The SWSIS program provides scholarships of up to $10,000 for women studying for their Bachelors and Masters degrees in fields relating to information security.
The purpose of these scholarships is to provide assistance to women at the formative stages of their careers in these fields.
SWSIS is a partnership of Applied Computer Security Associates (ACSA) and CRA-W, with sponsorship from ACSA and the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE). ACSA has been providing these scholarships since 2011. With the addition of Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s multi-year financial commitment to this program starting with the 2014-15 academic year, ACSA was able to increase the number of scholarships, in turn helping to increase the number of women in the field.
Find recent press releases and coverage, here.
Women studying information security may apply for consideration to receive the scholarship for their third or fourth year of undergraduate studies, or for a Masters’ program. To be eligible, you must be accepted at or enrolled in a US campus of a US university. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents. More details under FAQ.
The SWSIS application is closed, check back in December!
For the SWSIS Application, applicants must provide:
- An essay describing her interest and background in the information security field.
- A current official or unofficial transcript.
- A resume or CV.
- Letters of reference (typically from faculty members).
- University name and class status.
* If the applicant is in her first semester at her current university, she should submit her class schedule and transcript(s) from prior universities. Official transcripts may be required for scholarship recipients, but not for application.
**The scholarship may be renewable for a second year if eligibility conditions are still met, given proof of satisfactory academic progress and availability of funds.
CRA-W Evaluation Committee:
Terry Benzel, University of Southern California
Marina Blanton, University at Buffalo
Diana Burley, George Washington University
Melissa Chase, Microsoft
Tadayoshi Kohno, University of Washington
Daniela Oliveira, University of Florida
Zachary Peterson, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Bhavani Thuraisingham, University of Texas at Dallas
Rebecca Wright, Rutgers University (Chair)
Jeremy Epstein, SRI International (ACSA director of scholarship programs)
It is my first semester in this graduate program, so I technically do not have any class records in my transcript for this campus.
Please include a copy of your class schedule, to show that you are an enrolled student, even though you don’t have a transcript yet.
I hope to enroll in a masters program next year, but I have not yet been accepted. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes, so long as you meet the other criteria. Before an award is made, we will verify that you will in fact be in a suitable masters program. Please include a statement about your plans in your essay, and list the programs to which you have applied.
Can a student in a two year master's program apply in their second year, having already completed the first year of the program?
If you will be in your second year of your two-year Master’s program in the upcoming Academic Year, then you are eligible. If you will be finished with the second year by the time the scholarship is awarded, then you are not eligible to apply.
I am a freshman in computer engineering, I don’t know yet whether I am interested in security – could I get a scholarship?
Probably not – you need to be a junior or senior or in a Master’s program next school year, plus already have security coursework in your studies, have held a security-related job, or otherwise exhibit security interest (e.g., through a club).
I have a BS in another field, now I am back at community college taking classes in Linux and Cisco so that I can get some certifications. Would I be eligible to apply for this scholarship?
Probably not – our goal is to encourage security education, not training, and certifications fall in the “training” category.
I’m pursuing a BA, not a BS. Am I eligible?
Yes, any Bachelors’ program, including BA, BS, BEng, etc., is acceptable for a SWSIS scholarship, assuming that you meet the other qualifications.
I’m pursuing a PhD. Am I eligible?
No. This program is only for undergraduates and masters students.
I am enrolled in an Information Security Certificate program – am I eligible to apply for a SWSIS scholarship?
Most likely not, as we do not support students in certificate programs, unless they’re also degree programs (Bachelors’ or Masters’ degree).
What topic areas constitute “information security”?
We have a broad interpretation of the field. Some relevant areas include:
* Software security / software assurance
* Intrusion detection
* Network security
* Security usability
* Operating systems security
* Database security
* Applications security
* Formal methods
* Privacy engineering
Who selects the winners?
CRA-W leads the selection process, assisted by a selection committee. The selection committee makes recommendations to ACSA, which finalizes the decisions.
How are applications evaluated? Are letters of recommendation important?
Letters of recommendation are one of the factors we consider, along with essays, transcripts, and resumes (e.g., clubs, honors, internships), along with diversity factors. There is no fixed weighting among the inputs, but all are important.
What do scholarship winners receive?
Funds are paid directly to your account at your university for tuition, books, etc. Scholarship winners will be invited to attend security conferences held by ACSA and HP (expenses will be paid for winners who choose to attend) and will have opportunities to participate in career mentoring programs organized by the CRA-W. Some scholarship winners may also be offered summer internships with HP.
