Georgetown University has a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the CyberCorps™ Scholarship for Service Program to provide scholarships to students to earn degrees critical for cybersecurity in exchange for service in the form of employment in a governmental cybersecurity position. This national program is designed to educate the individuals who will design and protect the nation’s critical information infrastructure, define the policies, and write the laws that govern and protect this infrastructure, and educate the nation’s future generations of cybersecurity professionals.
Please note: This is not a degree program and this is not a cybersecurity degree. Instead, this program provides scholarship support for students who are earning a Georgetown degree in an academic program at Georgetown that will result in sufficient cybersecurity training to be hired into a governmental cybersecurity position. Applying for the scholarship is separate from applying for any academic program – you will have to do both. We currently have students at the undergraduate level in Computer Science and in Science and Technology in International Affairs and have supported students in Math as well. At the graduate level we currently support Computer Science students as well as students in the Security Studies Program. There is also a new program in Cybersecurity Risk Management that can be supported. We can support students in other degree (but not certificate) programs as well – contact us to ask if the program you are interested in might qualify. We only supply at most two years of funding, so Law students should apply during their first year.
Eligible work placements include Federal Executive Branch US Government organizations like those in the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, to name a few. In theory, analogous agencies, FFRDCS, and organizations at the state, local, and tribal levels are also eligible but due to a new requirement these opportunities will be very severely limited or unavailable.
The scholarships provide up to two years of tuition, stipend, and funds for books, travel, health insurance, and professional development. Recipients are obligated to work at an eligible cybersecurity position for a duration equivalent to the duration of their scholarship, but not less than one year. We are happy to support students for one or two years. Students with scholarships longer than one academic year must complete an internship in an appropriate governmental position. They also take classes and attend job fairs designed and offered expressly for them.
Candidates for Georgetown’s Cyberfellows Scholarship Program must earn a degree that will lead to full-time employment in the area of cybersecurity at an eligible governmental position. Students may pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees in areas critical for cybersecurity, such as computer science, mathematics, law, policy, technology, and international affairs. Many jobs require that students be able to obtain a security clearance. The SF-86 form that is used for clearances is available for review here – it is worth reviewing before committing to the application. Students entering the program must join the governmental workforce within two years. Please note: these requirements mean that undergraduate scholarships are generally only open to students who will be juniors or seniors. You may apply in the spring for spring of the following year if you will be abroad in the fall.
OPM requires scholarship recipients to work after graduation in a full-time position related to cybersecurity in a governmental cybersecurity position for a time equal to the length of their scholarship. Students who receive the scholarship for less than one academic year must work for one year. Students on scholarship for two years must obtain an internship in an appropriate governmental position during the summer before their final academic year. Ultimately, NSF and OPM determine whether positions are appropriate for the program’s scholars. As an indication of what types of jobs qualify, please see the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework or read NIST Special Publication 800-181. OPM also requires recipients to fulfill Georgetown’s program obligations.
Georgetown requires that its Cybersecurity Fellows, first and foremost, maintain good academic standing and a high grade-point average.
Fellows who are undergraduate students pursuing a degree in computer science must take Information Assurance (COSC-430) and Introduction to Network Security (COSC-435). Fellows in the STIA are encouraged to start the requireg program early and must take:
- Computer Science I (COSC-051)
- Computer Science II (COSC-052)
- Math Methods for CS (COSC-030)
- Data Structures (COSC-160)
- Information Assurance (COSC-430)
- Introduction to Network Security (COSC-435)
Undergraduate Fellows in other areas can minor in computer science and take the above courses as well, or can arrange an alternative course of study focused on cybersecurity with the director of the Cyberfellows program.
Fellows who are graduate students pursuing a degree in computer science must take Information Assurance (COSC-430), Network Security (COSC-435), and one additional course in security if available, such as Introduction to Cryptography (COSC-530), Data Privacy (COSC-531), or Differential Privacy (COSC-633), Advanced Cryptography (COSC-732).
Fellows who are graduate students in the Security Studies Program (SSP) complete a total of 12 courses, and at least four of these must be cybersecurity courses, either in the SSP program or as external electives. Fellows who are graduate students in other programs will follow an approved course of study based on the structure of their degree program.
