The Best Online Cybersecurity Certificates

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Best Online Certificate Programs

Cybersecurity certificate programs provide students with credentials in software, programming languages, and web development, allowing them to begin or advance careers in their respective fields. Seasoned, midcareer professionals may also benefit from earning certificates.

Learners with computer science experience may kickstart a lucrative career by pursuing a cybersecurity certificate.

Holding a certificate in cybersecurity helps candidates stand out against their competition on the job market, potentially leading to new career opportunities.

Jobs in information security analysis continue to grow rapidly as demand for qualified professionals increases. This guide offers information about cybersecurity certificate programs for prospective learners, including expectations for online learning, selecting the best program, and a ranking of the top online cybersecurity programs.

Top 10 Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

Rank School Location
1 Champlain College Burlington, VT
2 Utica College Utica, NY
3 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
4 Radford University Radford, VA
5 DeSales University Center Valley, PA
6 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
7 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
8 Elmhurst College Elmhurst, IL
9 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME
10 Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD
Advertisement CyberDegrees.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Why Get an Online Certificate in Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity certificate programs provide a simple path to earning credentials in the field. Current cybersecurity professionals and those looking to enter the field can benefit from cybersecurity certificates. 

Certificate programs generally take less time to complete than associate degrees. These shorter programs offer learners and professionals a way to gain new skills, advance existing knowledge, and even test out new practice areas without committing to a full degree.

Employers may look favorably on candidates with certificates in the industry. As more companies move toward requiring bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions, a certificate can serve as a stepping stone toward a two- or four-year degree. As the cybersecurity field and other areas in information technology continue to grow and develop, professionals with skills relevant to those subjects enjoy increasing demand.

Consider these benefits to earning an online cybersecurity certificate.

Earn Additional Credentials
Seasoned professionals and new learners benefit from earning cybersecurity certificates. Many programs provide opportunities for certificates in specific programming languages and cybersecurity applications.
Career Advancement
Earning a cybersecurity certificate can provide the credentials you need to move up in your current career. With additional qualifications and the added experience of a certificate program, graduates may qualify for more advanced job roles.
Industry Growth
The IT and cybersecurity industries continue to grow more quickly than other industries in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a remarkable 31% growth in information security employment from 2019-2029.

Should You Get a Certificate or an Associate Degree?

Certificates and associate degrees in cybersecurity share many similarities. Choosing the best option depends on your career goals and the program that best serves them.

Learners seeking a more streamlined program featuring only courses in cybersecurity would benefit more from a certificate than an associate degree. Certificate programs emphasize key skills in a specific subject area, while associate degrees include general education courses outside the major field, extending the overall time to completion.

The table below compares cybersecurity certificates and associate degrees, featuring key elements of each option.

Comparing Certificate and Associate Programs

Cybersecurity CertificateCybersecurity Associate Degree
Program Length– Could range from one semester to a year

– Typically much shorter than an associate program
– Generally four semesters or two years

– Potentially completed faster with year-round enrollment
Course Requirements– Range from 9-30 credits

– Often includes 3-15 courses
Typically comprises at least 60 credits
CostCost depends on where courses are taken. Tuition per credit is likely the same for certificates and associate programs at most colleges– Varies widely depending on the institution

– Some free or discounted community college options in some states

– May ultimately cost more due to program length and credit requirements
FocusCourses specifically emphasize broad skills in cybersecurityCourse requirements include general education courses outside of the major area

Cybersecurity Certificates Versus Bootcamps

Bootcamps offer students a way to earn certificates or learn new cybersecurity skills in an intensive, accelerated learning workshop. Typically, bootcamps require a few months of study rather than a full semester or academic year. 

Cybersecurity bootcamps offer an efficient, effective method for learning new skills, softwares, or coding languages. These programs benefit seasoned professionals and new learners alike. Learners can choose programs that fit their specific goals based on their current experience levels.

Learn more about how bootcamps and cybersecurity certificate programs compare in the table below.

Comparing Certificate Programs and Bootcamps

Cybersecurity CertificateCybersecurity Bootcamp
Program Length– Typically 1-2 semesters

– Could take up to a year to complete
– Typically 3.5 months long or less

– Often takes less than one full semester
Cost– Cost varies by institution and credit requirements

– Could cost more than a bootcamp with tuition and fees
– Cost varies by program but typically ranges from $12,000-$20,000

– Some shorter bootcamps typically cost less (around $3,000)
Flexibility– Longer programs may require more time

– Can complete online, but may require some on campus work

– Enrollees can maintain their employment but may need to adjust enrollment
– Often fully online

– Shorter programs and less time commitment overall

– Continue working while enrolled
SpecializationCoursework covers broad cybersecurity foundationsHyperfocus on cybersecurity

The Best Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

  1. Champlain College
    Location

    Burlington, VT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    This private institution based in lakeside Burlington, Vermont, offers an 18-credit online cybersecurity certificate. Recognized for excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency, Champlain's program focuses on evaluating cybersecurity problems and implementing solutions.

