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A bachelor’s in cybersecurity prepares students for well-paying and in-demand careers protecting sensitive data in computer networks and systems. As businesses continue to move medical, financial, and proprietary information online, many industries will need cybersecurity professionals to respond to cyberattacks and safeguard data.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 31% growth rate for information security analysts from 2019-2029. Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree-holders earn an average annual salary of $71,930 as of July 2021, according to PayScale.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 31% growth rate for information security analysts from 2019-2029.
This guide explores information about the benefits of declaring a cybersecurity major, what to expect from a typical program, and career opportunities after graduation.
Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity?
Students may wonder whether a cybersecurity degree is worth it. While earning a bachelor’s in cybersecurity takes time, hard work, and money, graduates gain in-demand skills and can qualify for many lucrative career opportunities.
Cybersecurity majors also earn higher salaries than individuals in many other fields, taking home about $8,000 more than the average bachelor’s degree-holder. Below, we cover some benefits of earning a cybersecurity degree.
In-Demand Skills: Earning a bachelor’s in cybersecurity develops data analysis, cryptography, data security, and identity management skills. Students also hone their problem-solving, technical, and communication abilities.
Career Opportunities: Graduates may qualify for many computer and information technology jobs, including information security analysts, security administrators, security software developers, forensic science technicians, and information security specialists.
Salary Potential: Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity salaries vary with position, location, and level of experience. The BLS reports that computer and information technology occupations made a median annual wage of $91,250 as of May 2020 — more than double the median annual salary for all jobs of $41,950.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity?
Earning a BS in cybersecurity prepares students for rewarding career paths protecting personal and proprietary data for businesses, governments, and individuals. Graduates can pursue entry-level positions in the information technology and security field or continue to graduate-level education.
Career and Salary Outlook for Cybersecurity Graduates
Students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity can pursue careers in information technology, security, and computing. Cybersecurity jobs may require skills in computer forensics, project management, analysis, and development.
Demand for cybersecurity professionals should continue to grow as financial institutions, government agencies, and other organizations look to bolster their protection against cyberthreats. For example, the BLS projects above-average job growth for information security analysts from 2019-2029.
$60,590 for forensic science technicians to $110,140 for security software developers.
Possible jobs for cybersecurity graduates include information security analysts, forensic science technicians, security software developers, and security administrators. Below, we explain what to expect from these positions, including job outlook and median annual salary.
Salary potential varies depending on position, experience, and education. Median annual salaries for the jobs listed below range from $60,590 for forensic science technicians to $110,140 for security software developers.
Information security analysts develop and implement plans to keep organizations’ computer systems and networks secure. These professionals typically need bachelor’s degrees in the field. Daily tasks include monitoring networks for security issues, installing software to protect information and data, researching IT security trends, and recommending security upgrades to management.
Information security analysts also play a significant role in developing organizations’ disaster recovery plans to ensure they include data protection measures.
Job Outlook (2019-29): +31% | Median Annual Salary: $103,590
Computer forensics analysts work on computer-based crimes. They analyze data to gather evidence for crimes like fraud and identity theft. These professionals typically need a bachelor’s degree in the field.
Typical job duties include recovering encrypted or deleted data and preparing evidence for trial. Computer forensics analysts work in the criminal justice system or in private sectors, including finance and IT.
Job Outlook (2019-29): +14% | Median Annual Salary: $60,590
Security software developers create and update security applications and systems. They usually need bachelor’s degrees. These professionals work on teams through each stage of software development, including implementation, design, and testing.
They analyze user needs, recommend software upgrades, and create models. Security software developers need problem-solving, interpersonal, and analytical skills.
Job Outlook (2019-29): +22% | Median Annual Salary: $110,140
Security administrators protect their organizations’ computer systems and networks from security threats. They support wide area networks, local area networks, and intranets. Most security administrators need bachelor’s degrees at minimum, along with analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.
Typical job duties include adding users to a network, optimizing system performance, repairing networks, and training individuals to use software and hardware securely.
