Baylor Designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

Program addresses the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace

January 11, 2023

Jan. 11, 2023

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (Jan. 11, 2023) – The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated Baylor University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), a program that addresses the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

With the designation, Baylor joins a growing community of institutions developing the critical workforce and research needed to secure U.S. industrial and military infrastructure. Faculty in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) have robust cybersecurity educational, research and industry experience, providing students with access to a diverse set of cybersecurity-related facilities and capabilities as part of the University’s Cybersecurity Research and Education Initiative. This initiative includes faculty from ECS, as well as the Hankamer School of Business and College of Arts & Sciences.

“CAE designation is a tremendous recognition of years of diligent work by many Baylor faculty to highlight the growing consequences of cybersecurity on our society,” said Erich J. Baker, Ph.D., interim ECS dean and professor of bioinformatics. “This designation allows our faculty and staff to share their passions and tremendous expertise in cyber by training the next generation of cyber experts and researchers.”

The goals of the CAE-CD program are:

  • Reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense;
  • Produce a growing number of professionals with expertise in cyber defense disciplines;
  • Proactively increase understanding of robust cyber defense technology, policy and practices that will enable the nation to prevent and respond effectively to a catastrophic cyber event; and
  • Contribute significantly to the advancement of state-of-the-art cyber defense knowledge and practice.

“Security of our digital infrastructure is essential to individual privacy, our economy and U.S. national security,” said Jeff Donahoo, Ph.D., professor of computer science who leads Baylor’s Cybersecurity Research and Education Initiative and specializes in responsible AI, cybersecurity and networking. “The NSA CAE-CD designation recognizes Baylor as a critical part of the solution through interdisciplinary cybersecurity workforce development, thought leadership and research.”

The designation required Baylor to go through an in-depth application process and assessment of cybersecurity educational programs and institutional resources/commitment by fellow CAE academic institutions, NSA, DHS and other government and industry partners. CAE designation provides critical recognition for Baylor graduates in cybersecurity, enhances recruiting of future students and creates opportunities for funding from grants like the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship program and National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarship for Service program. 

“A highly skilled cybersecurity workforce is a strategic national security advantage,” wrote Karen Leuschner, national CAE program manager at NSA, in the designation letter to the University. “The United States Government will continue to invest in and enhance programs that build the domestic talent pipeline, from primary through postsecondary education.”

Baylor offers several undergraduate and graduate degrees in information technology and cybersecurity through the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Hankamer School of Business, including:

In addition, Baylor cybersecurity students apply their skills at national competitions that offer realistic interactive offensive and defensive scenarios. Mostly recently, Baylor students competing in National Cyber League (NCL) competitions ranked 18th in the nation and No. 5 in the central region for Fall 2022, out of nearly 500 colleges and universities across the U.S. that participate in the NCL competitions.



Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) has been preparing its students for more than 25 years as innovators for worldwide impact by training graduates for professional practice and responsible leadership with a Christian view. Students can choose from majors including bioinformatics, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, general engineering and mechanical engineering. ECS also offers graduate programs in all areas of study within the School. We stand out from the crowd through Christian commitment, a strong community, expert accessibility, leading practical experience and teamwork. Visit to learn more and follow on Facebook at and on Instagram at @Baylor_ECS.