Best Online Associate in Security Systems Programs

2018 Badge Best Online Associate Security Systems 2018
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Regardless of one’s level of experience, an online security management associate degree offers contemporary training and the potential for improved earnings. According to PayScale, entry-level security managers earn a median income of approximately $46,000, while those with 10 or more years of experience could earn more than $65,000 a year. Read on for more information about selecting your degree, including curriculum requirements, career opportunities, and financial assistance.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 Palo Alto College 78.1 25% San Antonio, TX

Located in San Antonio, Texas, Palo Alto College enrolls over 9,000 students annually (many of whom come from underserved communities) in career-training and academic programs. This includes distance education options like the online associate of applied science in information security and assurance, which trains students to develop, analyze, and secure computer networks.

The 60-credit degree includes courses like digital forensics, incident response, and Cisco routing protocols and concepts. The program culminates with an internship, facilitated by the college and an employer. The internship experience enables students to build professional relationships and apply specialized concepts and skills while gaining work experience.

All courses for this online security management associate degree can be completed asynchronously. PAC welcomes all students through an open admission process that contains no minimum requirements. Tuition is affordable and distance learners have access to a number of scholarship opportunities, including awards for hispanic and transfer students.

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2 Schoolcraft College 76.6 17% Livonia, MI

Schoolcraft College serves more than 36,000 students every year through career training and professional development courses and programs, many of which are offered online. This includes an online associate of applied science in homeland security that helps students develop the skills necessary to protect their communities from natural and human-made disasters.

Students take 60-64 credits in courses like criminal investigation, understanding terrorism, and intelligence analysis and security management. Homeland security is a rapidly growing field and the Schoolcraft program prepares graduates for earning advanced degrees or careers as first responders, aviation security officers, and cybersecurity specialists.

Schoolcraft's offers its online associate degree in security management as a hybrid program. Students are required to attend certain classes at the Livonia, Missouri campus. All distance learners enjoy affordable tuition prices based on residency status and scholarships are available, including awards for adult learners. Online students can also access tutoring services and career development resources.

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3 Saint Leo University 68.2 40% Saint Leo, FL

Saint Leo University enrolls over 16,000 distance learners every year in a variety of flexible online programs, including the online associate of arts in cybersecurity. Through a comprehensive curriculum, students learn to assess risk, troubleshoot problems, and develop methods to protect information systems and networks against attacks.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the cybersecurity field will grow by 28% between 2016 and 2026 as our world becomes even more connected through technology. Saint Leo graduates stand ready to gain additional academic credentials or occupy leadership positions as network administrators, information security engineers, and program managers.

Saint Leo students can begin earning the online security management associate degree at six points during the year. The school delivers online classes asynchronously in eight-week terms (although a few courses last 16 weeks). All distance learners enjoy the same affordable tuition rate and may apply for funding, which includes generous merit scholarships.

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4 Ocean County College 66.8 35% Toms River, NJ

Located in Toms River, New Jersey, Ocean County College has been providing affordable, career-building academic programs for more than 40 years. This includes distance education programs like the online associate of science in homeland security, which teaches students core skills in emergency preparedness, response, and prevention through asynchronous coursework based on case studies and practical scenarios.

The 64-credit degree plan consists of classes in risk management and analysis, intelligence function, and domestic and international terrorism. Students can personalize the online associate degree security management curriculum to their specific professional interests with electives.

Distance learners can access a variety of academic resources, including one-on-one advising, library services, and around-the-clock online tutoring through the Smarthinking platform. The school also provides support for students searching for career opportunities or applying as transfer candidates to four-year colleges and universities. Ocean bases its affordable tuition rates on residency status, and financial aid is available.

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5 St Petersburg College 64.2 28% St. Petersburg, FL

Founded in 1927 as Florida's first two-year higher education institution, St. Petersburg College continues to be a leader in accessible learning, providing over 100 remote classes and several online degrees. The school offers an online associate of science in cybersecurity, a well-rounded program that helps students develop the fundamental knowledge and technological prowess to tackle complex information security issues.

