Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleMaster'sin Cyber Security2017
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Over the past 20 years, the internet has become an increasingly prevalent part of our lives. As more companies have discovered how to use data, the demand for internet security professionals has skyrocketed. Currently, the BLS forecasts an 18% growth rate in the internet security field over the next ten years. Earning an online master’s in internet security will prepare you for a wide variety of careers in almost any industry. There are several online master’s in internet security programs that allow you to earn a degree from the comfort of your own home.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

No. While work experience in IT or cybersecurity will certainly look good on an application, it is not an admission requirement for most online master’s in internet security programs. However, most programs will expect you to have a programming background in addition to certain undergraduate coursework, specifically in areas like calculus, programming, computer science, and computer organization. There may be additional undergraduate coursework required based on the concentration that you choose.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?

There are several factors that can make it easier to find the best master’s degree in internet security for you. When searching through potential programs, you should consider whether you prefer to study in a program that offers coursework synchronously or asynchronously. You will also want to determine which concentration you want to pursue, such as cybersecurity, networks, or analysis. You might also consider what type of capstone experience you’d prefer, as some programs include a thesis requirement.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER’S in INTERNET SECURITY?

Yes. Most of the best online master’s in internet security programs offer both full- and part-time options and are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to work through coursework at their own pace throughout the week. Coursework for these programs is usually available 24/7 through an online platform, including recorded lectures and other materials. Therefore, working professionals can pursue a part-time master’s in network security online and complete coursework whenever their schedule permits.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MASTER’s in INTERNET SECURITY ONLINE?

The main advantage to earning an online master’s in internet security is convenience. Many programs are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. As a result, it is possible to work full-time and earn an online master’s in internet security at the same time. Internet security students are likely the best suited for distance learning, as their work involves regular use of computers, the internet, and programming languages.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 Johns Hopkins University 81.55 7% Baltimore, MD

Students can earn an online master's in cybersecurity at Johns Hopkins. The private university, best known for its medical school, is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The master's of science in cybersecurity is offered completely online or in a hybrid format. Students must meet a set of computer program and mathematics requirements for admittance. Johns Hopkins looks at professional experience as part of the application process. Courses include network security, managing e-security, and protocol design and simulation. JHU also offers a post-master's degree certificate option. The online cybersecurity master's degree program includes three track options: analysis, networks, and systems. Students can take part in an info session remotely through JHU's website and can access numerous JHU resources when enrolled. The completion date of the program is flexible and employment statistics are available on the program web page. The program takes about three-years to complete.

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2 University of Southern California 71.91 2% Los Angeles, CA

USC is a large, private university located in Los Angeles. Students can earn a master's of science in cyber security engineering from USC's Viterbi School of Engineering's completely online. The school's online master's in cybersecurity has a unique delivery approach, which uses a proprietary electronic delivery system to bring online learners into the physical classroom with their on-campus peers. Remote learners can attend lectures online with their Los Angeles peers or take an on-demand lecture. USC offers dozens of courses to prepare students for careers in intelligence analysis, network administration, information security, and homeland security. The program can be completed between 1.5 to 3.5 years based on full, or part-time enrollment. Students can begin taking USC cybersecurity classes for credit before officially enrolling through the limited state enrollment program. The program also prepares students for doctoral studies.

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3 New York University 62.90 2% New York, NY

NYU is located in Manhattan, New York. The school prepares students for the evolving world of information security. The master's of science in cybersecurity is designed for career-oriented computer security learning and can be earned completely online. Students must have a strong foundation in computer science and mathematics. Courses include network security, privacy, applied cryptography, and application security. Students have the opportunity to take electives, complete a research project, and write a thesis. The 30-credit program is open to students who have taken the required courses but do not have a degree in computer science. NYU is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. The program can be completed in two-years. The school offers preparatory courses for students who don't have the needed cyber-security knowledge.

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4 Western Governors University 58.63 100% Salt Lake City, UT

WGU, founded in Utah in the late 1990s, was designed by the governors of several Western U.S. states to offer education online through competency-based learning.Distance learners can earn a master's of science in cybersecurity and information assurance from Western Governors.

