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A master’s in cybersecurity is ideal for those looking to gain the technical expertise to detect and manage threats to sensitive and valuable data, networks, and computer systems. Read on to learn more about this degree, including admissions and curriculum requirements, as well as the kinds of jobs degree-holders may pursue. Additionally, this guide reviews what you can expect to learn in this program and highlights some of the best available cybersecurity degrees.

A master’s in cybersecurity qualifies graduates for well-paying, in-demand IT careers such as information security analyst. While many computer science jobs require only a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can help you acquire new skills in this rapidly changing field or position you to take on more responsibility.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 New York University New York, NY
4 George Washington University Washington, DC
5 Brandeis University Waltham, MA
6 University of Delaware Newark, DE
7 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
8 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
9 University of Dallas Irving, TX
10 DePaul University Chicago, IL

Computer scientists with expertise in cybersecurity can earn six-figure salaries. Demand for the skills learners accrue in a cybersecurity master’s program remains high, as companies and government agencies face ongoing threats such as hacking and data breaches. Additionally, graduates can expect a robust job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of information security analysts to increase 32% between 2018 and 2028 — well above the average for all other occupations.

How We Rank Schools

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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

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Rank School Location Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Graduation Rate: 93%

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. The program offers four concentrations, including analysis, assured autonomy, networks, and systems. Students in the program gain all of the skills needed to protect confidential data, protect and restore computer networks, and manage the risk of cyberattacks.

To complete the degree, students must finish 10 courses within five years. The curriculum includes three foundation courses, two electives, and five cybersecurity program courses that apply to the student's focus area. The three foundation courses include foundations of algorithms, foundations of information assurance, and cryptology. The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,845 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 5 years maximum
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 or higher for the second half of an applicant's undergraduate studies is preferred
Standardized Tests: Not required

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2

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Graduation Rate: 92%

Based in Los Angeles, USC offers an online master of science in computer science with a focus on computer security. Program participants develop the skills needed to meet the cybersecurity needs of corporate and government sectors. Topics studied include cryptography and statistical analysis of attacks. Students must possess a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 to graduate.

Students can complete the degree entirely online, although they can take advantage of optional campus visits. Applicants need an undergraduate degree in computer science as well as significant experience in computing to qualify for admission. The university is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and Universities.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Computer Science (Computer Security)
School Status: Private
Tuition: $2,148 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: Four semesters
Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Requirement waived due to COVID-19

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3

New York University

New York, NY Graduation Rate: 85%

The Tandon School of Engineering at NYU offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. The program prepares graduates for advanced careers in information security. The 30-credit program includes courses such as design and analysis of algorithms, applied cryptography, and digital forensics.

Applicants with an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, science, or engineering meet qualifications for admission. The school may consider applicants with other types of degrees on a case-by-case basis. Students must also possess a working knowledge of a high-level programming language, such as C++. Students may wish to apply for the NYU Cyber Fellows scholarship, which covers 75% of the program's cost.

NYU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It's master's in cybersecurity track is one of only 20 graduate programs in the country offering a cyber ops specialization option recognized by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,943 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No GPA minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE and GMAT requirement currently waived due to COVID-19

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4

George Washington University

Washington, DC Graduation Rate: 82%

Located in Washington, D.C., GW offers an online master of engineering in cybersecurity analytics. Students develop practical experience utilizing cybersecurity and analytics tools to combat a variety of cyberattacks. The curriculum covers several key areas, including cyberforensics, network defense, and cloud computing security. Graduates gain the foundational technical skills required for a rewarding career in cybersecurity.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, business administration, physical sciences, economics, or another relevant discipline. Students without a technical degree must demonstrate work experience in the IT field. GW is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Engineering in Cybersecurity Analytics
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,075 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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5

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA Graduation Rate: 88%

A private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts, Brandeis provides an online master of science in information security leadership that prepares students for a top-tier career in cybersecurity. The 30-credit program consists of six required courses and four electives. With small class sizes of no more than 12 students, program participants gain technical skills and exposure to the full gamut of cybersecurity threats.

