By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College making strides in cyber; ranks in National Cyber League competition

Read Time 4 Minutes

The National Cyber League concluded the Spring 2024 NCL Competition with participation from 8,017 students and 737 high schools, colleges, and universities from all over the United States and Palm Beach State College ranked 42nd in the competition. 

Established in 2011 by an alliance of public agencies dedicated to developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, the National Cyber League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization aiming to help students develop, practice and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills. The NCL Competition, powered by Cyber Skyline, is a biannual event that enables students to prepare and test themselves against practical cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce, such as identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting and auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks, and additional cyber skill sets.

Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College has been an integral player in the growth and prosperity of Palm Beach County. Our graduates impact every industry and are community and business leaders. With more than 130 programs of study, PBSC offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Nearly 36,000 students enroll annually in onsite, online, live online and hybrid classes at five convenient locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens, and through PBSC Online.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Palm Beach State College has made a remarkable impact in the Spring 2024 Cyber Power Rankings,” stated John Hadley, District Dean of Business & Computer Science at Palm Beach State College.

“Palm Beach State College’s outstanding performance in these rigorous challenges highlights our commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education and training. We are proud of our students’ dedication, hard work, and achievements.”

The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). Every year, over 10,000 students from more than 500 colleges & universities and 100 high schools across the US participate in the NCL competitions. These rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform. Students had to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest & audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.

Cyber students at Palm Beach State ranked 42th nationally and 18th among eastern colleges for the Spring 2024 competetion. This rank is an improvement from the Fall 2023 seaon when they ranked 57th nationally. This current ranking makes Palm Beach State the Cyber Power Rankings leader among the South Florida colleges.

From a Cyber Pathways Grant to the Cyber Symposium hosted at Palm Beach State’s Lake Worth campus, the college has been stepping it up and making a name for themselves for cybersecurity education in South Florida. The symposium was the latest initiative from PBSC’s growing push into cybersecurity.

In 2023, The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named Palm Beach State College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through 2027. The CAE Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions that offer quality cybersecurity-related degrees and/or certificates and meet rigorous requirements to prepare students for the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

Currently, in PBSC’s Center for Cyber Defense, students are offered a two-year associate degree upon which they can then follow with another two-year program to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Information Management with a concentration in Security and Network Assurance. In Fall 2024, PBSC will expand its existing cybersecurity program with new degrees in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.  “Nationally, we’re having conversations on a skills gap in the field of cybersecurity, said PBSC’s John Hadley. “Our job in admissions is to fill those gaps.”

Additionally, students that participate in the NCL receive valuable performance data through individualized Scouting Reports, which aligns their experience to industry certifications and government standards. With these reports, they are able to showcase tangible evidence of their technical skills to employers.

“NCL is one of the most important venues to reinforce classroom learning,” said NCL Coach and Cybersecurity Instructor at the United States Military AcademyMax Love. “In a traditional classroom setting with slides, lectures, and practical exercises, students can lose focus on the spark of curiosity that drove them to learn more about this field. In the heat of competition, they can find that spark again and suddenly the lessons of the classroom carry a whole new meaning when it helps them overcome the challenge right in front of them.”

Registration for the Fall 2024 NCL Competition is open from Aug. 19 to Oct. 11. The cost to participate is $35, with late registration from Oct. 12 to 15 and a cost increase to $45.

To get more info or join the next competition, visit