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About CAE Program


IA National Centers of Academic Excellence Background

NSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in CD programs. The goal of these programs is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in CD and producing a growing number of professionals with CD expertise in various disciplines. Designation is valid for five academic years, after which the school must successfully reapply in order to retain its CAE designation.

Students attending CAE CD-E and CAE CD-R schools are eligible to apply for scholarships and grants through the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for Service Program. Designation as a Center does not carry a commitment for funding from NSA or DHS.

CAE CD institutions receive formal recognition from the U.S. Government as well as opportunities for prestige and publicity for their role in securing our Nation's information systems.


Application Procedures and Requirements

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Programs are offered annually and are open to regionally accredited two and four-year+ and graduate level universities (to meet individual criteria).

Applicants must upload a letter of their intent to apply. The letter must be on official college/university letterhead, signed by a collegiate official at an appropriate level (Dean or higher) and addressed to:

National Security Agency
Attn: CAE Program Manager
9800 Savage Road, Suite 6744
Fort Meade, MD 20755-6744

Applicants must clearly demonstrate, in sufficient detail, how they meet each of the program criteria and include supporting documentation where required and appropriate. Minimum requirements must be met for each of the ten criteria.


Review and Selection Procedures

Qualified IA professionals from the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and other government and academic partners will assess applications. Other qualified individuals will be invited to assess applications as needed. By completing the application, a university grants consent to having its application assessed by Government reviewers, as well as by non-Government reviewers under contract to the Government.

Applications for CAE CD will be rated independently, using system identified in the criteria. Two reviewers will assess each application. If the two reviews are not in agreement, a third reviewer will be assigned. The program office will make a final determination based on all three assessments. The burden is on the Institution to clearly demonstrate their qualifications for the CAE CD program.

Members of the IA research community will conduct reviews of CAE-R applications. Two reviewers will independently review each application. If the two reviews are not in agreement, a third reviewer will be assigned. The program office will make a final determination based on all three assessments. The burden is on the university to clearly demonstrate their qualifications for the CAE-R Program.

Qualifying applicants will be designated as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense for a period of 5 academic years, after which they must successfully reapply in order to retain the designation.

Applicants who are not designated are encouraged to reapply during the next annual cycle.

Consolidated comments from the reviewers will be provided to applicants upon request. Contact the program office at AskCAEIAE@nsa.gov to receive the comments.