Compiled and Written By CyberDegrees.org Staff
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 32% increase in job openings for information security analysts from 2018-2028, leading to 35,500 new cybersecurity jobs. As cyberattacks and data breaches become more frequent, organizations demand workers who can prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information. An online bachelor's in cybersecurity enables graduates to find employment in this exciting and rapidly growing field.
Read on to learn about cybersecurity careers, scholarships, and how to find the best program for you, including top schools for cybersecurity students.
Top 10 Best Online Bachelor's Programs in Cyber Security
|1||Drexel University||Philadelphia, PA|
|2||Lewis University||Romeoville, IL|
|3||University of Illinois Springfield||Springfield, IL|
|4||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|5||Norwich University||Northfield, VT|
|6||Robert Morris University||Pittsburgh, PA|
|7||Saint Leo University||St. Leo, FL|
|8||Regent University||Virginia Beach, VA|
|9||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|10||Maryville University||St. Louis, MO|
What is Cyber Security?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computer systems from digital attacks. Hackers and others perpetrate cyberattacks to access sensitive information, steal money, or disrupt business operations. Hackers often break into computer networks and personal devices to extort money from businesses or individuals. They may also destroy, alter, or release private data.
Because organizations rely so heavily on computers and computer networks, cyberattacks can seriously harm their ability to conduct business. Additionally, because so much personal information is housed on the internet and in hardware, digital attacks can take a serious toll.
Cybersecurity workers fill the crucial role of preventing and reacting to all types of intrusions. They install security measures such as firewalls and encryption programs to reduce the risk of possible attacks. They also perform penetration tests, monitor unusual activity, and plan for various hacking scenarios.
Top Online Bachelor's in Cyber Security Schools for 2020
Online Bachelor of Science in Computing and Security Technology
One of the nation's first schools to require students to bring computers, Drexel has long championed internet learning. The Philadelphia university hosts a web-based cybersecurity degree that emphasizes practical, hands-on experience. Named a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Drexel designed the 188-credit degree for working IT professionals interested in changing careers and for individuals who have already completed two years of college.
Learners must complete requirements in liberal studies, natural science, mathematics, and the university's requisite coursework in civic engagement and professional development. The major itself breaks down into classes in information science, programming, computing and informatics, and security.
Students can pursue concentrations in computing technology and computing security. Instead of using a traditional semester system, Drexel schedules classes asynchronously in four, 10-week quarters. This allows learners to complete more classes in a shorter time period.
Drexel extends credit for prior learning to those with certification in A+, Oracle 9i DBA, Windows 2008+, CCNA, and other software. The school accepts up to 133 quarter credits in transfer toward the program. Online students enjoy a 40% tuition discount compared to their on-campus counterparts.
Online Bachelor of Science in Information Security Management
A comprehensive Catholic institution, Lewis ranks among the best cybersecurity schools, evidenced by its standing as an NSA/DHS nationally recognized Center of Academic Excellence. Set outside Chicago, Lewis offers an online cybersecurity degree students can pursue entirely online. The program readies distance learners for cybersecurity careers in IT and also for several prestigious industry certifications. Graduates leave with a foundational understanding of risk management, security management, IT operations, computer forensics, and the ethics of hacking.
To earn the degree, students must complete 128 credits. These split in half between Lewis' undergraduate requirements and the major itself. Because Lewis offers the degree through its school of business, most major courses come from business disciplines. Degree-seekers take courses in macroeconomics, accounting, statistics, marketing, management, and business principles in the digital age. The cybersecurity component includes nine classes in computer science, computer forensics, database management, business networking, and cybercrime prevention.
Most classes proceed asynchronously in an accelerated format. Students can access the school's CloudLab 24/7 to work at their convenience. Lewis sponsors internships with several Chicago-area companies, allowing learners to gain first-hand experience.
Lewis provides discounted tuition to online learners. The school notes that its students retain eligibility for several exclusive scholarships only for those attending information security programs at Centers of Academic Excellence. This program can tie into accelerated master's and MBA programs in information security for those with graduate ambitions.
University of Illinois Springfield
Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Computer science ranks as the top undergraduate major at UIS, which welcomed its largest incoming class in 2019. Offered through the university's department of computer science, the school's online bachelor's in cybersecurity teaches students the fundamentals of keeping data safe. The program also emphasizes the kinds of problem-solving skills employers look for in candidates.
The program grounds participants in the design and implementation of security strategies, risk assessment, and computer security ethics. UIS' department of computer science boasts several credentials, including status as a Cisco Regional Networking Academy, a National Science Foundation Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance partner, and a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. The department is also certified by the Committee of National Security Systems and the National Security Agency.