Students take 60 credits in courses such as operating system security, ethical hacking, and incident response and disaster security. They must also complete an internship, gaining valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities. The program equips graduates with the skills necessary to work in the expanding cybersecurity field in a variety of contexts, such as private healthcare organizations and federal government agencies.

To apply to this online security management associate degree, applicants need only submit the application form and pay a small fee. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores or meet a minimum GPA. All distance learners can access financial support, including awards for eligible high school students and even funding for study abroad trips.

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6 Delta College 62.6 16% University Center, MI

Delta College routinely garners praise for the quality and affordability of its more than 100 programs, which include many online options such as the online associate of applied science in cyber security. Through asynchronous study and hands-on skill development, students gain the skills needed to protect the electronic privacy of companies and individual clients.

Totalling 68 credits, the degree plan consists of courses like implementing firewalls, network intrusion security testing, and advanced wireless security. Continued job growth in the field means graduates have ample opportunities to find work in positions as security management specialists, information technology managers, and ethical hackers.

While students can complete most of their online associate degree security management remotely through the Desire2Learn platform, some classes may require on-campus attendance. Delta's tuition is based on residency status and financial assistance is available, including the Nickless Transfer Scholarship for students who want to continue their degree at a four-year institution. Additionally, 150 dedicated transfer pathways make this process even easier.

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7 Broward College 62.5 30% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Broward College enrolls over 63,000 students in career-training, technical, and academic programs, including many accessible online degrees. The school's online associate of science in computer and network security trains students in fundamental system and database management skills that prepare them for advanced degree work or entry-level positions in security-based sectors. The 63-credit degree plan contains courses like advanced router technology, internet site design, and network defense and countermeasures. Degree candidates must also complete a ethical hacking capstone experience.

Broward's online security management associate degree welcomes all students, especially working professionals. In addition to applying prior college experience, students can earn credits towards degree completion from career training and certification, such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate credential. Distance learners enjoy some of the lowest tuition rates around, regardless of where they live. Additional support includes online tutoring and career development assistance.

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8 Campbell University 57.6 57% Buies Creek, NC

With roots dating back to 1887 when the first class of 16 students convened in a small church, Campbell University is now a comprehensive degree-granting institution. Among the distance education options the school offers is an online associate of science in homeland security, a 64-credit program that covers fundamental topics in risk management, infrastructure defense, and disaster response, including acts of terrorism.

Students develop skills through project-based, collaborative study and in-depth analysis of case studies and federal best practices. The entire degree can be completed remotely through asynchronous and accelerated eight-week classes, or degree candidates can opt for a hybrid learning experience by mixing online courses with classes on the Camp Lejeune extended campus.

Campbell admits students on a rolling deadline, so distance learners can begin the online associate degree in security management at their convenience. Tuition is affordable and nearly 90% of Campbell students receive scholarships or other financial aid.

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9 Eastern Kentucky University 57.1 41% Richmond, KY

Located in Richmond, Eastern Kentucky University is dedicated to providing accessible academic opportunities for distance learners. The school offers over 40 remote undergraduate and graduate degrees, including two options for students interested in the security field: an associate in general studies with a concentration in either security management or homeland security.

Both degree plans total 64 credits and cover fundamental topics like cybersecurity, disaster relief, and team leadership, preparing students for gainful careers or bachelor's programs and beyond. The security management concentration provides a generalist path, while homeland security deals more specifically with contemporary issues of terrorism. Both degrees are entirely online with asynchronous, eight-week classes, enabling students to work while earning their degree full-time.

Over 80% of online security management associate degree students receive financial aid, on top of EKU's affordable tuition rate. EKU also has a generous transfer policy, accepting up to 49 credits, to further reduce costs.