Applicants need an undergraduate degree in networking, computer science, or computer security, or they must be able to demonstrate work experience in those areas. Graduates of the program can pursue roles as software engineers, directors of IT and security, or technical support engineers, among others. Brandeis is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Information Security Leadership
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,178 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 15-30 months
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

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6

University of Delaware

Newark, DE Graduation Rate: 81%

Based in Newark, UD offers an online master's in cybersecurity that takes two years to complete. The program suits students with a background in engineering, computer science, or information systems. Graduates learn how to design software and networks while experiencing hands-on training for cyberdefense. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security recognize UD as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Each course in this 30-credit program lasts seven weeks. Courses include digital forensics, system hardening and protection, and secure software design. Students may start the program in the spring, summer, or fall. Applicants must possess high-level programming experience and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics, or another relevant discipline. UD is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Public
Tuition: $1,237 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: Two years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE minimum quantitative scores of 150 verbal and qualitative score of 300 required; waivers available

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7

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA Graduation Rate: 50%

A Christian university based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty offers an online master's in cybersecurity. Students learn advanced defense techniques and methods of bolstering systems against attacks.

The program features a final capstone project that gives students practical field experience. Core courses include applied cryptography, digital forensics, and ethical hacking. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in computer programming, computer science, information systems, information systems management, or information technology. The school grants some exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Students may transfer up to 50% of the total credits required to graduate. Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $565 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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8

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Saint Louis, MO Graduation Rate: 72%

Founded in 1872, Maryville offers an online master's in cybersecurity for those seeking to advance their career opportunities in the field. Graduates can pursue positions like chief information security officer, security engineer, and network architect. The program teaches students technical skills and key business concepts.

The program features three emphasis areas for students to choose from: leadership, technical, or general. Students may also obtain industry-relevant certifications in certified ethical hacking, certified information systems security, and CompTIA security+ during the course of their study. Courses include controls for effective cyberdefense, mobile device hacking and forensics, and cybersecurity governance. Maryville is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $622 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required; provisional admission may be granted for those with a lower GPA
Standardized Tests: Not required

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9

University of Dallas

Irving, TX Graduation Rate: 66%

A Catholic university located in Irving, Texas, UD offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. The program teaches students critical cybersecurity topics, including data protection, legal and compliance issues, and penetration testing. Students in the cybersecurity graduate program may take classes online or on campus.

The 30-credit program consists of 10 classes, which students can complete on a part-time basis over the course of one to two years. Students in the program also earn "MiniMasters," digital badges awarded for completing coursework that students may include on resumes or LinkedIn profiles. UD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,250 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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10

DePaul University

Chicago, IL Graduation Rate: 71%

A Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul offers an online master's in cybersecurity. Students may pursue one of three concentrations: networking and infrastructure; computer security; or governance, risk management, and compliance. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designate DePaul as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity.

Foundation courses include distributed systems, object-oriented software development, and digital forensic technologies. To earn their degree, students must complete a capstone project in information security governance or computer information and network security. They also have the option to complete a master's research project. DePaul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $655 per quarter credit
Credit Requirements: 52 quarter credits
Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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11

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA Graduation Rate: 74%

A private university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. Hosted by Drexel's College of Engineering and College of Computing and Informatics, the program provides graduates with advanced skills needed to excel in the fast-growing cybersecurity sector. Drexel is designated as a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence.

The program features four 10-week quarters per year. To graduate, students must complete 45 quarter credits. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree to qualify for admission. Drexel is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,342 per quarter credit
Credit Requirements: 45 quarter credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required, but preferred GRE score of 300 or higher

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12

University of Tulsa

Tulsa, OK Graduation Rate: 74%

Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, TU offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. The school designed the program for working professionals interested in gaining the knowledge needed for an advanced career in information security. Designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education, the program stands at the forefront of cybersecurity research and education.