Learners must complete 24 credits in networks, information assurance, systems programming languages, Windows network administration, and a systems security and information assurance capstone. Students must also complete 12 credits of computer science electives, and 10 credits in Engaged Citizenship Common Experience, the university's community-building classes. A UIS bachelor's degree comprises 120 credits. Degree-seekers must meet all lower-division general education requirements.
Applicants must have two semesters of Java programming, completed coursework in calculus, statistics, and discrete or finite math, and earned a 2.0 GPA or better. UIS accepts as many as 90 transfer credits. UIS' "e-tuition" costs far less than on-campus tuition for out-of-state students.
Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity
Home of the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigations and Cybersecurity, Champlain enjoys a distinguished reputation in the field of information security education. The Burlington, Vermont, university ranks among the nation's first private colleges designated as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Department Cyber Crime Center. Since 2006, Champlain has been an NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence. Known for its adult programming and flexibility, Champlain offers several web-delivered programs, including an online cybersecurity degree that provides a hands-on, experiential education.
The 120-credit program combines problem-solving and critical thinking skills with expertise in more than 31 key applications, platforms, and languages. Curriculum leans heavily toward the major itself, with only 15 credits required in general education. The cybersecurity major requires learners to complete 69 credits, including a 15-week senior seminar. Participants can add certificates in computer networking, incident response, Linux administration, security administration, software security, system administration, computer forensics, or digital investigations. Scheduled for accelerated, seven-week terms, classes typically run asynchronously to accommodate working professionals.
Champlain awards credit for prior learning and accepts as many as 90 credits toward the degree. The university points out that information security professionals made an annual median salary of nearly $100,000 in 2018, according to BLS data. Online students at Champlain pay less in tuition than on-campus learners.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
Located in Northfield, Vermont, NU ranks among the early champions of online education. The nation's first private military school, NU began offering courses in 1997. Today, NU offers a full slate of web-delivered programs, including an accredited online cybersecurity degree. Learners can choose concentrations in computer forensics and vulnerability management and information warfare and security management. Intended for employed adults, the program uses skills-based instruction to develop participants' critical thinking, analytical, research, and communication abilities.
NU's 120-credit bachelor's degree requires students to finish 45 general education credits. The major consists of 36 credits in foundational studies and 18 in a concentration area. Distance learners must also complete a six-credit capstone in which they analyze an organization's network and security posture. NU caps its classes at 16 students, allowing for interaction with professors and classmates. Most instructors use an asynchronous format. Most students complete the degree in 18 months.
NU boasts status as an NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence in cybersecurity education. Students can pursue their degree using credits from SecureSet Academy's CORE Technical Bootcamp or the HUNT analyst program thanks to a strategic partnership between NU and SecureSet Academy.
Applicants need 30 completed credits and may transfer in up to 90. Accepted credits must come from accredited schools and be higher than a C. NU also grants credit for prior military training. NU charges all online learners the same flat-rate tuition.
Robert Morris University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics
A private school in Greater Pittsburgh, RMU offers an online cybersecurity degree that combines technology, business, law, and organizational behavior. Founded as a business school, RMU now offers a comprehensive slate of programs at several locations and online, including its bachelor of science in cybersecurity and digital forensics. The program gives students a big-picture look at technology in modern business. Degree-seekers learn how to keep data safe, assess intrusions, mitigate risk, and use resources appropriately. This focus on business acumen and technical skills readies graduates for exciting cybersecurity careers in law enforcement, government, or the corporate world.
Intended for working professionals, the program consists of 66 major credits, 39 RMU core credits, and 18 electives. Degree-seekers take courses such as digital evidence analysis, network forensics, and IT governance. In their last semester, students must pass the Program Outcomes Assessment, which might include a senior exit exam or interview.
Most classes feature 20 students or less and run asynchronously. Every RMU distance learner gets a personal student counselor, a career advisor, a wellness counselor, and access to 24-hour technical support.
RMU's programs are accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. RMU reports that 94% of its recent graduates found employment or entered graduate school while 84% went to work in the field of their major.
Saint Leo University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
Florida's oldest Catholic university, Saint Leo educates almost six times more students on its digital campus and off-site learning centers than it does on campus. The school offers an online bachelor's in cybersecurity that takes a holistic approach to information security, grounding students in network defense, system security, penetration testing, digital forensics, detection, and recovery. Saint Leo makes all necessary credits available online, requiring no visits to central Florida.
Recognized by the NSA/DHS as a Center of Academic Excellence, Saint Leo developed its curriculum to respond to industry demands. Students must complete 120 credits for a bachelor's, including 42 in the university's general requirements. Graduates know how to assess risk, create protection strategies, measure systems, and manage policy. Distance learners can earn certification from the prestigious InfoSec Institute in areas such as ethical hacking, security auditing, and information system security to add depth to their resumes. Most coursework runs asynchronously.
