Earning a degree in cybercrime prepares graduates for lucrative careers in a fast-growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects cybersecurity jobs to grow 32% between 2018-2028, and cybersecurity professionals typically make between $60,000-$125,000 per year.
These statistics suggest that the demand for cybersecurity professionals is set to outpace supply for years to come, providing many opportunities for graduates with a cybersecurity degree. On this page, prospective students can find a list of the top cybersecurity degrees in the country, along with other important information, such common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
Top 10 Best Online Cybersecurity Schools
|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 the Best Online Cybersecurity Programs Have in Common
Cybersecurity programs differ by school. For instance, some institutions emphasize real-world experience through cybersecurity internships, while others focus more on computer science research. But many top schools share several characteristics, such as those listed below.
- In the U.S., schools can receive accreditation from one of several agencies recognized by the Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two.
- NSA CAE Designation
- The best cybersecurity programs hold recognition as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (NSA CAE). This designation shows that the school has met the minimum standards established by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for cyber defense education. NSA CAE recognition levels vary depending on whether the school offers a two-year program, four-year program, or research options. Schools on our list with NSA CAE designation include Regent University, Norwich University, and Drexel University.
- For many students, cost is the primary factor as they decide which cybersecurity schools to attend. While top programs can be costly, some of the best online cybersecurity degrees come with affordable price tags. In addition, most universities provide scholarships and other forms of financial aid. State schools, such as the University of Illinois Springfield, also offer significant discounts for state residents.
- Online Options
- Students seeking a flexible and accessible cybersecurity degree should consider online programs. Prospective learners should research an online program's resources, such as technology help, as well as retention and graduation rates to ensure its quality. Robert Morris University, for instance, states that 94% of its recent graduates found employment or entered graduate school after graduation. Prospective students can find this data on a school's website or by contacting an admissions counselor.
2020's Top Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Schools
This ranking serves as a helpful resource for anyone considering a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. Our ranking takes into account a variety of factors, including cost, admission criteria, length, and program format, to help students find the right program for their needs.
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.
What Is a Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Degree?
A bachelor's degree in cybersecurity prepares students to work in the dynamic, rewarding, and lucrative field of cybersecurity. These academic programs teach students how to protect data, investigate security breaches, prepare reports, and manage teams.
Most bachelor's degrees in this field take four years to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines. Additionally, some schools offer a bachelor's in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity, while others offer cybersecurity as a major. Due to the differences among cybersecurity degrees, prospective students should carefully research each potential program to ensure it's aligned with their goals, needs, and interests.
Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Admission Requirements
Admission requirements vary by school, but most bachelor's in cybersecurity programs require candidates to hold a high school diploma or equivalent and submit transcripts. Applicants may also need to meet minimum GPA requirements, such as a 2.0, and achieve acceptable scores on a standardized test such, as the ACT or SAT. Some schools expect applicants to already hold an associate degree or a certificate in cybersecurity prior to applying for the bachelor's degree.
Prospective students can take advantage of The Common App, which allows them to apply to multiple schools simultaneously. However, not all schools participate in its use.
Typical Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Online Courses
Most online cybersecurity degrees comprise around 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Through coursework, real-world simulations, and internships, students develop skills in areas like information security engineering, management, investigation, and response.
Depending on the program, students may major in computer science with an emphasis in cybersecurity or pursue cybersecurity as a standalone major. Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several common cybersecurity courses.
Incident Response and Investigation
In this course, learners consider contemporary incident analysis and response techniques. They also learn basic terminology associated with digital forensics and consider how incident response affects digital investigation.
Security Risk Management
In this real-world application course, students learn about risk management and its influence on organizational security. Topics include impact, threat, relevance, and control with respect to security.
Students in this course examine popular techniques and strategies for protecting networks, systems, and data. Course topics may include principles of cryptography, emerging technologies, and social trends in cybersecurity.
Jobs for Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Graduates
An in-demand, well-paying field, the BLS projects jobs for information security specialists to grow 32% between 2018-2028, almost five times faster than the national average for all occupations.
Salaries vary by factors like job, location, and experience, but cybersecurity professionals typically earn between $60,000-$125,000 per year with just a bachelor's degree in the field. The following list outlines several common careers for graduates with a bachelor's in cybersecurity degree.
Security architects combine programming with research to create systems that defend companies from cyber threats. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Many security architects also hold an industry-recognized certificate, graduate degree, or both.
Average Annual Salary: $123,642
Security auditors assess a company's cybersecurity strategy and its implementation, checking for compliance with company policies and government regulations. These professionals work with management teams to reduce risk, identify threats, and improve compliance. Typically, security auditors hold a bachelor's degree, although some employers accept an associate degree for entry-level positions.
Average Annual Salary: $66,953
Information Security Analyst
These professionals plan and manage a company's security policies and procedures. They may focus on prevention, protection, and/or disaster management. Information security analysts typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer science field, but some employers prefer a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Sometimes called White Hat Hackers, these cybersecurity team members mimic the attempts of real hackers to break into a company's data or financial records. Their goal is to assess vulnerabilities to identify the most likely points of entry for a hacker. Penetration testers typically need a relevant bachelor's degree and 1-4 years of experience.
