Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs of 2021

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Published on July 27, 2021

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Professionals with a cybersecurity master's degree can access some of the most in-demand careers in the industry. As the usage and importance of data grows within organizations, experts who protect that information become increasingly valuable. Gartner Research projects the cybersecurity industry will likely surpass $170 billion by 2022.

As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 31% job growth for information security analysts between 2019 and 2029. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of information science master's degrees awarded increased by 175% between 2000 and 2018.

Below, we explore cybersecurity coursework and careers in more detail while also ranking the best online master's in cybersecurity programs.

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

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#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
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2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

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Johns Hopkins University View School Profile Baltimore, MD

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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University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles, CA

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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New York University View School Profile New York, NY

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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George Washington University View School Profile Washington, DC

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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Brandeis University View School Profile Waltham, MA

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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University of Delaware View School Profile Newark, DE

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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Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

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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Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

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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University of Dallas View School Profile Irving, TX

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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DePaul University View School Profile Chicago, IL

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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Drexel University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

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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University of Tulsa View School Profile Tulsa, OK

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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Lewis University View School Profile Romeoville, IL

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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Capitol Technology University View School Profile Laurel, MD

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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Missouri State University-Springfield View School Profile Springfield, MO

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

Contact the School

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What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program?

The format of a master's in cybersecurity online varies for each program, but these degrees typically require 30-45 credits and take 1-2 years. Many programs provide students with leadership and communication skills, along with advanced practical training in cyberdefense, preventative measures, incident response, and penetration testing.

Many programs provide students with leadership and communication skills, along with advanced practical training in cyberdefense, preventative measures, incident response, and penetration testing.

While most online cybersecurity master's programs award an MS degree, they may also provide MA degrees. In addition to offering different general education and elective courses, these degree types can differ in their emphasis. For example, an MS in cybersecurity often focuses on technical aspects, whereas an MA degree focuses on leadership and interdisciplinary approaches.

Within many cybersecurity master's online programs, students can choose a concentration like network security, systems security, or information systems analysis. Alternatively, degree-seekers can choose cybersecurity as a concentration within another discipline, such as computer science or management information systems.

Many online programs feature practicum and internship requirements that learners can usually complete at a location near them. Some host on-campus computer and network lab sessions that students may need to attend.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Like most graduate applicants, prospective cybersecurity students need a relevant bachelor's degree. Prospective students may also need to submit GRE scores and letters of recommendation.

Applicants often need certain prerequisite courses as well, such as calculus, algebra, computer programming, and data structures. Depending on the competitiveness of the program, prospective students may also need to meet a GPA cutoff.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program?

Many factors influence the type of courses students take in a master's degree in cybersecurity, including degree type, program focus, specialization, and a student's individual interests. Still, these programs tend to offer similar core courses. The following section explores some of the most common classes.

Cybersecurity Law

This course examines the laws and policies regarding cybersecurity and cyberattacks. Covered topics include information privacy laws, professional ethics, and the processes involved in prosecuting cybercriminals. Students learn about the regulations protecting organizations from data breaches, copyright infringement, and surveillance.

Modern Cryptography

Students in this course learn to protect information and communications effectively. They learn to use various cryptographic algorithms, master public key and symmetric primitives, and understand professional protocols. They also explore different types of encryption and study emerging and innovative research in the field.

Computer Forensics

This course teaches students how to use computer forensics and the processes involved in an investigation. Learners explore protocols for collecting evidence and reporting a cybercrime. They also learn how the authorities and courts handle these cases and study the psychology and motivation behind cybercrime.

Security Risk Management

This course teaches students how individuals and organizations can minimize the risk of cyberattacks and safeguard against damages. Coursework may explore the technologies and processes involved in cybercrime prevention and cyberattacks. Students also learn how and why cybercrime has become so relevant and where the field may head in the future.

Ethical Hacking

In this course, students learn how to conduct vulnerability and weakness systems checks safely. They study tools and techniques for cyber penetration testing and how to analyze the findings to improve systems defenses. Additional topics may include password cracking, phishing attacks, and cyberterrorism.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Degree?

With a master's degree in cybersecurity, graduates can pursue careers in some very promising fields. The projected growth and median annual salaries in this industry far exceed the average growth rate and median salary across all occupations. In fact, the BLS projects the addition of more than 530,000 computer-related jobs between 2019 and 2029, including more than 40,000 cybersecurity positions.

To give prospective students an idea of where they can land, the following section explores some possible career options.

Discover what an online master's in cybersecurity can offer you. Learn more about cybersecurity careers.

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts manage the protection of an organization's computer systems and data. They identify potential risks and vulnerabilities, monitor threats, search for security upgrades, and investigate attacks and disruptions. According to the BLS, most analysts work in information, finance and insurance, and enterprise management.

Computer Research Scientist

Computer research scientists search for innovative uses for technology and solutions to problems for various organizations. They may design new systems or software, tackle computing problems, and test theories that advance technologies. According to the BLS, most of these scientists work in the government, software publishing, and engineering sciences research and development.

Information Systems Manager

Information systems managers supervise most computer-related responsibilities within an organization. They may manage computer needs, security, projects, and technology teams. According to the BLS, most of these managers work in enterprise management, information, and finance and insurance.

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts ensure an organization's information systems and networks meet their needs. They evaluate the performance of the systems, look for opportunities to improve their effectiveness, and implement new software and systems wherever needed. According to the BLS, most of these analysts work in information, finance and insurance, and enterprise management.

Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects build and manage communication and information systems networks for organizations. They assess organizational needs, design and establish new systems, and implement appropriate security. According to the BLS, most architects work in telecommunications, enterprise management, and insurance.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Do you need a master's in cybersecurity?

While a bachelor's degree can provide numerous opportunities, an online master's in cybersecurity gives graduates a competitive advantage in the field. A cybersecurity master's degree is the minimum requirement for most management positions in the field.

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

The typical online master's in cybersecurity takes learners two years to complete. Accelerated programs may allow students to graduate in 1-2 years, and part-time programs give students more time to finish.

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

Cybersecurity master's degrees typically require 30-45 credits. Additional concentrations or graduate certificate pathways may add more credits depending on the program. Transfer students with previous relevant training can reduce the number of required credits.

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

In addition to information security analyst positions, the best online cybersecurity master's degrees can lead to many computer-related careers. Possible options may include computer network architect and computer scientist. Graduates may also pursue computer management positions.

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

Graduates with a master's degree in cybersecurity can earn very strong salaries. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for computer occupations was $91,250 in 2020, more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations. Information security analysts made a median annual wage of $103,590 that year.

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