Best Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Programs

Information systems play a vital role in today’s private companies, organizations and government agencies. An information system is defined as a set of tools, programs and platforms used to collect, evaluate and organize various types of data. Historically these systems have been paper-based, but most contemporary models are primarily computer-based systems consisting of software, hardware and online networks. Due to this digital reliance, the need for qualified information systems security analysts, advisors and consultants is at an all-time high.

Many of these professionals get their start at the college level. Although a bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most information systems security occupations, those who go on to earn a master’s degree in this field will be well-positioned to compete for top jobs.

Master’s in information systems security programs tackle two core areas of study: the algorithms, methods and platforms that drive today’s information systems; and the best-practice measures for ensuring that the data in these systems remains private and protected from outside threats. The bulk of graduate-level programs available in information systems security are classified as either Master of Science (MS) or Master of Professional Studies (MPS); both pathways lean more on technical proficiency and less on theory-based coursework. These programs often culminate in a capstone course, and may also include internship requirements (though these are somewhat rare). Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their online master’s in information systems and technology online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of job opportunities for successful graduates. The asynchronous (or self-paced) schedule and study-from-home format are also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other commitments that may interfere with campus-based learning.

Learn more about what you can do with an online master’s in information systems and technology and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Since most information systems security professionals enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree (or less), the master’s is an ideal stepping-stone for students who aspire to leadership positions in this field. The master’s curriculum is designed to build on the foundational coursework of undergraduate studies while introducing more advanced concepts and theories related to security analysis, network administration, database management, and cybersecurity. Students who complete capstone projects will have the additional opportunity to draw on the knowledge and skills they have gained to craft — and present — a comprehensive research study related to their prospective field of employment.

WILL AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online information systems security master’s programs offer a flexible, easily accessible alternative to traditional college education. Students will be able to download course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their home computer. Current technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY MASTER’S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY?

Those who leave school with an information systems security master’s degree will likely be prime candidates for senior and management roles. Common job titles in this field include information security analysts and specialists, network architects and administrators, database administrators and information systems managers. Due to high demand, job availability for master’s degree-holders in information systems security is strong throughout the private, nonprofit and government sectors, particularly in the IT, business and healthcare industries.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s in information systems security programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online master’s in information systems security, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 Johns Hopkins University 83.40 4/5 7% Baltimore, MD

Based in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University is a premier educational institution. The private university is ranked among the nation’s top-tier schools, and is known for its superior academic offerings across all disciplines. Johns Hopkins’ innovative approaches to teaching include both traditional and nontraditional students, and as an early pioneer in the distance education movement it is well-positioned to offer academically rigorous online degree programs. These programs are highly respected by employers — U.S. News & World Report ranked the Whiting School of Engineering’s online graduate programs 21st in the nation. Online study at Johns Hopkins is completely asynchronous, yet interactive and engaging. Courses follow a traditional semester schedule and learning is primarily student-led, including several team-based assignments that provide unique networking opportunities.

Johns Hopkins’s master of science in information systems engineering is geared toward technical professionals and leaders in the tech industry. Offered in online, on-site and hybrid formats, this program explores cutting-edge topics within the field. Curricula are organized into nine specialty tracks, including cybersecurity, data engineering, systems engineering, and network engineering. All degree candidates begin their studies with three foundational courses in information systems and engineering, followed by three courses in a specialty track. The remaining four courses may be completed in either specialty or elective classes. This program is designed for working students who attend part-time, and must be completed within five years. Candidates who lack sufficient undergraduate training in math or programming are expected to take prerequisite courses in these areas.

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2 Brandeis University 74.53 4/5 N/A Waltham, MA

One of many outstanding universities in the Boston area, Brandeis University is a medium-sized private research institution that is historically diverse and welcoming to all students. Graduate students at Brandeis enjoy the flexibility and convenience of a well-constructed distance learning program. Online degree programs in the Graduate Professional Studies school are designed for working students; classes are small, averaging 12 students each, and their interactive nature allows for virtual networking between students and faculty. Courses are delivered across four 10-week blocks per year, and learning is asynchronous. Though degree candidates may take five years to complete a program, ambitious students can earn a master’s degree in two to three years.