All Georgetown Cyberfellows must take a cybersecurity seminar during every semester of their scholarship. This course provides students with an understanding of topics such as the requirements for security clearances, Federal cybersecurity regulations and standards (e.g., FISMA), the roles federal agencies in securing and protecting government and civilian networks, and the policy controls and best practices to protect networks and systems and allows them to hear from speakers in federal cybersecurity positions.
All Scholars must take two credits, one per semester during their first year, of professional communication. The course teaches Fellows how to write effectively in the most common genres required for professional careers.
Fellows must also attend special events, such as Georgetown’s advising sessions, kick-off meetings, talks related to cybersecurity, and OPM’s annual CyberCorps™ Scholarship for Service Job Fair in every year of their scholarship, as well as external professional development courses.
Students who withdraw from or do not meet their obligations to Georgetown’s Cybersecurity Fellows Program will need to repay the portion of the scholarship they used through a conversion of the scholarship to an educational loan. Prior to starting the program, students will accept these obligations and terms, including repayment, through signed agreements with OPM and with Georgetown University.
Candidates for Georgetown’s Cybersecurity Fellows Program should time their application so they can enter the program at most two years before they plan to enter the federal workforce.
- Prospective applicants to Georgetown for undergraduate study should express an interest in the program only after they matriculate, with the exception of incoming freshmen from schools in the Cristo Rey network. If you fall in the latter category and wish to apply, please contact us.
- Prospective applicants to Georgetown for a master’s program in computer science, security studies, or in an area that will lead to employment in cybersecurity can apply to the CyberFellows Program the same academic year they apply for graduate study.
- Current Georgetown undergraduate students should express an interest in the program and apply during or after the spring semester of their sophomore year. Students pursuing a degree in an area other than computer science should take Computer Science I (COSC-051) and Computer Science II (COSC-052) prior to applying; taking Information Assurance and Network Security before applying can help your application as well as making it easier to get internships and jobs.
Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year will open on January 27th 2020. You may apply to enter the program in Fall of 2020 or Spring of 2021. We have only one application cycle each year.
We encourage prospective applicants to review OPM’s answers to frequently asked questions. Prospective applicants who are within one year of applying to Georgetown’s Cyberfellows Program can send questions to cyberfellows at georgetown dot edu if your question is not addressed below.
Some frequently asked questions:
• Is this a degree program in Cybersecurity?
No. We support students in a variety of degrees across campus but do not have a dedicated cybersecurity degree associated with the scholarship. You apply for the scholarship separately from the academic program you wish to pursue. You must apply to both.
• Do you support online degrees?
There is a requirement for attendence at classes on campus so those who take online degrees would also be required to come to campus at relatively frequent times, typically weekly.
• Do you support students in part-time programs?
We do not. We will only fund full-time students. The funding in the program is intended for students who will work full-time on their studies and preparing for a career in government.
• Do you support students who are also working full time?
We cannot, unfortunately. The scholarship as designed by Congress and the NSF expects that students will be studying full-time while supported by their stipend. While in theory it is possible to work around, in practice it is infeasible to do so.
• Can you support someone who is in the Law program?
Yes, in theory, but we only supply funding for two years so apply once you are already here.
• Is the scholarship competitive? What are you looking for in an applicant?
Yes, the scholarship is very competitive. We primarily consider two things: first, ability to successfully complete your academic program as indicated by past academic results; second, a demonstrated desire and ability to pursue, obtain, and follow a career in a cybersecurity-related governmental positions. While a security clearance is not required for all such jobs it frequently is; we also take into consideration the ability of an applicant to receive a clearance.
• How many people are you accepting? What are the odds of receiving the scholarship?
We do not have a set number of positions in any given semester. We instead have funding over several years and can shift it around to support strong applicants. The chances of getting the scholarship depend on your qualifications and the number of other qualified applicants in any application round.
• What make for a strong application?
We are looking for candidates who can excel at an academic program and who will be excellent candidates for government service. Accordingly, we look at past academic performance to ensure you can succeed at your academic program. We look for those who have a compelling story as to why they want to work in government, and who will be strong candidates for jobs. This can include past work in cybersecurity or govenment, or holding a security clearance. Going into a government job as part of the program is an imperative and understanding why you want to do so can make a difference in an application.
• Who do I contact if I have questions?
You can contact the program at cyberfellows at georgetown dot edu.