Best Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity


Updated October 4, 2023

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Interested in earning an associate in cybersecurity? This comprehensive guide explores degree types, typical costs, tips for choosing the right program, and careers for graduates. 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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Looking to break into cybersecurity? You can help close an estimated 3.4 million-person worldwide employment gap by joining the cybersecurity industry. An online associate degree in cybersecurity can provide the training and experience needed to launch an entry-level career in this fast-growing field.

The two-year degree builds your foundation in security software technologies, networking, and programming languages. Cybersecurity associate degrees can propel you into a career in tech — jobs which usually require 1-3 years of experience — or prepare you for a bachelor's degree. The best associate degrees in cybersecurity also ready you for certification exams that can increase your marketability.

Discover more about cybersecurity associate degrees, the admissions process, common courses, and job outlook for graduates. And check out our directory of schools that offer cybersecurity programs.

Why Get a Cybersecurity Associate Degree?

As cyberattacks increase year after year, demand for cybersecurity professionals should only grow. From 2021-2022, global cyberattacks jumped by 38%, according to CheckPoint Research. In 2022, cyberattacks targeted healthcare, government, and education and research. Global organizations saw 1,168 weekly attacks in the fourth quarter of 2022.

While cyberattacks have increased in the 21st century, the birth of cybersecurity dates back to the 1960s when computers first formed networks, and the creation of cybersecurity software in the 1970s.

Today, this fast-increasing industry offers a broad swath of job opportunities for people who enjoy technology, coding, and solving problems. Most of all, if you go into this field, you should enjoy working in teams across different departments. Cybersecurity professionals often must explain complicated concepts to people of all backgrounds.

Cybersecurity offers solid job security and compensation. In St. Louis alone, roughly 7,500 cybersecurity jobs remain open as of 2022, according to the nonprofit CyberUp. You can find careers as a cybersecurity analyst or computer support specialist with an associate degree.

Federal and state government agencies, tech companies, and manufacturing corporations in Missouri need cybersecurity experts to safeguard information.

And earning an associate degree in cybersecurity can enable you to:

  • Graduate in Two Years: An associate degree trains you in cybersecurity in as few as 24 months if you study full time.
  • Pay Less Than a Bachelor's Degree: Earning an associate degree often comes cheaper than earning a bachelor's degree. You'll study for only two years, compared to the four years it takes on average to get a bachelor's degree. Also, many community colleges offer cheaper tuition than four-year schools.
  • Get Vital Skills and Career Opportunities: Many cybersecurity jobs require years of experience to get hired. An associate in cybersecurity covers the fundamentals such as network security and digital forensics, which qualifies you for an internship — often incorporated into degrees.

Popular Online Programs

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

What To Expect From Associate in Cybersecurity Programs

An associate in cybersecurity degree gives you the opportunity to study and gain hands-on skills in business network communication, operating systems and cloud computing, and digital forensics.

The typical program requires 60 credits, or about 15 credits per semester, which you can complete in about two years. You can earn an associate in science degree (AS) or associate in applied science degree (AAS). Keep in mind, each school has the autonomy to design programs differently.

If you choose to continue your education, most accredited schools let you transfer associate credits toward a bachelor's degree.

Tuition rates depend on the school. In the 2021-2022 school year, students who lived at their family homes while attending two-year colleges paid an average of $9,800 for tuition and fees of $9,800, while learners living off campus on their own paid $20,100, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Admissions Process

Colleges accept applicants straight from high school, or career professionals with work experience and prior college credit. Either way, future learners should have a strong academic background in math and science. Admissions criteria may include prior programming experience or certificates such as CompTIA A+.

Applicants to cybersecurity associate degrees usually need at least a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Community colleges may require high school transcripts, but usually not SAT or ACT scores. While not usually required, at four-year colleges, standardized test scores can increase your chance of acceptance and sometimes help you qualify for scholarships.

Cybersecurity Associate Degree Options

No two cybersecurity associate degrees offer the exact curriculum. For instance, the courses in an associate degree may focus on training students specifically in solving state and federal computer crimes or to prepare learners to work in private security.

Also, you'll have the option to earn either an AS or AAS degree. Most community colleges and four-year schools offer AS degrees that emphasize business and sciences studies. Two-year schools also offer AAS degrees, programs that provide a career-focused education and ready you to enter the workforce right away.