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10 Miami Dade College 54.9 30% Miami, FL

Founded in 1960, Miami Dade College focuses on academically supporting underserved and nontraditional students and its undergraduate population is one of the largest in the nation. Distance learners, too, can find affordable courses and programs, such as the associate in science in security management and administration.

The curriculum totals 60 credits and helps students develop the leadership and problem-solving skills to work in both the federal homeland defense and private security sectors. Course topics include crime scene technology, human behavior in criminal justice, and transportation and border security. Students also have 12 elective hours with which to personalize their degree plan.

Most students complete MDC's online associate degree in security management in two years. Tuition rates are among some of the lowest in the nation, especially for Florida residents. MDC also offers generous financial aid packages and 90% of students graduate without incurring any debt. The college also sets up its students for success by providing online tutoring and personalized career services.

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11 Sinclair Community College 54.3 18% Dayton, OH

Sinclair Community College is located in Dayton, Ohio and offers over 220 academic programs to 32,000 students annually. The school also provides distance education options, including degree programs like the online associate of applied science in computer information systems/secure system administration. With a 61-credit curriculum, the SCC program provides a comprehensive overview of core computer programming and systems analysis as well as effective communication and team management skills, enabling students to pursue additional schooling or careers in many fields, from cybersecurity to criminal justice. Additionally, several of the courses prepare students for professional certification from CompTIA and Microsoft.

Distance learners receive competitive tuition prices, with out-of-state residents paying a little more due to surcharges. Students earning their online associate degree in security management enjoy a variety of professional development resources, such as internship support and career services. SCC maintains articulation agreements with many schools in the region, making the transition to pursuing a bachelor's degree simple and affordable.

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12 Peninsula College 53.2 29% Port Angeles, WA

Peninsula College is a leader in equitable education, providing classes and degrees for students of all backgrounds at its three campuses on Washington's scenic Olympic Peninsula and online. The school's online offerings include 23 options for distance learners, including two online security management associate degrees: an associate of applied science in cybersecurity and computer forensics and one in homeland security and emergency management (HSEM).

The first program totals 90 quarter credits, while the the HSEM degree consists of 98. Both prepare students for advanced degrees or entry-level positions through a combination of theoretical study of selected topics and practical skill development in effective communication, problem solving, and team leadership. The HSEM program is more comprehensive and is generally more suited to students who plan to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.

PC offers four entry dates per year and delivers its coursework entirely online using the Canvas platform. Distance learners can access many resources, such as e-tutoring and additional academic support through the Maier Hall Learning Center.

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13 Mesa Community College 52.1 15% Mesa, AZ

Founded in 1963 as an extension program for another institution, Mesa Community College now stands as an independent school that enrolls more than 40,000 students each year in its over 195 programs, degrees, and certificates. Academic programs include distance education programs like the online associate of business with general requirements in networking and security.

Facilitated through the Canvas platform, the program helps students develop the skills necessary to create, analyze, and manage information systems and networks to prevent malfunction and cybersecurity threats. Additionally, the program prepares students for professional certification in Linux, Microsoft, and Cisco proficiency, many of which can be earned through MCC.

While all online students pay a low tuition rate, MCC's online associate degree in security management program is even more affordable for Arizona residents. MCC also assists its students through academic services like individualized advising and online tutoring. Additionally, the school offers comprehensive career services, from resume-building workshops to internship placement.

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14 Sheridan College 51 40% Sheridan, WY

Sheridan College is one of Wyoming's outstanding two-year degree and certificate granting institutions. Distance learners have numerous academic options, such as the online associate of applied science in cybersecurity.

The Sheridan program prepares students for jobs in information security with a 60-credit degree plan of courses like hardening network infrastructure, computer forensics, secure user endpoints and server systems. The curriculum also includes an internship requirement and self-directed electives.

Sheridan bases tuition on residency status, with in-state students paying the lowest rate and those in participating Western Undergraduate Exchange states receiving a discounted rate. Students earning their online security management associate degree can access the school's generous financial aid resources as well as student services like subject tutoring and technical support.

