SPC gets THECB approval on Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity

January 31, 2023

SPC Marketing & Strategic Communications


From left, Jennifer Acton, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Program Director, Academic and Health Affairs; St. Philip's College VP for Academic Success Randall Dawson; Edith Orozco, SPC Dean for Academic Success; Elizabeth Mayer, Assistant Commissioner for Academic and Health Affairs at THECB; Dr. Ray Chacon, SPC Business and Information Systems Department Chair; and Dr. Jen Osbourne, faculty member, celebrated the state board approval for SPC to offer a baccalaureate degree. 

St. Philip’s College earned approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to begin offering a Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Cybersecurity degree, pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 

In July, 2022 the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the opportunity for students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology to seamlessly transfer into the BAT Cybersecurity program. The curriculum is designed to prepare graduates for leadership roles within the fast-growing cybersecurity sector.

On Jan. 26, St. Philip’s College Vice President for Academic Success Randall Dawson, Dean for Applied Sciences – MLK Campus Edith Orozco, Business Information Solutions Department Chair Dr. Raymond Chacon and other faculty members went before the state board to give an overview of the impact and answer questions.

Dean Orozco talked to the Board about internships cybersecurity students take on as part of their coursework and grants available to assist them. 

In giving a bit of college history, Orozco said the BAT degree would fulfill a dream of the founding president, Saint Artemisia Bowden, for St. Philip’s to become a bachelor’s degree-offering institution. “It took us 125 years, but we are here today.”

Dr. Chacon explained, “[The program] is affordable and we maintain our mission which is to differentiate ourselves by bridging that gap between theory and practice, so when [students] do graduate – whether or not they continue on to the bachelor’s program or go into the workforce -- they are well-equipped.”

Having earned approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to award a baccalaureate degree, St. Philip’s College is seeking the approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the accrediting body, to pursue both Level II status and final approval to offer the BAT in Cybersecurity. SACSCOC member institutions must seek approval to offer educational programs at a higher degree level than their current level of approval. St. Philip's College is currently a Level I institution, awarding associate’s degrees.

San Antonio is one of the largest Cybersecurity hubs in the nation; second only to Washington, D.C. with its strong military presence, thriving private cybersecurity enterprises, and nationally-recognized technology and research institutions.

The program of study for the associate of applied science degree is comprised of 60 semester credit hours. The AAS to BAT cybersecurity degree plan is an additional 60 semester credit hours. The combined total of 120 semester credit hours will qualify students to receive a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Cybersecurity Degree.

Classroom instruction will include simulation laboratory applications of cybersecurity concepts, principles, and practices that are included in the program of study. 

San Antonio is recognized by the National Security Agency as one of the nation’s leading cities for cybersecurity activity – second only to our nation’s capital. This has an enormous benefit to St. Philip’s College graduates who have limitless career opportunities here at home.

It also benefits approximately 1,000 area IT and cyber defense companies who rely on a strong local workforce to fill high-demand, high-skill jobs.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that cybersecurity jobs will grow 31% from 2019 to 2029. An entry salary for an individual entering the cybersecurity field is projected at $64,480 per year ($31.00/hour), according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The BAT in Cybersecurity program builds on the ongoing work that the college is engaged in to help close the talent gap in the area of cybersecurity.

St. Philip’s College is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), by the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

The College is assessed on its research, program offerings, multidisciplinary approach, performance in cyber competitions, and many other factors. This recognition, initially awarded in 2012, extends through the 2025-2026 academic year.