Average Annual Salary: $84,283
Forensics experts investigate cyber crimes such as data breaches. These professionals recover files and analyze data to determine what happened during a criminal event. They may testify in court about what they learned. Forensics experts work in nearly every sector, and most have at least a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. Many also earn a GIAC certified forensic analyst designation.
Average Annual Salary: $73,052
How to Find the Right Online Cybersecurity Program
Prospective students should consider several factors before committing to an online cybersecurity degree. We cover several key considerations below to help students find the right bachelor's in cybersecurity program for their needs.
- Professional Goals
- What Works for You: Learners should assess their needs and lifestyle before committing to a program. For example, busy students benefit from the flexibility of a part-time program, while students looking to graduate as quickly as possible may prefer an accelerated program.
- Degree Options: A bachelor's in information systems or computer science with a cybersecurity concentration may not offer as much cybersecurity-specific training as a bachelor's in cybersecurity or digital forensics program. However, a more general degree may expand students' employment prospects after graduation.
- Field Specializations: Some university programs cater to specific IT fields, such as Roger Williams' cybersecurity and networking program. Other schools, like Penn State, offer interdisciplinary degrees that prepare graduates for jobs in broad fields. Prospective students should ensure they choose a program that offers training aligned with their career goals.
- Course Content: Cybersecurity professionals need strong communication skills, in-depth knowledge of corporate challenges, and technical abilities. Therefore, prospective students should research the curricula of potential programs to make sure that courses provide sufficient training for their intended career.
- Quality Markers
- Admissions Requirements: Strong cybersecurity programs feature tough admissions requirements. 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: Before committing to a program, students should consider faculty members' real-world experience, online teaching awards, current research projects, student reviews, and relevant industry certifications.
- Online Support: Distance learners should research the support services a program offers for online students, such as technical help, online tutoring services, and job boards.
- Name Recognition: Attending a school with a strong reputation can make graduates more competitive in the job market. Prospective students can get a feel for a school's reputation by searching for its name and the degree title on sites like LinkedIn to see the types of jobs that graduates attain.
- NSA CAE: Schools with the NSA CAE designation meet 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 also look for the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations' National Center for Digital Forensic Academic Excellence designation.
- How To Save Money
- Budget Concerns: Prospective learners should assess their current budget before deciding on a school. In addition to tuition costs, students may need to pay for expenses such as housing, transportation, and books. However, learners can take advantage of a variety of financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of tuition.
- Completion Degrees and Credit Transfers Students can save money by earning an associate degree at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor's degree. They can also potentially earn credits and save money through industry certifications, military training, and relevant professional experience.
Scholarships and Tuition Discounts: Learners should research all of the costs associated with a potential school, including tuition and any book and technology fees. They should also look for potential tuition discounts, such as discounts for in-state and/or online learners. Students can pursue financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of their education, such as loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities.
- Military and Veterans: Military service members and veterans often qualify for scholarships and tuition discounts. These discounts and scholarships may apply to family members, as well. Students should research the military benefits at each prospective school.
- Local Deals and Partnerships: Schools may partner with local organizations and companies to provide students with various opportunities, such as internships, discounts, and jobs after graduation.
Cyber Security Program FAQs
- What kind of degree do you need for cybersecurity?
- Cybersecurity professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a computing field, such as information assurance, programming, or computer science.
- Does cybersecurity pay well?
- According to the BLS, computer and information technology workers earn a median annual salary of $88,240, while cybersecurity analysts make a median annual income exceeding $99,000.
- Is cyber security in demand?
- The BLS projects cybersecurity occupations to grow 32% between 2018-2028, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.
- What are some cybersecurity careers?
- Potential cybersecurity jobs include security analyst, cryptographer, security engineer, and security software developer. Cybersecurity degree-holders may also work as consultants, advising organizations on various security matters.
- Does cybersecurity require coding?
- Cybersecurity professionals may 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, benefit from coding skills. Many of the best cybersecurity degrees include some introductory coding courses.
Cybersecurity students can take advantage of scholarships to help minimize the cost of their education. Cybersecurity schools, professional organizations, and private companies all offer financial aid opportunities for undergraduates. Many scholarships specifically serve information technology, computer science, and cybersecurity learners.
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. They must work for the period equal to the duration of their scholarship.
Amount: $25,000 per year
CompTIA Rising Star
Who Can Apply: CompTIA offers this scholarship to student members pursuing careers in technology. Candidates much demonstrate contributions to their local IT community.
Information Systems Security Association Foundation Scholarships
Who Can Apply: This scholarship serves full-time undergraduate and graduate students pursuing information security-related degrees. Candidates need security-related work experience, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and completed security coursework.
Computing Research Association
Who Can Apply: The CRA awards scholarships to women pursuing bachelor's and master's degrees in information security. Undergraduate applicants must be in their junior or senior year.
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.