As cyberattacks increase in frequency and scope, so does the demand for information systems security specialists. With a job growth rate of 18%, the field of cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing occupational sectors in the nation. If you're an innovative thinker who loves being at the forefront of technology, a career in information systems security might be in your future! Earning a bachelor's degree is the first step to finding a job in this exciting and lucrative field.
What are the best information systems security programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT|
|2||Bellevue University||Bellevue, NE|
|3||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|4||Kennesaw State University||Kennesaw, GA|
|5||Central Washington University||Ellensburg, WA|
|6||Dakota State University||Madison, SD|
|7||University of Maryland Global Campus||Adelphi, MD|
|8||Lewis University||Romeoville, IL|
|9||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|10||Davenport University||Grand Rapids, MI|
- WHAT IS AN INFORMATION ASSURANCE DEGREE?
An information systems security degree teaches students how to protect sensitive information for organizations. Learners are taught how to use the latest technology to prevent cyberattacks. Read more here..
- SHOULD I GET A DEGREE IN INFORMATION INSURANCE?
Students with a strong background in technology will do well in an information security program. Learners without a technology background me be required to complete prerequisite courses. Read more here..
- WHAT IS INFORMATION ASSURANCE?
Information assurance refers to the processes involved with protecting information systems, such as computer systems and networks. Read more here..
- IS INFORMATION ASSURANCE A GOOD CAREER?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects many technology-related careers to grow, and graduates of information assurance programs are qualified for many lucrative careers. Read more here..
- WHAT DOES AN INFORMATION ASSURANCE ANALYST DO?
Information assurance analysts identify risks within software and hardware systems. They protect company, employee, and customer information from unauthorized access. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
The best online degree in information systems security is one that equips you for success in this rapidly growing and lucrative field. Whether you're aiming for a career in digital forensics or fascinated by ethical hacking, an online information security degree program can give you the knowledge and skills most sought after by employers. Covering topics from network architecture to cryptography, core courses address concepts integral to the field of information security. Through these courses, students will develop a set of skills that can be applied to numerous aspects of information technology. Some programs also offer concentrated learning tracks for those interested in one of information security's many subfields.
The online format is ideal for information technology coursework, offering hands-on experience in security application development, modeling, and other concepts, through virtual labs and interactive exercises. Many programs culminate in a capstone course that allows students to demonstrate their acquired skills and knowledge.
2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Information Systems Security Programs
Western Governors University
|Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Salt Lake City's WGU delivers an online bachelor of science in network operations and security. Nearly three-quarters of graduates earn their degree within 36 months, and the program's curriculum leads to nine industry certifications at no additional cost.
This bachelor's program features an asynchronous structure that empowers degree-seekers to work as quickly as they like. Courses use a competency model to evaluate learning: students qualify for course completion as soon as they pass an associated assessment test.
With fixed tuition fees set per term rather than per credit, WGU offers unusually strong value to highly motivated students. To qualify for admission, applicants must hold an associate computer science degree from an accredited institution or two years of professional IT experience.
|Bellevue, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: N/A||
BU's online bachelor's in computer information systems combines three essential aspects of computer science into a single program; learners emerge with strong professional competencies in database design, computer programming, and information system management.
Students have the flexibility to pursue specializations in app development, business intelligence, cybersecurity, and networking. Participants also have the option to earn a 120-credit bachelor of applied science or a 127-credit bachelor of science.
Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, BU maintains an open-enrollment policy and functions as a private institution. The school's Center for Cybersecurity Education ranks among the top institutions of its kind in the United States.
University of Illinois Springfield
|Springfield, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
UIS hosts a top-rated online bachelor of science in computer science with an available concentration in information systems security. Learners cover key fundamental skills and develop the sound educational base needed for a successful career.
Students who earn this bachelor's in information systems security complete 36 credits in their concentration, learning about essential computing concepts. Specialized course topics include network administration, programming languages, a capstone project, and three electives.