Brandeis's master of science in information security leadership aims to prepare its graduates for management roles in the increasingly important field of information security. This 30-hour online master’s in information security equips tech professionals not only with the skills to maintain sensitive data networks, but also to build business cases for investment in security infrastructure. This program’s curriculum is composed of six courses in advanced information security management and compliance, augmented by four elective courses that meet degree candidates’ career interests. Applicants should hold undergraduate degrees focused on data communications, networking devices or programming, or possess equivalent work experience.

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3 Stevens Institute of Technology 72.78 4/5 3% Hoboken, NJ

Stevens Institute of Technology is a small private school located in Hoboken, New Jersey, just outside of New York City. Founded in 1870, the school boasts a long history of educating leaders in technological innovation. Its master of science in information systems prepares its graduates for leadership roles in an environment that calls for secure protection of legacy information systems. The 36-hour cross-disciplinary program is focused not only on technological skills, but essential business management knowledge. The curriculum’s core explores organizational behavior, project management and financial decision-making in addition to advanced information security. Three study concentrations are available in either business analytics, process management, or project management.

This master’s in information security online program is offered both on campus and online. Distance learning at Stevens is immersive and requires online students to participate in real-time livestreamed lectures. Class assignments are completed asynchronously. Admission to the program is competitive and while it is not strictly required, the school prefers one year or more of professional experience. Applicants must demonstrate a 3.0 average in undergraduate study, as well as competitive GMAT or GRE scores.

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4 Nova Southeastern University 67.02 4/5 49% Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern University is a large private research institution in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Its master of science in information assurance and cybersecurity is targeted toward tech professionals who seek careers in the design and development of cybersecurity technologies. This 36-hour program is comprised of ten core courses in advanced development and system engineering, supplemented by two elective courses. Degree candidates who opt for a thesis track are not required to take electives, however. Full-time students can complete this master’s degree in two years. Because this information security master’s degree online is meant for aspiring tech developers, applicants must hold undergraduate degrees in computer science, information systems, information technology, engineering, mathematics, or physics. Professionals interested in cybersecurity management or policy development are encouraged to apply for Nova's master of science in information systems’ information assurance and cybersecurity management concentration.

In addition to its full academic accreditation, this program boasts recognition by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As such, Nova welcomes federally sponsored military and civilian applicants. Qualified degree candidates may use this program as a springboard to Nova’s PhD programs in information assurance or information systems. The program is available online or on campus; distance learners study asynchronously and follow a semester-based class schedule.

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5 Iowa State University 65.62 3/5 13% Ames, IA

Iowa State University is a large public institution based in small-town Ames. In addition to its academic credentials, Iowa State partners with the NSA in its efforts to develop cybersecurity best practices. As leaders in the forefront of cybersecurity, Iowa State’s Department of Electric and Electronic Engineering offers two options for aspiring tech professionals in information security. For these students, an online master’s in information security may be earned as a Master of Engineering or a Master of Science. Both program options require 30 hour credit hours of study, built around an 18-hour core curriculum. MS degree candidates may choose from a thesis option with 6 credit hours of research, or a non-thesis option with a creative component and capstone project. Remaining degree requirements are completed from a list of interest-based electives. Students in the ME program complete all degree requirements via coursework, including a capstone course prior to graduation.

These programs are available online or in traditional classrooms. Distance learning is delivered via streaming video of in-class lectures; all classes are taught asynchronously. Iowa State also offers CyberCorps Information Assurance Scholarships in partnerships with the National Science Foundation. These funds are available to qualified graduate students, and augment degree studies with leadership skills training and an internship.