Both degrees offer the chance to use transfer credits toward a bachelor's degree. Although, an AS degree is often considered the better option if you want to transfer.

Popular Associate in Cybersecurity Courses

The best associate degrees in cybersecurity offer courses that cover similar subject matter. Still, you'll find variations in course titles and topics vary. You'll take lessons and complete labs to learn the technology needed to perform ethical hacking and study cybercrimes laws, and learn common programming languages used to detect intrusions, investigate cybercrimes, and recover data.

  • Computer Forensics: A course on computer forensics lets you practice gathering, analyzing, and preserving evidence in a cybersecurity investigation. A basic knowledge of hardware and operating systems is needed for this course and to use forensic tools.
  • Criminal Law and Cybersecurity: A legal course in an associate in cybersecurity program explores federal, state, and international laws that govern criminal activity that take place on the web. You'll study cases to analyze judicial decisions.
  • Database Management: A course in database management teaches you about data storage and retrieval, and organization using NoSQL and relational database management systems.
  • Ethical Computer Hacking: This course teaches you how to identify exploitable vulnerabilities in applications and systems. Computer hacking techniques help you perform risk assessments to thwart potential attacks.
  • Intrusion Detection Systems: Lessons in this course prepare you to detect suspicious or malicious activity through intrusion detection systems. You'll learn to use tools for different platforms and to investigate potential risks and attacks.

How Much Do Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity Cost?

Attending a private versus public college almost always costs more. According to the NCES, the average tuition and fees in 2021-2022 for a public two-year college stood at $4,000, compared to 15,600-$17,700 for private for-profit and nonprofit colleges.

You can also expect to pay more for your associate degree in cybersecurity if you attend an out-of-state college.

Nationwide, public, two-year schools charged an average of $3,501 for in-state tuition and fees in 2020-2021 and $8,256 for out-of-state tuition and fees. Many online degrees offer discounts to out-of-state learners..

Scholarships and grants — as well as federal loans — help you afford college.

Popular Online Programs

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

Cybersecurity Jobs for Associate Degree Graduates

Cybersecurity offers opportunities to continue to learn on the job and join an in-demand and high-paying industry. Cybersecurity analysts or cybersecurity engineers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related major.

That said, associate in cybersecurity degree-holders can climb the industry ranks after starting out at an entry-level position, such as manning a help desk. Certifications and higher degrees can also enable you to fetch a higher salary.

Computer Support Specialist

Computer support specialists either work maintaining networks or helping users who do not have a background in information technology. Computer support specialists may assist internal staff to troubleshoot hardware and software problems or installation. They work over the phone, email, or in person to provide assistance.

  • Required Education: Associate degree
  • Job Outlook (2022-32): 6%
  • Median Annual Salary: $57,910

Security Auditor

To work as a security auditor you need a working knowledge of local area networks and wide-area networks hardware and software. This job requires installing and configuring network systems and recommending any needed security upgrades.

  • Required Education: Associate degree
  • Job Outlook: Not available
  • Average Annual Salary: $75,830

Vulnerability Assessor

Vulnerability assessors lead the risk management activities by implementing vulnerability assessments and inspections. Through penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, vulnerability assessors can identify potential vulnerabilities.

  • Required Education: Associate degree at a minimum and sometimes a bachelor's or master's degree
  • Job Outlook: Not available
  • Average Annual Salary: $102,500

Top Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity

Some of the best schools in the country for earning an associate in cybersecurity degree are listed below.

To narrow the list down, we've included only schools with a maximum population size of 50,000 and a minimum graduation rate of at least 35%, as per the NCES.