Entrance and exit assessments bookend the specialization, ensuring that degree-seekers meet stated learning outcomes. Applicants to this program should possess college-level training in Java programming (minimum two semesters) and calculus, statistics, and discrete or finite mathematics (minimum one semester each); students who do not meet these requirements may take prerequisites at UIS.
Kennesaw State University
|Kennesaw, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Georgia's KSU offers an online program that combines elements of business administration and computer science. Leading to a bachelor of business administration in information security and assurance, this study path balances business acumen with technological proficiency.
This program uses courseware approved by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems. Degree-seekers engage with learning tools that meet advanced information security standards.
Coursework teaches students how to protect the confidentiality and integrity of digital, technological, and information-based enterprise assets. KSU holds official standing as an NSA- and Department of Homeland Security-backed National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance.
Central Washington University
|Ellensburg, WA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
CWU offers an online bachelor of science in information technology and administrative management through its Department of Information Technology. The curriculum of this program focuses on developing effective leaders and managers who also possess advanced technical and technological skills.
Graduates emerge with computer science competencies related to cybersecurity, web and mobile app development, network maintenance, and programming. Students also develop managerial and soft skills, strengthening their communication, teamwork, business management, and change management proficiencies.
Learners can also access internship opportunities. The program undergoes regular curriculum reviews to maintain its relevance. CWU holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges And Universities.
Dakota State University
|Madison, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
DSU offers an online bachelor of science in computer information systems degree that builds versatile skill sets. Learners complete an intensive set of core programming courses that develop .Net, client-side, and server-side programming proficiencies. Coursework also focuses on app development, networking, systems analysis, and database administration.
The study path approaches coursework from an enterprise viewpoint, emphasizing the practical, business-oriented applications of material. Degree-seekers complement their advanced technical coursework with professional project management and data analysis classes.
DSU's computer science programs undergo regular reviews by an internal CIS Advisory Board. Comprising representatives from major companies that hire DSU graduates, the board helps ensure that program content is applicable to the current business environment.
University of Maryland Global Campus
|Adelphi, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 15%||
UMGC's 120-credit bachelor of science in information systems management prepares students for management-level IT and information assurance careers. The program's flexible design allows degree-seekers to continue full-time work while managing their course load.
Faculty designed the curriculum of this program with input from computer science and information security experts, leading scholars, and corporate chief information officers. Coursework helps degree-seekers build advanced system development insights and the ability to make reliable technical and technological recommendations to their employers.
Learners also master important communication skills, information assurance proficiencies, and strategy-oriented management and leadership capabilities.
Students with existing credits, industry certifications, and professional experience can take advantage of a generous transfer policy. Eligible learners can transfer in up to three-quarters of the degree's requirements.
|Romeoville, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Based in Romeoville, Illinois, Lewis offers its online bachelor of science in information security management with an accelerated timeline. Learners benefit from small classes made up entirely of working professionals.
The program's hands-on design focuses on core skills, including network and IT security best practices, risk assessment and mitigation, security incident and event management, data discovery and computer forensics, and ethical hacking. Graduates are prepared to earn at least six standard professional certifications, including security+, certified ethical hacker, and certified forensics examiner credentials.
Lewis is recognized by the National Security Organization and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance.
|Burlington, VT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
Champlain — located in Burlington, Vermont — oversees a bachelor of science in computer and information systems program. This program can be completed entirely online, and faculty deliver seven-week classes asynchronously. This schedule creates six terms throughout the year, enabling motivated learners to expedite degree completion.
Learners can also build their choice of 11 specialized certifications into their degree plans, enhancing their employability. Participants learn about network security and administration best practices, advanced database management, and enterprise information system design.
Coursework also teaches students a strong set of soft skills that can improve their career achievement outlooks. Assignments go beyond technical content to emphasize critical analysis, creative thinking, teamwork, and communication.
|Grand Rapids, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
DU's Global Campus offers an online bachelor's degree in computer information systems. With an entirely online format, this 120-credit program positions graduates for career success in enterprise settings by combining computer science classes with required coursework in finance, data analysis, and project management.
