15 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Degree Programs 2021

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Best Master's Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

A master’s degree in cybersecurity provides a graduate-level education for information technology (IT) professionals looking to advance their skills and employment prospects. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a faster-than-average 11% occupational growth for computer and IT professionals between 2019 and 2029.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity, this guide is for you. We cover major topics like program content, timeline and formatting options, career opportunities, and degree selection. First, take a look at our ranked list of the nation’s top cybersecurity master’s degree programs:

2021’s 10 Best Universities for a Master’s in Cybersecurity

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
3 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
4 University of San Diego San Diego, CA
5 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN
6 University of Delaware Newark, DE
7 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ
8 Fordham University Bronx, NY
9 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
10 Florida International University Miami, FL

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Why Get a Cybersecurity Master’s?

Cybersecurity is one of today’s most popular areas of employment. The field is relatively new; the first computer virus emerged in the early 1970s, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed the first U.S. cybersecurity patent less than four decades ago, in 1983.

According to the BLS, as of 2019, over 130,000 individuals worked as information security analysts — just one of many occupations under the cybersecurity umbrella.

Cybersecurity jobs boast much higher-than-average growth. This is due in part to cybersecurity’s increasingly important role in protecting the integrity of business data, election results, computer networks, and private information. 

A bachelor’s degree satisfies minimum requirements for many cybersecurity occupations, but a master’s degree provides graduates with additional skills and knowledge, giving them a competitive edge in the job market. A master’s also enables professionals to cast a wider net for their job search. Master’s program graduates can effectively supervise security teams, work as independent consultants, or advance to top management positions. 

Three major benefits of earning a cybersecurity master’s include:

Earning Potential
Even entry-level cybersecurity careers tend to offer excellent compensation. Information security analysts earn a median salary of $99,730 as of 2019, according to the BLS. Cybersecurity master’s jobs like chief information security officer earn a median $163,560 salary.
Job Security
The continual evolution of technology and big data drives a major need for skilled cybersecurity professionals across all industries. Candidates with a master’s degree can expect to maintain a high level of competitiveness and job security throughout their careers.
Lifelong Learning
Individuals who pursue cybersecurity careers must stay abreast of the latest developments, policy changes, and best practices in information technology. This field demands lifelong learning and allows endless opportunities to grow.

The Top Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Programs of 2021

Earning a cybersecurity master’s degree can lead to top positions for aspiring chief information security officers and cybersecurity analysts and directors. We applied our signature methodology to rank the nation’s best master’s in cybersecurity. Visit the link below to learn more about our ranking methodology.

  • What the Best Cybersecurity Programs Have in Common

    Though colleges vary, many of the top cybersecurity master’s degree programs feature similar characteristics. Our unique methodology ranks the best master’s in cybersecurity according to the following attributes.

    • They are accredited. Students should consider only schools with regional or national accreditation. Accredited institutions must meet performance standards set by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Our methodology considers only schools verified by one of the following regional accrediting agencies:
      • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges
      • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
      • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
      • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
      • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
      • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
      • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
    • They represent academic excellence. Only schools with a history of extraordinary performance earn spots on our list. Our methodology examines student retention rate, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and full-time faculty. For example, the second-highest ranked school on our list, the University of Southern California, reported a 91% retention rate and a 92% six-year graduation rate as of fall 2020.
    • They are reputable. Only the most respectable schools capture our attention, with impressive statistics including admission rate, admissions yield, and alumni’s mean earnings six years after graduation. The fourth school on our list, the University of San Diego, reported a 57% admission rate and a 54% yield rate among graduate students in the fall of 2020.
    • They are affordable. Students frequently regard the cost of higher education as a top priority. We determine overall affordability by considering a school’s net price, the average amount of aid it awards, the default loan rate for alumni, and the percentage of students with scholarships or federal aid. For example, our No. 1 school, Johns Hopkins University, strives to meet 100% of students’ financial aid needs through loan-free packages and debt-free graduation initiatives.

  1. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is the nation's first research university. Today, Johns Hopkins offers more than 260 graduate and undergraduate programs online and through a campus in Baltimore, Maryland.