Job Outlook (2019-29): +4% | Median Annual Salary: $84,810
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Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity Careers: Average Salaries by Experience, July 2021
Cybersecurity careers require professionals to complete continuing education to stay up-to-date in the field. Individuals pursuing career advancement and higher salaries may benefit from continuing their cybersecurity education beyond a bachelor’s degree.
Potential continuing education opportunities for cybersecurity professionals include pursuing graduate certificates, master’s degrees, Ph.D. degrees, and cybersecurity certifications. We describe these continuing education possibilities in detail below.
Many schools offer graduate certificates in cybersecurity, which typically take a year or less to complete and comprise 4-6 classes. Costs vary by program. Typical courses include principles of information security, management of data networks and security, advanced cybersecurity concepts, and computer forensics. Graduate certificates in cybersecurity can help individuals stand out to prospective employers.
Master’s degrees in cybersecurity can lead to high-level leadership and administrative positions, which typically pay well. Most master’s in cybersecurity programs take about two years of full-time study to complete, requiring 30 credits. Master’s programs typically cover foundations of algorithms, foundations of information assurance, and cryptology. Some degrees offer specializations in systems or analysis.
Individuals who earn Ph.D. degrees in cybersecurity pursue careers in research or teaching. Doctoral programs allow students to focus extensively on specific areas to develop high levels of expertise. Cybersecurity doctoral students must research, write, and defend dissertations.
A typical Ph.D. in cybersecurity takes 3-7 years to complete. Many doctoral students receive free tuition in exchange for working as instructors or research assistants.
Cybersecurity professionals who want to demonstrate specific skills can pursue certifications in certain technical areas. Many employers prefer or require cybersecurity applicants with certifications.
Common certifications include certified ethical hacker, certified information systems security professional, and CompTIA Security+. Certifications typically require candidates to meet experience and education criteria, pass exams, and pay fees.
Earning Your Bachelor’s Degree In Cybersecurity
Most cybersecurity bachelor’s programs require 120 semester credits, which full-time students can typically complete in four years. Part-time learners might take longer to graduate. Students who attend school year round, enroll in accelerated programs, or apply transfer credits may graduate more quickly.
Cybersecurity programs often include coursework in cyberlaw, ethical hacking, security information and management, and incident response and malware analysis. Students take classes like information technology concepts and applications, cybersecurity principles, introduction to programming, and networks and security. Some programs require internships or capstone projects.
Cybersecurity programs often include coursework in cyberlaw, ethical hacking, security information and management, and incident response and malware analysis.
Degree-seekers can find online and on-campus cybersecurity bachelor’s programs. Online programs may offer convenience, flexibility, and accelerated timelines compared to in-person programs.
Admission Requirements for a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree
Most cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs admit applicants who successfully meet general admission requirements. Students can typically declare a major in cybersecurity after gaining admission.
College admission requirements vary but usually include a high school diploma or a GED certificate, a minimum GPA, minimum ACT or SAT scores, letters of recommendation, and admission essays.
Some institutions may allow students with certificates or associate degrees in cybersecurity to transfer credits toward their bachelor’s degrees, shortening their program length. Schools with cybersecurity programs commonly offer credit for prior learning, including military and work experience.
Many colleges use the Common App, which allows prospective students to apply for several schools with just one online application.
Comparing Bachelor’s Degree Options
Students pursuing careers in cybersecurity can choose from several bachelor’s degrees in the field. Not all colleges offer standalone degrees in cybersecurity. Related bachelor’s degrees may incorporate cybersecurity topics or concentrations. Degrees in computer science, computer engineering, information technology, and information assurance all prepare learners for cybersecurity careers.
BS in Cybersecurity: A bachelor of science in cybersecurity explores the fundamentals of cybersecurity, cyberlaw, and cyberethics. Students learn to prevent data breaches, address vulnerabilities, and improve security for networks and systems. They also develop strong technical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Potential career paths for graduates include information security analysis, security software development, forensic science, and security administration.
BS in Computer Science: A computer science BS emphasizes the fundamental principles and practical skills of computer science. Students explore programming, software engineering, data science, and machine learning. Potential jobs for computer science graduates include computer hardware engineers, computer and information systems managers, and computer network architects.
