Fast-track your cybersecurity career for free with the SANS Institute scholarship competition

Compete in a two-day Capture-the-Flag event for the chance to win a scholarship worth $22,000 from the world’s largest and most trusted cybersecurity college.

Register for Winter intake

Registration for the Winter intake is open.


The fastest and most cost-effective route to your online cybersecurity degree

Cybersecurity can appear a daunting industry to navigate. The barriers to entry may seem too high and employer-desired skills and certificates are expensive to attain. That is why the SANS Institute launched the Cyber FastTrack scholarship competition designed to accelerate and support students with an interest in and passion for cybersecurity.

To qualify, college students from across the United States are invited to take part in a two-day Capture-the-Flag competition. If you prove yourself by landing among the top scorers, you'll be invited to apply for a full scholarship to the accredited Undergraduate Certificate in Applied Cyber Security program. Those who enter the program will learn everything they'll need to launch a successful cybersecurity career by taking four highly-in-demand SANS immersion courses and earning three industry-recognized GIAC certifications. And it will all be for free!

Before Cyber FastTrack, I hadn't considered a career in cybersecurity. The program helped me discover I had an aptitude for cybersecurity and I am now working as an Information Security Analyst and love it!

Kathleen Bodi, 2019 Scholarship Winner

Watch our free information session

Join us for a free on-demand information session. Hear from Cyber FastTrack creator James Lyne on what the competition looks like, Kim Kafka on the structure of the SANS scholarship and a previous scholarship winner on his Cyber FastTrack experience.

Watch now

This program sparked a hidden interest of mine in cyber security and I'm sure it has for other students across the nation.

Previous CFT student


Compete in our free scholarship competition and begin your cybersecurity courses in the first quarter of 2021. There isn't a faster path to industry.


Cyber FastTrack is the only program that will accelerate your entry into the cybersecurity profession without costing you a dime. Prove your skills and we will provide the rest.


Compete in Cyber FastTrack online in your free time alongside your current degree or other commitments. The entire Cyber FastTrack program can be completed while you continue your existing studies and commitments.


The SANS Undergraduate Certificate in Applied Cyber Security will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to master critical cybersecurity skills and earn GIAC certifications. Companies and government agencies have invested in SANS courses and GIAC certifications for more than 100,000 of their cybersecurity employees. They trust the courses and the people who have earned GIAC certifications. With Cyber FastTrack you can get the same real-world, up-to-date training and GIAC certifications and bring them to prospective employers to set yourself apart from other candidates.

Is Cyber FastTrack for me?

Whether you're still working on your degree or have recently graduated - you can take part in Cyber FastTrack! You don't need any prior cybersecurity experience, just a passion and enthusiasm to take on our challenges.

Students not yet employed in cybersecurity are eligible to apply for full scholarships. Those already employed in cybersecurity for less than 12 months may be eligible for partial scholarships.

Find our full scholarship eligibility criteria here.

Take on the challenge

Test your security skills in an intense two-day Capture-the-Flag event created by experts at the SANS Technology Institute.

Evaluate your skills across various security disciplines

During the competition, your knowledge will be tested across many security topics. Are you a binary exploitation expert? Maybe forensics is your forte? Whatever your background knowledge and experience, there will be fun challenges exploring topics ranging from offensive to reversing and crypto!

Race to the top of the leaderboard

The competition is run in a jeopardy style format with challenges organized into categories of difficulty. Target the advanced challenges for higher points or solve our easy challenges to put points on the board. Whatever your technique, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your position on our live leaderboard.

Play on our unique Capture-the-Flag platform

Immerse yourself in our Tomahawque platform where for 48 hours you will be addicted to the leaderboard, engrossed by our unique challenge briefings, and earn poised to earn progress badges!

Number of players from the Spring intake

CFT players

Top scoring players from Spring intake

CFT podium

For a deeper look, visit the

Hall of Fame

Cyber FastTrack has been my first opportunity to practice some of the technical concepts hands on.

Alex Baker, Cyber FastTrack student

Apply for a scholarship

During 2020, 100 top-performing eligible students will win a scholarship to study at the SANS Technology Institute.

Learn from a world leader in cybersecurity education!

While studying at the SANS Technology Institute, you'll investigate issues that affect complex and interconnected IT systems, learn to combat common threats to valuable data, and emerge with hands-on skills that employers are seeking.

Flexible learning

Earn your undergraduate cybersecurity certificate in 9 to 16 months while working full-time or pursuing another degree. You can complete the program entirely online or through a mixture of online courses and in-person events across the country. The choice and the flexibility are yours.

