Cybercrime could result in $6 trillion in damages by the end of 2021. As a result, cybersecurity has become one of the nation's fastest-growing fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects jobs for information security analysts to grow 31%, which is significantly faster than average.
While alarming, the meteoric growth in cybercrime provides enormous opportunities for cybersecurity experts. Professionals with an online master's in information systems security, for example, possess the skills needed to protect organizations and their data across different systems and services. Read on to learn about the best online master's in information systems security programs.
For more information, consult our master's in information systems security program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|1||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA|
|2||New York University||New York, NY|
|3||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|4||Brandeis University||Waltham, MA|
|5||University of Dallas||Irving, TX|
|6||Iowa State University||Ames, IA|
|7||University of Denver||Denver, CO|
|8||University of Delaware||Newark, DE|
|9||Western Governors University||Salt Lake City, UT|
|10||DePaul University||Chicago, IL|
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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs
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University of Southern California
|Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 92%||
The University of Southern California offers an online master of science in cybersecurity engineering through its School of Engineering. Designed for career-focused computer science professionals and students considering a doctorate, the program stresses critical proficiencies related to the design, implementation, and operation of secure computing systems.
Graduates emerge with the knowledge, skills, and policy insights necessary to work in computing environments that demand high levels of security. Full-time students can earn their degree in 1.5 years, while those attending part time can graduate in 2.5 years.
Students earning this online master's degree can engage with their on-campus peers through a virtual classroom or view lectures at their convenience. Graduation surveys indicate that approximately 96% of USC's engineering alumni secure gainful employment or pursue further study within months of graduation.
New York University
|New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 85%||
New York University's School of Engineering offers quality cybersecurity research and academic programs. Distance learners can earn an entirely online master of science in cybersecurity at this prestigious institution.
The program features a rigorous cybersecurity curriculum that conforms to national training standards established by the Committee on National Security Systems. Coursework emphasizes the practical applications of cybersecurity theory, and remote students can access NYU's virtual computer lab.
Eligible degree-seekers can save on tuition by participating in the NYU Cyber Fellows program. This 10-course, cohort-style study path acts as a gateway to the master of science program and accepts new students annually.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
George Washington University designed its online master of engineering in cybersecurity policy and compliance as a direct response to the quickly evolving nature of online threats. Learners engage with methodologies and best practices to achieve high levels of security using algorithms, cryptography, computer systems, and software solutions.
Benefitting from close proximity to the Dulles Technology Corridor, GWU holds endorsements from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in cybersecurity. The curriculum embraces multidisciplinary perspectives with a core focus on maintaining digital assets, safeguarding privacy, and preventing intrusions.
The 30-credit program allows students to take six electives, examining policy, risk management, and compliance topics. Graduates develop advanced incident analysis and response skills, comprehensive policy insights, and the tools required to find success in leadership positions.
|Waltham, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Brandeis University hosts a top-rated master of science in information security leadership program. This online master's in information security emphasizes the technical skills needed to prevent and respond to intrusions, as well as policy knowledge that impacts decision-making.
Degree-seekers proceed through the 30-credit program on a part-time basis. Material focuses on fundamental topics in risk management, identity verification, computer forensics, and cloud-based services.
Students also complete small seminar classes — which never have more than 20 students — ensuring faculty members have plenty of time for one-on-one interactions. The regularly updated curriculum also features input from accomplished outside experts, guaranteeing its relevance.
University of Dallas
|Irving, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
The University of Dallas delivers a flexible learning experience in its master of science in cybersecurity program; participants can choose an entirely online, in-person, or hybrid learning format. This degree path includes 10 classes, and most learners complete graduation requirements in 1-2 years.
Coursework covers topics related to risk management, access management, security engineering and operations, security assessment and testing, and information security. Learners also accrue microcredentials — or "digital badges" — as they proceed through classes, elevating their visibility to employers.
Applicants need an undergraduate degree in a related field, and they must submit a current resume or CV and academic transcripts. GMAT and GRE scores are optional.
Iowa State University
|Ames, IA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
Iowa State University offers an entirely online master of engineering in information assurance. This program meets the needs of learners with computer science degrees who want to pursue advanced, specialized cybersecurity and information security studies.