BS in Computer Engineering: A BS in computer engineering teaches students to design, analyze, and test microprocessors, circuits, and operating systems. Learners also gain experience with software design. Typical computer engineering curricula include foundational computer science, mathematics, and physical science courses. Most graduates pursue careers in computer engineering.
BS in Mathematics: A bachelor of science in mathematics includes calculus, programming, statistical theory, and abstract math courses. Students learn to assess risks and develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and quantitative skills. They also gain broadly applicable skills valued by employers across many industries.
BS in Information Technology: Information technology bachelor’s programs provide a solid foundation in computer information technologies and systems. Students learn about networking and security, programming, and data management. Potential careers for information technology graduates include work as IT managers, network engineers, and software or web developers.
BS in Information Assurance: A BS in information assurance develops skills in cyberdefense and countermeasures, security management and policies, and ethical hacking. A typical curriculum covers many of the same topics as a BS in cybersecurity program, and graduates can pursue similar career paths.
Popular Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Courses
Cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees focus on legal issues in cybersecurity, risk management in information systems, and security strategies. Most programs include core and elective courses, plus capstone projects or internships.
Core courses for cybersecurity majors cover foundational theories and skills, such as fundamentals of information systems security. Elective courses allow learners to focus on more specialized areas of interest or relevant topics, like fundamentals of Python or project management.
Fundamentals of Information Systems Security
This course explores risks, vulnerabilities, and threats associated with the digital world. Coursework examines how governments, businesses, and individuals handle these security issues. Students learn how to identify information security risks.
Legal Issues in Cybersecurity
Enrollees learn about the intersections between cybersecurity and law. The course explores intellectual property, legal compliance, privacy responses, and customer expectations, along with relevant contemporary state and federal laws and regulations. Students learn to apply law principles in cybersecurity contexts.
Managing Risk in Information Systems
This course provides a broad overview of risk management strategies, practices, and theories in information systems. Students learn strategies for mitigating risk. Coursework also explores regulatory mandates, governance, and legal considerations in IT.
Fundamentals of Python
Students receive a thorough grounding in Python, a programming language. They learn about object-oriented design, data structures, array-based implementations, and inheritance and abstract classes. This class builds on skills learned in introductory, object-oriented programming language classes, like Python, Java, and C++.
Introduction to Project Management
This class introduces project management techniques and tools. Learners explore project parameters and processes, risk management, the role of IT security project teams, and IT security project design.
Many colleges feature internship opportunities for bachelor’s students. Cybersecurity degree-seekers often benefit from internships that allow them to gain real-world experience before graduation. Most universities also allow students to earn credits for unpaid internships.
Internships allow learners to apply their classroom knowledge and skills to network with potential employers. Some cybersecurity internships turn into job offers after students graduate. In certain cases, cybersecurity majors can complete paid internships, though schools may only offer academic credit.
Selecting Your Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Program
Prospective bachelor’s in cybersecurity students should consider many factors before choosing a program, including program length, staff credentials, tuition, financial aid, and program reputation.
Others regard school size, admission requirements, competitiveness, and student-to-teacher ratios. Students with specific career goals should ensure that their programs cover their areas of interest and offer specialization options.
Other important considerations include university resources, alumni networks, and job placement rates for graduates. As online education increases in popularity, students must consciously choose between online and in-person programs.
Learners who choose on-campus programs may prioritize school location, extracurricular activities, housing options, and student organizations. When choosing the right cybersecurity bachelor’s program, degree-seekers should weigh these criteria based on their individual needs, preferences, and goals.
Below, we explain the importance of attending a cybersecurity program at an accredited school, along with the pros and cons of online and on-campus cybersecurity programs.
Accreditation for Cybersecurity Schools and Programs
When choosing a bachelor’s in cybersecurity program, students should determine a school’s accreditation. This verification indicates that a school meets the educational standards set by an independent accrediting agency.
Independent accreditors assess an institution’s quality of faculty, curriculum, libraries, facilities, and technology. Most accredited colleges and universities hold regional accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to religious, trade, and vocational schools.
Accreditation benefits students who need to apply for financial aid, transfer credits, pursue advanced degrees, or earn postgraduate certifications. Only students at accredited institutions qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, most accredited colleges only accept transfer credits from other accredited schools.