In Saint Leo's computer security and information assurance lab, students can immerse themselves in a mock IT environment. The school encourages learners to pursue internships for additional hands-on experience. Students have interned at places such as Verizon, Tech Data Company, and the Pasco County Sheriff's Department.
A military-friendly school, Saint Leo grants credit for armed forces training. Students can also earn credit through prior learning assessment portfolios and by examination.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber and Digital Forensics
A Christian institution founded by evangelist Pat Roberts, Regent offers an online cybersecurity program from a biblical perspective. All students must complete the university's core, which includes courses such as making of the Christian mind, making of the Christian life, and making of the Christian leader. The Virginia Beach school's bachelor of science in cyber and digital forensics trains distance learners to use digital fingerprints to take on criminals.
Designated an NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence, Regent constructed a 120-credit curriculum heavy on the investigative side of cybersecurity. Roughly half of classes in the major core cover subjects such as forensics, criminal evidence, and criminal investigation. Degree-seekers learn programming, networking, databases, and systems and must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA. Regent offers most classwork asynchronously in accelerated eight-week sessions.
The school launched an Institute for Cybersecurity training center along with a state-of-the-art cyber range in 2016 and 2017, respectively. These facilities vaulted the Christian university to a place among the nation's top schools for cybersecurity. Already in use by the government, the military, and corporations, the Institute gives students access to the newest cyber training equipment and techniques.
Learners must complete half of the 120 credits for the cybersecurity degree at Regent. Online students and military personnel receive discounted tuition.
Online Bachelor of Computer Science in Cybersecurity
Founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell, Liberty ranks among the world's largest Christian universities. The evangelical institution in Lynchburg, Virginia, began its distance offerings in 1985 and built one of the nation's biggest virtual campuses. Liberty offers an online cybersecurity degree through its school of business to help Christ-centered men and women make a positive impact in cybersecurity jobs. NHS/DSA designates Liberty as a Center of Academic Excellence.
Liberty requires degree-seekers to complete 121 credits. Full-time learners typically complete the program in 3.5 years. Classes meet asynchronously during accelerated eight-week sessions. Coursework begins with traditional computer science subjects such as programming, infrastructure, and algorithms before moving on to more in-depth information security classes. Highlights include courses in modern cryptography, technical aspects of cybersecurity, and two capstone projects.
Distance learners must also earn all necessary general education credits. These include at least three classes in the Christian worldview, Bible studies, and theology. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Liberty accepts up to 75% of undergraduate credits in transfer from accredited programs. The school maintains a commitment to affordability and froze tuition prices in 2016. Liberty also provides all books needed for the class at no cost. Online learners pay a little over half what their on-campus counterparts pay.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security
Located just outside of St. Louis, Missouri, Maryvillle made such a commitment to online learning that more students now enroll online than attend the Town and Country campus. A tech-focused university, Maryville gives all campus-based incoming freshmen an iPad. Maryville built a virtual lab for cybersecurity studies, the Cyber Fusion Center, where students battle real-world cybersecurity threats. The university offers a top online cybersecurity degree that learners can complete in 2.5 years once they finish general education credits.
Maryville's 128-credit curriculum allows students to choose from three tracks: a general track, a defensive track, and an offensive track. Courses in the defensive track include cloud security, digital forensics, and incident response. In the offensive specialty, highlights include two courses in ethical hacking, and classes in mobile security and network security.
Because Maryville offers the degree through its school of business, learners must meet both the school's liberal arts requirements and the business core. The business component includes as many requisite classes as the major itself. Graduates possess the advanced technical skills they need and the business literacy and communication skills modern employers want.
To encourage interaction and participation, Maryville keeps classes small, with 14 students the average. The Cyber Fusion Center provides free security services to local businesses, allowing learners to test their abilities in real-time. Maryville boasts a career-placement rate of 97%.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Defense
A private career-oriented institution in Grand Rapids, DU offers an online bachelor's degree in cyberdefense with concentrations in information security and healthcare information assurance. The program readies distance learners for certifications in security, networking, and ethical hacking from some of the industry's leaders. The 120-credit curriculum combines both business knowledge and computer science skills so that students understand the impact digital threats pose to business and how to stop them.
The degree plan includes 30 credits of university requirements, 10 in business classes, 15 in major foundation courses, 45 in the major core, 12 in one of the two concentrations, and the remainder in electives. The healthcare assurance specialty emphasizes healthcare law, data governance compliance, and medical systems. Information security covers incident response, cryptography, authentication, and audits. Dozens of certification possibilities from Cisco, the Computer Technology Industry Association, the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, and others allow aspiring computer professionals to tailor their plan to their career goals.
Many DU students begin taking security classes during their freshman year. The university's own "Excellence System" prepares graduates with the traits employers value most, including communication, teamwork, problem solving, and analytical thinking. Classes predominantly follow an asynchronous format, and the school prides itself on small classes.