Students can master theory, concepts, and techniques in as little as 20 months. The 30-credit program lets students choose one of two focus areas: leadership or technical skills. Courses include information systems assurance and defensive cybersecurity technologies. TU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,310 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE

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13

Lewis University

Romeoville, IL Graduation Rate: 64%

Located in Romeoville, Illinois, Lewis offers an online master's in cybersecurity. The program blends computer science theory with practical hands-on skills. Students gain experience identifying vulnerabilities, using firewalls, and rooting out cyberattacks via virtual learning environments.

The program is designated as a Department of Homeland Security Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. Students without a background in data science or a related field may need to complete additional coursework. Lewis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $810 per credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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14

Capitol Technology University

Laurel, MD Graduation Rate: 48%

Based in Laurel, Maryland, Capitol Tech offers an online master of science in cybersecurity. The program prepares graduates for senior-level careers in the government or corporate sector. The school's Center for Cybersecurity Research and Analysis serves as a hub for training and research, preparing students to address real challenges in the workforce. Capitol Tech boasts a long history in cybersecurity education, standing among the first schools designated as a National Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense.

The school offers courses in eight-week terms. Applicants must possess a background in computer information systems, networking, telecommunications, IT, computer science, or network security. Required courses include malicious software, vulnerability mitigation, and security risk management. Capitol Tech is accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Private
Tuition: $630 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36-39 credits
Program Length: 3-5 years
Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: Not required

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15

Missouri State University-Springfield

Springfield, MO Graduation Rate: 54%

Based in Springfield, Missouri State provides an online pathway to those seeking a master of science in cybersecurity. Graduates learn the skills needed to secure and defend information networks from malicious hackers. The 30-credit program features courses such as cloud computing, management of information security, and computer forensics.

The school considers professional work experience and past academic performance when reviewing applications. Missouri State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Cybersecurity
School Status: Public
Tuition: $309 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: 100% online

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum requirement
Standardized Tests: GMAT or GRE waived for students with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher

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Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program Overview

Students enrolled in a master's in cybersecurity program learn to manage computer networks and oversee information security. They acquire the skills to retrieve network information, design algorithms, and maintain data security. Additional coursework topics include distributed decision-making, cryptography, biometrics, machine learning, and multisensor data fusion.

A master’s in cybersecurity is ideal for those seeking a job in computer network operations or information security. Most programs train students to address the challenges of maintaining secure operating systems, applications, and networks. Students learn to develop and implement a security policy in line with threat mitigation strategies and their organization’s mission.

Most programs include opportunities for hands-on experience managing security challenges. They also emphasize technical skills and professional soft skills such as critical thinking and decision-making. Degree-holders are prepared for a career in cybersecurity immediately upon graduation, or they may continue their studies at the doctoral level.

Common Master's in Cybersecurity Degree Courses

Introduction to Computer Security

This course introduces the fundamentals of computer, network, and data security, as well as the role of the cybersecurity professionals. Students explore common vulnerabilities, learn techniques for protecting host computers and networks, and discuss methods for detecting intrusions.

Cryptology

This course explores the principles and techniques of modern cryptology, which enables cybersecurity professionals to maintain the privacy and security of digital data. Topics include digital signatures, public key infrastructure, symmetric block ciphers, and authentication protocols. Students also examine classical cryptographic techniques, cryptographic protocols, complexity theory, and computational number theory.

Network Security

Students in this course learn techniques for achieving and maintaining network security in multi-user computer systems, including cryptography, authentication, and intrusion detection. Topics include viruses, internet security, software protection, secure operating systems, secure email, secure e-commerce, and risk assessment.

Digital Forensics

This course focuses on the identification, extraction, analysis, and preservation of digital evidence stored on a computer or network. Students learn digital forensics techniques, including data recovery, pattern detection, and file system analysis. Learners also gain familiarity with forensic reporting.

Biometrics

This course introduces the use of unique physical characteristics to identify individuals and maintain data security and privacy. Topics include alternatives to passwords, recognition rates, and security strength. Students learn to apply current biometrics techniques and applications to computer and data security.