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6 DePaul University 58.28 4/5 22% Chicago, IL

DePaul University is a small, private Catholic institution located in urban Chicago. Its Master of Science in Information Systems takes a broad approach to the tech industry’s needs for leadership in information security. This 52-credit hour program combines advanced technical skills training with fundamental organizational knowledge, equipping its graduates for roles in traditional tech departments or larger business environments. Degree candidates choose among five concentrations, focusing their studies on business analysis, business intelligence, database administration, IT enterprise, or general information systems. Each concentration consists of four foundational courses, four to five advanced skills courses, electives, and a capstone project. Elective requirements may be met with a wide range of class options within DePaul's information technology and business departments.

All concentration paths are offered online or in traditional classroom courses — locally based students may choose from both formats. Distance learning is asynchronous; students view video recordings of live class lectures and complete assignments via a proprietary learning management system. In most cases, exams must be proctored and it is up to the student to arrange for approved proctoring. Alternatively, DePaul’s master of science in cybersecurity, which offers concentrations in network infrastructure, security, and compliance, may be earned partially online. Select courses in this program offer video playback of in-class lectures.

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7 University of the Cumberlands 57.90 3/5 27% Williamsburg, KY

Based in rural Williamsburg, Kentucky, the University of the Cumberlands is a private Baptist college. Though its Appalachian campus is small, the university offers distinctive online degree options at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. Its Master of Science in Information Systems Security degree program is intended for working professionals in the IT field who aspire to further their careers via higher education. Graduates of this master’s in information security online program are qualified to develop and maintain security policies and infrastructure while meeting federal compliance standards. Students in this program gain proficiency in advanced skills such as cryptography, network and application security administration, and design. Degree candidates are further equipped with the business acumen necessary to conduct disaster management and recovery, risk management and regulatory compliance. The program culminates in a capstone information security project course.

UC does not require Kentucky residency, making it an attractive option for distance learners outside of the immediate area. Online learning is delivered via Blackboard, and study may be synchronous or asynchronous. Classes follow a traditional semester calendar. The university’s transfer policy is generous, allowing for up to nine hours of prior graduate credit to apply to degree requirements. Credit for prior learning may also be awarded for a number of professional certifications within the information technology industry.

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8 Sam Houston State University 57.70 3/5 37% Huntsville, TX

Sam Houston State University is known for its robust, academically rigorous distance education offerings. More than 40 degree programs, many of them award-winning, can be completed entirely online. Aspiring information security professionals will appreciate that U.S. News & World Report ranks SHSU’s online graduate information technology programs 11th among its peers. Its online master of science in information assurance and security degree program, targeted at working professionals in governmental, corporate and industrial information technology, is an ideal vehicle for career advancement in the field. The 36-hour curriculum is comprised of six foundational courses in systems and security assurance, complemented by six elective courses focusing on digital forensics or special topics in computing science.

Distance learning at SHSU is asynchronous and follows a semester calendar. Notably, this university offers designated scholarship funds to qualified students enrolled in exclusively online degree programs. Admission to this information security master’s degree online is competitive — applicants must demonstrate a 3.0 GPA and solid GRE scores. Preferred applicants hold undergraduate degrees in computer science or management information systems. Applicants holding undergraduate degrees in an adjacent field with work experience may also qualify for admission.

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9 Lewis University 57.41 3/5 25% Romeoville, IL

Located in the south suburban Chicago area, Lewis University is a private Catholic college that educates about 4,500 local students per year. In addition to its on-the-ground offerings, Lewis offers a comprehensive list of online degree options targeted toward working adults. Its master of science in information security program is ideal for the technical professional who aspires to anticipate potential threats to information security, identify vulnerabilities, diagnose problems, and manage cyberattacks of sensitive data. The 36-hour curriculum is built on an 18-hour core that dives deeply into information security systems, networks, best practices and regulatory compliance requirements. Remaining degree requirements are organized in either management or technical concentrations, depending on individual career goals. The school's management track prepares graduates to handle the administration of a large infrastructure, while the technical track is geared toward the design and implementation of cyber defense mechanisms. Students in the management track must complete 11 courses that cover such topics as forensics, hacking, organizational security, risk assessment and project management. Likewise, students in the technical track complete 11 specialized courses exploring operating systems, wireless security, database management and cloud security. Regardless of concentration, all candidates must complete two additional seminar courses that prepare graduates for professional CISSP certification. Finally, the degree culminates in a capstone project.