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15 Barton County Community College 49.1 21% Great Bend, KS

Located in Great Bend, Kansas, Barton County Community College serves students of all backgrounds through academic programs on its main and extended campuses as well as through its distance education platform.

The schools online offerings include the online associate of applied science in emergency management and homeland security, a 64-credit program that contains courses like emergency planning, developing and managing volunteer resources, and characteristics of hazardous materials. The BCCC degree stands out among other online associate degree in security management programs for its focus on environmental disasters and conservation, which students can choose to pursue in-depth through guided electives.

All distance learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of where they live. Online students also receive academic and professional support from BCCC in the form of advising, professional development and career training opportunities, and even personal counseling. Many of these efforts are supported by TRIO, a nationally funded program designed to foster student retention and overall success.

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16 SUNY Broome Community College 48.4 30% Binghamton, NY

Located in Binghamton, SUNY Broome Community College enrolls students in a variety of programs, more than a dozen of which an be accessed entirely remotely. These online offerings include an online associate of applied science in computer security and forensics, which trains students to prevent identity theft and loss of financial resources due to the mishandling of electronic information.

The degree plan totals 64 credits and includes courses in cryptographic systems, structured programming, and security hardware and software. Students graduate from the program with the cybersecurity tools that lead to success in advanced degree programs or careers in fields like information technology and criminal investigation.

The school delivers its online security management associate degree courses asynchronously through the Blackboard platform. Distance learners pay tuition based on residency status. SUNY Broome offers a variety of financial aid awards, including the full-ride Presidential Honors Scholarship for high-achieving local students.

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17 Lake Superior College 47.6 28% Duluth, MN

Located in Duluth, Minnesota, Lake Superior College boasts a integrated distance education platform, offering over 200 remote courses and 90 certificate and degree programs. The school offers an online associate of applied science in network administration and cybersecurity that teaches students the technical knowledge and programming skills to manage computer networks in all sorts of business environments.

Totalling 72 credits, the LSC program is one of the most comprehensive online associate degree in security management programs available. In addition to core topics like computer user support, ethical hacking, and emerging technologies, students have 21 elective hours with which to pursue their professional interests. The curriculum also includes internship and capstone requirements.

LSC charges a flat tuition rate to all online learners regardless of residency status. The school offers three start dates each year. Students can earn their AAS in two years if they have fulfilled English and math prerequisites.

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18 North Central Texas College 47.5 12% Gainesville, TX

North Central Texas College was established in 1924 under the guidance of Randolph Lee Clark, a pioneer in American public education. Today NCTC offers six undergraduate degree types, including distance education programs like the online associate of applied science in cyber security.

Totalling 60 credits, this NCTC program provides students with an understanding of the cyber threat landscape and the tools needed to protect computer systems and networks against attacks. Students take courses in areas like intrusion detection, security assessment and auditing, and computer virtualization. The curriculum also includes a cooperative education practicum, in which students hone learned skills in an actual work environment under supervision of an employer and the college.

NCTC's online security management associate degree curriculum combines fully remote coursework with hybrid and traditional classes to create a learning experience that is both flexible and hands-on. Many degree courses are structured in accelerated eight-week sessions, and most students earn their degrees in two years while maintaining jobs.

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19 Maysville Community and Technical College 47.3 29% Maysville, KY

Founded in 1969, Maysville Community and Technical College offers flexible and career-building academic opportunities for adult learners. This includes remote degree programs like the online associate of applied science in criminal justice with a specialization in security loss and prevention.

This unique program provides students with an overview of the U.S. justice system and the processes within it, with additional emphasis on the protection of tangible and electronic assets. Course topics include criminal procedures, business and financial fraud, and physical security technologies and systems. Degree candidates must also fulfill capstone and internship requirements.

The MCTC online associate degree in security management totals 60 credits, which can be completed in two years of full-time, 15-credit semesters. The college welcomes all students through an accessible enrollment process. To apply, interested students need only fill out the online application. Online learners pay the same low tuition rate as traditional in-state students and can apply for several institutional scholarships.

