The SANS Institute has announced [pdf] two graduate-level degree programs in information security engineering and management, beginning in February.

The two-year degree programs are formally recognized by Maryland State's Higher Education Commission and will feature live online classes, with a residential component.

SANS already offers a number of training and certification programs in information security and claims an alumni of 55,000 individuals. It also maintains a library of security research papers and runs a popular threat and vulnerability monitoring service called the Internet Storm Center.

The SANS master of science in information security engineering degree is designed for professionals focused on the technological aspects of network and system security, said Alan Paller, director research at the SANS Institute. The course will feature technology and project management topics geared toward people looking for jobs with titles such as technical director for security, networking and systems security manager and, in some places, assistant CIO for security, Paller said.

The more business-oriented degree in information security management is targeted at potential chief information security officers and will feature instruction in subjects such as compliance, legal issues and auditing standards, he said.

Both programs will place a heavy emphasis on communication and project management skills, as well as teaching, mentoring and persuasion skills - all of which are increasingly key to a successful career in information security, Paller said.

The individuals who sign up for the programs are expected to be security professionals being groomed for leadership roles within their organizations, Paller said.

Each program will cost $28,000 and take about two years for a fully employed individual to complete. State and local law-enforcement officials may be eligible for financial aid of up to 75 percent in some cases.