Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs of 2022

A master's in cybersecurity program explores cyber law, cryptography, forensics, ethical hacking, and risk management. An advanced degree can lead to a higher salary and promotion.

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by Meg Whitenton

Published on May 17, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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The protection of digital networks and data, known commonly as cybersecurity, is reaching critical demand around the world. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects computer and information security occupations will grow by 13% from 2020-2030.

Professionals may need only a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs in many IT fields; however, employers increasingly prefer candidates with a master's degree in cybersecurity or a related field. Graduates of a master's in cybersecurity programs can advance to senior consultant, analyst, and engineer roles in cybersecurity or qualify for chief executive jobs at global security companies.

An online master's in cybersecurity pairs online learning with hands-on IT training. Common benefits like accelerated schedules and set or in-state tuition rates can enable learners to graduate in less than two years at lower costs. Professionals already working in IT can earn their degrees while accumulating field experience.

The BLS projects high salaries and a strong career outlook for cybersecurity experts. Graduates of a master's in cybersecurity can earn salaries between $77,000 and $180,000 in positions including computer and information systems manager, network security engineer, and chief information officer.

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

Widely considered a specialization of computer science, cybersecurity programs most commonly confer master of science (MS) degrees. This type of degree typically includes a focus on technical and technological skills, including computer networks, programming, and applied cryptography. Many programs also incorporate IT project management skills.

Students may be able to choose between a general or concentrated cybersecurity degree. Schools commonly offer concentrations, such as information assurance, computer security fundamentals, cyber forensics, or cyber intelligence. In some cases, cybersecurity is offered as a specialization of a broader computer science, IT, or MBA degree.

Most master's in cybersecurity programs require students to complete 30-33 credits. Many schools uphold generous credit-transfer policies for students looking to graduate in fewer than two years. Additionally, many online master's in cybersecurity programs offer accelerated completion times. Some schools offer dual degree programs resulting in both a bachelor's and master's in cybersecurity.

Programs may require or strongly recommend students complete an internship or other field component to complement online coursework. A master's in cybersecurity features intensive career development through experiential learning opportunities, with some leading to optional professional licensure. Most programs culminate in a practicum and/or capstone requirement.

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Popular Online Cybersecurity Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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

Information Security Strategy and Policies

This course outlines broad cybersecurity management policies and models, including for national, global, and localized threats and beaches. Topics explore how to successfully approach governance, diplomacy, and organization specific to the cybersecurity ecosystem.

Network Security

Cybersecurity professionals must be able to tailor cybersecurity to meet various clients' needs. This course explores a variety of methods commonly used to protect computer networks, including watermarking, authentication, firewalls, and information hiding.

Secure Computer Systems

Students learn how programmers design and develop secure computer systems. Topics include built-in features affecting cybersecurity, including secure kernel design, secure databases, mandatory/discretionary security functions, and authentication methods.

Applied Cryptography

This course outlines the building blocks and design principles of cryptography, including authenticated encryption, digital signatures, and pseudorandom functions. Coursework also covers the ideal outcomes of cryptography including integrity, data privacy, and authenticity.

Cybersecurity Practicum

Most master's in cybersecurity culminate in a practicum or independent study project. Practicums typically allow students to demonstrate hands-on skills in real-world cybersecurity situations, including in industrial, commercial, or government settings. This course serves as the capstone for a master's program.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program?

While each school has different admission requirements, most master's in cybersecurity programs require students to have similar prerequisites, such as a bachelor's degree. Most programs require or prefer applicants who majored in cybersecurity or a related computer science subject; however, some programs will accept students with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated major.

Students who do not possess an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity may need to satisfy prerequisites for admission into a master's program. Schools may also uphold additional admission requirements such as completing a virtual orientation course or an online interview.

Application

Students share basic information with the schools they apply to via a formal application. The form typically asks students for their name, address, date of birth, identity/citizenship status, eligibility for financial aid, and state of residence. While most colleges still accept applications by mail, the majority prefer online applications. Applying online also offers benefits to students, including faster admission decisions.

