Modern computer networks are remarkable tools for communication and collaboration, but they also are rife with vulnerabilities, and frequently exploited through hacking, viruses, identity theft, and fraud. A network security degree puts you at the forefront of the fight against cybercrime, and trains you to secure computer networks and protect them against unauthorized intrusions.
The increased threat of cyberattacks has created a massive demand for information security analysts, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow by 18% between 2014-2024. If you're interested in pursuing a network security degree online, the schools in this ranking represent some of the top programs in the country, combining affordability, convenience, and academic excellence.
What are the best network security programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Davenport University||Grand Rapids, MI|
|2||Dakota State University||Madison, SD|
|3||College of Southern Maryland||La Plata, MD|
|4||St. Petersburg College||Clearwater, FL|
|5||Harford Community College||Bel Air, MD|
|6||Northern Wyoming Community College District||Sheridan, WY|
|7||Palo Alto College||San Antonio, TX|
|8||Minnesota West Community and Technical College||Granite Falls, MN|
|9||University of Maine at Fort Kent||Fort Kent, ME|
|10||MidAmerica Nazarene University||Olathe, KS|
2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Network Security Programs
|Grand Rapids, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Davenport's associate in network security includes required coursework in database design, the principles of project management, and server side scripting. Students can customize the degree by selecting one network security elective. Additionally, the university offers a recommended program sequence to keep students on track for graduation.
Davenport's career advisors offer undergraduates and alumni internship opportunities, online events, and alumni mentors. The university provides most services through Handshake, an online platform through which users can make an appointment for a virtual counseling session.
First-year applicants must submit standardized test scores in addition to high school transcripts or GED scores. Full-time students pay a per-semester tuition rate. All incoming students can apply for institutional scholarships. Davenport is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
DSU's online associate degree in network security awards an AS and emphasizes collaboration and networking among students. Required courses include operating environments, networking, and information security management. Students also complete 24 credits of general education courses.
Graduates can pursue careers as systems administrators and penetration testers. Through DSU's website, learners can research careers and hone interviewing skills. These resources help 99% of DSU alumni begin a job or a bachelor's program.
DSU accepts applications throughout the year. Prospective learners with GED scores can apply. Residents of several different states pay DSU's in-state tuition rate. DSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
College of Southern Maryland
|La Plata, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
CSM's associate in network security includes a 60-credit curriculum with coursework in computer security, Microsoft Windows server administration, and business and technical writing. The degree offers some flexibility, as students select two electives. Full-time learners can earn the degree in four semesters.
CSM's career services office provides a virtual career library, career coaching, and interviewing. Additional services include a LinkedIn profile guide.
First-year applicants must submit standardized test scores and complete an orientation. Applicants without ACT or SAT scores can take a placement test. Students who live in adjoining counties pay the in-district tuition rate. CSM's Scholarship Finder website lists financial aid opportunities.
CSM is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
St. Petersburg College
|Clearwater, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Prospective students preparing for careers at a federal agency often apply to SPC's online associate degree in network security. Students develop skills related to computer repair essentials, computer and information technology concepts, and network defense and countermeasures. Additional requirements include an internship.
SPC's career services office helps students explore career paths, polish their resumes, and apply to internships. The college's blogs highlight career trends and advice for new and experienced professionals. Learners can also review new job openings on Handshake.
The SPC application process takes only 10 minutes to complete. All applicants must submit transcripts and test scores. Incoming students may qualify for one of seven institutional scholarships.
St. Petersburg College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Harford Community College
|Bel Air, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
HCC's associate in network security includes required courses like introduction to cybersecurity, Cisco, and computer operating systems. Degree-seekers have tremendous flexibility in choosing general education courses. Additionally, full-time students can complete the program in four semesters.
HCC's career services website offers access to interest inventories and a course in career planning that awards college credit. Students can also apply to HCC's Cooperative Education program, which allows them to gain practical experience in a professional setting.
Applicants can take a virtual tour before applying. Admission requirements include high school transcripts. Prospective students without standardized test scores take the ACCUPLACER exam. Applicants must submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional scholarships and grants.
HCC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Northern Wyoming Community College District
|Sheridan, WY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
NWCCD's online associate degree in network security requires 61 credits in topics such as network defense and countermeasures, cloud computing, and hardening network infrastructure. During the program's capstone, students use new skills and knowledge to tackle a real-world problem. Most learners can graduate in two years.
NWCCD's career advisors play a vital role in alumni's professional success, as they offer interest inventories, counseling sessions, and career development workshops that cover career exploration and resume tips. Degree-seekers can consult the college's Career Planning Workbook at any time.
Prospective students must have a high school diploma. The college recommends that all applicants also submit FAFSA results to apply for nearly 20 scholarship opportunities.
NWCCD is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Palo Alto College
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Multiple courses in PAC's associate in network security curriculum are approved by the National Security Agency, meaning that graduates attain knowledge and skills the federal government desires in applicants. The five-semester, 60-credit program emphasizes information technology security, Linux installation, and digital forensics.
In addition to self-assessment tools, PAC's career services office provides degree-seekers with multiple job boards that highlight careers in Texas and beyond. The college also offers Palomino Grow, a unique mentorship program that allows students to gain practical experience and build their professional network.