Program graduates possess advanced business administration and management skills, as well as strong technical proficiencies. Learners can also customize their degrees by choosing one of four available concentrations: web and mobile development, programming, database analytics, and secure software development. Students can add a mathematics minor.
Graduates master at least three programming language families, including Java, C#, and C++. DU holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, and the average class size at the university is 17 students.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Information Security Degree Program?
Every online information security degree program is different, but many allow students to develop specializations in the field through program concentrations. While available concentrations can vary widely between schools, some are more commonly offered than others. You may encounter the following tracks while researching online degree in information systems security programs:
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Computer Forensics||Students on a computer forensics track develop competence in investigative procedures and digital evidence collection, as well as laws and practices associated with court-admissible evidence. Techniques studied may include live and cross-drive analysis, file carving, and steganography. Some programs offer additional certification along with a bachelor's degree.||Computer forensic investigator|
|Information Assurance||Coursework for this concentration emphasizes the role of strategic risk management in information systems security. While learning to assess programs and networks for security problems, students develop a broad foundation in the five pillars of information assurance: integrity, availability, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation.||Information security analyst, Computer systems administrator|
|Network Management||A network management concentration offers even more broadly applicable skills to an online network security degree curriculum. In addition to cryptography and other topics in cybersecurity, this track addresses basic concepts in network architecture, LAN technology, and C programming. Some careers associated with this concentration require further certification.||Network administrator, IT director, and Tech support specialist|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY
Just like concentrations, every school has different requirements for earning an online information security degree. Curricula can vary widely, depending on the pace, duration, and focus of a program. Some topics, however, are integral to any online network security degree curriculum. Most programs typically offer some form of the following courses:
- Computer forensics: This course offers a broad overview of the methods and tools used to investigate computer-related crimes. Students learn how to obtain digital evidence for use in court as they perform basic investigations on numerous operating systems. Coursework emphasizes the importance of good practice guidelines in collecting court-admissible information.
- Information and security planning: Addressing crucial topics such as network security, encryption, and acceptable use, this course examines methods of constructing guidelines for maintaining digital security. Students may earn hands-on experience by constructing and implementing their own information security program as they become acquainted with common standards in digital risk management.
- Ethical hacking: Students assigned to this course will gain a skillset in high demands as they learn popular techniques in penetration testing for security assessment. Coursework demonstrates how intruders exploit vulnerabilities to infiltrate a system, and how this can be prevented. Topics covered include network scanning, enumeration, and issues in cryptography.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY?
The average online information security degree program consists of around 120 credit hours, but there are several factors that affect the length of a degree. While most students complete their information assurance degree online in two to four years, completion time depends heavily on whether a program is individually paced or taught in a cohort-based format.
Designed for busy people balancing education with professional and personal obligations, asynchronous, or self-paced programs let students complete coursework when and where it's most convenient. Broadly-defined deadlines and accelerated courses allow organized, focused students to finish their degrees quickly. Conversely, cohort learning requires students to be online at specified times, as lectures and discussions are delivered to a group of online “classmates.” Cohort-based programs emphasize cooperative learning, and may involve participation in group projects or forums. Although they take longer to complete, many students prefer the more structured format of cohort learning degree programs.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Information Systems Security Degrees
If you've been researching online degree programs, you've undoubtedly noticed the term accredited on many college websites. Accredited institutions are those that meet quality standards defined by an external accrediting organization. Depending on the assessing organization, schools can be regionally or nationally accredited. While these designations may not seem important, they can have a profound influence on your academic career.
Nonprofit, academically-focused schools such as state universities are most often regionally accredited, while for-profit vocational schools typically receive national accreditation. Credits earned at regionally accredited institutions transfer easily to other regionally and nationally accredited schools, but this is rarely the case for those earned through nationally accredited programs. If transferring schools might be in your future, selecting a regionally accredited institution should be a priority. Additionally, most corporate tuition reimbursement plans extend exclusively to regionally accredited programs.