    MS in Cybersecurity

    Johns Hopkins' online cybersecurity master's degree requires learners to choose a track in analysis, assured autonomy, networks, or systems, or students may pursue independent study. All tracks include prerequisite and foundational course requirements, including intro to programming using Java, foundations of algorithms, and discrete mathematics.

    The independent study track includes two projects and culminates in a capstone requirement. In addition to the requirements listed below, applicants to the MS in cybersecurity must satisfy prerequisites in calculus, advanced math, Java, data structures, and computer organization.

    Applying to Johns Hopkins

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and typically demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must apply online and submit all official academic transcripts for consideration.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $5,701/course
    • Required Credits: 33-39 credits
    • Program Length: 2-5 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous, synchronous, or asynchronous and synchronous)
  2. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Established in 1880, USC enrolled 53 students and employed 10 teachers in its first class. Today, USC enrolls more than 46,000 students on campus and online and offers programs across 22 academic schools.

    MS in Cybersecurity Engineering

    USC's MS in cybersecurity emphasizes the development and operation of information security systems. Students complete a sequence of required and elective courses in topics like computer systems assurance, foundations and policy for information security, and security and privacy. Learners build advanced skills in cryptography, secure networking, and key management.

    Enrollees can choose from electives in computer forensics, integrated physical and cybersecurity for oil and gas operations, and a directed research project. Learners may take courses synchronously or asynchronously through USC's exclusive DEN@Viterbi learning management system. DEN@Viterbi features technical, homework, and exam coordination support.

    Applying to USC

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in an engineering-related discipline such as computer science, information security, or computer engineering. Admission also requires transcripts, a resume, and a personal statement. Applicants may submit letters of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: WSCUC
    • Tuition: $2,148/unit
    • Required Credits: 28 units
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid
  3. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    FSU boasts the highest graduation rate of any public Florida university. FSU enrolls more than 41,000 students online and on its physical campus, Florida's longest-running site of continuous higher education. Students can choose from nearly 300 academic programs.

    Cybersecurity MS

    FSU offers an MS in computer science with an optional major in cybersecurity. Students must satisfy core requirements through computer software, computer systems, and computer theory coursework. Cybersecurity majors also explore cryptography, network security, and computer and network administration.

    The online cybersecurity master's features an embedded information security specialist certificate. Prospective students who do not hold bachelor's degrees in computer science must satisfy prerequisites in operating systems; theory of computation; computer organization; and data structures, algorithms, and generic programming.

    Applying to FSU

    FSU admits new students in the fall and spring semesters. Applicants should hold an accredited graduate or undergraduate degree, ideally in computer science, with a minimum 3.0 GPA to be competitive. FSU requires minimum GRE scores of 145 on the verbal and 150 on the quantitative sections.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $479/credit (in state); $1,111/credit (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: On campus
  4. University of San Diego
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    From its picturesque campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean, USD offers liberal arts programs in the Catholic tradition. USD enrolls nearly 8,900 students and offers more than 75 graduate and undergraduate programs on campus and online.

    MS in Cybersecurity Engineering

    USD's MS in cybersecurity engineering prepares graduates for advanced information security careers in the public and private sectors. The program emphasizes practical, professional experience for engineering professionals who want to specialize in cybersecurity. Required courses include foundations of cybersecurity, secure systems engineering, and digital forensics and incident response.

    Students may enroll in the fall or spring semesters. Each online course lasts seven weeks. USD offers comprehensive online resources including enrollment, program, and academic advising, and graduate placement support services. USD accepts applications throughout the year and offers multiple start dates.

    Applying to USD

    USD requires applicants to hold an accredited bachelor's degree and possess a GPA of at least 3.0. USD recommends applicants with a GPA below 3.0 submit GRE or GMAT scores. Additionally, applicants must submit a statement of purpose, reference letters, and a resume.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: WSCUC
    • Tuition: $1,250/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 20 months
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
  5. Indiana University-Bloomington
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    IU enrolls more than 90,000 students across nine campuses throughout Indiana, and online. The university also boasts more than 725,000 alumni around the world. Students may choose from nearly 950 graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs.