Complement your degree

The whole Cyber FastTrack program and the resulting scholarship can be completed alongside your existing studies and commitments, so there is nothing to lose by signing up and giving it your best!

CyberStart laptop
CyberStart student

Think carefully about which intake you want to compete in. If you're successful, you must take your scholarship in line with your intake date. The program has three intakes, so you have three opportunities to gain a scholarship! Scroll down to check the dates.

Program dates

There is one final chance to take part in 2020

Spring 2020 - CLOSED

Register: February 10 - March 22

CTF: March 26 (00:00 UTC) - March 27 (23:59 UTC)

Scholarship Application Phase: April 2 - April 30

Scholarships Announced: June 1 Program Begins: July 1

Summer 2020 - CLOSED

Register: Until September 11

CTF: September 15 (12:00 EST) - September 17 (12:00 EST)

Scholarship Application Phase: September 28 - October 28

Scholarships Announced: November 30 Program Begins (Three intakes): January 1 - March 1

Winter 2020 - OPEN NOW

Full list of intake dates to be announced soon.

Cyber FastTrack is the most immersive and challenging CTF I’ve found! Most are focused on either hacking, forensics, or programming but Cyber FastTrack covers all three.

Joshua Levine, Cyber FastTrack student

Your questions answered

What are the criteria to be eligible for a scholarship?

While all students can participate in the Capture-the-Flag (CTF) event for fun, to be eligible for the full scholarship to the SANS Technology Institute you must be:

  • 18 or older on February 10, 2020.
  • A US citizen or permanent resident.
  • A current student who has completed at least 48 college credits or a recent (after Aplril 2018) graduate of a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Students not yet employed in cybersecurity. Those already employed in cybersecurity for less than 12 months may be eligible for partial scholarships.

Note: Students who are previous recipients of a Cyber FastTrack or other SANS Institute scholarships may participate in the CTF event but are not eligible to receive a 2020 scholarship.

What equipment will I need?

To take part in the CTF event, you'll need access to a laptop or desktop with a Virtual Machine (VM) installed. To prepare yourself, we recommend that you download a VM on to your machine and checking it works before the CTF opens so you're prepared.

How do you determine who gets a scholarship?

After the CTF competition, we will invite the top-performing, eligible students to complete a scholarship application. We will review applications holistically looking not only at scores from the CTF but also academic history, responses to application questions, and the potential impact the scholarship could have on a student’s career. If you aren’t selected in this intake, don’t give up! Come back and try again in the next round.

When does the Capture-the-Flag event start?

You will have 48 hours to complete the challenges in the CTF. Dates are yet to be confirmed, so check back soon!

How can I prepare for the Capture-the-Flag event?

There are many free resources available on the Internet to improve your cybersecurity skills. We will be recommending our preferred resources via email in the run up to the next competition. Make sure you are registered for the next intake to receive these exclusive hints and tips!

Cyber FastTrack has been my first opportunity to practice some of the technical concepts hands on.

Alex Baker, 2019 Scholarship Winner

About us

Cyber FastTrack is a free, online scholarship competition created by experts at the SANS Institute, the most trusted cybersecurity college and provider of information security training, cybersecurity certifications, and research. The program aims to provide thousands of students with the opportunity to enter the cybersecurity industry.

Our mission

To rapidly eliminate the cybersecurity skills gap in the United States by providing scholarships for students with an innate talent for cybersecurity to study at the SANS Technology Institute.

Our impact to date

  • Over 15,000 students have taken part in Cyber FastTrack.
  • 200 students have each received $500 in scholarships.
  • 100 students have each received a scholarship to study the undergraduate certificate in Applied Cybersecurity at the SANS Technology Institute.

During 2020

  • At least 60 students will receive a full scholarship worth $22,000.
  • A total of $2.2 million in scholarships will be awarded.
  • You have one remaining chance to take part.
CFT rocket taking of on its mission

About the SANS Technology Institute

Founded in 2005, the SANS Technology Institute (STI) is the nation's first accredited and VA-approved all-cyber university and the world's largest and most trusted provider of cybersecurity training, certification, and research. STI offers graduate and undergraduate programs at the cutting edge of cybersecurity, SANS is strengthening the cyber workforce through a career-focused curriculum built on proven SANS courses and industry-recognized GIAC certifications.

If you need any additional information or further assistance please email us at: and we'll be happy to help.