DU ranks among the small percentage of schools in the nation designated as a NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in computer security. The university reports that nearly 95% of its graduates find employment in their field of study within six months. Online learners pay better rates than even Michigan residents.
Online Bachelor of Science in Professional Technology Studies with a Computer Forensics Concentration
A comprehensive university in New York City, Pace offers an online degree in cybersecurity as part of its professional technology major. The bachelor of science in professional technology with a computer forensics concentration approaches information security from a criminal justice perspective. Students gain a solid foundation in IT along with a specialty in combating cybercrime. They learn how to solve digital crimes in virtual labs and get hands-on experience developing security plans for information systems. Pace's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information System ranks among the earliest dedicated computer schools and enjoys designation as an NHS/DSA Center of Academic Excellence in cyberdefense education.
Working professionals with the 56 credits Pace prefers can complete the program within three years, working part time and taking two courses per semester. The 120-credit curriculum breaks into several sections, including 20 credits of IT foundation classes, 20 credits in criminal justice, 61 in general education, and 20 in open electives. All distance learners must enroll in a two-week, one-credit orientation in asynchronous learning. The program exists 100% online with no campus visits required.
Pace accepts a maximum of 90 credits toward the degree. The school awards transfer credits for credits earned with a 2.0 or better at an accredited school and for subject matter expertise using the prior learning tool. All distance learners pay a flat tuition rate.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
UC offers an online bachelor's in cybersecurity with multiple specialty areas. The upstate New York institution created the program in partnership with the school's renowned Center for Identity Management and Information Protection. UC boasts status as an NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence and as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center. Students learn best practices from the U.S. Marshals, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service.
The 120-credit curriculum includes general education credits and core fundamentals. Distance learners can focus on information assurance, cybercrime and fraud, network forensics and intrusion investigation, and cyber operations. Unlike other programs with broader curricula, UC's required coursework has several courses devoted to these areas, allowing students to delve deep and develop expertise. All require a minimum of seven classes.
As part of the school's professional-development requirements, students must complete an internship or a senior project. Learners must also complete a seminar in justice studies. Students have completed internships in organizations such as Interpol, AmericU, and a variety of police departments, banks, and insurance companies. UC's partnerships bring networking opportunities and discounts in professional certifications.
The program runs largely asynchronously. Most students continue to work as they study, taking two classes per semester and finishing in three years or less.
Dakota State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations
DSU's online bachelor's in cyber operations ranks among the nation's top programs for learning both offense and defense against digital threats. The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences at the Madison, South Dakota, school boasts status as an NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence and offers an array of degrees and certification programs in cyberdefense. DSU built a computer-hacking lab where students can explore the methods, tools, and software hackers use, learning to defeat them.
DSU's 120-credit program provides an in-depth education in computer science. Students must earn 68 credits in major classes such as system analysis and design, data structures, assembly language, and operating environments. They can use 11 elective credits to dive deeper into areas of interest or pursue certification in cybersecurity or networking. Learners begin studying in the field as early as their first semester.
Most program participants earn their degrees within four years. They can also take advantage of the school's 4+1 program, which pairs this degree with a master's in computer science in just five years. Beacom participates in the National Cyber League and the College Cyber Defense Competition, allowing students to try their skills against the nation's best.
Enrolling in the program makes learners eligible for the DSU Cyber Corps Scholarship, which covers all costs and pays an annual $25,000 stipend. Otherwise, online learners pay slightly more in tuition than on-campus students.
Roger Williams University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Networking
RWU used the NSA's recommended standards for digital defense in designing its online bachelor's in cybersecurity. The Rhode Island school also filled its 120-credit program with classes in networking, systems, and IT basics. Graduates can pursue cybersecurity jobs or work as network administrators. Offered through RWU's online University College, the program focuses on hands-on knowledge of computer technology, including networks, routers, switches, and the ways hackers exploit them.
In RWU's cybersecurity and networking program, students spend the first three years completing the 30 credits of general education requirements and gaining a broad knowledge of computer science. They then spend the final year developing skills in their focus area. Students can use six elective courses to further hone abilities in an area of professional interest. Learners can add minors or certification in areas such as digital forensics, homeland security, or technology design.
The university boasts a close 14-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, encouraging interactivity and personal attention. Most professors employ an asynchronous class format. Distance learners must maintain a 2.0 in all major coursework. All students must complete an internship. Online learners can find one in their own communities.
RWU accepts as many as 90 transfer credits, and grants credit for prior learning, professional, and military training. The school also awards credit through the College Level Examination Program. Learners must complete the last five courses of the degree through RWU.
