WiCyS Security Training Scholarship

In partnership with the SANS Institute, WiCyS is proud to offer the Security Training Scholarship made possible by WiCyS Tier 1 Partners and Premier Supporters.

The WiCyS Security Training Scholarship made possible by WiCyS Tier 1 Partners and Premier Supporters is a multi-staged scholarship opportunity for WiCyS members. Those selected will participate in a reliable pathway to launch and advance in their cybersecurity careers through skills development. The focus of this scholarship is to award WiCyS members who are seeking cybersecurity employment within the next 1.5 years. The program is designed for students and/or career changers!

Build and leverage the power of community. During each stage of the scholarship, a cohort is established with mentors and peers to help guide and support recipients. This powerful network will be there through every step of the scholarship experience to lean in on. The collective strength of all involved is priceless. 

Graduates of the program will be ready to pursue careers in cybersecurity!

All WiCyS members, over age 18, are invited to apply.  This training program is composed of multiple stages. Each stage has specific criteria. Throughout the program, continuation to the next stage is based on performance in the previous stage and application data.

What Makes this Program Unique:

  • Finds hidden cybersecurity talent
  • Elevates those with aptitude, grit, and determination
  • Empowers all participants with real-world skills they can continue to build upon
  • Changes lives by enabling final-stage participants to start cybersecurity jobs in less than a year of completion
  • Provides direct impact on the cybersecurity workforce by launching careers
  • Builds on the powerful diversity of thought and increases DEI in cybersecurity
  • If your company/organization is interested in being a premier supporter of the Security Training Scholarship, please fill out the form at the link below: 


Stage 1: SANS Beginner-level CTF

All eligible applicants will be invited to participate in the SANS Beginner-level CTF. This beginner-level CTF is a fun and exciting way to practice cybersecurity skills in a friendly environment. This multi-disciplined Capture the Flag system has over 28 content packs and a variety of engaging challenges for participants to discover their strengths while challenging their limits. If new to cybersecurity, Beginner-level CTF is a great place to start as it teaches while challenges are being solved with an integrated hint system.

At the end of Stage 1: 250 candidates will advance to Stage 2

Next Stage/Stage 2  Selection Criteria:

  • Application essay
  • Performance and Engagement in SANS Beginner-level CTF
  • Community engagement in the cohort

Stage 2: CyberStart Game


250 recipients will be invited to participate in the SANS CyberStart Game. This will give participants a chance to demonstrate (and discover) their passion for cybersecurity in an interactive, gamified learning platform. CyberStart Game introduces participants to such topics such as Linux, web attacks, programming, forensics, and more. Full of challenges that will test the persistence and research needed when facing authentic cybersecurity tasks, CyberStart Game builds up participants’ technical skills and creative thinking.

Players become an agent for the virtual Cyber Protection Agency, where they embark on stopping criminal gangs who are using their cyber skills to do damage online. Agents must use various defensive tactics to thwart these cyber criminals’ attempts. The rich narrative, well-designed challenges and user-centric progress system are designed to enable participants to work at their own pace. All players can will earn points as well as dozens of badges to collect as they progress through the Game.

At the end of Stage 2: 100 candidates will advance to Stage 3

Next Stage/Stage 3  Selection Criteria:

  • Application essay
  • Performance during CyberStart Game
  • Community engagement in cohort

Stage 3: CyberGEN.IQ Assessment


100 recipients will be invited to participate in the CyberGEN.IQ Assessment. This will measure participant’s technical aptitude for cybersecurity learning and fundamental skills to gauge potential for moving into the next stage of the program.

At the end of Stage 3: 60+ candidates will advance to Stage 4

Next Stage/Stage 4  Selection Criteria:

  • Performance in CyberGen IQ Assessment
  • Community engagement in cohort

Stage 4: SEC275/Foundations + GFACT


Recipients will be invited to participate in the SEC275/Foundations course + GFACT certification exam. This is an online interactive hands-on learning program that includes 59 modules of foundational material without which students generally struggle in advanced cybersecurity training and in technical cybersecurity roles. Participants will acquire strong understanding of devices and networks work while rapidly progressing into the key concepts of protecting digital components. Additionally, the fundamentals of Windows, Linux and programming in two languages widely used by cybersecurity professionals are taught. The course culminates with active labs that introduce key cybersecurity tools, exploits and mitigation techniques.