Related Master's in Cybersecurity Degree Concentrations

Network Security

This concentration prepares graduates for careers as network security specialists. Students learn techniques to keep computer networks and digital data safe from cyber attacks and intrusions. Course topics include secure e-commerce, cryptology, internal personnel policies and management, systems analysis, and network management.

Digital Forensics

Students specialize in the recovery and investigation of digital information stored on computers and other devices, often in connection with criminal investigations, court cases, or corporate investigations. Cybersecurity professionals with expertise in digital forensics qualify for government, corporate, or criminal justice jobs as digital forensic scientists.

Cybercrime

Students learn to investigate cyberattacks, data breaches, hacks, and other cybercrimes. Course topics include digital forensics, risk assessment, and cyber intelligence gathering. This specialization is ideal for those wishing to work in criminal justice, homeland security, or counterterrorism.

Information Systems

Students in this track use their cybersecurity expertise to ensure that computer systems operate efficiently without interruption and that data remains secure. As experts in information systems risk management, graduates qualify for careers as information systems security officers.

Cyber Intelligence

Students learn to assess security risks to computer hardware, software, and data; identify possible threats; and gather information on potential adversaries. Graduates work for private companies and government agencies to gather intelligence, mitigate risks, and protect computer systems and sensitive information.

Online Master's in Cybersecurity Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree

    Master’s degree programs in cybersecurity require applicants to submit official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor’s degree, often in computer science, electrical engineering, or a related field. Some programs accept relevant work experience in place of a computer science major. Some schools also require a specific minimum undergraduate GPA, typically 3.0.

  • Prerequisite Coursework

    Many cybersecurity programs expect applicants to show some competency in computer programming, computer networks, and information technology, as well as discrete mathematics or algebra. Some programs require prior coursework in these areas, while others accept relevant work experience.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Some schools require two or three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors familiar with the applicant’s professional or academic work.

  • Work Experience

    Some cybersecurity programs require several years of work experience related to information technology, computer programming, or cybersecurity. Some may accept a relevant industry certificate — such as CISSP, CRISC, or CISM — or a recent undergraduate degree in computer science in place of work experience.

  • Test Scores

    Some programs require applicants to submit GRE scores, while others waive this requirement for those with relevant work experience or other qualifications.


Online Master's in Cybersecurity Career Paths

Cybersecurity jobs — such as information security analyst — are not entry-level positions. While cybersecurity positions do not typically require a graduate degree, employers hiring for positions with a high level of responsibility for sensitive data or valuable computer systems may prefer candidates with graduate degrees or extensive relevant work experience.

Cybersecurity professionals can rise to the top of their field with a master’s degree. A doctorate remains unnecessary for upward mobility, although you may wish to earn a doctorate to qualify for research or senior-level positions.

Cybersecurity jobs do not require licensure, although many cybersecurity professionals obtain professional certifications to demonstrate mastery of specific technical skills, and employers often value these credentials.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What jobs can you get with a master's in cybersecurity?

A master’s in cybersecurity may qualify you to work as a risk, IT, intelligence, network security, or information security analyst; information assurance manager or engineer; or digital forensic scientist.

Do you need a master's in cybersecurity?

No, you do not need a master’s degree in cybersecurity to work in the field. You may be able to get a cybersecurity job with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity, or a related field, especially if your undergraduate degree includes internships or other opportunities for hands-on experience. However, a master’s degree can help you advance your career, learn valuable new skills, or change jobs.

How much can you make with a master's in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity remains a lucrative field, and many degree-holders earn $100,000 or more. For instance, information security analysts earn average salaries of $99,730, while computer and information systems managers earn $146,360 per year (2019 median pay).

How long does it take to get a master's in cybersecurity?

You can earn a master’s in cybersecurity in two years of full-time study, in many cases. Some programs can take as little as 15 or 18 months, although two years is a more typical degree plan, especially for working professionals.

How many credits are required for a master's degree in cybersecurity?

Most cybersecurity master’s degree programs require 30-36 credits of core and elective courses. Students without a background in computer science or math may need to take some prerequisite courses before beginning their 30-credit degree program.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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