Core Courses

Core Curriculum (35-38 credits)

The MSCSE core curriculum creates a baseline of knowledge for students to operate within the world of cyber security. Core classes balance the needs of security engineers to apply secure development concepts coupled with theoretical computer science; all within a framework of ethical best practices

In addition to the cyber security classes, all students must take a 1 credit faculty seminar, and a writing assessment exam in their first quarter of enrollment.  The Writing Assessment results will place students into (or out of) the technical writing skills courses, a total of 3 credits.  All students in the MSCSSE degree program must take these core courses to fulfill the breadth of knowledge requirements.

Cyber Security Core Knowledge:

CSS 514 Security, Policy, Ethics, and the Legal Environment (2)
Addresses ethical, legal, and policy frameworks within which information assurance and secure development lifecycle professionals must practice. Covers ethical, moral, legal and policy issues related to computers and telecommunications systems, such as how they impact privacy, fair information practices, equity, content control, and freedom of electronic speech.

CSS 515 Contemporary Issues in Information Assurance (2)
Addresses current developments in information assurance and cyber security, such as the changing threat spectrum, legal developments, international relationships, and intellectual property protection with an emphasis on the ethical and moral perspectives. Covers communities and resources important to becoming a responsible professional in the security field. Prerequisite: either CSS 514 or CSS 517.

CSS 517 Information Assurance and the Secure Development Lifecycle (5)
Covers the foundations of Information Assurance (IA) and the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL) needed to understand and apply best practices for development and on-going support of secure software systems in organizations. Uses workshops and applied project to practice methods and create artifacts important to IA principles.

CSS 519 Incident Response and Recovery (5)
Explores management of response to security incidents including identification, examination, and integration of diverse crisis and emergency management, disaster recovery, and organizational continuity management issues. Also covers incident tracking, patch management, and corrective responses to internal and external stakeholders. Prerequisite: CSS 517.

CSS 527 Cryptography and Data Assurance (5)
Explores symmetric and asymmetric cryptography, key management, and encryption algorithms such as DES, AES, RSA, and PGP. Discusses PKI, SSL, and VPN including how to use protocols, hashing, digital signatures, and certificates and certificate authorities. Covers policies, procedures, and methods for the proper use of cyptography in secure systems. Prerequisite: either CSS 517, which may be taken concurrently or permission of instructor.

CSS 537 Network and Internet Security (5)
Examines the theory and practice of network security, the role of cryptography, and the current state of the art in building secure networked systems. Covers topics such as access control, authentication, perimeter security defense, firewalls, virtual private networks, intrusion detection systems, and wireless security and network security auditing tools. Prerequisite: either CSS 517, which may be taken concurrently or permission of instructor.

CSS 577 Secure Software Development (5)
Examines secure design and secure coding principles, practices, and methods including least privilege, threat modeling, and static analysis. Covers common vulnerabilities such as buffer overruns, integer overflows, injection attacks, cross-site scripting, and weak error handling in detail.

CSS 578 Vulnerability Analysis and Detection (5)
Explores vulnerability analysis and exploitation, penetration testing tools, and defense techniques. Covers topics such as OS fingerprinting, remote network mapping, software and operational vulnerabilities, attack surface analysis, fuzz testing, patch management, and security auditing. Prerequisite: either CSS 517, which may be taken concurrently or permission of instructor.


Faculty Seminar:

All students must take a 1 credit CSS 599: Faculty Seminar.  The seminar gives students the opportunity to interact and learn about current research conducted by the CSS faculty.  It is recommended students take this course in their first quarter, so that they are made familiar with current research early in their academic career.  The course is 1 credit, and the class typically meets one hour per week.

CSS 599: Faculty Research Seminar (1cr)


Writing Assessment & Writing Skills Courses:

Graduate level competency on technical and scientific writing is a critical area of knowledge for students in any Masters degree. In the students first quarter of enrollment they will be given an online writing assessment. Based on the results of the writing assessment, students may place out of any required coursework, or they will place into either CSSKL 509: Technical Writing Skills (2 cr) and/or CSSSKL 510: Scientific Writing (1 cr) as appropriate. Completion of these courses with a passing grade will show appropriate depth and skills of graduate level writing.  All students will be given a writing assessment study guide and overview of expected knowledge at orientation.  The writing assessment is given in the second month of the quarter in which a new student will have enrolled, allowing the student to have time to both orient themselves to the new degree program and study for the assessment exam.

CSSSKL 509: Technical Writing (2cr)

Focuses on critical technical writing skills including formulating arguments and technical use and portrayal of data in reports and oral presentations. Credit/no-credit only.  Students are advised to take CSSSKL 509 when enrolled in the Foundations core course, as the assignments required in the foundations course are used to help teach the goals of the CSSSKL 509.

CSSKL 510: Scientific Writing (1 cr)

Explores how to locate, analyze, and synthesize professional literature on a topic and how to assemble the resources necessary to write an review of that literature. Focuses on organization of information, writing critique process, and presentation skills for verbal defense.  Credit/no-credit only.  Students are advised to take CSSKL 510 in their final quarter of study, when the writing of the final thesis or capstone report is taking place.  Course goals include helping students draft and edit thesis or capstone reports.

For more information on the writing assessment, please read our Writing Assessment Student Guide (attached document will be linked here): Masters-Writing-Assessment-Student-Guide.pdf