For those interested in technology, an information security degree teaches students to structure, maintain, and protect data and other electronically-stored assets. As advanced technology develops, the job market for trained computer security specialists will continue to expand.
A bachelor's in information assurance equips graduates with the tools to work in private and public sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts will see 28% job growth by 2026. Computer and information system manager and computer support specialist careers are also projected to grow at 12% and 11%, respectively. Information assurance degree holders can feel confident about lucrative job prospects after graduation.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Information Assurance?
If you have a two-year degree in computer and information security, you make an ideal candidate for a bachelor's degree in information assurance. Four-year degrees expand your expertise in technology security, information management, and operations analysis. If you already have career experience in the field, an information security degree can provide you with the skills necessary for career advancement.
Information assurance bachelor's degree programs combine theories of information management with cybersecurity practices, and some information assurance programs may include coursework on the history of information assurance in pre-computer times. Information security degree coursework such as security assessment techniques, investigative strategies, and data analysis teaches you to understand and evaluate security risks. Courses in computer system architecture, networking, and computer communications teach you about technological practices, their vulnerabilities, and how to mitigate potential security risks.
In your program, you will also learn about strategies and policies that companies and government agencies implement to combat cyberattacks. With an information security degree, you can demonstrate the depth of your knowledge about assessing and managing challenges in data security and protection.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Information Assurance?
Many information assurance careers require you to learn the newest trends and technologies in the field. Computer security positions can sometimes be performed remotely. However, in the event of a security incident or emergency, you may be required to work outside standard business hours.
- Information Security Analyst
An information security analyst monitors computer networks. Information security analysts install software, make periodic upgrades, and research the latest practices in cybersecurity. They also test security systems, train other employees to protect their information, and run disaster scenarios to assess potential threats and problems.
Median Annual Salary: $95,510*
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
Computer and information systems managers assess company software and hardware needs. They implement cybersecurity measures, analyze technology costs, and work with other information technology professionals to maintain information systems efficacy.
Median Annual Salary: $139,220*
- Computer Support Specialists
Computer support specialists evaluate computer systems. They maintain computer functions, perform updates, and troubleshoot problems. Computer support specialists often work with companies and organizations, but may provide help-desk assistance to individuals remotely. Computer support specialists also set up and repair computer hardware.
Median Annual Salary: $52,810*
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators oversee the daily use of corporate computer systems. They perform regular system tests, install updates, and monitor system security. As the individuals that oversee employee security permissions, network and computer systems administrators add and remove users to networks and computer systems. They also evaluate network performance.
Median Annual Salary: $81,100*
- Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts find more efficient technology operations. Computer systems analysts also research current hardware and software trends, develop cost-benefit analysis reports, and make recommendations for computer systems administrators. They oversee installation, training, and implementation for new and updated computer systems.
Median Annual Salary: $88,270*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Information Assurance Program
Bachelor's in information assurance programs typically last four years, but students with an associate degree in the field may finish more quickly. On-campus programs usually last longer than online degrees with asynchronous coursework that you can complete at an accelerated pace.
When evaluating potential information security degrees, you should investigate the curriculum. Many programs have classes that must be taken in sequence, which can be difficult for part-time students, who often need more flexibility. Find out whether a degree has specializations in areas like cybercrime or cryptography, which may align with your career goals. Programs may also require capstone or internship courses, opportunities which can familiarize you with research techniques and give you professional experience.
School location is also a factor in your decision, especially when considering in- or out-of-state tuition. If you transition from a two-year to a four-year degree, finding a local, on-campus bachelor's program in information assurance may be difficult. In these cases, online programs may be the best option. Online programs with flexible, convenient classes are also more appealing to working professionals or students who take classes on a part-time basis.
Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's in Information Assurance Programs
As you choose an information assurance degree, look for accreditation. Institutions can be regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Schools that are nonprofit and academically oriented are usually regionally accredited through one of seven regional accrediting bodies in the country. National accreditation is typically reserved for vocational, career-based, and for-profit institutions. Because of the different standards that regionally and nationally accredited schools meet, it may be difficult to transfer credits between the two. Financial aid opportunities are more often available for regionally accredited schools.
Beyond this distinction, some university departments can receive programmatic accreditation, which typically comes from a career-specific agency. While there is no body that accredits bachelor's in information assurance degrees, some programs have been recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education programs. Check for NSA or DHS recognition as you consider your programs, because such recognition may influence post-graduation job prospects.
Bachelor's in Information Assurance Program Admissions
Admission to on-campus and online programs includes submissions of standard documentation like transcript information and a formal application, but some schools may require additional materials. Programs may also have prerequisite coursework that you must complete before admission. Application criteria will differ depending on whether you're a first-time college applicant, returning student, or transfer student.
You should consult admissions websites and officials about specific institutional application requirements, including deadlines. Some on-campus programs have interviews for potential applicants. You should apply to multiple schools to better your chances of acceptance.