* For other Questions: Please contact SWSIS
SWSIS Award Ceremony
Rachel Cohen is a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County studying Computer Science. At UMBC, she is a member of the Cyber Scholars Program and involved with the Center for Women in Technology. She is a native of Columbia, Maryland where she attended Atholton High school.
Sarah Earle is currently an Associate Principal for a high school technology program in Charleston County School District, Charleston, SC where she is working with a variety of organizations to build a state-of-the-art information security pathway for high school students. Her passion for security developed while working with her students and noticing strong need for balance between policy and practice. She will attend University of Maryland University College to obtain a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy. In addition to pursuing a career in information security, Sarah plans to continue working to encourage underrepresented students to choose a variety of computer science avenues. Sarah is currently working to increase her technical knowledge by studying for several industry certifications. She enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with her family.
Kaitlyn Kelly is currently a junior at SUNY Albany double majoring in Digital Forensics and Financial Market Regulation. She grew up in Millbrook, NY. She helped found a new club as secretary of the Cyber Defense Organization, which is committed to providing a platform for students interested in cyber security to learn and practice their technical skills, while also competing in competitions in the local area and beyond. She has also interned at the US SEC Regional office in NYC and will be an intern at the Department of Defense in Washington DC this summer. After graduation she hopes to start a career in cyber intelligence and attend graduate school. She is honored to be a recipient of the SWSISscholarship and looking forward to providing solutions to the emerging issues found in the changing landscape of cyber security.
Michelle Lam is a third year Computer Science major at Cal Poly SLO, focusing in computer security. She has taken coursework in cryptography, network security, and web security, and is returning to Apple for a second security internship, after having interned at Northrop Grumman. She is the president of her school’s chapter of Association for Computing Machinery and has also been an officer of Women Involved in Software and Hardware as well as White Hat Computer Security.
Kelsey McKinley is an Information Security major at Ferris State University. She plans on using her degree to pursue cyber terrorism and forensics with the federal government. In addition to her studies, she is a two time All-American Scholar for the Ferris State Women’s Golf Team.
Sarah Miller, Carnegie Mellon University
Sarah Miller is entering her second year at Carnegie Mellon University in Fall 2016 to complete a Master of Science in Information Security Policy and Management. Sarah has received a Master of Arts in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA from McDaniel College after double-majoring in English and Psychology. Sarah hopes to advocate for women in other fields to consider cyber security as a career.
Mary Anne Smart is a junior from Bloomington, Indiana, studying math, computer science, and Spanish at Indiana University. For the past two years, she has enjoyed working as a peer-led team learning leader at IU’s School of Informatics and Computing.
Dralia Tulley-Patton became passionate about working at the intersection of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Security, after she attended several related talks at Grace Hopper. Specifically, she plans to advance research in the area of insider threat detection, exploring the use of NLP and ML in analyzing the differences between the language of a typical employee and the language of an insider who poses a security threat.
Jessica Wilson is a current Honors student from Eastern Michigan University majoring in Information Assurance and minoring in Computer Engineering Technologies. She is an active member of the information security community, leading the Information Assurance Student Association, as well as founding the Women in IA group at her university. She has also interned at Virta Labs working on security testing for health care and medical devices including side channel analysis.
Evelyn Brown, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Evelyn Brown is currently a sophomore at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University studying Cyber Security and Intelligence. She grew up in Kingman, Arizona and was home schooled, graduating from both high school and Mohave Community College with an Associate’s Degree in 2014. She is very grateful to be a SWSIS scholarship recipient and looking forward to her career in Cyber Security!
Priya Chawla, University of Cincinnati
Priya Chawla is an actively involved student at University of Cincinnati studying Computer Science. This year, she founded a student chapter of ACM-W for her university. The chapter has received generous amounts of support and funding from many top engineering firms. She is also currently enrolled in the ACCEND program, a dual-degree program for students to receive their Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree at the same time. Priya’s Master’s thesis research will be focused in the area of data mining. After graduation, Priya looks forward to developing innovative solutions that will help safeguard our nation’s information.
Shelby Cunningham, Carnegie Mellon University
Shelby Cunningham is a first-year master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University studying information security policy and management. A life-long resident of the Pittsburgh area, she also received a B.S. in psychology from Carnegie Mellon in 2014.
Alejandra Diaz, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Alejandra is a rising junior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County majoring in Computer Science with a focus on Cyber Security. As part of the Cyber Security Scholars, she has had great opportunities to expand her skills as a student. After graduation, she is looking forward to pursuing a Master’s degree in Computer Science and Cyber Security.
Fumi Honda, Stony Brook University
Fumi Honda is a senior from Stony Brook University majoring in Computer Science with a focus in information assurance. She also double major in Psychology and minor in Business. She hopes her interdisciplinary background will help her become a better security consultant on problems of security trade-offs.
