11/26/2012 01:21 pm ET Updated Jan 26, 2013

University Of Tulsa Offers Course Training Students In Online Espionage

Flickr: Abode of Chaos

James Gilbert | Elite.

The University of Tulsa in Oklahoma is offering a two-year course that trains students in online espionage, for those looking to pursue a career with the CIA, National Security Agency or Secret Service.

Students in the online espionage course are learning how to write computer viruses, hack networks, crack passwords and mine data from a range of digital devices.

The Cyber Corps program places 85 percent of its graduates with the NSA, known to students as "the fraternity, " or the CIA, which they refer to as "the sorority."

Sujeet Shenoi, an Indian immigrant to the U.S., founded the program at Tulsa's Institute for Information Security in 1998 and continues to lead the teaching, the LA Times reported.

"I throw them into the deep end," Shenoi told the LA Times. "And they become fearless."

Students are taught with a mixture of classroom theory and practical field work. Each is assigned to a police crime lab on campus to apply their skills to help recover evidence from digital devices.

Much of their work involves gathering evidence against pedophiles, with several students having posed as children on the internet to lure predators into stings, similar to that shown on Dateline NBC with Chris Hansen.

His students, also, however, helped solve a triple murder in 2003 by hacking an email account that linked the killer with his victims.

Students in the program also worked with the Secret Service to develop new techniques for extracting data from damaged smartphones, GPS devices and other digital devices.

The NSA in May named Tulsa as one of four centers of academic excellence in cyber operations, alongside Northeastern University in Boston, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. and Dakota State University in Madison, S.D.

"Tulsa students show up to NSA with a lot of highly relevant hands-on experience," said Neal Ziring, a senior NSA official.

"There are very few schools that are like Tulsa in terms of having participation with law enforcement, with industry, with government."

Applicants to Tulsa's program, who have ranged in age from 17 to 63, must be U.S. citizens eligible for security clearance of "top secret" or higher.

Many are military veterans or others looking to start second careers, usually people who are working towards degrees in computer science, engineering, law or business.