New Degrees Coming in Neuroscience and Cybersecurity

Teresa Schuster/Contributing Writer

Undergraduate students will soon get the chance to delve into the mind or cyberspace like never before with two new bachelor’s degrees this fall.

Last week, the Faculty Senate, the group of professors who decide on academic policy and curriculum changes, approved two new bachelor’s in subjects that were previously only available at the graduate level.

The degrees, in cybersecurity and neuroscience and behavior, are intended to prepare students for in-demand jobs and will bolster FIU’s reputation, according to their sponsors.

The new degree in neuroscience and behavior will focus on the science of cognition and neurological and psychiatric disorders according to Leila Allen, a professor in cognitive neuroscience who worked on the curriculum for the major.

It will have prerequisites in chemistry and biology and will include eleven new courses in neuroscience and behavior, which Allen said will give students a background in neurobiology, as well as many career opportunities.

In contrast to psychology, the neuroscience major will focus on the biology and science of the brain. “Neuroscience is a burgeoning field,” said Allen. “It’s very in-demand across the country.”

Allen said that FIU is currently one of the only Florida state universities that doesn’t offer a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. Six other Florida universities already have a program like this.

This would also be FIU’s first STEM degree for undergraduate psychology students, as most psychology degrees fall under a bachelor’s of art.

The psychology department anticipates about 50 students enrolling in the major in its first year, and more in the following years.

“I’ve had a lot of students express interest in this, it’s very exciting for FIU,” Allen said.

The new degree in cybersecurity will also help students prepare for jobs in a growing field, according to Nagarajan Prabakar, an FIU professor who worked on the proposal for the degree.

“Cybersecurity is very important,” Prabakar said, citing the threats posed by increasing numbers of cyberattacks and phishing scams, such as breaches of sensitive information. “We have one million cybersecurity threats per day in Florida.”

The major will be very similar to FIU’s information science major but will concentrate on cybersecurity.

Prabakar said that FIU already offers a master’s degree in cybersecurity, which the new bachelor’s degree will help students prepare for, but added that students could easily find jobs without a graduate degree.

“There is a great demand for cybersecurity professionals,” he said.

He expects the program to be popular at FIU, predicting that two to three thousand students will major in it over a five-year period.

“Students are interested because of the increased demand,” Prabakar said. “It will be one of the most prevalent in the University.”

The degree programs are pending approval by FIU’s Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, and are expected to be available to students in the Fall 2020 term.

This article was updated for clarity.

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