WGU's online master's in cyber-security program is for current professionals in the information technology sector. The 30-unit program prepares students for leadership roles, ethical hacking, forensic work, and even government cyber-security work. Students must have a foundational education in computer science. Learners will complete a capstone project as part of the master's program. WGU's program is designed to take about 20-hours of work per week. Classes are delivered in six-month terms, and students are not charged for taking extra classes. All WGU students have the opportunity to work with a designated mentor to establish their education plan. Tuition is paid on a time-basis, not per credit.

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5 University of Dallas 57.90 92% Irving, TX

Dallas is a small, private, Catholic university located in Irving, Texas. The school offers a master's of science in cybersecurity completely online. Students are required to earn at least 30-credits to complete the online cybersecurity master's program. Graduates are prepared for jobs in network defense, cyber threat analysis, digital forensics, and more. Dallas is designated as one of the few National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Students take courses in digital forensics and network security along with business and leadership courses. UD also offers a 42-credit online MBA program with a concentration in cybersecurity and an 18-credit cybersecurity certificate. Students have access to class materials, study aids, and resources to help prepare them for the CISSP certification exam. There are multiple starting points each term, and students choose either a 12 or six-week course format.

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6 DePaul University 57.38 22% Chicago, IL

DePaul, located in Chicago, teaches a cybersecurity master's degree online through its College of Computing and Digital Media. Geared toward information technology professionals, DePaul's master of science in computer, information and network technology helps students keep-up with the latest technologies and upgrade their employment opportunities. The 52-credit program includes core, foundational, advanced, and elective courses. Students can explore a specific sector, such as telecommunication network security. A broad knowledge of the field is taught through courses like software risk management. Students complete a capstone project. The requirement is fulfilled by students taking a specialized course in security governance or network security or by completing a research project or thesis. The program features three areas of concentration: network infrastructure, computer security, and compliance. The school is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity by the department of Homeland Security and the NSA.

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7 Bellevue University 54.67 84% Bellevue, NE

Bellevue is a private, nonprofit university located in Nebraska. The school's online master's degree in cybersecurity is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity by the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA. Bellevue's master of science in cybersecurity prepares students to thrive in government or private business computer and network security work. Admission to the program requires a bachelor's degree, a GPA above 2.5 for the past 60 undergraduate credits, and some supplemental materials. Students can complete the program online. The 36-credit program has a traditional and accelerated cohort track available for experienced IT students who hold security certifications. Courses include information security management, ethical hacking, and human aspects of cyber security. Bellevue will work with students to achieve certain certification or professional development goals. Graduates will be able to recommend control strategies for risks to the IT assets and effectively respond to security breaches.

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8 National University 52.48 73% La Jolla, CA

National, located in La Jolla, California, allows amateur coders and professional information technology experts to earn a master's of science in cybersecurity and information assurance online. The 58.5-credit online cybersecurity master's program includes courses in cyber threats, network defense, and the ethical concerns surrounding cybersecurity. Students pursue one of two specializations: ethical hacking and pen testing or information assurance and security policy; a specialization must be chosen, and both require students to take four-courses. The ethical hacking specialization has students develop rules of engagement, prepare tool kits, prepare penetration test documentation, and more. The information assurance specialization has students assess the demands of internet-openness, legislation and law enforcement, and individual right-to-privacy. The program is open to students from different educational and professional backgrounds. Students may pursue a career in traditional IT security or focus more on the management and ethical considerations of cybercrimes.

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9 University of Detroit Mercy 51.97 13% Detroit, MI

Detroit Mercy's master of science in information assurance with a major in cybersecurity helps students learn about every aspect of cybersecurity. Students at UDM learn the necessary skills to protect against cyber threats and basic principles of cyber defense, cyber law, and new technology, including government, business, and industry ethics. The program can be taken completely online. Graduates are prepared for careers in the financial sector, IT management, the military, and law enforcement positions. UDM has been declared a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the NSA, DOD, and DHS. The 30-credit program was created for quick completion with most students finishing in one-year. Courses include ethical hacking, information audit, access technologies, and homeland security studies. UDM's online master's in cybersecurity is taught by faculty with connections to government security agencies.

