the rise of increasingly sophisticated methods to breach critical infrastructure and defense systems, cybercrime is expected to inflict global costs approaching $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to estimates from Cybersecurity Ventures.

“Vanderbilt has long maintained a strong presence in cybersecurity, and now our strategic focus in this societally important area has earned this significant designation from the NSA,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “We are proud that our work contributes to the protection of the nation’s vital networks, and we expect our faculty and students to have an even greater impact in this growing field in the years to come.”

The $100 million faculty excellence initiative known as Destination Vanderbilt was instrumental in expanding Vanderbilt’s academic capacity in cybersecurity. Numerous faculty members and Ph.D. student specializing in cybersecurity have joined the Department of Computer Science in recent years, while the renowned Institute for Software Integrated Systems has also grown.

“This designation recognizes our curriculum rigor, faculty expertise, and groundbreaking research in cybersecurity. The designation also fosters collaborations with government agencies, industry, and other academic institutions involved in cybersecurity research. These connections provide exciting new opportunities for research projects as well as training programs, internships, and employment prospects for our students,” said Xenofon Koutsoukos, the Thomas R. Walters Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science. “I look forward to this designation enhancing our reputation and visibility, attracting talented students and faculty who are passionate about cybersecurity, and leading to transformative new research.”

The NSA Center of Academic Excellence designation requires participating institutions to pass rigorous curriculum and program requirements, demonstrating research and education capacities at the highest levels. Since 2020, Vanderbilt’s Department of Computer Science has added 14 additional tenure-track faculty members, many of whom have a specialty in various aspects of cybersecurity. Koutsoukos added that the new designation opens exclusive new research and grant-opportunities to these researchers.

“True to the original purpose of the $100 million Destination Vanderbilt program, our Computer Science program is quickly emerging as a global hub of excellence in cyber research and education,” Koutsoukos said.