    MS in Cybersecurity Risk Management

    IU offers its cybersecurity master's degree collaboratively through the Kelley School of Business; the Maurer School of Law; and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. The MS in cybersecurity risk management offers concentrations in technology, business, and law.

    Students must satisfy core course requirements in three primary areas: technical cybersecurity, IT risk management, and cybersecurity law and policy. IU master's in cybersecurity program ranks among the best for hands-on experience, providing a practicum-based culminating capstone course. Learners may add courses to prepare for the certified information systems security professional exam.

    Applying to IU

    IU admits students in the fall and spring semesters. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additionally, they must submit official undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, letters of recommendation, and GRE, or LSAT scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: HLC
    • Tuition: $10,376/year (in state); $30,676/year (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 1-5 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous, asynchronous, or synchronous and asynchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online/on campus)
  6. University of Delaware
    Location

    Newark, DE

    Based in Newark, Delaware, UD ranks among the nation's most prominent sea-, land-, and space-grant universities. UD enrolls more than 23,000 students and offers more than 400 traditional and online programs across 10 academic schools.

    MS in Cybersecurity

    UD's online MS in cybersecurity explores topics such as applied cryptography, digital forensics, and secure software design. Enrollees may concentrate in security analytics, security management, secure software, or secure systems. The online cybersecurity master's includes seven-week courses and offers multiple entry points.

    UD partners with federal and state agencies and private sector entities to prepare students for cybersecurity careers. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security named UD a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. UD also offers a 4+1 accelerated bachelor's-to-master's in cybersecurity.

    Applying to UD

    Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree in a major such as computer engineering or computer science and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must also provide three letters of recommendation, meet minimum GRE score requirements, and possess programming experience in high-level languages.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $1,898/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (synchronous and asynchronous) or on campus
  7. New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Location

    Newark, NJ

    As New Jersey's premiere polytechnic university, NJIT holds the highest-possible Carnegie classification for doctoral research and boasts accomplished faculty, 98% of whom hold terminal degrees in their area of expertise. NJIT offers more than 125 programs across six specialized schools, delivered in person and online.

    MS in Cybersecurity and Privacy

    NJIT's MS in cybersecurity and privacy explores the technical, legal, ethical, and policy-based aspects of cybersecurity. Students may concentrate in cyber defense or tailor their curriculum through an optional master's project or thesis. Learners may also opt to complete a graduate capstone project.

    Core courses for the cybersecurity master's explore network protocols security, counter hacking techniques, and cryptography. NJIT offers academic advising and technical support through the Moodle learning management system. The school delivers the majority of online coursework synchronously, with occasional "converged" classes, in which some students attend in person and others attend remotely at the same time.

    Applying to NJIT

    NJIT accepts applications on a rolling basis and admits students in the fall or spring semester. Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a letter of recommendation, and GRE or GMAT scores for consideration.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $20,624/2 semesters (in state, on campus); $30,540/2 semesters (out of state, on campus); $1,050/credit (online)
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (primarily synchronous), on campus, or hybrid (online/on campus)
  8. Fordham University
    Location

    Bronx, NY

    Founded in 1841, Fordham remains New York's most prominent Jesuit Catholic university. Fordham features multiple campuses across New York, in London, and online. The university enrolls just under 17,000 students across nearly 200 graduate and undergraduate programs.

    MS in Cybersecurity

    Fordham offers one of the best master's in cybersecurity in the nation, according to the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. This master's degree in cybersecurity also receives a STEM designation, enabling students to extend post-completion coursework in optional practical training.

    Coursework covers cybersecurity essentials, intelligence in cybersecurity, and cybersecurity in business. The cybersecurity master's requires a cybersecurity practicum. Students must conclude the degree with a capstone or thesis sequence. The program follows a cohort delivery model and combines online and hybrid courses.

    Applying to Fordham

    Fordham requires full academic transcripts, a resume, a statement of intent, and two letters of recommendation with the online application for admission consideration. Fordham's cybersecurity program recommends but does not require GRE scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $1,380/credit
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 12 months
    • Delivery Format: Hybrid (online/on campus)
  9. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Based in Philadelphia, Drexel launched one of the nation's first online programs. Drexel occupies multiple campuses across Philadelphia and online, enrolling more than 24,000 students and offering over 200 degrees.

