National Science Foundation Awards Tennessee Tech $4.4 Million for Cybersecurity Scholarships

(This post is authored by The College of Engineering)

The Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University has been awarded more than $4.44 million from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships for students completing a computer science degree with a concentration in cybersecurity.

The five-year National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service grant enables Tennessee Tech to provide full-tuition scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as thousands of dollars in stipends and professional allowances.

The new award marks the second time the National Science Foundation has selected Tennessee Tech for the program, which aims to recruit and train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to meet the growing cybersecurity demands faced by federal, state, local and tribal governments.

“We continue providing a highly skilled workforce to help solve the nation’s cybersecurity workforce challenge,” Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham said. “Our students benefit from the relevant and responsive approach we take to industries who need talent.”

“Tech has developed a national reputation in cybersecurity education, research and outreach,” said Joseph Slater, dean of engineering at Tennessee Tech. “This award solidifies CEROC as a national hub for cybersecurity and helps ensure more students have access to a quality cybersecurity education.”

Funding for students includes:

  • Full coverage of all tuition
  • $6,000 professional allowance
  • $25,000 stipend (for undergraduates beginning their junior year to earn an accelerated master’s degree while completing a bachelor’s degree)
  • $34,000 stipend (for graduate students to complete a doctorate while earning a master’s degree)

Upon graduation, students become cyber defenders protecting the national cyber infrastructure in mostly federal government positions. Tennessee Tech’s cybersecurity graduates are helping to fill a significant workforce gap amid highly publicized, increasing cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as pipelines, food suppliers and even law firms.  

“In today’s technological world, patriots are desperately needed to defend their country in cyberspace, and this elite program provides for such an important undertaking. Students obtain a quality cyber education, gain critical, hands-on technical skills and join peers throughout the nation in the fight against cyber criminals,” said Ambareen Siraj, director of the center and the grant’s principal investigator. “We have been blessed to see some amazing students from our computer science program enter and thrive in a field that is seeing a workforce deficit of nearly half a million people. Our nation needs more cyber career professionals to keep the peace in cyberspace.”

The newly awarded grant exceeds the first, record-setting grant for CEROC, originally valued at $4.3 million and increased to $5 million through the addition of special projects. During the 2016-2021 grant cycle, 38 students have completed or are completing their computer science degree in cybersecurity with 92 percent of recipients finishing a Master of Science. 

Tennessee Tech was the first institution in the state of Tennessee to receive the CyberCorps grant from the National Science Foundation and remains the largest program in the state. The program has also helped CEROC launch several cybersecurity education initiatives, including the annual CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Bootcamp for incoming students. Additionally, Tennessee Tech was among 10 institutions throughout the country to participate in a pilot program working to better bridge cyber education programs at community colleges and four-year universities.

“It is very rewarding to see how the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program has had such a positive impact, not just at Tennessee Tech, but also in the region, state and nation. It is an honor to work with such an amazing program management team and cyber scholars” said Eric Brown, the center’s assistant director and co-principal investigator for the grant. The other co-principal investigators include Akond A. Rahman, assistant professor of computer science; Maanak Gupta, assistant professor of computer science; and Denis Ulybyshev, assistant professor of computer science.

The new grant will also provide funding for the development of a new minor in cyber-crime, law and society for computer science and sociology and political science undergraduate students, further expanding Tennessee Tech’s cyber education opportunities. Tennessee Tech is one of 93 institutions (8 community colleges, 85 four-year schools) participating in the program.

In addition to SFS, Tennessee Tech is the only institution in Tennessee to participate in the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship program, a similar program operated exclusively with Department of Defense agencies.

More information about the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program, including a link to the scholarship application, can be found at General information inquiries can be sent to or by calling (931) 372-3519.



The National Science Foundation has awarded $4,443,669 (Cybersecurity Scholarship for Service, grant #2043324) to the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University for its project “CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (Renewal): An Enhanced and Integrated Scholar Experience in Cybersecurity.”


The Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Ambareen Siraj, Ph.D., is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education program, research in emerging cybersecurity topics and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry. CEROC is a National Security Agency-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in Tennessee. CEROC, via Siraj’s leadership, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at or by sending an email to

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