This master’s in information security online program is also offered on Lewis’s Romeoville and Oakbrook campuses. Distance learning at Lewis consists of live-streaming of in-class lectures and asynchronous assignment completion; in many cases, these lectures are recorded and can be viewed at a later time. All classes are delivered in 8-week blocks, and most students complete the program within 16 months to 2 years. The university’s rolling admissions policy allows for five start dates during the year. Especially motivated students aspiring to rise to executive roles may wish to consider Lewis’s MBA/MSIS dual degree program. Depending on the level of undergraduate preparation, students in this program complete 62 to 80 credit hours’ of study within both colleges, thereby earning two master’s degrees in a slightly accelerated fashion.

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10 Florida Institute of Technology-Online 55.98 5/5 100% Melbourne, FL

Located in Central Florida near the Orlando metropolitan area, Florida Institute of Technology is a small private school that focuses on engineering and STEM fields. In addition to the opportunities it offers to local students, Florida Tech is known for its excellent distance education programs. All hold full academic accreditation, and many have received additional distinction. For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks this school’s graduate computer information technology programs 21st in the country.

Florida Tech programs also boast industry-specific credentials, such as the master’s in information security online’s affiliation with the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Online classes are delivered in eight-week blocks and courses are taught asynchronously. Most students can complete a graduate degree program in 2 years.

Florida Tech’s master of science in information assurance and cyber security degree program is intended for tech professionals who are interested in the hands-on management of cybersecurity. The 36-hour program’s curriculum equips its graduates with in-depth knowledge of advanced systems security systems, as well as the skills necessary to maintain them. After six core courses in information security, degree candidates complete the program with five elective courses in specialty topics relevant to the industry. Prior to graduation, all candidates must complete a capstone project.

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11 University of Detroit Mercy 55.86 4/5 13% Detroit, MI

Based in Michigan’s capital city, the University of Detroit Mercy is a private Catholic institution. In addition to more than a hundred bachelor’s and graduate degrees offered on campus, UDM has developed nearly 20 online professional certificate and degree programs at the graduate level. The school's master of science in information assurance with a major in cybersecurity is ideal for military personnel, law enforcement, first responders or professionals in information technology who are seeking career advancement. UDM’s MSIA program has held designation as a Center in Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education since 2004. Bestowed by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this prestigious credential promises students a top-tier education in the field. The program is offered exclusively online to students residing in qualified states.

UDM’s 30-credit hour online master’s in information security takes a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity principles, processes and technology. The curriculum’s core consists of eight courses in cybersecurity, threats, risk assessment, and management practices. Degree candidates complete the program with seven elective courses tailored to their career interests, each of which is designed to meet specific qualifications for employment in the industry. Distance learning at UDM is completely asynchronous, and students are never required to attend campus. Full-time students can complete this degree in one year.

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12 City University of Seattle 54.82 3/5 55% Seattle, WA

City University of Seattle is a private school that is uniquely focused on meeting the educational needs of the nontraditional student. Offering bachelor’s degree completion programs and professional graduate degrees across academic disciplines, this college structures its educational requirements for working adults. Classes are available around the clock on its Seattle campus or online in asynchronous study, and local students are welcome to take advantage of both formats. Programs are fully accredited; in addition, the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have designated CityU as a Center in Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Students aiming for business management roles may find CityU’s master of science in information security to be a good fit. Graduates of the program are equipped to manage system infrastructure, develop policy, and implement information security across a wide range of industries. This multidisciplinary degree program is designed to deliver advanced cybersecurity management skills and the business acumen required in an organizational environment. The program’s 39-hour curriculum is comprised of five core courses that dive deeply into cybersecurity administration and privacy issues within organizations and businesses. Beyond the core curriculum, students complete degree requirements with specialized study in the cybersecurity environment, information security audit, breaking and securing code, or CPA exam review. This MSIS program culminates in either a capstone project or thesis.