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10 Robert Morris University 50.41 31% Moon Township, PA

Robert Morris, a small, private university near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, offers its master's of science in cybersecurity and information assurance to students all around the U.S. through online instruction. As one of the school's data technology programs, the online cybersecurity master's is designed to teach students how to recognize, defend, and avoid the cyber threats that have become common in the business and political world. The program features faculty with real-world cybersecurity experience. Robert Morris has several related programs including data analytics, internet information technology, and information technology project management. The university offers dozens of graduate and undergraduate degrees online through its two-team management system. Online students work with the Online Student Services Team for everything from class selection to advising while the Instructional Design Team helps faculty translate their lesson plans into the optimal online product.

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11 University of Maryland-University College 50.35 100% Adelphi, MD

The University College is located in Adelphi, Maryland, and teaches nearly 100,000 online students around the world. The school has embraced distance learning with a number of campuses in the District of Columbia, Europe, and the Middle East. The school has an open acceptance policy for qualified students. The master of science in cybersecurity technology is a fully online program with an interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity. Online master's degree cyber security students take courses where they ethically hack and use cutting edge tools to test network and password security. Students must earn a "B" or higher in their core classes and complete a capstone project at the end of the program. University College also offers related courses for inexperienced computer science and coding students. The 36-credit program is popular with active-military personnel and veterans. Up to 6-credits can be transferred into UMUC's program.

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12 City University of Seattle 49.05 55% Seattle, WA

City University of Seattle students need an accredited bachelor's degree to enroll in the master's of science in information security. The 36-credit, 16-course, online master's in cybersecurity at CityU focuses on the basics of cyber and data cyber security. Students learn how to manage information ethically and securely through classes such as maintaining the technology infrastructure and cyber warfare. Students are required to complete a 3-credit, capstone project in computer science before graduating. The program has been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security. The degree is for IT professionals looking to become chief information officers, senior cyber security engineers, and secure network managers. The program offers several areas of specialization: cyber security environment, information security audit, breaking and securing code, and CPA exam review.

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13 Excelsior College 47.07 100% Albany, NY

Excelsior shares its name with the state motto of New York. The private, nonprofit school is located in Albany and focuses on online learning. One of Excelsior's online programs is the dual-degree online master's in cybersecurity. The dual-degree combines a bachelor's and master's degree into one program, allowing students to earn a graduate degree at an accelerated pace. The program requires students to earn 151 credits, 27 of which are graduate credits. Because the program includes a complete undergraduate degree, the application requirements are less than most master's programs. Students can enroll with no to little experience in computer science. Students are taught cyber security issues including law, ethics, information management, IT risk, communication, and information assurance. Excelsior's program allows for a maximum transfer of credits and is regionally accredited. Students have the option to earn an undergraduate cybersecurity certificate and graduate cybersecurity management certificate.

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14 Drexel University 45.04 31% Philadelphia, PA

Drexel's cybersecurity master's degree online is for IT professional and computer science enthusiasts. The program focuses on threats facing modern technology. The Philadelphia-based institution offers its master's in cybersecurity through its College of Engineering and College of Computing and Informatics. The program is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence by the NSA and DHS. All courses can be completed online. The application process requires a bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay; providing GRE scores is recommended. Students are free to pursue specializations through electives, with core classes focusing on information security and threats. Students must take at least 18 credits of technical electives. Courses include principles of cybersecurity, information policy, data structures and algorithms, and computer networks. Graduates are prepared for work in e-commerce, government, and finance. It's recommended that students pursuing a Ph.D. or research-intensive career participate in the master's thesis.

