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PLTW Expands Program with Cybersecurity Course

With the support of the White House, PLTW announced today that it is expanding its K-12 computer science pathway to empower students with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in our evolving world. Among the exciting updates is a year-long high school course focused on cybersecurity.


Cybersecurity is a national security issue that affects everyone in personal ways. A survey released in May 2014 by the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by IBM, showed that personal information of almost half of the nation's adults — 110 million Americans — was hacked in the previous 12 months. Businesses across sectors are grappling with how to protect their customers and employees. Stakeholders in the financial services industry report that cyber risk is a top concern, even above geopolitical risk and impact of new regulations.

As a result, careers in cybersecurity are fast-growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the demand for information security analysts will increase by 37 percent between 2012 and 2022, but industry demand is quickly outpacing the supply of workers with the necessary skills and expertise. In a recent article, Yahoo’s Chief Information Officer Alex Stamos described it as “pretty much impossible to hire” people with the background in cybersecurity that his company needs.

Development of PLTW’s cybersecurity course is underway. PLTW is working closely with the Security Advisor Alliance (SAA), a cybersecurity nonprofit founded and guided by chief information security officers (CISOs). The governing board of the SAA includes technology leaders from companies such as GE, PNC, Optiv, Starbucks, MasterCard, Express Scripts, and Forrester Research. In the next two years, more than 40 schools across the country will have an opportunity to pilot PLTW’s cybersecurity course before it rolls out to the entire PLTW network in 2018-19. It will be the fourth in PLTW’s sequence of high school courses:

  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Computer Science Principles
  • Computer Science A
  • Cybersecurity

Other PLTW Computer Science Courses for 9-12

Introduction to Computer Science (ICS), the first course of the PLTW Computer Science program, provides an introduction to creating with code. Students learn to write programs in two languages, starting with a drag-and-drop environment and progressing to Python.

Computer Science Principles (formerly known as Computer Science and Software Engineering) aligns with the Advanced Placement course framework by the same name. Students make Scratch animations and Android apps, and create programs with Python to manipulate images and visualize large data sets.

PLTW’s third Computer Science program course, Computer Science A (formerly known as Computer Science Applications), is currently being pilot-tested by high schools across the country. In this advanced course aligned to the AP Computer Science A framework, students extend their knowledge of foundational programming language to begin building authentic software applications on the Android platform. Computer Science A will be available to all high schools for the 2016-17 school year.

In addition to the high school Computer Science program, PLTW’s K-12 computer science pathway includes one computer science module per grade for K-5 students, as well as Introduction to Computer Science for middle school students. For more information on PLTW Computer Science or the K-12 pathway, visit or contact a member of the PLTW Solutions Center.