    MS in Cybersecurity

    Drexel's MS in cybersecurity provides an interdisciplinary curriculum for students with a background in computer science or computer, electrical, or telecommunications engineering. The cybersecurity master's offers tracks in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and information science. Drexel offers hands-on experience through unique cooperative education opportunities on campus.

    Though not required, Drexel encourages students to complete a master's thesis. Inspired by clinical rotations for medical students, Drexel's research rotations enable thesis candidates to explore multiple cybersecurity disciplines. Core coursework includes principles of cybersecurity, information policy, and information ethics.

    Applying to Drexel

    Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and provide official transcripts, a resume, a personal essay, and two letters of recommendation for admission consideration. Drexel recommends that applicants submit GRE scores.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Private
    • Accreditation: MSCHE
    • Tuition: $1,342/quarter hour
    • Required Credits: 45 quarter hours
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: 100% online (primarily asynchronous) or on campus
  10. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    FIU features a main campus in Miami, Florida, plus an online campus and satellite locations across south Florida; Washington, D.C.; and Tianjin, China. The university enrolls nearly 59,000 students across almost 200 graduate and undergraduate programs.

    MS in Cybersecurity

    FIU's online cybersecurity master's emphasizes core skills in secure application programming and the social, policy, and economic facets of cybersecurity. The MS in cybersecurity offers diverse electives through FIU's schools of IT, engineering, international/public affairs, and business.

    Students may enroll in full- or part-time study, starting the program in fall or spring. With advisor approval, FIU students may complete some online coursework through a partnership with the University of South Florida. Learners may take electives in national security essentials, homeland security risk assessment, and information security management.

    Applying to FIU

    Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree in a discipline such as computer science, computer engineering, or information technology, demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. Advisors also recommend a statement of purpose, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.

    Program at a Glance

    • School Type: Public
    • Accreditation: SACSCOC
    • Tuition: $456/credit (in state); $1,002/credit (out of state)
    • Required Credits: 30 credits
    • Program Length: 2 years
    • Delivery Format: On campus

What To Expect From Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

At the graduate level, cybersecurity programs strive to build on students’ existing mathematics and computer science skills so they can help organizations identify and overcome system vulnerabilities. Most cybersecurity master’s programs require 30-36 credits of coursework. When studying full time, learners frequently graduate in just a year, with some degrees offering a longer, two-year timeline.

A master of science in cybersecurity is one of the most popular degree options for cybersecurity professionals. However, some students pursue closely related programs, such as a master’s in computer science with a cybersecurity concentration or a master’s in criminal justice with a digital forensics concentration.

Within the MS in cybersecurity, learners take courses in data protection, cryptography, internet security, and ethics and policy. Degrees may offer additional concentration options including cyberoperations, information systems security, or computer networking and infrastructure. 

Admission Requirements

Before applying to a cybersecurity master’s program, candidates must complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. A school may limit admission to computer science or cybersecurity majors or admit candidates with any academic background, as long as these applicants have completed required course prerequisites.

GPA requirements vary by school, though they generally range from 2.0-3.0 or higher. Similarly, standardized test requirements vary by program, and some schools may not require GRE or GMAT scores at all.

Along with official transcripts and test scores, master’s programs commonly ask for letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Others may also ask for a current resume, as some programs may require prior work experience.

Graduate programs typically charge a nonrefundable application fee of $50-$105.

Degree and Specialization Options

The top cybersecurity master’s degree programs take a few different forms, adjusted to meet varying professional goals across multiple industries. Three of the most common cybersecurity master’s degrees include:

Master of Science in Cybersecurity



Cybersecurity MS programs offer the most narrow focus on cybersecurity concepts and practices. Courses provide instruction on cloud security, digital information protection, digital forensics, and risk management. This program is ideal for students who want to gain proficiency in combating cyberattacks.

Master of Computer and Information Science (Cybersecurity Concentration)



A computer and information science degree provides a more generalized education with coursework in programming, operating systems, and database management. Cybersecurity specializations touch on the field’s most important aspects, but the degree, overall, allows for more flexible employment options within IT.

