The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 10, 2003
February 10, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 21


Information Security Institute Begins New Master's Program

By Phil Sneiderman

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins has obtained state and university approvals to begin offering a new master's degree program that will blend computer technology studies with real-world applications in fields such as public health, medical records management, economics and public policy.

The program, which will award a master of science degree in security informatics, will launch officially in the fall with an inaugural class of about 20 students.

"We've already received inquiries from about 75 students, and we plan to continue to spread the word at computer science and technology centers throughout the country," said Gerald Masson, director of the two-year-old institute, which is based at the Homewood campus but is linked to the schools of Medicine, Public Health and Advanced International Studies and the Applied Physics Laboratory.

"These connections to a broad range of experts throughout the university will help distinguish us from other programs offering information security degrees," Masson said. "This will be a very dynamic program because of the affiliations we have. We bring a unique set of assets to the field, and people who've looked at the program have reacted very positively to what they've seen."

Initially, the master's program will be offered only to full-time students, requiring about one-and-a-half years to finish. The program will be based at the Homewood campus, but real-time videocasting equipment will allow students to participate in classes taught by instructors in other locations, including East Baltimore and Washington. In the near future, the institute hopes to allow students to obtain this degree on a part-time basis through classes at the Montgomery County Campus and other sites.

Security informatics master's degree students will need to complete 10 courses, including at least four technology classes and at least four others in nontechnology areas such as policy, health and management.

The range of courses will allow students to customize their studies according to their career goals. Masson believes the program will provide solid training for students who wish to enter fields involving computer security, electronic medical records management, public health research and protection against bioterrorism.

The institute bolstered its research and instructional clout this year with the hiring of two new Department of Computer Science faculty members with expertise in security issues. The institute also has applied for recognition as a federal Department of Defense Center of Excellence in Information Security, a key step toward qualifying for research grants related to homeland security. "That will open up a lot of opportunities," Masson said.

Although the new degree program will not officially begin until the fall, several master's students in the Department of Computer Science have tailored their studies to match the security informatics requirements and will qualify to receive the first degrees awarded by the program during Johns Hopkins commencement ceremonies in May.

One of these students, Reza Curtmola, said he enjoyed the mix of computer technology instruction and courses touching on broader issues, including a class in the legal and moral foundations of privacy. "This is a very nice thing," he said. "When you finish, you're not only familiar with the technical part. You also have a larger view of the field from a policy or management perspective."

More information about the new master's degree program, including a link to an online application form, can be obtained at

The application deadline for the fall term is March 1 for international applicants, June 1 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.