Introduction to Cybersecurity: From Securing Systems to Ethical Hacking

Earn a Certificate of Completion.

Upon hearing the word cybersecurity, people either envision a hacker in a dark room with a screen full of text, or the latest notice that their information has been compromised. Is that cybersecurity? Yes! However, that’s only part of it. Cybersecurity is defined by the US Government as the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.

Students will come to understand cybersecurity from the perspective of the security experts, companies, government, individuals, and yes even hacker.

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Combined coursework of recorded lectures, readings, assignments and chat-room discussions is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in two to four weeks.

Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program. International applicants must demonstrate English proficiency.

Recent high school graduates, students taking a gap year or time off from college and are older than 18 can request an exemption to apply by emailing and include a short paragraph (no more than 200 words) stating your interest and how this program will add value to your academic or career plans.

$1990 USD
$35 application fee


Featured Topics

  • Cybersecurity in the real world
  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Security Standards and Frameworks
  • Internet of Things
  • Ethical hacking

Learning Outcomes
Following the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the core principles of cybersecurity
  • Be able to conduct cyber risk assessments
  • Be knowledgeable of various cybersecurity frameworks and standards
  • Understand the risks, vulnerabilities, and threats resulting from connected devices i.e. Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Develop basic ethical hacking skills.

Format and Course Length
The course consists of recorded lectures, academic exercises, research assignments, labs, and discussions. Students will explore the many facets of cybersecurity. Each module is composed of topics woven together to give a complete picture of cybersecurity.

Combined coursework of recorded lectures, readings, assignments and chat-room discussions is approximately 20-25 -hours to be completed at the student’s own pace. Students are expected to complete the course in two to four weeks.


Darin Gray
Dr. Darin Gray Co-Director of the USC Viterbi School K-12 STEM Center
USC Viterbi School of Engineering

In this course, you’ll be taking class with USC Viterbi School of Engineering faculty member, Dr. Darin Gray. As the Co-Director of the K-12 STEM Center, Darin oversees Center operations and partnerships with local schools and school districts. He forges new partnerships with STEM organizations within and outside of the University, writes proposals for STEM grants and develops, implements and oversees data driven program evaluations.

After graduating from USC, Darin worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company’s Advanced Circuit Technology Lab where he designed analog to digital converters for the Radar Systems Group. After leaving Hughes, Darin worked for 25 years for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Adult and Career Education as a mathematics instructor and as a coordinator for an alternative high school. He has been at USC Viterbi for over 23 years and prior to being the Co-Director, he was the STEM Coordinator responsible for program support, curricula development and teacher professional development. He teaches an introduction to engineering course, Discover Engineering, for the USC Summer Programs office. Darin is also a sergeant in the California State Guard where he serves as a Cyber Security trainer for the CA National Guard.


Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants who submit a completed application can expect an admission decision within 3 – 5 business days.

  • Include basic contact information from you and your parent(s) or guardian.
  • Tell us why you want to take the course and a little about yourself through a short-answer essay.
  • Share a piece of writing, video or social media content that reveals something about yourself (optional).
  • Submit the $35 application fee.
  • Students must be at least 14 years old or older and enrolled in a high school or secondary program.


In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants are expected to be proficient in English. International students who successfully complete an online course will receive a digital Certificate of Completion and by request a USC Pre-College Program transcript at no additional cost.


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Monday, April 10, 2023Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Monday, April 24, 2023Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Monday, May 8, 2023Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Monday, May 22, 2023Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Monday, June 12, 2023Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Monday, June 26, 2023Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Monday, July 10, 2023Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Monday, July 24, 2023Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Monday, August 7, 2023Wednesday, August 2, 2023


Application fees are nonrefundable. All course cancellations requests must be made in writing to Any tuition paid to the university will be refunded, not including fees, if requested no more than three (3) days past the course start date. Requests to drop the course more than three (3) days after the start date will not be eligible for a refund.

The university will not refund tuition for Pre-College Online Exploration courses for students who are removed from the program due to a violation of our Letter of Understanding for Online Participation and our Student Code of Conduct.


USC Pre-College Programs is proud to honor full scholarships for our Online Exploration Courses to students enrolled in the summer session of the USC Leslie and William Morrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative (USC NAI). Qualified and interested students who are enrolled in grades 9-12 can send an email for application and enrollment instructions to