Best Online Associate in Network Security Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleAssociatein Network Security2017
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Modern computer networks are remarkable tools for communication and collaboration, but they also are rife with vulnerabilities, and frequently exploited through hacking, viruses, identity theft, and fraud. A network security degree puts you at the forefront of the fight against cybercrime, and trains you to secure computer networks and protect them against unauthorized intrusions. The increased threat of cyberattacks has created a massive demand for information security analysts, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow by 18% between 2014-2024. If you’re interested in pursuing a network security degree online, the schools in this ranking represent some of the top programs in the country, combining affordability, convenience, and academic excellence.

Time to Complete

1.5 to 2 Years to completion

Credit Hours

60 credits total/30 credits per year

Program Costs

$3,440/year

Core Courses
  • Computer Operating Systems
  • Network Security Management
  • Computer Systems Technology
Concentrations
  • Network security
  • Cyber security
  • Digital forensics
Accreditation

Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Minnesota West Community and Technical College 77.50 59% Granite Falls, MN

MWCTC’s associate degree in information security assurance teaches you how to assess and secure information systems and networks. The 60-credit online program prepares graduates to perform audits and address breaches in order to bring networks into full security compliance. While earning the online associate degree in network security, you will study operating systems, IT customer service, data security awareness, and computer forensics. One noteworthy course is ethical hacking, which is about counteracting the tools hackers use to enter networks.

Admission requirements include a high school diploma or equivalent. Paying for college at MWCTC is made possible through affordable tuition, financial aid such as scholarships and grants, and payment plans for eligible students. MWCTC has articulation agreements with a number of four-year colleges.

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2 Central Texas College 65.50 23% Killeen, TX

CTC offers distance learning that is convenient and flexible, with several campuses in Texas and additional educational opportunities at 25 military installations across the United States. Among the school’s catalog of online degree programs is the associate degree in information security. The 60-credit program produces IT professionals who are able to protect valuable information stored on company computer networks. Study areas include IT Security (CompTIA Security+), systems maintenance, incident response, using project management software, and security management practices.

Students in the network security degree program take a three-credit internship that provides a hands-on application of course content. Classes are delivered through Blackboard. CTC’s online learners have access to support services such as academic advisors, disability services, tutoring through Academic Studio, and an advanced math lab. Admission to the program requires a high school diploma or its equivalent. The school has extensive experience working with military personnel who want to earn a degree.

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3 University of Maine at Fort Kent 64.50 58% Fort Kent, ME

UMFK’s AS in information security prepares students for entry-level positions in information security and related fields, or serves as a pathway to a baccalaureate degree. The 60-credit program includes 29 credits in general education requirements along with major-specific courses in information security, networking, operating systems security, cryptography, and cyber defense. Upon graduating, students should know how to effectively complete projects in information security; how security concepts function in society at large; and how to work as a team to achieve specific outcomes.

Among the career options for graduates of this network security degree include computer security specialist, information security administrator, and information security program director. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED. The school is highly affordable, and active military personnel qualify for in-state tuition.

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4 St Philip's College 52.00 15% San Antonio, TX

Texas-based St. Philip's College offers an associate degree in information assurance and cybersecurity, a 60-credit program that teaches you to design and secure computer networks. Graduates of the program will know how to install security software, address cyber attacks, monitor networks for security breaches, and gather evidence that can be used in criminal prosecutions of cyber crimes. Courses in the online network security degree include networking fundamentals, IT security, Linux installation and configuration, computer virtualization, and computer systems forensics.

Note that some courses in this program are approved by the National Security Administration and and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The online associate degree in network security is delivered via Canvas. Online students also have access to online tutoring, tech support, and technical training.

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5 Georgia Military College 47.50 32% Milledgeville, GA

Students interested in a career in cyber security can enroll in GMC’s online AS in cyber security. The program focuses on four areas: desktop programming, networking, data structures, and cyber information security. The curriculum requires mastery of these core subjects, making students highly marketable to companies seeking professionals with advanced technical skills. The fully online curriculum also includes core courses in areas such as math, the humanities, and natural sciences to facilitate transfer into baccalaureate programs.

GMC has a large number of articulation agreements with four-year colleges around the country, ensuring a seamless transfer of credits into a bachelor’s degree. Admission into the online associate degree in network security requires a high school diploma, technical diploma, or its equivalent. Among the school’s notable features are textbook rentals and a low, flat-rate tuition.

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CAREER PATHS

An online associate degree in network security prepares you for a range of IT and digital security positions, from network administration to network security to technical support. Generally, these positions require you to develop and maintain network systems, monitor their operation, and assist other employees with network troubleshooting and operations. To succeed in network security, you need problem solving skills, attention to detail, communication skills, and knowledge of the latest developments in networking technology.

Network Support Specialist

By supporting IT employees within an organization, network support specialists assist with networking software and hardware. While an associate degree is often adequate for these positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree.

Median Annual Salary – $52,160
Projected Growth Rate – 12%

Information Security Analyst

These employees protect networks and computer systems against cyberattacks and other unauthorized intrusions. More advanced analysts may also design network security systems and protocols, though these higher-paying positions usually require at least a bachelor’s degree.

Median Annual Salary – $92,600
Projected Growth Rate – 18%

Network Systems Administrator

Systems administrators perform the vital work of maintaining day-to-day operations of computer networks. They manage system organization and address networking problems as they arise, ensuring a network’s functionality.

Median Annual Salary – $79,700
Projected Growth Rate – 8%

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

Many colleges allow you to apply transfer credits from your online associate degree in network security toward a bachelor’s degree, which can increase your career options and your earning potential. Depending on the school and the degree you pursue, you may be able to complete your baccalaureate network security degree with less than two years of additional study. Many higher-level positions in the field, such as cyber security analysts or network security engineers, typically require at least a bachelor’s degree.

  • Computer Forensics: This degree emphasizes investigating and preventing cybercrime, and examines the field from both a technical and legal perspective. Coursework includes data analysis, digital evidence and forensics, and network intrusion detection.
  • Information Assurance: Students in these programs develop strategies for safeguarding digital information at businesses and other organizations. The degree highlights the design and maintenance of digital information systems and safeguards.
  • IT Network Administration: The network administration degree prepares students for careers as network server administrators, overseeing network development and management for businesses. This comprehensive degree includes topics in data management, security, programming, operating systems.

Along with experience and education, location also has an impact on average salary for graduates of online network security degree programs. The following table collects data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showcasing the differences in median salary by U.S. state. The highest-paying states are on the East Coast, with California rounding out the top five.

Network Support Specialist Salary by Location

State Average Salary
District of Columbia $89,460
Massachusetts $83,410
New Jersey $83,260
Connecticut $79,600
California/td>

$77,690

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Network security professionals have several options to participate in trade groups and associations. Many organizations offer membership opportunities to both students and working professionals, allowing access to resources such as workshops, conferences, professional certification training, career services, and networking opportunities. Joining one or more of these organizations is a great way to develop professionally, and to pursue greater opportunities for your career.

Earning a network security online degree is certain to increase your earning potential, but it’s still important to understand the different options for financing your education. One of your first steps should be to complete the FAFSA, which determines your eligibility for federal funding sources such as grants, scholarships, work study opportunities, and loans. Online research can also help you locate scholarships specifically intended for students pursuing network security degrees. Other funding opportunities may be available for students with certain backgrounds or who are pursuing certain career paths.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.