Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses Master


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Register now to our virtual Open Day on October 10th 2020:

Online piracy is a growing and universal concern for people, companies, and governments. As hackers grow more agile, cybersecurity professionals become indispensable to every industry. The rapidly growing demand for high-level cybersecurity experts has inspired l’X to dedicate a full program to it by creating the Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses Master.

The two-year graduate degree fully taught in English, is designed to be professionalizing. While you acquire the tools and techniques during the first year, the second year focuses on the “real world” application. Throughout the two years, students also get the opportunity to connect with industries, thanks to two internships and on-the-ground experience with researchers from l’X and visiting lecturers.

Students from the Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses Master train to manage cybersecurity issues, whether directly or by creating adapted software. After graduating, they can access a wide range of high-level jobs, from security auditors to system developers, to security architects, etc.

Academic Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

Candidates with other degrees may be considered, provided that they have a strong background in the mentioned subjects.

Cybersecurity is concerned with the security and integrity of all the interconnected electronic devices that form our current modern life, from large companies to individuals.

Critical installations including servers, industrial automation, nuclear power stations, cloud computing facilities, and even the basic infrastructure of the internet itself are under constant attack.

Stories of companies being harassed by viruses and malware are frequent; huge amounts of money can easily be stolen, and valuable infrastructure pirated in a few seconds. Often this requires virtually no investment or risk on the part of attackers, which range from individuals to hostile state-sponsored agencies.

Closer to home, everyone now uses smartphones and computers, but we are also using more and more communicating "smart" objects in our everyday lives. Connected to the internet, these essentially render the concrete walls of our homes and businesses as transparent and fragile as glass; every citizen's privacy and way of life are at stake.

The internet culture of rapid development and innovation encourages us (indeed, virtually forces us) to release products and systems that prioritize functionality over safety. We rush to meet new needs and markets, without the time and resources required to ensure that products are safe against current attacks, let alone future hacking techniques and threat scenarios.

Reaching a universal state of security seems impossible, but the problems of security are universal: using your laptop and protecting your own data; enabling and protecting internet access; ensuring the privacy and integrity of communications between individuals and businesses; indeed, even simply ensuring that we are connecting to the service that we think we are, and not a hostile impostor. The technical solutions to these problems involve the methods of modern cryptography.

While the fundamental notions of security (including concepts like 'protection', access restrictions, establishing and verifying identities, and managing and transmitting authority) are common across all sorts of contexts, the reality is that there is no unique way to set up or use connected systems. The simplicity of our expectations as users and designers is confounded by the ultimate complexity and diversity of computer, network, and data architectures. This dialogue between the absolutes of security and the diversity of everyday experiences is at the heart of cybersecurity research and practice.

The Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses program is based on the École Polytechnique's trademark interdisciplinary approach, and provides you with the necessary expertise in all aspects of cybersecurity -- be it hardware or software. It is a complete program for future experts in computer security, and for all activities in which protecting data or privacy is essential. Adapting to new threats and finding new defenses will be your day-to-day challenge.

There is a large gamut of jobs in cybersecurity. For a small list: security auditor, controller or evaluator; security architect; secure systems developer; penetration test expert; security consultant; information system security manager.

Program Structure

Year 1

The first part is concerned with building a common technical background for cybersecurity; adding security to this will be the task of the second period.

First period (mid-September to mid-December)

Four mandatory courses (4x4 ECTS)

  • INF557: From the Internet to the IoT: The Fundamentals of Modern Computer Networking
  • INF558: Introduction to Cryptology
  • INF559: A Programmer's Introduction to Computer Architectures and Operating Systems
  • INF571: Distributed Computing

Two optional courses:

  • INF553: Database Management Systems
  • INF554: Machine learning I

One management course (4 ECTS):

  • MIE556: Introduction to Marketing and Strategy

Second period (January to March)

Three mandatory courses:

  • INF568: Advanced Cryptology
  • INF565: Information Systems Security
  • INF586: Network Security

One optional course:

  • INF563: Introduction to Information Theory

One management course (4 ECTS):