Master of Business Administration (Cybersecurity Concentration)



The MBA offers a specialized education designed for professionals with management experience. Coursework covers business ethics, management accounting, and strategic marketing. A cybersecurity concentration provides in-depth study of relevant legal, technical, and risk management issues.

Popular Cybersecurity Courses

The best universities for master’s in cybersecurity programs offer dozens of course subjects to meet the varied interests and professional needs of their students. Depending on the degree you select, core coursework may cover theory and conceptual topics, practical cybersecurity techniques, or advanced mathematics.

Some programs offer specialized tracks designed to enhance knowledge and skills in a specific area like analysis, networks, or cyberoperations. Degree-seekers studying cybersecurity commonly encounter the following core, elective, and capstone courses:

This course covers fundamental issues and concepts relating to network security. Class lectures discuss vulnerabilities and threats including network mapping, port scanning, and DDoS. Students gain skills in applied cryptography and information security through exploration of topics like encryption algorithms, authentication, and digital signatures.
This course provides students with knowledge and skills relating to the latest internet security techniques and practices. While primarily focused on server-side security issues like firewalls and proper configuration, coursework also examines related topics including client-server connections, spyware, software security, and information breach.
This survey course examines fundamental techniques of algorithm design and analysis. Topics include sorting and searching, design paradigms, and graph algorithms. This class develops students’ problem-solving skills required for the continued study of computer science.
This common elective class introduces students to the fundamental issues, concepts, and techniques of forensic science as applied to computers and networks. Using theory, case studies, and contemporary literature, coursework discusses the collection, preservation, analysis, and presentation of digital evidence for cybercrime investigation.
Depending on the degree, a capstone or thesis may be optional or required. Learners who participate in this culminating experience must integrate skills and knowledge gained throughout the program. Working under the guidance of a faculty member, students complete an extensive project or written paper addressing a real-world problem in cybersecurity.

How Much Will a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity Cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, a master’s degree in cybersecurity costs anywhere from $17,000-$70,000 in tuition. In-state learners enrolled at a public university tend to pay the lowest costs, while out-of-state learners and those enrolled in private institutions tend to pay more.

When budgeting for your education, also consider the cost of housing, meals, books, transportation, and supplies. Graduate students may save some money by learning online and avoiding campus-based fees.

To help lower your out-of-pocket expenses, look first for scholarships, grants, and fellowships, which award funds that do not require repayment. Good places to seek out these forms of financial assistance include your prospective school and academic department, cybersecurity organizations, and private foundations.

Many students also need to take out loans in order to finance their education. Before signing on to borrow any amount, make sure to carefully review the loan terms, compare multiple lenders, and evaluate your repayment options.

Read More About Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Jobs for Master’s in Cybersecurity Graduates

In the list below, we detail five popular career opportunities for cybersecurity master’s graduates.

Although a bachelor’s degree satisfies many minimum requirements for entry-level employment, earning a master’s improves applicants’ chances of employment and advancement in the competitive cybersecurity field.

Cybersecurity pays well. As a chief information security officer, graduates bring home a median salary of $146,360. Even non-supervisory security positions, like information security analysts, can earn six-figure salaries.

Professional certifications can also improve job prospects and earning potential. Options to consider include certified information systems security professional, certified ethical hacker, and certified information security manager.

  • Information Security Analyst

    Information security analysts plan and execute security measures to protect computer networks, systems, and data. Common tasks include installing protection software, monitoring networks and investigating security breaches, and providing management with IT security recommendations. This career requires current research and knowledge of cyberattack methods.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree at minimum; master’s improves employment prospects
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +31%
    • Median Annual Salary: $99,730

  • Chief Information Security Officer

    Working closely with other executives, chief information security officers help develop an organization’s information security policies and procedures. These professionals hire and manage teams of IT security personnel. Other tasks include preparing budgets and allocating finances for cybersecurity operations, monitoring security vulnerabilities, and maintaining current knowledge of threats.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree at minimum; master’s improves employment prospects
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +10%
    • Median Annual Salary: $146,360