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13 Drexel University 54.07 5/5 31% Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia-based Drexel University is a mid-sized private school particularly known for its academically rigorous degree programs in engineering, law, and medicine. Equally as well known for its cooperative education programs, Drexel boasts a long history of innovative education combined with experiential learning. The university’s distance education options are extensive, allowing nontraditional students access to over 140 fully accredited online degree programs across 13 academic disciplines. Degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral level can be completed entirely online by students in eligible states. Distance learning courses are delivered in four 10-week sessions, and learning is entirely asynchronous. Students may complete degree programs at whatever pace suits their individual needs.

Drexel’s online master of science in information systems is intended for professionals in tech who aspire to leadership roles. Totaling 39 credit hours of study, this online information security program takes a sweeping approach to information systems and their security. Degree candidates explore software development, database management, IT analysis and design, and systems architecture within the context of organizational environments. The nine-course core is augmented by six elective courses chosen from a lengthy list of special topics in information systems and computing science. Admission to Drexel is competitive — applicants must demonstrate a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and acceptable GRE scores.

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14 Bellevue University 53.86 3/5 84% Bellevue, NE

Bellevue University is a midsized private school that serves traditional students throughout Nebraska and neighboring states. This fully accredited college offers degree programs at 15 campus facilities as well as online, educating more than 10,000 students per year. Within Bellevue’s four academic colleges, several dedicated learning entities allow students to focus their studies on highly specialized areas of study. One of these, the center for cybersecurity education, holds recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity.

Bellevue’s master of science in computer information systems degree program is focused on the advanced technical skills required of professionals in information technology. This online information security program combines hands-on training in the strategy, design, implementation, and administration of complex information systems. Instruction and experiential learning experiences emphasize skills application in a business context, equipping MSCIS graduates for employment across all industries. Students choose one of three concentrations: databases, software development, or IT security. The 36-hour curriculum is composed of nine core classes, followed by three classes in each concentration. Students in the IT security track explore architecture security and the concept of ethical hacking. Finally, a capstone project completes the program. Bellevue’s distance learning is delivered on the Blackboard platform and follows a semester calendar. All learning is asynchronous.

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15 Dakota State University 53.03 3/5 47% Madison, SD

Based in Madison, South Dakota, Dakota State University is a small public institution with a special emphasis on computing, information systems and related fields. DSU holds recognition as a national center of academic excellence in information assurance education by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Among the 35 degree programs it offers is the master of science in information assurance and computer security, which emphasizes the advanced technical knowledge required to successfully protect an organization from cyberattack. This 30-hour program prepares graduates to lead their organizations in information assurance implementation and program graduates may also continue their studies in DSU’s online doctoral program in information systems. DSU’S MSIA curriculum is composed of ten courses that explore advanced techniques in risk assessment, threat management, forensics, cryptography, intrusion detection, and more.

Distance learning at this university is both asynchronous and synchronous. Online courses often contain live-streams of lectures on campus, while assignments are completed via the D2L learning management platform. Online students are expected to collaborate with their peers on campus, offering unique networking opportunities to these degree candidates. Some instructors require that online exams be proctored and distance learners are responsible for arranging proctoring at approved locations. There is no thesis or capstone project requirement for this degree, but all students must complete an assessment examination prior to graduation. This program is popular and competitive, and students are encouraged to apply early. All applicants must demonstrate an accredited bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering, as well as a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and satisfactory GRE scores. Full-time students can expect to complete this MSIA degree in two years, though part-time students may take up to five years to finish.

