Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been selected by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a national Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

IUP is one of only seven institutions in Pennsylvania and fewer than one hundred universities in the nation selected for this recognition. IUP was one of the first universities in the nation to integrate the disciplines of criminology and computer science to support an academic program in Information Assurance.

Information assurance refers to information operations that protect and defend information and information systems by ensuring availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation.

IUP was first recognized as a Center for Academic Excellence in 2002. The current recognition is for academic years 2009 through 2014.

“Information assurance education plays a critical role in ensuring the security of our nation, and IUP is proud to earn continuing, national recognition of our program as a Center for Academic Excellence,” IUP President Tony Atwater said.

IUP's program is unique because of its interdisciplinary character, blending the disciplines of criminology and computer science. In addition to the development of computer programs and systems for cybersecurity, IUP's program focuses on cybercrime detection, loss prevention, and how to collect evidence to prosecute cybersecurity offenders.

Universities are chosen for this status by demonstrating excellence on nine evaluative criteria, including outreach and collaboration with other institutions, recognition of information assurance as a multidisciplinary science, encouragement of student research with adequate resources for program success, demonstrated faculty activity in current practice and research, and existence of a formal center for information assurance teaching.

The Centers for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education program is intended to reduce vulnerabilities in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education in information assurance and producing a growing number of professionals with information assurance expertise in various disciplines, according to the National Security Agency.

IUP offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science/Information Assurance Track and a minor in Information Assurance.

The Information Assurance program at IUP began as a result of a $250,768 grant from the National Science Foundation received in August 2001 to establish a “cybersecurity education and research center for Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.”

Students at universities designated as Centers for Academic Excellence are eligible to apply for scholarships and grants through the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program.