City University of Seattle
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
Founded in 1973 to provide career-advancement opportunities to working adults, CityU offers several online programs, including a bachelor of science in cybersecurity and information assurance. An NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in cyberdefense, CityU created the program to teach students to become investigators, assessing, analyzing, and preventing the misuse of data. Learners can complete the degree in as little as two years. The 180-credit program runs asynchronously to maximize convenience.
Not intended as a traditional computer science or networking program, this degree readies graduates for cybersecurity careers. Designed by industry professionals and cybersecurity leaders, coursework covers networking protocols; IT taxonomies; threat assessment; coding in Python and C++; and governance, risk, and compliance skills (GRC).
Students must complete 55 credits or five classes in general education, 20 credits in preparatory courses, 45 in GRC classes, 40 in cybersecurity, and 10 in electives. They must also pass the five-credit capstone in bureaupathology. This culminating course explores red-tape syndrome, with learners examining the causes of organizational pathologies. They study the root of breakdowns, miscommunications, and other symptoms of problems in an organization and learn how to avoid or repair them.
CityU accepts applicants on a rolling basis. The university awards up to 135 transfer credits from accredited universities and uses the prior learning assessment and the College Level Examination Program. The school boasts that students complete their degrees at twice the national rate.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
Mercy offers an extensive range of online programs from its home in New York's Westchester County. Designated as an NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence in cyberdefense, the private institution offers one of the country's best cybersecurity degrees. In Mercy's bachelor of science in cybersecurity program, students learn core competencies in communication, privacy issues, ethical hacking, cyber investigation, and evidence validation. Graduates know how to set up firewalls; plan, establish, and monitor security systems; conduct audits; and recover data. They also leave ready to sit for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification exam.
Most online learners finish the 120-credit program in four years. Mercy requires students to earn half their credits in general education. The other half comes from coursework in the major and electives. Degree-seekers can use discretionary credits to focus their studies in an interest area, such as wireless or mobile security, workplace security, or computer infrastructure. They can also pursue an independent study with department approval. Everyone must complete a systems security capstone, a culminating class that synthesizes the knowledge gained in the program.
Ambitious undergrads can enroll in Mercy's BS/MS five-year program, earning all credits needed for a master's in cybersecurity. This degree combines the bachelor's curriculum with management study, preparing graduates for positions that command the highest cybersecurity salary. Mercy accepts up to 90 transfer credits from accredited colleges and universities.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Forensics/Information Security
A career-oriented institution in south Florida, Keiser opened in 1977 to serve adult learners. Continuing that tradition today, this nonprofit university offers a cybersecurity degree-completion program that focuses on digital forensics. Intended for graduates of two-year computer science programs, the program requires a total of 60 upper-division credits. Coursework leans heavily toward the criminal justice end of information security, with classes in disaster preparedness, cybercrime, criminal evidence procedures, and white-collar and economic crime. Keiser develops its curriculum with the help of statewide employers, creating skills in areas of need. Students complete the degree fully online.
In addition to 17 classes in the forensics core, learners must earn 12 credits in general education, including courses in writing, critical thinking, management information systems, and statistics. All degree-seekers must earn credits in the lower-division subjects of math, writing, psychology, and statistics prior to beginning major courses.
Classes proceed one at a time in four-week terms. Most proceed asynchronously, and the university limits the number who enroll. The degree plan typically takes just under two years, depending on learners' transfer credits.
Keiser offers credit for military and professional training and subject-matter expertise with the dean's approval. The university provides start dates monthly. Keiser is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Online Bachelor of Science in Computer and Network Security
Based in New Castle, Delaware, WilmU ranks as one of the few universities with a dedicated Center for Cybersecurity Education. Designated a Center of Academic Excellence by the federal government's top security agencies, the center offers an array of degree and certificate programs from the undergraduate to master's level. WilmU's online bachelor's in computer and network security operates as a degree-completion program, requiring at least 60 undergraduate credits to enroll. The program allows students to personalize their studies by selecting a concentration in digital forensics or certificates in digital evidence and criminal justice. They can also pursue an accelerated supervisory control and data acquisition cybersecurity certification at the graduate level.
WilmU's curriculum consists of 39 credits in the security core, 18 security electives, 15 credits of free electives, and a final computer elective. Students can use these discretionary credits toward a concentration, undergraduate certificates, or to prepare for industry-standard certification exams. Along with technical ability, distance learners develop soft skills in writing, speaking, and critical thinking. WilmU schedules classes in eight-week sessions, and most classes run asynchronously.
The university encourages students to pursue an internship or co-op assignment. All degree candidates need a C- or better on all credits used toward their degree. Admission requires a minimum 3.25 GPA. WilmU extends in-state tuition to all distance learners.