Students in this program design their own degree paths with the assistance and guidance of senior faculty. There are no campus residency or thesis research requirements. Instead, degree-seekers select classes that reflect their personal interests and career development goals from master course lists.
The admissions process is competitive, and applicants must submit details regarding their personal backgrounds and employment histories. Well-suited candidates possess a bachelor's degree in a computer science or information technology field and at least 1-2 years of related professional experience.
University of Denver
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
The University of Denver's online master's in information systems security degree features a 12-course, 48-quarter-credit curriculum. Learners take four core classes, four specialization classes, and four interdisciplinary electives.
Proceeding through coursework on 10-week term schedules, degree-seekers learn to create and implement security procedures, network applications, and encryption protocols. Admission requirements do not include GRE or GMAT scores, and motivated learners can graduate in 18 months.
Students in the program can forge a customized study path through the university's Degree Builder platform. This tool enhances individual control over educational content, leading to opportunities and options not normally included in standardized program configurations.
University of Delaware
|Newark, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
The online master of science in cybersecurity offered by the University of Delaware focuses on innovation in the dynamic field of computer and information security. UD holds certification from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence for its cyberdefense programs.
Coursework concentrates on applied theory, leading students through a hands-on curriculum that emphasizes practicality. Degree-seekers learn the fundamental principles of secure software, network, and system design. They also master proven strategies for safeguarding digital assets.
Covering 10 classes and 30 credits, the program typically takes two years to complete. New students can begin taking classes in the fall, spring, or summer. Applicants with academic backgrounds in computing, mathematics, physics, and electrical or computer engineering are encouraged to apply.
Western Governors University
|Salt Lake City, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Western Governors University's online master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance features design input from experts in the field and major employers. The curriculum meets the most recent guidelines specified by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
In addition to a master's degree from a highly respected university, students earn two additional professional certifications as they proceed through coursework. The program offers built-in ethical certified hacker and computer hacking forensic investigator credentials, which enhance a graduate's employability.
WGU charges tuition on a term-based schedule, giving motivated learners an opportunity to save money. More than three-quarters of degree-seekers in the program graduate within two years. Student satisfaction surveys indicate that 97% of WGU alumni would recommend the institution to others.
|Chicago, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
DePaul University's master of science in cybersecurity balances theory and practice, familiarizing students with widely used computing security models and encouraging them to apply their learning in hands-on projects. Graduates hold the credentials needed to build successful careers in incident response, computer forensics, network administration, web development, and risk management.
This entirely online program culminates in an intensive 10-week capstone project that requires students to apply classroom knowledge to a directed project. Among alumni who participated in surveys, 95% of DePaul computer science graduates land jobs or go on to further study within six months of graduation.
DePaul is endorsed as a National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Faculty members who teach in the program were also recently awarded NSA grants for innovative gamification research.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Information Systems Security Program?
A master's in information systems security can vary considerably by school. In general, these programs require 30-45 credits and take two years to complete. However, students may encounter several program types. In addition to information systems security, program options may include cybersecurity, cybercrime, and information assurance.
In general, these degrees require 30-45 credits and take two years to complete, but students may encounter several program types.
These programs may lead to similar outcomes, but coursework can differ. Information systems security and cybersecurity programs typically focus on protecting digital information, while information assurance programs teach learners to protect all information types. Cybercrime programs examine cybercriminal behavior profiles and actions.
Degree types can vary as well, with master of science (MS), master of arts (MA), and master of engineering (MEng) options available. Core coursework in MA and MS programs usually looks similar, but the former may emphasize interdisciplinary approaches, while the latter explores more technical and practical aspects. MEng programs offer a mixture of the other degree types, plus the added focus on engineering solutions.
In many cases, students choose information systems security as a concentration in a computer science major. Sometimes learners add a concentration in an area like database management, cryptology, or risk assessment. In the absence of specializations, enrollees can create their own track by choosing focused courses and internships.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs
For admission to an online master's in information systems security program, applicants typically need a bachelor's degree. Some programs require that prospective students hold a degree in a relevant discipline with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Additionally, applicants must often submit professional recommendations, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores. Prospective learners may also need prerequisite coursework in math and science. Consult our graduate admissions guide for more information.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Information Systems Security Program?