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16 East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania 50.08 3/5 9% East Stroudsburg, PA

Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania is a small public school that serves about 6,800 students per year. Traditional students at its picturesque campus may choose from 77 available undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students in eligible states may also complete a number of the university’s graduate degree programs online. ESU’s distance education is delivered via the D2L platform, and learning may be asynchronous or synchronous according to instructor preference. Coursework for this information security master’s degree online can be completed entirely via the internet (students should note, however, theses must be defended in person).

ESU’s Master of Science in Information Security is targeted towards information technology professionals who seek advanced technical skills in system security administration. This 30-hour program equips graduates with proficiency in risk analysis and mitigation, threat assessment, policy development, and system configuration management. The program culminates in a thesis based on an original research project. ESU is certified by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a center for education in information assurance. Additionally, the program boasts credentials from the Information Assurance Directorate and the Committee on National Security Systems. In addition to a master’s degree, this program’s curriculum qualifies graduates for six professional industry certifications in the field. Most degree candidates complete the MSIS within two years. For admission, technical undergraduate degrees are required in such fields as computer science, computer security, or information technology. Applicants with three to five years of work experience and an undergraduate degree in a related field will also be considered.

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17 Our Lady of the Lake University 49.69 3/5 34% San Antonio, TX

A small, private Catholic college based in San Antonio, Our Lady of Lake University offers significant options for distance learners who are unable to attend its traditional classes. Nearly 50 degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels may be completed via distance education, including an online information security program. This online master’s in information security program is designed with working students in mind, and is therefore only offered online. Most students can complete the program in one year. Certified by the NSA, OLLU’s master of science in information systems & security is geared towards information technology professionals seeking mastery of advanced skills in information protection. The curriculum in OLLU’s MS-ISS is evenly divided between courses in information systems and information assurance and security. Degree candidates explore database management, systems development, hardware and software platforms, risk assessment, and information assurance strategy.

Graduates of this 30-hour program are well-equipped for executive leadership roles within an organizational framework. The program’s objectives also align with the qualifications for several nationally recognized industry credentials; OLLU’s graduates boast an exemplary success rate in these certification exams. Success in this MS-ISS programs is based on a solid foundation in technical computing skills. Candidates who lack a technical undergraduate degree may meet this requirement via OLLU’s six credit online Cyber Security Bootcamp. Applicants for admission must demonstrate an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and satisfactory GRE or GMAT scores.

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18 Hampton University 46.20 4/5 13% Hampton, VA

A historically black private college, Hampton University’s location in the coastal Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia ensures a scenic on-campus learning experience. Roughly 4,500 traditional students attend class on campus, while others take advantage of the flexibility of online classes. Residents of eligible states can earn degrees across all academic disciplines at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. HU delivers its online classes via the Blackboard platform, and all learning is asynchronous. All online degree programs are fully accredited, and many hold additional industry-specific certification. HU’s information security master’s degree online is endorsed by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The school's master of science in information assurance program takes an interdisciplinary approach to the information protection industry. Graduates of this 36-hour program are equipped with advanced skills in information protection and risk assessment, as well as the business skills required of leaders in an organizational environment. The program’s curriculum is built on a foundational core of eight classes, where students explore software engineering, cryptography, forensics, threat assessment, and more. Beyond the core curriculum, four elective courses complete the degree.

This MSIA program is designed for students who hold undergraduate degrees in computer science or STEM fields. Applicants who hold degrees in other disciplines may qualify for HU’s bridge program in preparation for the MSIA.

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19 Coastal Carolina University 43.83 3/5 5% Conway, SC

Based in the Myrtle Beach area, Coastal Carolina University is a mid-sized public school that offers a full complement of degree options at the baccalaureate, postgraduate, and doctoral levels. Distance learners in South Carolina and other eligible states may earn a number of these degrees exclusively online. CCU delivers its online education via Moodle and follows a traditional semester calendar. Online courses are mostly taught asynchronously, though some instructors require occasional synchronous attendance.