  • MIE562: Case Study on Innovation

One Foreign language module (French language module for non-French speaking students) 3 ECTS

Two modules of Humanities and French Culture (HFC551, HFC552; HFC561 or HFC562) 3 ECTS

Sport 2 ECTS

Third period (March to June/August)

INF591: Research project or company internship 19 ECTS

Year 2

  • Formal methods for security
  • Blockchain and applications
  • Biometry
  • Steganography and Watermarking
  • Network Security
  • Side channels attacks
  • Auditing techniques
  • Security of Industrial Systems

6-month internship in a cybersecurity company 19 ECTS

Application requirements and deadlines

Applicants must hold or expect to hold a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science prior to the beginning of the program.

English Language requirements

Applicants must demonstrate full English-language proficiency. The tests that we accept are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ibt), and the following Cambridge General English Tests: First (FCE), Advanced (CAE) and Proficiency (CPE).

The minimum scores required are:

  • TOEFL IBT 90
  • IELTS 6.5
  • Cambridge Test - First (FCE) Grade B - 176

Scores must date no earlier than two years prior to the start of the program.

List of supporting documents needed

No paper copies are needed for the admission review process. If you are admitted, you may be required to submit official or certified hard copies before the start of the program. Supporting documents include:

  • Scanned copies of transcripts of all previous post-secondary education (including exchange programs and programs you did not complete)
  • Official document or letter from your university explaining the grading and ranking system
  • For completed programs: scanned copies of degrees
  • For programs still in progress: certificate of enrolment by your home university stating the title of the expected degree and date of completion. This document must prove that you are at least in your final year of undergraduate studies.
  • Personal Statement. Minimum: approximately 700 words, in French or English. Please use the form provided in the online application system.
  • Contact details for two referees (names, positions & emails). A letter of recommendation form will be sent directly to them.
  • CV or resume, without any biographical gaps, maximum: 2 pages, in French or English;
  • Copy of passport (or ID card for European students)
  • Copy of TOEFL/IELTS (taken less than 2 years before)

Application deadlines

  • Round 1: 4th November 2020 to 4th December 2020
  • Round 2: 12th January 2021 to 12th March 2021
  • Round 3: 23rd March 2021 to 23rd April 2021

Tuition fees & Estimated Expenses

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are €15,000 per academic year.

Health Insurance

Please note that registration with a health insurance scheme is compulsory in France when you enroll at a Higher Education Institution.

If you come from any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland and are already registered with a national health insurance provider, you must apply for the European health insurance card. This card is free and will give you access to state-provided healthcare during your stay in France under the same conditions and at the same cost as nationals.

Students from Quebec are exempt from joining the French Student Social Security upon presentation of Form #SE401Q106.

Room & Board

Ecole Polytechnique is pleased to provide accommodation on campus for all graduate degree students who apply before June 30th.

The rent is 617 euros per month (including housing insurance). You will also be required to pay a security deposit of 617 euros upon arrival. All residences are equipped with a shared-kitchen but you may also have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our university restaurant from Monday to Saturday. A lunch meal costs approximately 2 to 4 euros thanks to our student discount rate. Monthly expenses for meals usually range from 200 to 350 euros.

Financial aid

Students receive assistance from the Housing Office to apply for the French National Housing Benefit "CAF". Students usually obtain a financial aid of 150-200 euros per month.

All our students receive the ISIC card (International Student Identity Card) automatically and for free. They gain preferential and discounted access to over 150,000 products, services, and experiences relevant to all aspects of student life.

Additional scholarship opportunities can be found at CampusFrance website (e.g. French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development for international students). Please note that the French scholarship "CROUS" is not compatible with our degree.

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

École Polytechnique is a leading French institute which combines top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its curriculum promotes a culture of excel ... Read More

École Polytechnique is a leading French institute which combines top-level research, academics, and innovation at the cutting-edge of science and technology. Its curriculum promotes a culture of excellence with a strong emphasis on science, anchored in humanist traditions. The school produces socially responsible professionals who excel in leading complex and innovative projects which address current and future challenges facing our society. Read less