SFU launches two new master’s programs in Cybersecurity and Visual Computing

February 02, 2023

By: Deborah Acheampong

Simon Fraser University’s School of Computing Science is launching two new master's degree programs to meet the growing need for high-demand skills in the burgeoning tech fields of cybersecurity and visual computing.

The new Master of Cybersecurity and Master of Visual Computing support SFU’s mandate to integrate innovative education and cutting-edge research, and reinforce the provincial government’s commitment to stimulate industry-focused programs that support the province’s technology sector.

Driven by significant workforce needs, the demand for post-secondary education in cybersecurity and visual computing is steadily growing, with commercial and government sectors facing a widening gap between their growing needs to hire in these fields and the number of skilled workforces available.

“The School of Computing Science is contributing to closing the substantial gap in skilled security professionals in B.C. and Canada,” says computing science director and professor Mohamed Hefeeda.

“Maintaining effective and reliable defenses against cyberattacks is a priority for Canada to protect its national security, critical infrastructure, citizens’ intellectual property and personal data,” says programs director Ali Mahdavi-Amiri. “However, there are not enough experts trained in cybersecurity in B.C. and Canada to keep up with this demand.”

Mahdavi-Amiri says that the visual computing-related industry in Canada is rapidly growing and requires experts that can fulfill this need.

“Several sectors can benefit from our visual computing program, including game and visual effect companies, AR/VR, autonomous driving, and modern agriculture,” he adds.

Students in both programs will blend technical training in classrooms and laboratories with practical experience through a minimum four-month industrial internship or co-op work placement.

This hands-on experience prepares graduates for working in a wide range of IT sectors that require qualified cybersecurity and visual computing specialists, and expedites their absorption into the job market.

SFU’s Master of Visual Computing program is the first and only visual computing program of its kind in Canada. According to CSRankings.org, in 2022, SFU ranked number two in Canada and among the world’s top 10 for computer vision publications. For computer security publications, SFU is ranked number three in Canada.

“SFU has one of the strongest computer science schools in Canada, with world-class faculty members in the areas of visual computing and cybersecurity,” says Mahdavi-Amiri. “Our expertise and high rankings show the potential of these new programs and the quality of education that can be offered to the students. We believe that offering these programs benefits SFU students and industry and we’re excited to launch them.”

The first cohort of students will begin the programs in September 2023 at SFU’s Burnaby campus.