CCU’s master of science in information systems technology with a Security and Data Analytics concentration is geared toward tech professionals seeking advanced knowledge in the design, implementation and maintenance of secure infrastructure and technology. Designed to be completed in 18 months, this 33-hour program is comprised of five core classes in information assurance fundamentals. The remainder of the program is tailored to degree candidates’ career interests in either an information security or data analytics track. This information security master’s degree online culminates in either a thesis or capstone project. Applicants with undergraduate degrees in computer science or STEM fields are preferred. However, students holding degrees in other areas and who have equivalent work experience will also be considered.

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20 Davenport University 43.66 3/5 56% Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Davenport University is a small private institution that emphasizes education in the business, technology and healthcare sectors of the global economy. Every degree program at this university is designed for professionals working in an organizational environment, and thus includes leadership and soft skills training for the workplace. DU’s online education offerings may be especially appealing to working adults; more than 50 of its degree programs can be completed entirely online. DU delivers its online classes via Blackboard, and learning is nearly always asynchronous. Davenport dedicates scholarship funds specifically for eligible students in its online master’s in information security.

DU’s master of science in information assurance emphasizes the risk management assessment function of information security, equipping its graduates with the skills necessary to create secure infrastructure and information systems in an organizational environment. Certified by the National Security Agency (NSA), this program meets professional industry standards for senior systems managers. This 34-credit hour program may be completed entirely online. Degree candidates begin the program with 27 hours of instruction in high-level computing skills, exploring threat assessment, risk mitigation, network security, and forensics. Beyond the program's core curriculum, students complete their coursework with one elective course in a topic of interest. An on-site internship is not required for the degree, but may be conducted for elective credit; another elective option qualifies students for the certified project management professional credential. The program concludes with a thesis on computing security and information assurance.

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Timeline
18 months to 2 years
Program Costs
$25,000 to $50,000
Concentrations
Information Systems , Information Systems Management, Cybersecurity, Homeland Security, Network Administration, Network Architecture, Database Administration, Systems Engineering, Health Information Systems and Technology, Business Technology, Educational Technology

WHAT TO EXPECT AS A STUDENT IN AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROGRAM

The curriculum of a master’s in information systems security program will primarily focus on systems operations, technical proficiency and principles of management. Students should expect coursework in areas like digital forensics, controls systems, software and hardware design and engineering, advanced programming, network and database protection, risk assessment, project management and business leadership. For programs with capstone projects, students will be asked to synthesize these various subjects into a cohesive research paper that addresses contemporary trends and concerns.

In most cases, the master’s in information systems security is a specialization pathway available to students who are earning a masters’ in information systems, information technology or other more generalized fields. However, select colleges and universities allow students to further specialize their information systems security degree. Concentrations include information security management, information assurance, Web management, enterprise systems and human-computer interaction.

It’s important to research the accreditation status of a master’s in elementary education degree program before fully committing to it. In the U.S., online elementary education master’s programs receive accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). In addition to programmatic accreditation, make sure that the college or university has received regional or national accreditation.

JOB PLACEMENT: MASTER’S DEGREE IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY

The job outlook for information systems security professionals — particularly those with advanced degrees — is quite favorable, as more organizations are implementing computer-based information systems every day. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the ‘computer and information technology’ sector as a whole is expected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024, resulting in 500,000 new jobs. Master’s in information systems security recipients will be eligible for a large number of these positions.

Unemployment rates are relatively low for information systems security personnel and other professionals working in the tech industry. The table below looks at unemployment estimates for nine of the top occupations in information technology and systems security. Each entry on the list was featured in the ‘Best Technology Jobs‘ ranking compiled by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2016)
Computer Network Architect 0.6%
Database Administrator 1.0%
Information Technology Manager 1.9%
Software Developer 2.0%
Computer Systems Analyst 2.4%
Computer Systems Administrator 3.1%
Computer Programmer 3.5%
Web Developer 3.6%
Information Security Analyst 3.9%

Source: U.S. News & World Report

Of the nine jobs listed, the average unemployment rate is 2.4%. Comparatively, the national unemployment rate for all industries currently sits at 4.7%.