Test Scores

Many schools require applicants to submit their GRE scores, which help admissions officers determine whether students are ready for advanced study. Minimum score requirements vary for the analytical, quantitative, and verbal sections of the exam. Some online programs waive the GRE requirement.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation speak to a student's readiness for a graduate program. Students should be prepared to request several letters of recommendation from undergraduate mentors, professors, advisors, or former employers. Sources typically need at least three weeks to write letters of recommendation.

Resume and Work Experience

Schools typically begin requesting a resume alongside a college application at the graduate level so they can verify an applicant's field experience and professional development. While not all master's in cybersecurity programs require it, students should emphasize relevant work experience in IT or computer science, management expertise, and/or professional certifications.

Essays

Prompts for grad school application essays are often more open-ended than those for undergraduate applications. In their personal statements, students should reflect on their reasons for applying to a master's program and express their individuality. They can also draw attention to their written communication skills.

Official Transcripts

Any accredited master's in cybersecurity program will request official transcripts, which verify a student's GPA and completed coursework. Some programs may require previous educational training in computer science or a related field, which can be validated through official transcripts. Students should research their prospective schools' policies for sending transcripts and applying transfer credits.

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

Career Outlook

Graduates of an online master's in cybersecurity commonly pursue careers as cybersecurity analysts, engineers, and IT managers. Professionals with advanced knowledge of cybersecurity theory and techniques are necessary at any organization with an online presence.

Careers in cybersecurity are booming. Graduates with master's degrees in cybersecurity may qualify for senior information security analyst positions, which the BLS projects will grow 33% from 2020-2030.

Cybersecurity professionals with a master's degree and experience can also earn higher than average salaries, even compared to similar IT occupations. Of the common professions listed below, annual cybersecurity salaries range from $77,000 to nearly $180,000, according to the BLS and Payscale.

See where a master's in cybersecurity degree can take you.

Learn more about cybersecurity careers

Career Paths

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information systems managers coordinate the IT operations of an entire company or organization. Also called IT managers or IT project managers, they consider their organization's long- and short-term IT goals and implement the necessary hardware, software, and policies to reach them. Most employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $159,010

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Graduates with an online master's in cybersecurity can become top executives such as CIOs or chief technology officers (CTOs) of national or global tech companies. While the education and experience requirements vary for CIO and CTO positions, these professionals can benefit from the advanced management and cybersecurity skills gained through a master's program.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $179,520

Cybersecurity Analyst

Cybersecurity analysts may work as independent consultants or within the IT department of an organization. They must possess an acute understanding of their client's internal computer systems and monitor those systems for malicious activity impacting hardware, software, or data. Cybersecurity analysts need advanced degrees and experience for consultant positions.

Average Annual Salary (May 2022): $77,240

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers design and develop computer software and services that offer built-in protection from cyber threats and attacks. They also evaluate existing computer systems and implement innovative solutions to protect those computers, devices, and data from malware, hacking, and ransomware. Most employers prefer candidates with master's degrees.

Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $97,840

Network Security Engineer

Network security engineers focus on protecting entire computer systems, such as intranets, from viruses, hacking attempts, and cyber attacks. Their primary responsibility is to plan, implement, and test these safeguards regularly to ensure an organization's efficiency. Some employers prefer candidates with professional certification and many favor master's degree holders.

Average Annual Salary (April 2022): $92,350

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Continuing Education

Earning a master's in cybersecurity qualifies candidates for many advanced computer science and IT jobs, so few students pursue a higher degree. Some graduates do pursue programs, such as an MBA, to boost qualifications for IT management positions. Others may seek a doctoral degree on the path to teaching at the postgraduate level.

Cybersecurity employers often prefer seasoned professionals for senior roles in cybersecurity. Some master's degree holders undergo brand-product training for a specific company. Many seek professional certification to enhance job prospects. CompTIA offers three cybersecurity certifications.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program?

Cost

The cost of an online master's in cybersecurity varies based on whether a school is public or private and whether it charges out-of-state tuition rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition and fees for a graduate program in 2019-2020 was $12,410 at public institutions and about $26,600 at private institutions.

Online programs commonly offer major cost savings in the form of accelerated completion options and set or in-state tuition rates. Students should consider the true cost of an online program, including technology fees and other miscellaneous costs when choosing a program.