The Sage Colleges
Online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Cybersecurity
A trio of united schools in Albany and Troy, New York, The Sage Colleges offer a full slate of internet-based programs, including a bachelor's in IT and cybersecurity. The degree combines a comprehensive education in computer science and information technology with a specialty in how to keep data safe. Hosted by the Russell Sage College of Troy, the program runs entirely online with no visits to campus necessary. Students leave with the background to sit for professional certification exams in networking, systems, ethical hacking, information assurance, and security.
Learners need 120 credits to graduate. The major curriculum consists of 51 of these. Distance learners first complete 33 credits in IT, giving them a firm foundation in computer science. Classes explore database design, programming, systems analysis, networking, and web applications. They can then move on to 18 credits of work in cybersecurity subjects such as cybercrime investigation, incident analysis and response, national cybersecurity policy, and a capstone course or an internship. This culminating course should involve a non-academic experience in cyberdefense.
Classes run asynchronously on an accelerated schedule. The Sage Colleges also offer an IT certificate program. The colleges use rolling admissions and recommend students bring at least 40 credits or an associate degree with them.
Kennesaw State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
One of the nation's largest public universities, KSU hosts a new, interdisciplinary online cybersecurity degree. The school in metropolitan Atlanta constructed its curriculum by combining the talents of faculty from its bachelor's in IT, criminal justice, and business administration information assurance programs. The degree combines ideas from these areas, and while students explore business and management, they focus on technology and security. Completing the program automatically gives graduates a minor in information technology. They can also add minors in criminal justice and crisis preparedness.
Distance learners can earn their degree entirely online without ever visiting the university's campus. Learners can choose from three specialty areas, including system security, network security, and cybercrime. Curriculum breaks into several components. Students must earn a minimum of 40 credits in general education, 18 in lower-division major classes, 36 in upper-division courses, and nine in their focus area. They can use 15 required credits to pursue an additional minor or certification in cybersecurity or information security and assurance. All degree-seekers must pass a class in wellness and the capstone course in cyberdefense.
Most classes run asynchronously. KSU's program costs less than half that of many comparable programs. The school offers transfer credit for previous college classes, military service, and by exam. KSU also offers MOOC courses in cybersecurity.
Colorado State University Global Campus
Online Bachelor of Science with a Specialization in Cyber Security
CSU-Global makes its online cybersecurity degree available as a specialization in several programs. Offered through its web-based Global Campus, the Greenwood Village institution's cybersecurity specialization requires students to earn 15 lower-division credits. These can pair with bachelor of science in IT, computer science, and management information systems/business analytics. Students can complete each program entirely online.
Coursework consists of five classes: introduction to cybersecurity and digital crime, principles of cybersecurity, ethical hacking and penetration testing, digital forensics and investigations, and information security legal and ethical issues. Though they all differ in focus, each of the three possible undergraduate degrees gives distance learners fundamental skills in programming, networks, systems architecture, and database management.
Each specialty area features a different core. Computer science requires 61 credits, IT 39 credits, and management information systems 36 credits. Students can pursue certification in other areas in all three fields. No matter which one a learner selects, they must earn 120 credits. All classes run asynchronously in accelerated terms.
CSU-Global provides monthly start dates. Known for its affordability, the university extends the same tuition price to all learners and locks it during a student's four years. The school boasts a liberal transfer status, accepting as many as 90 credits. CSU-Global grants credit based on military and professional training, self-study assessments, prior learning assessments, and by proficiency examination.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
A private, nonprofit university in Nebraska, BU opened its doors to provide adults with higher education opportunities. BU ranked among the country's first schools to offer web-delivered degrees. Continuing that tradition, BU offers an online cybersecurity degree in an accelerated, cohort-based format. Students join a group of classmates and proceed together through the 127-credit curriculum, taking one class at a time, in asynchronous fashion. Learners gain access to diverse viewpoints, a support group, a team for projects, and a network of like-minded individuals when moving into careers in cybersecurity.
Designated an NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in cyberdefense, BU uses small classes to maintain an inclusive educational environment. Participants develop skills in technical and non-technical security, learning to plan, implement, and test data security protocols. They learn to assess risk, detect breaches, secure vulnerabilities, and establish the safest possible networks.
The major entails 12 three-credit courses. Highlights include cryptography, cyber investigations and forensics, penetration testing and incident response, and advanced cybersecurity concepts. Students must also complete 36 credits in general education courses, including BU's renowned Kirkpatrick Signature Series, three classes in conservative, American values. Degree-seekers can use 55 credits in electives to personalize their program. Students need at least 30 credits in BU courses. Most professors conduct classes asynchronously.
BU offers an open-enrollment format with multiple start dates per year. The university also offers an online bachelor's in computer information systems with a cybersecurity concentration.