Prospective students must submit transcripts or test scores, complete the FAFSA, and take a placement test. Out-of-district and out-of-state students pay a higher tuition rate. Alamo District residents can apply for PAC's Foundation Scholarship.
Palo Alto College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
|Granite Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
MWCTC's online associate degree in network security features a 60-credit curriculum with courses in command line, information security management, and ethical hacking. Learners select three technical education electives to create a custom specialization. All students also learn to perform a security audit.
On MWCTC's career services website, degree-seekers and alumni can review job postings, create a life plan, and research professional development resources. CareerScope software helps users explore career paths that align with the network security degree.
Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores. Online learners pay a higher tuition rate than their on-campus counterparts. MWCTC accepts scholarship applications for both the fall and spring semesters.
MWCTC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Maine at Fort Kent
|Fort Kent, ME||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
UMFK's associate in network security includes coursework in network security, cyber defense, and computer forensics and investigations. Students who follow the suggested course sequence take 14-16 credits each semester. In their final semester, degree-seekers develop a professional portfolio.
Students who need resume assistance or want to improve interviewing skills turn to UMFK's career advisors. These advisors provide learners with resources like resume and cover letter templates.
UMFK accepts both the Common Application and the ApplyMaine application. Canadian students pay the same tuition rate as Maine residents. UMFK uses incoming learners' transcripts and test scores to award automatic merit-based scholarships.
UMFK is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
MidAmerica Nazarene University
|Olathe, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
MNU's online associate degree in network security allows degree-seekers to start at any time. Required courses include information systems analysis and design, systems security and information assurance, and management information systems.
Nearly two-thirds of MNU's alumni find a job that relates to their degree. MNU's career services office helps network security students research the best careers and develop interviewing and networking skills.
Prospective students must have a high school diploma and must submit ACT or SAT scores. The university offers the Pioneer Pledge, a unique financial aid program in which alumni struggling to repay student loans receive financial assistance.
MNU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Network Security Program?
- Time to Complete
1.5 to 2 Years
- Credit Hours
60 credits total
30 credits per year
- Program Costs
- Core Courses
- Computer Operating Systems
- Network Security Management
- Computer Systems Technology
- Network security
- Cyber security
- Digital forensics
Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Network Security Degree?
An online associate degree in network security prepares you for a range of IT and digital security positions, from network administration to network security to technical support. Generally, these positions require you to develop and maintain network systems, monitor their operation, and assist other employees with network troubleshooting and operations. To succeed in network security, you need problem solving skills, attention to detail, communication skills, and knowledge of the latest developments in networking technology.
- Network Support Specialist
By supporting IT employees within an organization, network support specialists assist with networking software and hardware. While an associate degree is often adequate for these positions, some employers prefer a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary - $52,160
Projected Growth Rate - 12%
- Information Security Analyst
These employees protect networks and computer systems against cyberattacks and other unauthorized intrusions. More advanced analysts may also design network security systems and protocols, though these higher-paying positions usually require at least a bachelor's degree.
Median Annual Salary - $92,600
Projected Growth Rate - 18%
- Network Systems Administrator
Systems administrators perform the vital work of maintaining day-to-day operations of computer networks. They manage system organization and address networking problems as they arise, ensuring a network's functionality.
Median Annual Salary - $79,700
Projected Growth Rate - 8%
Many colleges allow you to apply transfer credits from your online associate degree in network security toward a bachelor's degree, which can increase your career options and your earning potential. Depending on the school and the degree you pursue, you may be able to complete your baccalaureate network security degree with less than two years of additional study. Many higher-level positions in the field, such as cyber security analysts or network security engineers, typically require at least a bachelor's degree.
- Computer Forensics: This degree emphasizes investigating and preventing cybercrime, and examines the field from both a technical and legal perspective. Coursework includes data analysis, digital evidence and forensics, and network intrusion detection.
- Information Assurance: Students in these programs develop strategies for safeguarding digital information at businesses and other organizations. The degree highlights the design and maintenance of digital information systems and safeguards.
- IT Network Administration: The network administration degree prepares students for careers as network server administrators, overseeing network development and management for businesses. This comprehensive degree includes topics in data management, security, programming, operating systems.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Network Security Graduates
Along with experience and education, location also has an impact on average salary for graduates of online network security degree programs. The following table collects data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showcasing the differences in median salary by U.S. state. The highest-paying states are on the East Coast, with California rounding out the top five.
Network Support Specialist Salary by Location
|District of Columbia||$89,460|
Network security professionals have several options to participate in trade groups and associations. Many organizations offer membership opportunities to both students and working professionals, allowing access to resources such as workshops, conferences, professional certification training, career services, and networking opportunities. Joining one or more of these organizations is a great way to develop professionally, and to pursue greater opportunities for your career.
Financing Your Online Associate in Network Security Program
Earning a network security online degree is certain to increase your earning potential, but it's still important to understand the different options for financing your education. One of your first steps should be to complete the FAFSA, which determines your eligibility for federal funding sources such as grants, scholarships, work study opportunities, and loans. Online research can also help you locate scholarships specifically intended for students pursuing network security degrees. Other funding opportunities may be available for students with certain backgrounds or who are pursuing certain career paths.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.