In master's in information systems security programs, coursework varies by program and school. To give learners an idea of what they may encounter, the following section highlights the most common core courses.
- Security Tools and Programming
Enrollees explore various tools and programming languages and techniques used for programming. They learn some of the most common types of security programs, how to develop them, and how to troubleshoot them. Learners may also study programming differences for mobile and cloud security.
- Wireless Security
Students examine how professionals protect wireless access networks. They learn common languages, techniques, and protocols. Learners may study the best protection methods, how to detect vulnerabilities, and how to use authentication and encryption techniques.
- Network Security
Network security courses teach learners how to identify and evaluate a network's risk and how to implement the appropriate protections. Students may learn about cryptography, digital signatures, power attacks, and e-commerce security. They also study major security protocols, firewalls, and intrusion detection applications.
- Secure Operating Systems
Secure operating systems courses teach learners about the need for security, leading applications, and the languages used in these developments and processes. Coursework may also delve into organizational data security, hardware protections, and file and systems security.
- Data Recovery
Students learn major data recovery methods and strategies. They learn how to design and develop recovery and backup infrastructure and how to choose the best services and hardware for the occasion. Additional topics may include legal and financial aspects of data theft, damage, and security investigation.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Information Systems Security Degree?
With a master's in information systems security, graduates can pursue computer occupations. The BLS projects 11% job growth in this field between 2019 and 2029, with those who trained in information security earning some of the best opportunities available.
Many graduates can pursue positions as information security analysts. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 31% between 2019 and 2029, nearly eight times the average rate for all occupations.
See where a master's in information systems security can take you. Learn more about computer science careers.
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts protect organizations' information and computer systems. They evaluate security strengths, identify weaknesses, develop protections, and make necessary upgrades to keep everything secure. According to BLS data, 26% of analysts work in computer systems design services, 18% work in finance, and 8% work in information.
- Computer and Information Research Scientist
Computer and information research scientists design and study new technologies and uses for technology. They examine technological problems and shortcomings, create solutions, improve efficiency, and present findings. According to BLS data, 28% of these scientists work for the government and 19% work in computer systems design services.
- Information Systems Manager
Information systems managers supervise computer operations for organizations. They ensure that each organization's systems are updated and efficient, look for new opportunities, and manage computer budgeting and staff. According to the BLS, 22% of these managers work in computer systems design services, 11% work in information, and 11% work in finance.
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts examine an organization's computer systems to determine improvement areas. They may review processes and operations, security, staff, and hardware and software components to determine where to make changes. According to BLS data, 28% of analysts work in computer systems design services, 14% work in finance, and 7% work in information.
- Computer Systems Administrator
Computer systems administrators manage daily computer activities for organizations. They ensure that systems receive proper hardware, software, and security updates and maintain user and consumer access to those systems. According to the BLS, 18% of administrators work in computer systems design services, 10% work in educational services, and 10% work in information.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Information Systems Security Programs
- Is a master's in information systems security worth it?
Yes. Computer occupations boast higher-than-average projected growth rates and median annual salaries higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. Prospective students with an interest in computer systems should find plenty to love about this degree.
- What can I do with a master's in information systems security?
Graduates with a master's in information systems security can pursue many computer-related careers. While many degree-holders pursue cybersecurity professions, graduates can work as managers, administrators, analysts, and designers. They may also pursue a doctoral degree or work in research and development.
- Is information systems security a good career?
Yes. Most positions in information systems security pay a high median annual wage, and the BLS projects steady growth for most careers in the field between 2019 and 2029.
- How much money can I make with a master's in information systems security?
According to the BLS, information security analysts made a median annual salary of $103,590 in 2020. This figure significantly exceeds the $41,950 median annual salary for all occupations.
- What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in information systems security?
The highest-paying job for graduates with a master's in information systems security is computer and information systems manager. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $151,150 in 2020. The top 10% of earners in this field make more than $208,000 per year.