Ashley Huffman, Northern Kentucky University
Ashley Huffman is a dual major at Northern Kentucky University studying Computer Science and Computer Information Technology. She is actively involved with the schools cyber-defense team and information security club along with the schools Women in Informatics group. She hopes to go into the field of information Security after she graduates and is particularly interested in application security and malware analysis.
Cindy Jong, DePaul University
Cindy Jong is studying Information Assurance and Security Engineering at DePaul University. Cindy is originally from Taiwan and she hopes to pursue a career in either application security, or network security. She enjoys reading cyber security books on different topics during her free time; she also enjoys playing video games.
Madison Oliver, Pennsylvania State University
Madison Oliver is a Security and Risk Analysis Major at Penn State’s main campus and has been here throughout her entire undergraduate degree. Madison is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She plans on taking the LSATs this upcoming October to pursue a career in Intellectual Property Law. For fun, she likes to play video games and board games with friends.
Mary Sharp, Marshall University
Imani Sherman, Kentucky State University
Imani is a graduate student at Kentucky State University working towards her Masters in Computer Science Technology with a concentration in Cyber Security. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Dayton. After graduation she plans to pursue a Technology and Public Policy doctoral degree.
Angela Sun, Michigan State University
Angela Sun is a student at Michigan State University studying smartphone systems and security. She has previously interned for Google. In addition to information security, she also has strong interests in business and product management.
Kebra Thompson, University of Washington
Kebra Thompson was a high school math teacher for eighteen years before deciding to return to school and study some exciting applications of math. She is just finishing up an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering and starting on a Masters degree in Computer Science with a focus on Cyber security. She is very interested in math and its applications in cryptography and hopes to use those skills in industry after her graduation.
Stefanye Walkes, California State University, Dominguez Falls
Stefanye Walkes is currently a senior at California State University, Dominguez Hills for a Bachelor’s degree in their Computer Technology, Homeland Security track. After getting her Bachelor’s, she will attend graduate school for a cyber security-related Master’s degree. Career-wise she hopes to do research for the United States’ intelligence community.
Gena Welk, University of Colorado at Boulder
After spending most of her professional career as a stay-at-home mom, Gena is venturing out into the world of technology in pursuit of making computers and data more secure for the humans they serve. She is passionately interested in privacy issues and laws, telecom policies in the US and abroad, and the way the brain is adapting to screen technology and the negative effects it could be having on our children.
Gena is pursuing a Masters Degree in ICTD from the University of Colorado.
Leah Xu, University of Maryland, College Park
Leah Xu is a junior Computer Engineering major at the University of Maryland, College Park who is deeply interested in intersection between technology, humanity, and other industries. She has been conducting cyber security research in an interdisciplinary lab with criminologists and computer scientists for the past two years. She will be spending her summer interning as a program manager at Microsoft on the Azure team and her fall at Google interning as a software engineer on the data infrastructure team at Nest.
Brooke Young, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Brooke is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County majoring in Information Systems, with a concentration in Cyber Security. Brooke has an Associate’s Degree in Information Systems from Montgomery College. She was President of the Computer Science Club, DC-CAP College Representative, and an Intern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Information System Security Branch Office. At the USDA, Brooke became fascinated with Cyber Security and the process of applying security measures to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and security of data. After graduation, she hopes to start a career in network security and risk management and attend graduate school. Brooke is a native of Washington, D.C. She attended The Field School and McKinley Technology High School.
Kira Ullman, Columbia University
Kira is a senior at Columbia University majoring in Math and Computer Science. She grew up in Washington, DC, and attended Sidwell Friends High School. She is hoping to get a job in cyber security and is thrilled to be an SWSIS awardee!
Veronica (Nick) Manfredi, Wellesley College
Nick Manfredi is a senior at Wellesley College, majoring in computer science with a focus in information security. After graduation, Nick plans to attend graduate school.
Nicholette Fortune, Rochester Institute of Technology
Nicholette is a rising senior at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a double major in Information Security and Forensics, and Criminal Justice. After graduation she hopes to find employment doing either Cyber Security or Digital/Network Forensics. Although originally from Trinidad in the Caribbean, she is a native of Brooklyn, NY where she attended Midwood High School at Brooklyn College.
Katareena Geller, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Victoria Lentz, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Victoria Lentz is a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County studying computer science with a concentration in information assurance. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in digital forensics. She is a native of Ellicott City, MD where she attended Howard High School.
Trang Nguyen, Columbus State University
Trang Nguyen is a graduate student at Columbus State University, where she is working towards her Masters in Computer Science, with a focus in information assurance. Her bachelor’s in biochemistry was received from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After graduation, she is looking into working in industry or pursuing a PhD where she could focus on biometric cyber security. She’s a native of Columbus, GA, where she went to Columbus High School.