Old Dominion University
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybercrime
ODU's online cybersecurity degree examines information security through a criminal justice lens. Designed for students with some college credits, the program features coursework in a diverse array of disciplines. The major core includes classes in philosophy, computer science, criminology, and IT. Graduates leave the Norfolk, Virginia, institution well versed in cybersecurity, cyberlaw, digital forensics, and the technologies criminals use to exploit data. They can take jobs that command a top cybersecurity salary, move into law enforcement, or pursue work in IT.
ODU breaks the 120-credit curriculum of its bachelor of science in cybercrime into several themed segments, giving students an idea of what it entails. Degree candidates must complete at least 35 credits of general education. The major features nine interdisciplinary core credits, including production of an electronic portfolio and an internship or a class in entrepreneurship. The criminal justice component includes 12 credits in the cybercrime core and 15 credits in criminology. The IT section involves at least 15 credits. Students can use electives to shape the program to their own interests. Everyone must earn at least 30 credits through ODU.
Through the university's own Cyber Research and Education Lab, learners can participate in hands-on experiential learning and remotely explore different cybercrime scenarios. Most classes run asynchronously, but some professors host live online meetings.
Active-duty military benefit from reduced tuition. ODU reports that 36,000 jobs await graduates in Virginia alone.
Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
Set in downtown Columbus, Franklin is one of Ohio's largest private universities. Franklin serves nearly 80% of its students on its virtual campus. The school offers an online bachelor of science in cybersecurity with a curriculum that covers key areas recommended by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium. It runs entirely online.
Franklin's Center for Public Safety and Cybersecurity Education boasts several distinctions. The NSA/DHS designated the facility as a Center for Academic Excellence, and it serves as a member of the National CyberWatch Center, advancing cybereducation. Franklin's degree focuses entirely on cybersecurity, rather than serving as a concentration of a larger degree. Graduates leave with a strong foundation in risk management, compliance, business continuity, network applications, and security. Other core competencies include understanding high-availability systems, redundancies, virtualization clusters, load balancing, and recovery systems.
Students must earn 124 credits, including 38 in general education, 24 in the professional core, 36 in the major core, and 26 in electives. Classes run asynchronously. Students participate in internships where they work with a local business to prepare a real-life security plan, assess threats, run penetration tests, and scan for vulnerabilities.
Franklin's generous transfer policy allows for up to 94 credits from accredited sources. At least 30 credits must come from Franklin. The university boasts a tuition rate 66% less than the average nonprofit, four-year college.
How to Find the Right Program
Our listed schools are all nonprofit and hold regional accreditation. To further narrow their search, prospective students should find online undergraduate cybersecurity programs that match their talents, budget, and experience. Consider the aspects below when looking for a school:
- What Works for You: Do you want a flexible, part-time program that encourages you to apply coursework immediately to your job? Do you want to play in a high-stakes virtual lab and dive deep into a senior research project? Do you want small, intimate classes where you'll participate in group discussions and talk to the instructor frequently? Or do you want an affordable BS that acts as a stepping stone to graduate work? These options and more appear on our list.
- Degree Options: An online BS in information systems or computer science with a security concentration may not be as specialized as a BS in cybersecurity or digital forensics. However, the degree might allow for more IT career choices after graduation. Consider which department offers the program, such as the school of business or the department of computer science or engineering, to learn more about the degree focus.
- Field Specializations: Some university programs apply to specific IT fields, such as Roger Williams' combination of security and networking. Other schools, like Penn State, offer interdisciplinary degrees that set up graduates for jobs in government or the foreign service. Highly technical degrees, like that from Champlain, may prove best for certain military positions. Prospective students should jot down their career goals before they start making decisions.
- Course Content: Cybersecurity graduates should possess hardcore fundamentals, strong communication skills, an in-depth knowledge of corporate challenges, and the ability to think creatively. Seek programs that focus on technical issues, test students on real-world scenarios, and treat learners like adults. Some degrees incorporate industry certifications into their curricula, as well.
- Admissions Requirements: Strong cybersecurity programs tend to impose tough admissions requirements to ensure a high caliber of online learning. For instance, a university may require a minimum 3.0 GPA, prior work experience, ACT or SAT scores, and/or course credits in college-level math. However, some schools implement more lenient admissions policies.
- Faculty: Find out who teaches each prospective program's online courses. Consider faculty members' real-world experience, online teaching awards, current research projects, student reviews, and relevant industry certifications.
- Online Support: Distance learners often need more academic and emotional support than on-campus students. Consider each prospective school's online student resources. Does it offer free online tutoring? How about course mentors? Can learners attend virtual career fairs, look at job boards, or talk to job counselors?
- Name Recognition: Regarding cybersecurity, name recognition matters. In this technical field, employers want to know candidates have fundamental IT training. Get a feel for a school's reputation by searching for its name and the degree title on LinkedIn to see where graduates currently work. Some universities are known for particular strengths.
