Virginia universities and AWS announce cloud computing degree

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George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College announced a new degree in cloud computing on Tuesday in partnership with Amazon Web Services’ Educate program.

“This degree is the first of its kind to offer students a seamless transfer pathway from a 2-year associates degree to a 4-year associates bachelor’s degree in the cloud,” according to an announcement from AWS.

The new degree program, set to launch in fall 2020, builds off an existing associate degree in cloud computing offered by Northern Virginia Community College, or NOVA. That degree, launched in fall 2018, is designed to lead students to a bachelor’s degree at GMU.

The institutions say the program, which was developed with input from local businesses, will allow students to develop technical skills that will help them pursue careers in emerging technologies, including cloud architecture, cybersecurity and software development.

“We are proud to be part of a collaboration that is working to expand Virginia’s tech talent pipeline,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of GMU. “This degree pathway marks the beginning of a ground-breaking initiative that will deliver innovative educational opportunities to students across the Commonwealth.”

Competency in cloud computing has become a highly sought after skill by many businesses. For the past four years, LinkedIn has named cloud computing as the number one skill sought by employers in the U.S.

“Developing a cloud-ready workforce is an urgent challenge and an incredible opportunity,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of AWS Worldwide Public Sector.

Northern Virginia, in particular, is home to one of the largest concentrations of IT jobs in the nation. According to CompTIA’s 2019 Cyberstates report, tech employment in Virginia has grown by 27,700 jobs since 2010 and the technology industry accounts for more than 10 percent of the state’s total workforce.

“Now, graduates will have the opportunity to seek employment as entry-level cloud professionals or opt for a seamless transition to [GMU] where they can continue to hone their skills and pursue specialized training in cloud computing,” said Mel Schiavelli, NOVA’s interim president.