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15 Mercy College 43.53 47% Dobbs Ferry, NY

Mercy, named as one of the few National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, offers an online cybersecurity master's program for IT professionals. Students at Mercy can earn an online master's in cybersecurity two ways: the 18-month MS program and the five-Year combined BS/MS program. There is an accelerated option available for associate degree holders as well. These options allow students at any level to earn a degree in network and information security. The 18-month MS program requires 30 credits and features courses such as wireless network security and IT audit and compliance. Admittance requires prerequisites in courses including statistics and local area networks; GRE scores aren't required. Students have the opportunity to participate in academic study, a master's thesis, a research project, and a capstone project. Cybersecurity master's online learners receive services like student advising.

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Due to the wide variety of possible roles in the internet security industry, students can expect to find programs that offer several different concentrations. You can also expect to find some variation in terms of capstone experiences, credit requirements, and specific coursework offered between these concentrations.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN INTERNET SECURITY

Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Network Security Network security teaches students the theory and best practices associated with information assurance, especially as it applies to networks. Students learn how to use a number of security tools to respond to breaches in the network. They may even learn common hacking techniques to help understand their network’s vulnerabilities. Network Security Administrator, Network Security Engineer
Systems Students who pursue this concentration learn how to design and secure operating systems. The also often learn about Java security and cryptography. Cryptographer, Security Engineer
Analysis This track prepares students for careers as intelligence analysts for either the government or private corporations. Students enroll in coursework on topics such as cryptology, digital forensics, and even hacking. This concentration teaches students the techniques that hackers use and debates the ethics of the entire process. Intelligence Analyst

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN INTERNET SECURITY

Each master’s in online security administration program will have a different curriculum with its own unique course offerings. However, there are some foundational topics that you will find in any program. Below is a sample curriculum of common internet security courses.

  • Cryptology: In cryptology, students learn about the classic and modern cryptological techniques and how they apply to cybersecurity, including ciphers, encryption, digital signatures, and public keys. This course also spends a lot of time on number theory, which is the basis for much of modern cryptology.
  • Foundations of Information Assurance: In this survey course, students gain a broad understanding of some of the major contemporary threats to information technology systems. Students learn about risk management, policy, and best practices in network security, in addition to specific hardware and software-related topics.
  • Applied Cryptography: In applied cryptography, students learn a wide variety of techniques that are used in the cryptographical field, including word scrambling and ciphers, and how they pertain to cybersecurity. Students learn how to write and solve their own codes and apply common network security principles to defend against cyberattacks.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN INTERNET SECURITY?

The time it takes to complete an online master’s in internet security program can vary based on several factors. Common variables include whether a program is offered part-time or full-time, whether coursework can be completed synchronously or asynchronously, and how many credits must be earned. Asynchronous programs allow students to complete coursework at their own pace, while synchronous programs offers lectures on a set schedule. Therefore, it is much easier to forecast how long a synchronous program will take to complete. Depending on these factors, students can earn their degree in as few as 18 and as many as 42 months.

Accreditation is important for any degree program. Academic accreditation demonstrates that an institution has met a certain set of industry standards. Attending a program at an accredited institution qualifies you to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation is also important because it shows employers that the education you received is of high quality.

There are two types of accreditation that you will come across: regional and national. Regional accreditation means that a school has been evaluated and approved by a regional educational association. All regional educational accrediting associations are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (DoEd) or the Council of HIgher Education Association (CHEA). For a thorough list of all accredited schools throughout the United States, students can visit the DoED and CHEA websites.

National accreditation is less prestigious and agencies often specialize in accrediting programs of the same discipline. For example, there are different accrediting bodies for business schools and nursing schools. For internet security, students should keep an eye out for program’s accredited by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). The CAE-CD is a joint venture by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to oversee and ensure the quality of two-year, four-year, and graduate programs in cybersecurity.

MASTER’S IN INTERNET SECURITY CAREERS

Even though they all pertain to information technology and databases, there are a variety of careers that you can pursue after earning a master’s in internet security. Many of these careers involve working long hours in front of screens and in computer banks, so applicants should enjoy working indoors and be capable of focusing on one task for long periods of time. Due to the ubiquity of the internet and information technology applications, you should be able to find work in nearly any industry. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most common careers for those with a master’s in internet security.

