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UCM Cybersecurity, Safety Programs Earn Prestigious ABET Accreditation

By Jeff Murphy, September 12, 2018

Cybersecurity Student

WARRENSBURG, MO – A prestigious national designation, the University of Central Missouri has received three new degree program accreditations and two program re-accreditations by ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology.

Among these achievements was the accreditation of the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. This program becomes the first Cybersecurity degree program in the west part of Missouri and greater Kansas City metropolitan area to achieve this designation, and one of only a handful of ABET-accredited Cybersecurity programs in the nation, according to Xiaodong Yue, professor and chair of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics at UCM.

Adding to this impressive achievement, the university also received new ABET accreditation of its Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety (BS OS) degree, with options in Safety Management, Environmental Management, and Occupational Health Management, and the Master of Science in Occupational Safety Management (MS OSM) degree. This is in addition to reaccreditation of UCM’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health (BS OSH) and the Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene (MS IH) programs. These programs were approved following a review by the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission of ABET.

ABET accreditation assures that programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter critical technical fields that are leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public.

In talking about the BS in Cybersecurity, Yue said, “ABET accreditation is a rigorous quality assurance process under which nine criteria such as students, curriculum and faculty, etc., are evaluated to determine if ABET standards are met. We are pleased to have earned program accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, which is a demonstration of the quality of our program as well as our commitment to our constituents, including students, parents, industry partners, donors and taxpayers."

He added that it is a tremendous accomplishment to be the list of other great programs across the nation that are accredited by ABET.

Yue said classes for the bachelor’s in Cybersecurity are offered face-to-face on the university’s campus in Warrensburg, however, there also is an undergraduate completion program available at UCM-Lee’s Summit, which is part of the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC).

Leigh Ann Blunt, chair of the UCM School of Geoscience, Physics and Safety, said the ABET-accredited B.S. degrees in safety are all taught face-to-face, however, the M.S. in Occupational Safety Management is available online or as a combination of live and online classes. The M.S. in Industrial Hygiene also is available as a combination of face-to-face and online courses.

Blunt spoke about the value of the ABET designations, noting, “Accreditation of our programs is the gold standard of accreditation for safety programs. As of today, there are 11 BS programs accredited under the Safety program criteria (now 12 counting our newly accredited B.S. in Occupational Safety). Our newly accredited MS OSM will make one of only four total M.S. programs accredited under the Safety program criteria. There are 28 programs with accreditation under the Industrial Hygiene program criteria.”

She also stressed the ABET designation not only has positive ramifications for graduates seeking careers in the safety or industrial hygiene areas, but this designation comes with a financial benefit for a limited number of students. The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) offers a $5,000 scholarship to one student from each ABET-accredited Qualified Academic Program (QAP).

“This translates into four $5,000 scholarships for UCM safety sciences students,” Blunt said. “The QAP status is through the BSCP - all of our degrees have this status, which means that students are eligible for the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation after graduation.”

All of UCM’s ABET-accredited programs are offered within UCM’s College of Health, Science and Technology. The rigorous process leading up to accreditation also included site visits to campus by both the Computing Accreditation Commission and the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission in October 2017.

Yue and Blunt said UCM does not rest on its laurels after earning ABET accreditation. The university must implement processes to continually assess its programs and keep reaching for high standards.

“Undertaking ABET accreditation results in an intentional effort to apply a systematic approach to improve our programs and the quality of our graduates,” Yue said. “This process includes regular advising of our students, monitoring and analyzing student performance which drives program validation and mediation. We believe that this is continuous process improvement.”

Sought worldwide, ABET’s voluntary peer-review process is highly respected because it adds critical value to academic programs in the technical disciplines, where quality, precision and safety are of the utmost importance.

Developed by technical professionals from ABET’s member societies, ABET criteria focus on what students experience and learn. ABET accreditation reviews look at program curricula, faculty, facilities, and institutional support and are conducted by teams of highly skilled professionals from industry, academia, and government, with expertise in the ABET disciplines.

ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It currently accredits over 3,800 programs at more than 750 colleges and universities in 31 countries. More information about ABET, its member societies, and the accreditation criteria used to evaluate programs can be found on their website.

Founded in 1871, UCM is a comprehensive state university that offers approximately 150 different degree programs within four academic colleges. The university is committed to providing an educational atmosphere where students can experience learning to a greater degree.

Learn more about the ABET-accredited Cybersecurity and Safety programs at UCM.

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