Through the accreditation process, the U.S. Department of Education determines which institutions are eligible to receive federal funding. While this branch of the government doesn't accredit schools itself, it does rely on information collected from organizations like the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Consisting of representatives from universities around the country, CHEA ensures that regional and national accrediting bodies are adhering to standards. Along with a wealth of resources on the accreditation process, CHEA offers an extensive database of accredited institutions around the country.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Information Systems Security Graduates
Does having a bachelor's degree really lead to a better salary? There are numerous factors that influence annual median pay, including location, company policies, and professional experience, but few variables impact earnings as much as level of education. Even among industry veterans, higher salaries are strongly correlated with higher education. Using data gleaned from PayScale, the table below demonstrates just how much having a bachelor's degree can affect earnings.
|Years of Experience||Median Salary: Associate Degree in Information Technology||Median Salary: Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology|
BACHELOR's IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY SALARY
While salaries depend heavily on individual employers as well as professional experience, even entry-level jobs in the field of information systems security can be highly lucrative. Using data from PayScale, the following table features several careers and specialized positions attainable with an online network security degree, as well as the average salary for each.
|Position/Specialty||Average Median Salary|
|Security Policies and Procedures||$84,000|
|IT Security and Infrastructure||$84,000|
|Microsoft Active Directory||$94,000|
BACHELOR'S IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY CAREERS
The best online degree in information systems security programs provide graduates with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the workforce. Ideal for detail-oriented individuals with a knack for problem-solving, the field of network security offers graduates a variety of careers that allow them to use their talents to the fullest. A bachelor's in information systems security prepares candidates for occupations such as:
- Information Security Analyst: Information security analysts design and implement plans that protect companies and organizations from hackers. The changing nature and frequency of cyberattacks has given this occupation one of the highest job growth rates in the country, and the demand for experts in the field has increased exponentially.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager: Often known as IT managers, these experts ensure the security of a business or organization's network while directing all computer-related activities. IT managers assess hardware and software to determine any necessary upgrades, and implement new technologies as required.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator: Tasked with the day-to-day maintenance of computer networks, these administrators provide organizations with crucial technical support. Network administrators must be familiar with a range of network types and the technical and security problems commonly encountered with each one. Some assist network architects in program design.
- Computer Systems Analyst: Combining aspects of business and information technology, computer systems analysts assess an organization's computer infrastructure to determine the most beneficial and secure hardware and software upgrades. Through data modelling and flowcharts, they identify an organization's technological needs and perform cost-benefit analyses to determine the most cost-efficient way of meeting them.
- Database Administrator: Database administrators are charged with maintaining the security and accessibility of organizational data through the use of specialized software. Some specialize in systems architecture and program writing, while others focus on the maintenance of particular applications.
|Position||Average Median Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Information Security Analyst||$92,600||18%|
|Computer and Information Systems Manager||$135,800||15%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrator||$79,700||8%|
|Computer Systems Analyst||$87,220||21%|
Whether you're still working on your online information security degree or a recent graduate, joining a professional organization can open up a whole world of opportunities within your field. Offering resources ranging from certification programs to career services, these organizations assist students and professionals alike in a variety of ways. Promoting networking opportunities through chapter meetings and conferences, many groups also offer job search assistance, educational resources, and scholarships. A few that look great on any resume include:
- Information Systems Security Association: This nonprofit organization is committed to advancing cybersecurity professionals through education and leadership opportunities. Members may join local special interest groups, attend international conferences, or enroll in educational courses.
- International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium: Offering 10 different certification programs, this organization also maintains a large virtual library of materials pertaining to information security. Students enrolled in participating college programs may be able to earn credit for attending events and webinars.
- Association of Information Technology Professionals: The premier organization for IT professionals worldwide, this society extends numerous benefits to student members, including scholarships and career fairs.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Information Systems Security Program
Paying for an online information security degree might seem overwhelming at first but, fortunately, help is available. Filling out a FAFSA form can help to determine if you're eligible for federal grants, student loans, or scholarships. An increasing demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals has prompted many businesses and professional organizations to offer scholarships for students pursuing degrees in information security. Many of these scholarships are available to distance learners as well as their traditional counterparts.
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.