- NSA CAE: Schools holding center for academic excellence designation from the National Security Administration meet specific academic and quality requirements. This designation is not a "must-have" for our list, but it does indicate that a school takes cyber defense seriously. Applicants interested in cyber forensics should consider the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations' National Center for Digital Forensic Academic Excellence designation.
How To Save Money
- Budget Concerns: Realistically, a bachelor's only gets graduates so far in the job market, potentially qualifying them for security analyst and administrator positions. Students should pursue a master's and obtain specialized security training, job experience, and/or bootcamp work to move into high-level positions. They may save with an online bachelor's degree so they can invest more in their master's.
- Completion Degrees and Credit Transfers For true savings on tuition, think outside the box. Students may earn an AS or AAS at a community college and transfer their credits directly into an online completion program, such as those at George Mason, University of Arizona, Old Dominion, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. They can also earn credits through industry certifications, military training, and outside exams. Some universities allow learners to transfer up to 90 credits into a 120-credit program.
- Scholarships and Tuition Discounts: Every university should be transparent about costs. Read the fine print on fees for distance learners, including books and materials, and always double-check to see if you qualify for a discount. Federal financial aid applications are pretty straightforward, but you may need to ask whether certain scholarships pertain to online students. Talk to your employer about tuition reimbursement, as well. If your company can't cover all your tuition, it may cover some.
- Military and Veterans: Military service members and veterans often receive major tuition reductions for online courses. These online discounts and scholarships may apply to family members, as well. Moreover, Yellow Ribbon, tuition assistance, and college credit for examination offer credit opportunities, too. Follow the links in our list to see whether your program offers military assistance.
- Local Deals and Partnerships: Check this list for schools in your state, as many public universities offer tuition deductions to in-state students, even those studying online. Others go out of their way to accommodate locals. For example, George Mason and Old Dominion are good choices for Virginia students, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale features transfer agreements with Illinois colleges, and Roger Williams partners with the Rhode Island National Guard and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
Cyber Security Program FAQs
- What kind of degree do you need for cybersecurity?
- Cyber security specialists typically need a bachelor's degree in a computing field such as information assurance, programming, or computer science. Many schools offer online cybersecurity degrees as part of their computer science and information technology programs.
- Does cybersecurity pay well?
- According to the BLS, computer and information technology workers earn a median annual salary of $86,320. Cybersecurity analysts rank among the top-paid information technology workers, taking home a median annual income exceeding $98,000. Cybersecurity analysts working in the finance and insurance industry earn upwards of $101,000.
- Is cyber security in demand?
- The BLS projects that over the next several years jobs, cyber security occupations will increase at a faster rate than the expected 5% job growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Moreover, job openings among computer and IT occupations should grow by 12% from 2018-2028.
- What are some cybersecurity careers?
- Many information technology careers require some knowledge and expertise in cybersecurity. Some cybersecurity jobs include security analyst, cryptographer, security engineer, and security software developer. Cybersecurity degree-holders may work as consultants, advising organizations on security matters.
- Does cybersecurity require coding?
- Primarily, cybersecurity workers use and install existing software to help protect their organizations' information. They do not always need coding skills, but some cybersecurity professionals, especially more senior-level employees, may benefit from coding skills. Many of the best cybersecurity degrees include some introductory coding courses.
All college students should take advantage of scholarships and grants to reduce the financial burden of pursuing a degree. Many scholarships specifically serve information technology, computer science, and cybersecurity learners. Cybersecurity schools, professional organizations, and private companies all offer financial aid opportunities for undergraduates.
CyberCorps Scholarship for Service
Who Can Apply: Applicants must agree to pursue a cybersecurity-related job in federal, local, state, or tribal government after graduation. Students must work for the government for a period equal to the duration of their scholarship.
Amount: $25,000 per yearApply for Scholarship
CompTIA Rising Star
Who Can Apply: CompTIA, a technology professional association, offers this scholarship to student members looking to pursue careers in technology. The scholarship rewards students contributing to their local IT community.
Amount: $2,000Apply for Scholarship
Information Systems Security Association Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: This scholarship serves full-time undergraduate and graduate students pursuing information security-related degrees. They need security-related work experience, a 2.5 GPA, and security coursework.
Amount: VariesApply for Scholarship
Computing Research Association
Who Can Apply: The CRA awards scholarships to women pursuing their bachelor's or master's degrees in information security. Undergraduate applicants must be in their junior or senior year.
Amount: $10,000Apply for Scholarship
Center for Cyber Safety and Education Undergraduate Scholarships
Who Can Apply: This organization awards up to 20 annual scholarships for students pursuing or planning to pursue degrees in cybersecurity or information assurance. Candidates must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA.
Amount: VariesApply for Scholarship