Students can find accreditation information on prospective programs and schools through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accrediting agencies to look for include the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
What to Look For in an Online Bachelor’s Program in Cybersecurity
Earning a bachelor’s in cybersecurity online can provide more flexibility, affordability, and convenience than in-person programs. When choosing a school, prospective cybersecurity majors should consider tuition rates, credit transfer policies (if applicable), program format, and student services. Below, we explain what to look for to make the right decision for your needs.
Tuition Rates: Some online schools offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state learners. If you plan to attend an out-of-state university, you can save a lot of money by choosing a program that offers distance learners discounted tuition rates.
Transferability of Credits: Learners who might want to change schools to complete their bachelor’s degree elsewhere should make sure their credits will transfer to the most reputable institutions.
Program Format: Some programs offer synchronous learning, where students must log on to live virtual classrooms at specific times. Asynchronous options allow learners to complete coursework and watch downloaded lectures anytime and anywhere. Find out which type of learning format your potential programs offer before making a choice.
Student Services: The best online bachelor’s in cybersecurity programs offer robust student services that mirror on-campus resources. Look for career development centers, library resources, tutoring services, and technical assistance designed to support distance students.
Ranking Your Top Schools
Factors like school size, cost, program length, and career services may affect the school selection process for prospective students. Choosing the best school is a personal process. Students should take into consideration their aspirations and priorities when researching different programs.
Joining a professional cybersecurity organization offers many benefits to students and recent graduates. Members can access networking opportunities, current industry news, and other information and resources.
Professional groups also coordinate continuing education workshops and conferences, boast career development resources, and maintain job boards. Many organizations offer discounted memberships to students and recent graduates. See below to learn about professional organizations in cybersecurity.
This international membership group for cybersecurity professionals offers professional publications, education forums, and networking opportunities. The organization’s mission includes promoting a secure digital world.
As the world’s premier technology association, CompTIA offers certification programs, continuing education opportunities, and webinars. Millions of information technology professionals join CompTIA to access its training, events, and information resources.
This international association of computer science and information technology scholars organizes conferences, publishes academic journals, and encourages international collaboration. Members can join technical and scientific committees and register for the conference at a discount.
ASIS&T joins information science and technology research and practice. The group represents professionals from computer science, data science, librarianship, and information architecture. Membership benefits include a listing in the member directory, free webinars, a subscription to the group’s journal, and continuing education discounts.
Scholarships for Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Cybersecurity
Scholarships and other financial aid opportunities support college students, including individuals seeking cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees. Private companies, foundations, public organizations, and government agencies all offer college scholarships. Read on for a list of cybersecurity scholarships.
CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity students can apply for this scholarship. Recipients must agree to work for the U.S. government in cybersecurity positions for a period of time that matches the length of their scholarship.
Amount: Full tuition, living stipend, and professional allowance for up to three years
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate students pursuing STEM degrees can apply. Applicants must be citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. The program offers guaranteed employment with the U.S. Department of Defense after graduation.
Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be women studying information security with U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status. Candidates must be junior or senior undergraduates or master’s students. The scholarship committee requires letters of recommendation, resumes, transcripts, and essays.
(ISC)² Information Security Undergraduate Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity or information assurance can apply. Each applicant must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA. Candidates submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, resumes, and essays.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be full-time students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity or related fields at accredited U.S. colleges. Each candidate must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a 500-word essay, plus transcripts.
What is the average salary of someone with a bachelor's in cybersecurity?
Salaries vary by occupation, employer, industry, and experience level. PayScale reports an average annual salary of $71,930 as of July 2021 for graduates with a bachelor’s in cybersecurity.
Can you get a cybersecurity bachelor's online?
Yes. Many schools offer bachelor’s in cybersecurity online programs. Distance education offers added convenience, flexibility, and affordability for cybersecurity majors.
Which bachelor's degrees are related to cybersecurity?
Bachelor’s degrees related to cybersecurity include computer forensics, database management, and computer hardware engineering. Some schools without bachelor’s in cybersecurity programs offer cybersecurity as a minor or certificate.