  • Information Security Analyst: Information security analysts work for both governmental and private organization to prevent and respond to security breaches in an organization’s network. As cyberattacks have become more common worldwide, information security analysts must remain increasingly vigilant and well-versed in contemporary security measures.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Network and computer systems administrators ensure that their organization’s computer network and systems are operational on a daily basis. They oversee other IT employees and respond to questions and requests for help from an organization’s employees.
  • Database Administrator: Database administrators manage and store an organization’s data, using software to organize that data and make it available to the right people within the organization. There is also a security aspect to the database administrator’s job, as he or she must prevent unauthorized access to the databases.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: Typically working as consultants, Computer systems analysts study an organization’s computer and network structure and recommend policies and design systems that can make the whole operation more efficient. Since they may be hired by companies in a variety of industries, they must have a solid understanding of both business and information technology.
  • Software Developer: Software developers design and create new software programs, including both client-facing and behind-the-scenes applications. There are a range of careers in software development, with some developers working for software companies that produce programs that customers can purchase. However, other software developers may be hired by a large technology company that wants to create a proprietary tool for their internal use.
Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Information Security Analyst $92,600 18%
Network and Computer Systems Administrator $79,700 8%
Database Administrator $84,950 11%
Computer Systems Analyst $87,220 21%
Software Developer $102,280 17%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensure and Certification

While most careers don’t require additional certification beyond a master’s degree, earning a professional license or certification is a good way to advance your career. Obtaining a professional licensure or certification is can prepare you to pursue an upper-level position or earn a raise in your current role. Below are two of the most important industry standard certifications:

  • CompTIA Security+: Those with a CompTIA Security+ certification have a broad range of knowledge on information security in a variety of disciplines. This certification serves as a benchmark for best practices in IT security and covers essential topics in network security and risk management.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): This certification shows that you have intimate knowledge of a wide variety of contemporary hacking methods. Ethical hackers know how to exploit vulnerabilities in various systems and are often hired to test the security of network.

MASTER’S IN Internet Security SALARY

Professional education and level of experience play the biggest roles when determining an internet security professional’s salary. These figures also vary greatly based on which individual company hires you and which industry you choose to work in. You can also receive a higher salary if you earn a professional license or certification, as mentioned above. The following table features data from PayScale and charts the median expected salaries for the careers touched on above throughout a professional’s career.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Information Security Analyst $70,135 $63,939 $80,038 $91,626
Network Administrator $55,929 $51,071 $57,415 $66,489
Database Administrator $72,209 $61,228 $77,762 $93,219
Computer Systems Analyst $65,650 $57,103 $69,198 $87,538
Software Developer $69,122 $64,751 $78,798 $95,736

Source: PayScale

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Just like in any other industry, networking and conferences are incredibly important to all internet security professionals. In technology hubs like Silicon Valley and Seattle, professional connections made at these events can lead directly to jobs. There are a number of professional organizations in the field of information technology that provide opportunities for both potential careers and professional development. Below we have highlighted a few of the best organizations.

  • CompTIA: CompTIA membership offers professional development, research, and education opportunities, and serves as a great networking opportunity for many technology professionals. CompTIA also issues the aforementioned CompTIA Security+ certification.
  • EC-Council: The EC-Council provides information security training and certifications in over 140 countries worldwide. They also issue the aforementioned Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification.
  • GIAC: The GIAC issues more than 30 different certifications in the information security field. The GIAC also provides a variety of cyber security resources specifically for employees of the federal government.

The first step to financing your online master’s in internet security degree should be filling out a FAFSA form. This will allow you to receive federal financial aid, and allows offers to see what types of aid you qualify for. In fact, some colleges require that students complete the FAFSA to become eligible for scholarships and grants. There are also a number of graduate scholarships offered by professional organizations in the cybersecurity field. For example, the Center for Cyber Safety and Education offers a graduate scholarship for on-campus or online master’s students.

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.