Program Format

Online programs tend to offer greater flexibility than traditional on-campus programs. Distance learners often enjoy choices including full- or part-time enrollment, accelerated or conventional schedules, and synchronous or asynchronous courses. Many master's degree applicants seek out online programs to accommodate their work schedules.

Location

Whether attending in person or online, location factors into choosing a master's in cybersecurity program. Most graduate students continue to work in computer science or IT to gain experience while completing their degree, so they need to study near their jobs. Additionally, students should consider the potential practicum or field components of an online master's in cybersecurity.

Accreditation

Only accredited schools meet the high standards of postsecondary learning set by the U.S. Department of Education. Potential schools should hold institutional accreditation and may also hold programmatic accreditation for their computer science programs, specifically. Some graduate programs are approved by the Centers of Academic Excellence, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

Accreditation ensures that students are receiving a high-quality education and that their degrees will be recognized by other schools and future employers.

Student Support

Online learners benefit from access to broad student support services while completing their degrees. Building collaborative teamwork skills is essential for success in a cybersecurity career. Ideally, an online master's in cybersecurity should offer internships and mentorship opportunities and student services including tech support, tutoring, alumni networking, and career development.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

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#1 Online College in District of Columbia

Georgetown University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,483
Out of State | $1,483

Credits to Graduate
33

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Georgetown's online master's in cybersecurity risk management teaches the tools and techniques for mitigating security threats. Students complete 33 credits online in 2-5 years. Foundational courses explore subjects such as security architecture and design. Enrollees learn how to conduct cyber threat intelligence and cyber defense analysis.

Learners gain hands-on experience during group projects. Students can enroll in this master's in cybersecurity program full time or part time. Applicants need a bachelor's degree.

#2 Online College in Maryland

Johns Hopkins University

School Information
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $5,872 per three-credit course
Out of State | $5,872 per three-credit course

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education 

Learners can enroll in Johns Hopkins' master's in cybersecurity program part time. Students complete 10 online courses. Foundational coursework explores information assurance, algorithms, and cryptology. The program offers several tracks, including systems, network, analysis, and assured autonomy.

Enrollees can choose a track that requires independent study. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and prerequisite coursework such as Java and data structures.

#3 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,199
Out of State | $2,199

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | WASC Senior College and University Commission

USC offers a fully online master's in computer science with an emphasis in computer security. The curriculum focuses on computer security research and best practices. Students learn how to analyze algorithms. They explore security systems, computer networking, and applied cryptography.

Enrollees can use elective credit for directed research. Students can complete the degree in 2-3 years. Admission requires a bachelor's in computer science or the equivalent.

#4 Online College in New York

New York University

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 85%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,021
Out of State | $2,021

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education 

NYU's master's in cybersecurity program requires 30 credits and takes one year to complete. Enrollees can choose a cyber defense or cyber operations track. Enrollees culminate the degree with a capstone project. 

The NYU Cyber Fellows program offers 75% tuition scholarships for students pursuing a master's in cybersecurity. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field.

#5 Online College in Florida

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $456
Out of State | $1,002 

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 

FIU offers a master's in computer engineering with a network security concentration. Students can complete the 30-credit program entirely online in 10 months. The degree provides training in forensics, network security, and malware analysis. 

Eight-week sessions accelerate completion of this online master's in cybersecurity. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or a related field. They also need a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#6 Online College in California

University of California-Berkeley

School Information
Location Berkeley, California
Admission Rate 16%
Graduation Rate 93%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,712
Out of State | $2,712

Credits to Graduate
27

Program Information
Program Accreditation | WASC Senior College and University Commission 

UC Berkeley's master of information and cybersecurity teaches students the economic, legal, and ethical aspects of cybersecurity. Enrollees complete nine courses in 20 months. The program uses live online classes and in-person immersions.

The program covers topics such as cyber risk management and cryptography. The school's location and alumni provide access to industry connections in Silicon Valley. Applicants need a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a strong computational background.

#7 Online College in Utah

Western Governors University

School Information
Location Salt Lake City, Utah
Graduation Rate 21%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes 

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $4,295 per six-month term
Out of State | $4,295 per six-month term

Credits to Graduate
30 

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 

WGU specializes in online learning in fields such as business and information technology. The school's master's in cybersecurity and information assurance enrolls industry professionals seeking career advancement. The program offers a self-paced curriculum. Students develop proficiencies such as cybersecurity management and ethical hacking.

