Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

College of Engineering and Technology

Committee Member

Suleiman Ashur, PhD

Committee Member

Munther Abualkibash, PhD

Committee Member

Julie Becker, PhD

Committee Member

Huei Lee, PhD


There is a lack of interest in young students in pursuing a career in cybersecurity. Defining potential traits that could identify an interested student could help fill the national shortage of cybersecurity professionals. This study examines the relationship between computer self-efficacy, emotional intelligence, and an interest in a cybersecurity career of high school students in Southeast Michigan. It also attempts to determine if a student’s participation in STEM events and the location of the student’s school are significant moderating factors. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a sample of 280 students in Grades 9 through 12 who attended school at either an early/middle college program or a public high school in the Midwest. The survey contained questions regarding emotional intelligence, computer self-efficacy, STEM involvement, cybersecurity career interest, and demographics. The analysis revealed computer self-efficacy does have a relationship with cybersecurity career interest. A higher computer self-efficacy score indicates a stronger interest in a career in cybersecurity. Emotional intelligence also has a relationship with a student’s interest in a cybersecurity career. This study found that the lower the emotional intelligence score, the stronger the interest in a career in cybersecurity. The study also attempted to analyze whether a student participating in a STEM event impacted the relationships emotional intelligence and computer self-efficacy had with an interest in a cybersecurity career. When splitting the data, the sample became too small for meaningful interpretation. Skewed responses on the student’s school location limited analysis on whether the location of the school impacted the interest in a career in cybersecurity. A small sample size hindered some analysis; however, the sample did provide some insight. This research may have overreached in assuming students understand what cybersecurity entails. Future research should attempt to increase the sample or look at whether a high school student understands what cybersecurity encompasses. This paper discusses the limitations of the study and provides some directions for future research.