- Minimum GPA: The minimum GPA for a bachelor's in information assurance varies by program. Some schools require transfer and returning students to have a minimum 2.0 GPA, with different requirements for recent high school graduates, GED recipients, or homeschooled students.
- Application: Colleges and universities have formal applications, which are typically submitted online. With services like the The Common Application, you can apply to multiple schools simultaneously. Application deadlines vary by school, typically falling between December and February.
- Transcripts: Applicants to a bachelor's degree in information assurance must provide transcripts from their high schools. For transcripts, contact your high school guidance counselor's office. Students with previous college experience must also request transcripts from prior institutions. If students have a GED or have been homeschooled, appropriate documentation must be provided.
- Letters of Recommendation: Some bachelor's in information assurance programs require letters of recommendation. You should have two or three letter writers that can attest to your academic abilities, work ethic, and professional experience as appropriate. Find at least five people you can ask, in case one of your letter writers is unable to submit a document on your behalf. Request your letters several weeks in advance of the application deadline to ensure your recommenders have ample time.
- Test Scores: Schools with bachelor's in information assurance programs require ACT or SAT scores, sometimes with the writing portion. When you take the ACT or SAT, you can have scores sent directly to prospective schools.
- Application Fee: Colleges and universities have application fees that range from $20 to $100. Application fees are nonrefundable, but there may be financial assistance or fee waivers available to applicants who demonstrate financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Information Assurance Program?
Information security degree programs vary in course offerings and concentrations. Some programs may require previous coursework in computer science, information technology, or coding. Many schools allow students to transfer credits from a prior institution. Some programs count work experience toward degree completion, which may benefit working professionals enrolled in an information assurance bachelor's program.
|Computer and Network Security||A bachelor of science in computer and network security assesses practices for maintaining information security. Students study the ethics of computer and network security before designing their own cybersecurity project.||Network security specialist, computer system security analyst, cybersecurity intelligence analyst|
|Cybersecurity||A bachelor of science in cybersecurity teaches students to assess cybersecurity risks and implement cyberattack countermeasures. Coursework includes computer programming, managing information systems, and forensic computing.||Cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity specialist, digital forensic examiner|
|Cybersecurity Management and Policy||A bachelor of science in cybersecurity management and policy teaches students to employ best practices in information protection. Students learn to develop cybersecurity plans, implement and evaluate their efficacy, and develop short- and long-term data security policies.||Computer systems and network administrator, computer security specialist, information security consultant, security administrator|
|Information Systems Security||A bachelor of science in information systems security teaches students to manage security risks in business, scientific, and public sectors. Students learn to assess security software and develop plans for information security, becoming familiar with the latest technology through laboratory activities.||Security software developer, security software specialist, computer systems specialist|
|Cybersecurity||A bachelor of science in information technology with a concentration in cybersecurity uses information systems to combat cyberthreats. Students learn to implement standards and practices in information technology security.||Computer systems and network administrator, computer systems security specialist, information security analyst|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Information Assurance Program
Coursework for a bachelor's in information assurance will differ by program, but many of the classes information assurance majors take focus on computer systems and project development. If you study information assurance, you will have learn about digital record-keeping tools, information preservation theories, and strategies to combat cybersecurity threats in public and private sectors.
- Network Security
Network security courses teach students about network security threats and breaches. Students learn about evaluating security risks, protecting information, and selecting technologies like firewalls and intrusion-protection software. Classes also give students the tools, skills, and hands-on experience to develop security-resistant networks.
- Foundations of Cybersecurity
Foundations of cybersecurity coursework teaches students about the history of cybersecurity threats, risks, and protections. Classes cover cybersecurity processes, ethics, and extensive information on confidentiality in an electronic setting. Students learn to evaluate and apply cybersecurity best practices in real-world scenarios.
- Cybersecurity Policy
In cybersecurity policy classes, students study public and private policies about electronic data and communication. Students learn about the influence of business policies, legislation, and personal ethics on cybersecurity practices, including the history of policy development and processes to change policy.
- Ethics and Information Assurance
Coursework on ethics and information assurance teaches students about ethical issues in information gathering, distribution, and protection. Courses cover web content, portable devices, and hardware information security. Students also learn about ethical hacking and vulnerability testing as techniques used to discover and eliminate cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
In cryptography courses, students learn about the history of information encryption and are trained to assess computer data encryption practices. Classes use case studies to teach students to apply encryption technologies effectively. Students also learn how to encrypt information using keys, digital signatures, and other common cybersecurity tools.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Information Assurance?
A bachelor's degree in information assurance typically requires four years of full-time enrollment, but if you enter a program with an associate degree or transfer credits, your degree may be completed more quickly. Degree completion for part-time students varies depending on how many credits you take each term. Bachelor's programs are at least 120 credit hours, with about half of those from degree-specific coursework. Students must also complete general education requirements.