  • Security Software Developer

    Typically working in teams with other IT professionals, security software developers collaborate to build safe and efficient software applications to protect data and computer systems. Software developers need to analyze user needs, design each software component and how they work together, and ensure program functionality through testing and maintenance.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree at minimum; master’s improves employment prospects
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +22%
    • Median Annual Salary: $107,510

  • Penetration Tester

    Also known as ethical hackers, penetration testers aid in the detection and resolution of security vulnerabilities within an organization’s computer systems, networks, and databases. These professionals simulate cyberattacks using existing hacking strategies and document their ability to break through existing security measures.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree at minimum; master’s improves employment prospects
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): N/A
    • Average Annual Salary: $85,090

  • Digital Forensics Analyst

    Computer forensics or digital forensics analysts work in an interdisciplinary field that combines cybersecurity and criminal justice. These professionals collect and analyze data for prosecution in computer-based crimes such as fraud or identity theft. Their work commonly involves gathering evidence that has been deleted, encrypted, or otherwise hidden.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree at minimum; master’s improves employment prospects
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): N/A
    • Average Annual Salary: $74,200

Explore Cybersecurity Careers

Choosing the Right Cybersecurity Graduate Program

You can get a lot of valuable information from our program rankings, but choosing the right degree requires consideration of other factors, too. Every graduate student brings unique priorities and needs to the table. Some things you may want to consider include:

Accreditation
Accreditation ensures a university’s academic quality. Make sure to attend an institution with appropriate regional or national accreditation. You may also want to consider a degree with a Center of Academic Excellence designation from the National Security Agency. This programmatic accreditation evaluates programs based on how well they prepare graduates for jobs in the field.
Prestige and Reputation
One university’s cybersecurity curriculum may not differ much from another’s. However, prestigious schools often build high-profile alumni networks and carry name recognition with prospective employers.
School Location
Campus location can impact where you choose to live, how long you commute, and how much you pay in tuition.
Cost and Financial Aid
The best universities for a master’s in cybersecurity charge anywhere from $17,000-$70,000 in tuition. Consider your budget and financial aid options carefully.
Available Concentrations
If you really want to focus on a certain area within the field, choose your degree carefully. Not every cybersecurity master’s offers the same specializations.

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

Online learning continues to grow in popularity, especially among graduate school attendees. More than 30% of all postbaccalaureate college students studied exclusively via distance learning formats in fall 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Cybersecurity programs are computer-based and therefore suit the distance education format quite well. Online colleges are a great option for students who work full time, as the flexible scheduling of asynchronous courses allows learners to complete assignments in accordance with their work schedules.

While determining whether an online cybersecurity master’s degree is right for you, consider the following factors: 

  • Whether your devices and WiFi meet minimum technology requirements
  • Whether your home environment allows for reliable, distraction-free study opportunities
  • Whether you feel comfortable communicating with classmates and professors through chat, email, and discussion forums, rather than in person
  • Whether you can effectively study and complete course material without scheduled meeting times or in-person oversight

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I major in for cybersecurity?

    If you plan to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity, consider selecting a related undergraduate major like cybersecurity, computer science, information technology, or digital forensics. Choose a discipline that best meets your eventual career goals.

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

    The best master’s in cybersecurity programs offer flexible completion options designed to fit the schedules of working professionals. Studying full time, you can complete your degree in as little as one year. You can also study part time, if needed.

  • Is a master's degree in cybersecurity worth it?

    Although many occupations in the field of IT security do not explicitly require a graduate degree, earning a cybersecurity master’s can enhance your skills, improve your competitiveness in the job market, and lead to higher earning potential.

  • What can you do with a master's in cybersecurity?

    IT professionals who pursue a master’s of science in cybersecurity are able to compete for supervisory and management positions. Top-paying opportunities include chief information security officer, information security director, and information security analyst.

  • Is cybersecurity a good career?

    Cybersecurity is a growing, high-demand field with a bright future. As more organizations and businesses require enhanced protection for their networks, computer systems, and databases, cybersecurity professionals should enjoy excellent job security and pay.

Feature Image: Gorodenkoff / 19_03 Data Center / Shutterstock

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