Top Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity
School Name Student Population Cybersecurity Associate Degree Program Graduation Rate Average Net Price: 2021-2022
Montana State University 16,681 Associate of applied science degree in cybersecurity and information 57% $17,250
Miami Dade College 47,245 Associate in science in cybersecurity 45% $5,478
Southwestern Community College 2,256 Associate of applied science in cyber crime technology 45% $8,858
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 7,845 Associate of applied science in cybersecurity technology 44% $6,789
Western Iowa Tech Community College 5,150 Associate of applied science in cybersecurity and digital crime 42% $7,458
St. Petersburg College 23,501 Associate in science in cybersecurity 38% $2,132
Florida State College at Jacksonville 20,363 Associate in science in computer related crimes investigations 37% $2,341
Manchester Community College 1,976 Associate in science in cybersecurity investigations 37% $13,779
Pensacola State College 7,981 Associate in science degree in cybersecurity 37% $3,305
Washington State Community College 1,556 Associate in cybersecurity 37% $7,389
Source: NCES

Choosing a Cybersecurity Associate Degree Program

Only you can determine what associate degree in cybersecurity suits your schedule, budget, and learning style. That said, make sure your school holds accreditation from an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education and or the United States Department of Education.

Cybersecurity programs may also get accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which recognizes computing, engineering, and natural sciences programs. Other factors to consider when picking an online associate degree in cybersecurity include:

  • The campus location or the availability of online learning
  • Class size and student to teacher ratio, which indicates your ability to get one-on-one time
  • Program length
  • Students resources, including career centers, libraries, and/or tutoring
  • Student outcomes, such as graduation rates
  • Alumni groups
  • Admission criteria

Should You Get Your Associate Degree in Cybersecurity Online?

Millions of students take some online courses or fully online degrees. Roughly 9.4 million students took at least one online course in the fall of 2021. And 4.4 million students across the nation pursued fully online degrees, according to the NCES.

Online degrees offer the ultimate flexibility, especially if you need to work or care for family while in school. Enrolling in associate in cybersecurity programs online may allow you to complete asynchronous assignments or live online courses.

Is a Cybersecurity Associate, Certificate, or Bootcamp Better?

These days, employers prefer hiring skilled tech workers, not just degree-holders. And many pathways offer quality training to help you break into cybersecurity. For instance, you can attend a cybersecurity bootcamp or go the traditional route and earn a certificate program or associate degree from a two-year school.

The training route you take features different timelines, admission requirements, and tuition rates. Regardless of the pathway, you can land a solid-paying cybersecurity career.

Cybersecurity Associate vs. Certificate vs. Bootcamp Programs
Comparison Point Cybersecurity Associate Degrees Cybersecurity Certificates Bootcamp Programs
Program Length Two years Up to one year 13-17 weeks for full-time students; 20-38 weeks for part-time students
Admission Requirements High school diploma or GED certificate; May need SAT or ACT scores, depending on the school High school diploma or GED certificate High school diploma or equivalent and possibly an technical assessment and phone interview
Average Cost $3,377-$8,256 $10,000-$15,000 $10,000-$15,000
Career Services If available If available Yes
General Education Credits Yes, usually No No

Popular Online Programs

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

More Degree Paths for Studying Cybersecurity

A two-year degree, certificate or cybersecurity bootcamp certificate qualifies you for entry-level positions. The best-paying careers in cybersecurity require at least a bachelor's degree or master's degree.

For instance, cryptographers who often hold a master's-degree make an annual salary of $73,067, according to limited 2019 Payscale data. Payscale data from August 2023 reports forensics experts – who need at least a bachelor's degree – earn an average annual wage of $76,289. And security architects, a position that requires a bachelor's degree, pays an annual average salary of $125,463.

Bachelor's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Bachelor's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Doctoral Degrees in Cybersecurity

Doctoral Degrees in Cybersecurity

Top Cybersecurity Schools and Programs

Top Cybersecurity Schools and Programs

FAQ About Cybersecurity Associate Programs

What can I do with an associate degree in cybersecurity?

Obtain an associate degree in cybersecurity and you can get started in an industry that rewards professionals who gain experience, credentials, and continue their education. You can launch a career as an associate information system security officer or network security analyst.

Does cybersecurity require coding?

It depends on the job. When you start out, you may not need coding skills. However, if you want to career professionally, you'll need solid coding and programming skills.

Are online associate degrees in cybersecurity legitimate?

Yes. Two-year and four-year colleges award legitimate associate in cybersecurity degrees. Make sure your college holds institutional accreditation.

Is a two-year cybersecurity degree worth it?

It can be. Associate degree-holders make less than bachelor's degree-holders on average. That said, salary figures do not take into account the return on investment. A two-year degree costs less on average than a bachelor's degree.

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Page last reviewed on September 22, 2023.

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