Many online degrees give students more flexibility in course offerings and sequencing. Some online information assurance bachelor's degree programs offer classes in a cohort structure, where you progress through coursework with the same student group each semester.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Information Assurance?
The cost of an information assurance bachelor's degree varies by school. In-state students typically pay less for tuition than out-of-state students. Likewise, public institutions typically cost less than private schools. Some online programs offer a standard tuition rate regardless of student location, though others observe residency distinctions. Part-time students may be charged a higher, per-credit-hour rate.
In addition to tuition, you must account for additional expenses like fees, textbooks, and transportation. On-campus students often have to pay facility fees, purchase a meal plan, and pay for student housing, while online students can have additional technology and processing fees attached to their programs. As you look at specific programs, check for laboratory and supply fees that accompany some courses.
Acquire information about financial aid during your search. By completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you can determine your eligibility for federal, state, and institutional loans, grants, and scholarships. Many schools and programs have other aid opportunities available. For further information, contact the financial aid office and the individual department at each of your potential schools.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Information Assurance Prepares For
- Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional
Certified by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)², a global leader in cybersecurity, CSSLPs are experts in security practices, including software authentication, authorization, and auditing. Professionals with at least four years of field experience who participate in CSSLP training and pass the CSSLP exam become certified to join (ISC)². CSSLPs must maintain continuing education coursework and renew their certifications every three years.
- Certified Information Privacy Technologist
The International Association of Privacy Professionals offers a certification in privacy for information technologists. A CIPT demonstrates expertise in privacy concepts, practices, expectations, and responsibilities. They also learn to communicate privacy matters to other professionals. CIPTs must complete the CIPT exam for certification.
- Certified Information Security Manager
The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) offers a certification for information security management. As a CISM, information security professionals demonstrate their ability to assess, manage, and prevent security threats while focusing on business and organizational goals. To become a CISM, information security workers must submit evidence of industry experience, pass the CISM exam, adhere to ISACA standards and ethics, and pledge to complete continuing education requirements.
- GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst
The certified intrusion analyst program demonstrates expertise in monitoring network traffic for signs of digital intrusion. Certified Intrusion Analysts configure and implement detection software while keeping records on traffic and potential intrusion events. GIAC certification in intrusion analysis includes a proctored exam.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate Cyber Ops
Cisco's CCNA Cyber Ops certification prepares information security professionals to effectively use cybersecurity software within security operations centers. A certification in cyber ops does not require prior training, but Cisco provides resources to prepare you for the CCNA cyber ops exam. Recertification is required every three years.
Resources for Information Assurance Students
GIAC offers numerous certifications to information technology professionals and has extensive resources, including a reading room, career information, and security awareness training.
The SANS Institute was founded in 1989 as a research and education-oriented organization. Today, it serves as a global network for information security professionals. The SANS institute provides information security training and certifications, has a reading room, hosts webinars, and operates the Internet Storm Center to broadcast cyberthreat alerts.
NIST fosters innovation and industrial competitiveness in areas like forensic science, public safety, and cybersecurity. NIST has a computer security resource center, a research center, and a national vulnerability database to provide information assurance professionals with resources to better understand and protect electronic data.
National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
The NCCIS and US-CERT are dedicated to reducing cybersecurity risks and communication difficulties around the country. The NCCIC and US-CERT provide organization resources, alerts and tips for managing risks, and links to publications related to different aspects of information security.
DHS provides information on security issues like terrorism, immigration, law enforcement, and electronic privacy. The cybersecurity division of DHS offers information on cybersecurity research, protection strategies, and combating cyber crime.
Professional Organizations in Information Assurance
Information assurance students and graduates can join many professional organizations. Membership to a professional organization often provides access to job listings, career guidance, and networking opportunities for career advancement. Members can also attend annual conferences, online webinars, and other trainings that meet continuing education and professional development requirements for information assurance careers and certifications.
The IAPP brings together privacy and security professionals who work to protect the information in public and private sectors. Membership to the IAPP includes networking opportunities, legislative alerts, and members-only newsletters.
The ISACA works to promote the development, adoption, and use of global information security standards. Membership to the ISACA provides access to internet conferences, professional publications, and resources like the Cybersecurity Nexus Program.
The AITP works to advance the field of information technology by uniting students, educators, and professionals. The AITP advocates for the information technology industry, provides career resources, and offers training videos for members. The organization promotes information technology innovation and leadership through AITP programs and awards.
The ISSA is a group of international security systems professionals that strives to promote individual and organizational information risk management and infrastructure protection. ISSA provides peer-interaction opportunities, educational forums, and professional publications to individual and chapter members.
The (ISC)² is the global leader in cybersecurity and information security, providing certifications and resources to information assurance students and professionals. Members receive discounts on (ISC)² textbooks and programs, access to webinars and professional publications, and continuing education opportunities.