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20 Texas State Technical College 43.9 28% Waco, TX

Located in Waco, Texas State Technical College has been helping students achieve professionals goals for over 50 years through affordable technical and academic degree offerings, which include remote programs like the online associate of applied science in cyber security.

Through a 60-credit degree plan, students learn to protect private data, retrieve stolen information, and identify intruders. The curriculum covers fundamental topics and includes a security assessment and auditing capstone seminar. TSTC graduates are well-equipped to enter four-year schools or obtain gainful positions as information security analysts and forensic science technician.

The TSTC online security management associate degree program takes approximately 20 months to complete. With flexible, asynchronous classes, students can earn their degree while working and attending to other personal responsibilities. To apply, candidates only need to submit a high school diploma or equivalent. Those who do not have the aforementioned credential can still enroll by going through an approval process and passing an assessment exam.

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The following section offers an overview of a typical online security management associate degree. While programs vary, most degrees feature similar plans of study with topics that prepare graduates for a range of occupations.

Courses for an Online Associate in Security

This sample curriculum provides a snapshot of an online associate degree security management program. Although courses will depend on the program, most security management degrees feature the following topics and areas in their major requirements.

  • Criminal Procedure: This course explores legal theories and procedures surrounding criminal behavior within the context of the American Constitution. With a focus on investigative techniques leading to the lawful apprehension of suspects, students develop a background for in criminal procedures suitable for careers in law enforcement and private investigation.
  • Emergency Response: This course introduces threats that range from natural disasters to terrorism attacks, and equips students to lead emergency response teams. Topics include collaborative disaster recovery, public relations, and the implementation of warning systems. Students learn security coordination between private security and law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Security Management Foundations: This introductory course provides an overview of key concepts pertinent to the field of security management, including risk analysis, workforce safety, and loss prevention. Students learn various types of security environments, such as private properties and cyber security. This course provides foundational training for careers such as security guards and gaming officers.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Associate in Security?

Full-time students usually complete the 60-credit online security management associate degree in two years. Part-time students who take one or two courses per semester can complete their degree in approximately four years. While completion time varies according to how many courses a student takes per semester, it may also depend on the program’s structure, prerequisite requirements, and credit granted to prior learning experiences. Many programs allow students to waive courses based on their work history, training background, or military experience.

Most associate degree programs allow students to enroll at many points throughout the academic calendar, while also delivering courses at an individual pace. Students follow a general course sequence and adapt their schedules to accommodate their needs. Unlike cohort learning — which involves a community of learners who progress through their program together — individually paced programs provide a personalized approach to degree attainment.

Accreditation is an important factor that attests to the quality of an online associate degree security management program. Accrediting bodies implement quality assurance measures that include institutional integrity and the offering of academic programs that meet nationally accepted standards. Most US colleges are either regionally or nationally accredited; however, nearly 90% of colleges and universities receive some type of regional accreditation. Governed by accrediting bodies in six regions, these schools set the standard for higher education and frequently only accept incoming transfer and graduate students with credits earned from a regionally accredited school. In contrast, credits earned at nationally accredited schools do not often transfer to regionally accredited schools, but these institutions often feature reduced tuition costs and easier admissions criteria. Another key accrediting agency to consider when selecting an online security management associate degree is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a leader in quality assurance for online education programs.

In order to be considered a legitimate accreditor, accrediting bodies must receive recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Department of Education. These organizational safeguards ensure that accrediting agencies fulfill their obligations to consumers by holding colleges and programs accountable for the standards stipulated in the accreditation process. Both CHEA and the Department of Education feature comprehensive databases listing all recognized accrediting bodies and accredited US colleges and programs. Reviewing these databases can help students discern a quality degree that meets their professional goals while adhering to rigorous educational standards.

What Can I Do With an Associate in Security Degree?