EARNING A LIVING

In addition to a good job outlook and low unemployment expectations, the master’s in information systems security also leads to fairly high earning potential among successful graduates. However, annual earnings will largely depend on the individual’s specific field of graduate study. The table below features early-career salary projections for employees with master’s degrees in seven different fields related to information systems security.

Master’s Degree Field Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)
Information Systems $67,800 $113,000
Computer Information Systems $70,700 $110,000
Information Technology Management $71,100 $110,000
Information Security $74,100 $108,000
Management Information Systems $70,200 $108,000
Information Technology $66,000 $102,000
Information Security and Assurance $71,300 $98,300

Source: 2016-17 PayScale College Salary Report

All seven degree subjects reported salary growth of at least 37% between the entry-level and mid-career stages. However, career salary growth for information systems security employees will also vary by specific job title. The next table explores the 20-year earnings projections for five of the most common career paths in information systems security.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Information Security Analyst $63,986 $79,999 $88,718 $91,525
Computer Security Specialist $63,170 $89,219 $90,234 $91,288
Network Architect $87,877 $101,739 $117,995 $119,912
Information Systems (IS) Manager $61,700 $76,591 $87,577 $98,034
Network Administrator $50,561 $58,420 $62,673 $66,549

Source: PayScale

All five occupations listed reported career salary growth of at least 31%. Network architects experience the highest rate of growth: a 58.9% increase in earnings between the entry-level and late-career stages. Computer security specialists placed second with 44.5% salary growth, followed by information security analysts with 43.0% growth.

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Those who leave school with a master’s in information systems security will be qualified for dozens of top-level positions, although their eligibility will also depend on factors like employer size and city/state of employment. Four of the most common career pathways in information systems security are detailed below.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators: Administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of networks and information systems, including activities, traffic and security threats. They also help design and implement networks and systems, and may also perform upgrades and maintenance checks.

Information Security Analysts: Information security analysts are the creative minds behind tools and platforms used to safeguard sensitive data. They are trained to address various types of security threats, including cyberterrorists, hackers and other criminal elements, as well as malfunctions, computer viruses and other technical issues.

Database Administrators: Database administrators are trained to use special tools, platforms and software programs used to collect and store data. They must work to ensure their organization’s data is accessible to different personnel while also safeguarding this information from outside parties.

Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Managers: Also known as IT managers or IT project managers, computer and information systems (CIS) managers lead teams responsible for designing, maintaining and securing information systems. They often meet with organizational leaders to discuss computer-related objectives, and then create different types of tools and programs in order to help reach these goals.

Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2014-24)
Network and Computer Systems Administrators $77,810 8% (+30,200 jobs)
Information Security Analysts $90,120 14% (+14,800 jobs)
Database Administrators $81,710 11% (+13,400 jobs)
Computer and Information Systems (IS) Managers $131,600 15% (+53,700 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to information systems security is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for information systems security professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • Information Systems Security Association: Currently representing more than 10,000 members across the globe, ISSA is a non-profit organization created to provide professional development and advocacy for information systems security personnel. The organization maintains local chapters around the world, including 99 U.S.-based chapters. Other perks for members include an invitation to ISSA’s yearly international conference and full access to the organization’s online, peer-reviewed journal.
  • International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals: The IACSP’s mission is centered around two overarching goals: the development and dissemination of tools and resources used to minimize the threat of terrorism, and promotion of legal and ethical behavior within the counterterrorism field. Member benefits include online journal and newsletter subscriptions, discounts on entrance fees to IACSP events and access to additional resources on the organization’s website.
  • SEARCH: SEARCH is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to connect and improve communication between various state, local and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies. SEARCH’s website is a compendium of resources; visitors will find information about cyber-crime, data analysis, public safety and other niche areas of law enforcement and homeland security, as well as podcasts, blog posts and other multimedia resources.

Despite the relative affordability of online master’s programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

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 COLLEGE 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 WOMEN

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

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.