Sherri Pearlman, National University
Sherri Pearlman is a senior at National University where she is majoring in Cyber Security with a focus in Information Assurance. After graduation she plans to get a job in the industry, where she hopes to work in Network Security.
Jessica Pease, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo
Jessie is a Senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is majoring in Computer Science with a focus in security. This fall she will be studying abroad at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden in the School of Computer Science and Communication. After graduation, she plans to work in industry where she hopes to work on privacy engineering. She’s a native of Elk Grove, CA where she went to Laguna Creek High School. Jessie is a Senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She is majoring in Computer Science with a focus in security. This fall she will be studying abroad at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden in the School of Computer Science and Communication. After graduation, she plans to work in industry where she hopes to work on privacy engineering. She’s a native of Elk Grove, CA where she went to Laguna Creek High School.
Abisola Togunde, Eastern Michigan University
Abisola Togunde is a senior at Eastern Michigan University. She is majoring in Information Assurance, with a concentration in Management. After graduation, she plans to get a job in industry, where she hopes to focus on network security and risk management. She’s a native of Ithaca, NY, however she attended Eaton Rapids High School in Eaton Rapids, MI.
Christa Cox, Bradley University
Geneva Capos, California State University, Northridge
Geneva Capos is a senior at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). She’s majoring in Information Technology and minoring in Sociology. Her hometown is Granite Bay, California where she went to Granite Bay High School and competed in varsity swimming and water polo. She was recruited to CSUN to play water polo. Interests in crime, computers and helping people lead her to the Information Security world. She is the president of the computer security club Layer 8 on her campus. Geneva is rejoining the water polo team after a 2-year retirement taken primarily to focus on schoolwork and studying computer security. That time off allowed her to become more involved with the Layer 8 club. With Layer 8 she has attended several security conferences and conventions, competed in several security competitions such as picoCTF, NCL (National Cyber League), CCDC (Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition) qualifiers, CCDC invitational, and attended the USCC (US Cyber Challenge) San Jose Summer Camp. Currently she is an intern at the Aerospace Corporation in the Information Security Department. After graduating from CSUN, she plans on going to graduate school to expand her security knowledge. Following that, she hopes to pursue a career in cyber security and help protect people against technological threats.
- What does the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security mean to me? August 26, 2016Each year in co-sponsorship with Applied Computer Security Associates (ACSA) and the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), CRA-W/ACSA presents the Scholarship for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS) to 10-15 women in their undergraduate or Master’s studies. This year a SWSIS 2016 recipient shared her experience in the Information Security field and what it means to receive this scholarship. […]
- New America Foundation Blog Series – Humans of Cybersecurity July 8, 2016The New America Foundation has started a new series of blog posts about women in cybersecurity. Among the first are two SWSIS winners, writing about their careers and how they've become interested in cybersecurity. Read about Priya Chawla and Jill Jermyn. The blog is called Humans of Cybersecurity.
- What the SWSIS Scholarship Means to Me December 18, 2014Receiving the SWSIS Scholarship means more to me than just the financial support. Receiving the recognition and support of the ACSA makes me feel even more determined to complete my degree in Computer Science with an emphasis in Security. This fall, I have the opportunity to study abroad in Stockholm, Sweden where I will also […]
- SWSIS scholarship helped me to start my career in cyber security March 11, 2014I was selected for the SWSIS scholarship during an unsettled time in my life. I just started graduate school at Columbia University after a career change, and although I was greatly interested in information security, I didn’t quite know how I wanted to apply it to my future plans. I received a great deal of […]
- How the ACSA Scholarship has helped me March 6, 2014After learning that I was receiving the SWSIS from ACSA in 2012, I was ecstatic and very grateful. I was studying to complete my Bachelor in Computer Science with a Concentration on Computer Security at Towson University in the next year. I had experience with an internship with a defense contracting firm, however I was […]
- Welcoming past SWSIS winners! February 24, 2014Welcoming past SWSIS winners! It’s my pleasure to welcome posts from past SWSIS winners. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see postings from some of the talented young women who were helped in their education by SWSIS scholarships. Join me in congratulating them – and I hope you’ll join them in applying for SWSIS scholarships! — […]
- What the SWSIS scholarship has meant to me… February 24, 2014I was honored and very grateful to receive the SWSIS from ACSA in 2012. By allowing me to focus full-time on my studies, the scholarship is helping make possible the completion of my Masters in Computer Science at UCLA. I’ve been exposed to many facets of information security while at school, and I interned at […]