Career Paths

An online security management associate degree provides training to pursue careers in areas such as property security, gaming surveillance, and private investigation. Coupled with knowledge of legal procedures and crisis response strategies, these professionals rely on observational skills, attention to detail, and patience to conduct their jobs successfully. Many security guards receive on-the-job training and also possess state registration. Additionally, online associate degree security management programs prepare graduates for the rigors of police academy training.

Police and Detectives

More than three quarters of police and detectives work for local government municipalities. Their duties are wide ranging and include emergency response, traffic patrol, and collecting crime scene evidence. In addition to arresting suspects, police and detectives write reports and testify in court cases.

Median Annual Salary: $61,600

Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Private Detectives and Investigators

By gathering information through interviews and social media, to scouring public records and performing surveillance, private detectives and investigators work for individuals, law firms, and corporations. These professionals rely on technology to find missing persons, expose fraud, and determine infidelity. Unlike police and detectives, they are often self-employed.

Median Annual Salary: $48,190

Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

Working in eight-hour shifts, these professionals provide a variety of protective services including property surveillance, entry control, and security checks. They respond to threats and have a working knowledge of laws. The majority of security guards work for investigation and guard agencies, while approximately half of gaming surveillance officers serve their local government.

Median Annual Salary: $25,840

Projected Growth Rate: 6%

Educational Paths

Most associate degrees feature transfer-friendly options that allow students to continue academic training in a complementary area. By pursuing a bachelor’s degree, online security management associate degree students receive more career opportunities that may include supervisory positions. Occupations that typically require a four-year degree include computer and information systems manager, probation officer, and emergency management director. These positions often lead to increased earnings; for example, emergency management directors bring home a median annual income of $70,500.

  • Criminal Justice: Preparing students for careers as corrections officers, state troopers, and loss prevention investigators, this degree extends the training students received in their online security management associate degree. Topics covered in a criminal justice bachelor’s program include substantive criminal law, criminal behavior theories, and police administration.
  • Cyber Security: Building upon a foundation in law and public safety, a bachelor’s degree in cyber security examines the many facets of information assurance. Students explore network administration, programming, and security software, while also developing skills in interorganizational communication, ethical reasoning, and telecommunication management.
  • Homeland Security: A bachelor’s degree in homeland security prepares graduates of an online associate degree security management program to pursue careers with federal agencies such as the CIA, FBI, or FEMA. This degree familiarizes students with homeland defense strategies and emphasizes knowledge of major terrorist threats and counter-terrorism tactics.

Employment Outlook for Associate in Security Graduates

Associate in Security Salary

Median Annual Salary for Security Guards by Employer Type

With a median annual income of $25,770, more than half of security guards employed in the US work for investigation services. As the following table highlights, security guards employed by the government bring home the highest wages. This competitive industry accounts for 4% of security guard employees. While the median annual salary for security guards is lower than the total national occupational average, those employed in this industry have the potential for higher earnings when they seek management positions. According to PayScale, the median income for a security supervisor is $44,951.

Employer Median Annual Salary
Government $32,320
Educational Services $31,590
Healthcare and Social Assistance $30,710
Accommodation and Food Services $26,780
Investigation, Guard, and Armored Car Services $24,230

Professional Organizations

Students pursuing their online security management associate degree can benefit from joining professional organizations. Membership with a professional organization places many valuable resources at students’ fingertips. Not only do students and recent graduates have access to networking opportunities with experienced professionals and job forums, most professional organizations host annual conferences that keep members up-to-date with the latest trends in the field.

There are many options available to make college more affordable. Qualifying students have access to federal aid programs, such as work study, grants, and low-interest loans. To determine loan eligibility, students must begin by completing the FAFSA. In addition to federal financial aid, students pursue scholarships from other sources including colleges, professional organizations, and private donors. Examples of scholarships available to online associate degree security management students include the Center for Cyber Security and Education Scholarship and the ASIS Foundation Scholarship.


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