Enrollees demonstrate their competencies with a capstone project. Students can help pay for tuition with $5,000 cybersecurity or leadership scholarships. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and all school transcripts.

#8 Online College in Massachusetts

Brandeis University

School Information
Location Waltham, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 30%
Graduation Rate 87%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 7% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $3,535 per course
Out of State | $3,535 per course

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | New England Commission of Higher Education 

Massachusetts-based Brandeis offers a fully online master's in information security leadership. The part-time program requires 30 credits. Enrollees study risk management and incident response.

Students can use elective credit to learn Python programming or network security. One elective teaches how to launch FinTech ventures. All learners pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and all school transcripts.

#9 Online College in District of Columbia

George Washington University

School Information
Location Washington, District of Columbia
Admission Rate 41%
Graduation Rate 82%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,095
Out of State | $1,095

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Students learn how to mitigate cyberthreats in GW's master's in cybersecurity analytics. The online program enrolls those new to cybersecurity and experienced cyber professionals. Enrollees can complete the 30-credit program in two years. 

Coursework explores topics such as cyber forensics, applied network defense, and cyber resilience. Students receive practical experience in the use of cybersecurity and analytics tools. Applicants need a bachelor's in engineering, computer science, or a related major. They also need a minimum 2.7 GPA. GW encourages applicants to submit GRE scores.

#10 Online College in California

University of San Diego

School Information
Location San Diego, California
Admission Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $925
Out of State | $925

Credits to Graduate
31

Program Information
Program Accreditation | WASC Senior College and University Commission 

Students can earn USD's online master's in cybersecurity operations and leadership in 20 months. The 31-credit program teaches various cybersecurity concepts and leadership skills. Learners study topics such as applied cryptography and secure systems architecture. 

A course focuses on cyber incident response and computer network forensics. Enrollees complete a capstone project. All students pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.75 GPA.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Is a master's in cybersecurity worth it? true

Yes, a master's in cybersecurity equips professionals with in-demand skills for broad applications across multiple industries. Graduates can advance their careers in cybersecurity, tech, and management.

A master's in cybersecurity exceeds the minimum entry-level education requirements for most jobs in cybersecurity and qualifies graduates for senior roles. A master's in cybersecurity also develops career skills through experiential learning, and some programs prepare students for professional certification.

What can I do with a master's in cybersecurity? true

Graduates of a master's in cybersecurity program can become senior information analysts, network security engineers, computer and information systems managers, or top executives like CIOs or CTOs.

Professionals who hold a master's in cybersecurity may also pursue independent consulting jobs. Completing this program can help existing cybersecurity professionals in fields like information analysis advance to higher IT management careers.

Are cybersecurity graduates in demand? true

Yes, cybersecurity is among the most desirable sectors of the increasingly lucrative tech industry. The BLS projects a 33% increase in information security analyst jobs from 2020-2030. This is even greater than the 13% projected growth for all computer and IT occupations during that same period.

While not always required for entry-level jobs, a master's in cybersecurity is preferred by most employers, especially for high-level management roles. All types of businesses increasingly rely on cybersecurity professionals to protect their networks and data.

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

Graduates of a master's in cybersecurity can earn median annual salaries of $77,000-$180,000 for mid-to-senior-level positions. Starting salaries exceed the 2020 national median household income of about $64,990, according to the Census Bureau.

Graduates commonly pursue positions as cybersecurity analysts, network security engineers, or cybersecurity engineers, earning $77,000-$98,000. They may earn a higher salary of $159,000-$180,000 for jobs including computer and information systems manager, or CIO or CTO.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in cybersecurity?

Top executives with specialized cybersecurity skills such as a CIO or CTO can earn up to $180,000 a year. The next-highest-paying occupation, computer and information systems managers, earned a median annual salary of $159,010 in May 2021.

Information security analysts commonly enter the field with a bachelor's degree but can become computer and information systems managers by earning a master's in cybersecurity. Generally, professionals who hold a master's in cybersecurity can earn higher income than those in many other IT fields and specializations.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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