These recipients will also be invited to complete the GFACT certification. This certification validates a practitioner’s knowledge of essential foundational cybersecurity concepts. GFACT-certified professionals are familiar with practical skills in computers, technology, and security fundamentals that are needed to kickstart a career in cybersecurity.

At the end of Stage 4: 60+ recipients will be invited to participate in the SANS SEC275: Foundations course + GFACT certification exam.  Recipients will receive a scholarship to the annual WiCyS Conference.

Next Stage/Stage 5  Selection Criteria:

  • Successful completion of Stage 4
  • Community engagement in cohort

Stage 5: Course 2 (SEC401/GSEC) and Course 3 (SEC504/GCIH)


These recipients will dive deeper into their cybersecurity coursework by continuing in advanced SANS training courses along with the opportunity to complete additional certifications.

Course 2: SEC401 Course and GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) certification

SEC401 is an interactive hands-on training course. The following is a sample of the lab activities that students will carry out:

  • Set up a virtual lab environment
  • Conduct tcpdump network analysis
  • Use Wireshark to decode network traffic
  • Crack passwords
  • Use hashing to verify the integrity of digital evidence
  • Analyze networks with hping3 and Nmap
  • Steganography
  • Secure and audit a Windows system against a security template

The GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) certification validates a practitioner’s knowledge of information security beyond simple terminology and concepts. GSEC certification holders are demonstrating that they are qualified for hands-on IT systems roles with respect to security tasks.

  • Active defense, defense in depth, access control & password management
  • Cryptography: basic concepts, algorithms and deployment, and application
  • Defensible network architecture, networking & protocols, and network security
  • Incident handling & response, vulnerability scanning and penetration testing
  • Linux security: structure, permissions, & access; hardening & securing; monitoring & attack detection; & security utilities
  • Security policy, contingency plans, critical controls and IT risk management
  • Web communication security, virtualization and cloud security, and endpoint security
  • Windows: access controls, automation, auditing, forensics, security infrastructure, & securing network services

Course 3: SEC504 Course and GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) certification OR Equivalent Elective aligned with Career Goals

SEC504 is for individuals who lead or are a part of an incident handling team. General security practitioners, system administrators, and security architects will benefit by understanding how to design, build, and operate their systems to thwart attacks. Participants will learn:

  • How to best prepare for an eventual breach
  • The step-by-step approach used by many computer attackers
  • Proactive and reactive defenses for each stage of a computer attack
  • How to identify active attacks and compromises
  • The latest computer attack vectors and how you can stop them
  • How to properly contain attacks
  • How to ensure that attackers do not return
  • How to recover from computer attacks and restore systems for business
  • How to understand and use hacking tools and techniques
  • Strategies and tools to detect each type of attack
  • Application-level vulnerabilities, attacks, and defenses
  • How to develop an incident handling process and prepare a team for battle
  • Legal issues in incident handling

The GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) certification validates a practitioner’s ability to detect, respond, and resolve computer security incidents using a wide range of essential security skills. GCIH certification holders have the knowledge needed to manage security incidents by understanding common attack techniques, vectors and tools, as well as defend against and respond to such attacks when they occur. Areas covered are:


  • Incident Handling and Computer Crime Investigation
  • Computer and Network Hacker Exploits
  • Hacker Tools (Nmap, Nessus, Metasploit and Netcat)

2023 – 2024 Cohort Timeline 

August 1: Launch Webinar Watch the Recording Here

August 2: Applications Open

August 30 at 11:59 pm CT: Applications Close (late applications will not be accepted)

September 1 by 5 pm CT: Notifications for Stage 1 Acceptance Distributed

September 8-10: SANS Beginner-level CTF

September 14 by 5pm CT: Notifications for Stage 2 Acceptance Distributed 

September 18: CyberStart Game Starts

November 20: CyberStart Game Ends

December 1 by 5 pm CT: Notifications for Stage 3 Acceptance Distributed

December 4-9: Stage 4 Application and CyberGen IQ

December 18 by 5 pm CT: Notifications for Stage 4 Acceptance and WiCyS Conference Scholarship Awards

January 8: Stage 4-SEC275/ SANS Foundations Begins

April 14: Stage 4-SEC275/SANS Foundations Ends 

April 11-13: WiCyS Conference

April 15: Stage 5 -First Course Begins

July 14: Stage 5 – First Course Ends

July 15: Stage 5 – Second Course Begins

October 13: Stage 5 – Second Course Ends

WiCyS Security Training Scholarship Program MEDIA:
Read News Release HERE:

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2022-2023 Security Training Scholarship Highlights

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