    Required courses include digital forensic investigation techniques, operating system forensics, foundations of cybersecurity, networking and security, and ethical hacking. The program runs entirely online through asynchronous sessions.

    Each applicant must submit high school transcripts or proof of a GED certificate, a resume, and 3-4 short answer essays. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency.

    Champlain alumni hold positions with organizations such as AT&T, Comcast, NASA, and the Vermont State Police. Champlain holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  2. Utica College
    Location

    Utica, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Nestled in New York State's picturesque Mohawk Valley, UC offers an 18-credit Certificate in cybersecurity technologies.

    Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, this cybersecurity certificate program prepares students for the CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Security+ professional credentials.

    The fully online program requires courses in computer hardware and peripherals, software foundations for cybersecurity, technologies for criminal justice, and cybercrime law and investigations. Distance courses at UC run asynchronously.

    Each applicant must hold an associate degree with a minimum 2.7 GPA. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency. UC holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  3. University of Arizona
    Location

    Tucson, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Tucson's high desert valley, UArizona is a public research institution that offers an online cybersecurity certificate. Available concentrations include network security, computer security, and cybersecurity expert.

    UArizona's curriculum runs in partnership with the cybersecurity workforce framework developed by the National Initiative on Cybersecurity for Education and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    The program focuses on developing skills in operation and maintenance, oversight and governance, protection and defense, and analysis. UArizona delivers the certificate entirely online through asynchronous sessions and cybersecurity labs.

    Each candidate must complete a short application describing their computer experience. UArizona holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Radford University
    Location

    Radford, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Established in 1910 as a school for women, Virginia-based Radford University offers an 18-credit online certificate in cybersecurity. The program runs entirely online. Approved by the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, the program prepares students for exams such as certified information systems security professional, CompTIA Security+, and Cisco certified entry networking technician.

    Applicants to the cybersecurity certificate program need a high school diploma or equivalent. Radford University charges tuition on a per-certificate basis to license coursework in 12-month increments.

    Radford University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. DeSales University
    Location

    Center Valley, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DeSales is a private Catholic institution with a Salesian mission. The school offers a 12-credit online graduate certificate in cybersecurity. With a curriculum focused on security in healthcare information systems, the program arms students with industry-preferred protocols.

    Students gain the knowledge they need to obtain professional certifications such as certified wireless technology specialist and certified information systems security professional.

    This cybersecurity certificate allows students to choose from courses such as vulnerability assessment, IT security, and cryptography. Classes may run synchronously or asynchronously.

    Each candidate must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency. DeSales holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  6. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Kennesaw State offers a 12-credit online graduate certificate in information technology security. The curriculum focuses on preparing students to use industry-standard security tools.

    Kennesaw State's cybersecurity certificate requires courses in information security concepts and administration, wireless security, ethical hacking, and computer forensics. Most courses in Kennesaw State's 100% online program tend to run asynchronously, though exceptions may apply.

    Each applicant must hold an IT-related bachelor's degree. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency. Kennesaw State holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Marist College
    Location

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in the Hudson Valley town of Poughkeepsie, New York, Marist College offers an 11-credit online certificate in cybersecurity. Aligned with guidelines put forth by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, the curriculum emphasizes experience-based learning, with lab courses that take place in a virtual environment.

    Marist's cybersecurity certificate requires three courses: introduction to cybersecurity, hacking and penetration testing, and mobile security.

    Each candidate must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. The program recommends students enter with some knowledge of introductory programming principles and data networking. Marist holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  8. Elmhurst College
    Location

    Elmhurst, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located just outside of Chicago, Illinois, EC is a United Church of Christ-affiliated university that offers a 20-credit certificate in cybersecurity.

    Required courses include cryptography, computer security and risk management, cybercrime investigations and digital forensics, and management information systems. The fully online program provides options for students to participate in live discussions or engage in the lessons later through asynchronous viewing.

    EC recommends applicants hold a minimum 2.5 GPA, though the school does consider students with a 2.0 or higher GPA. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of state residency. EC holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. University of Maine at Augusta
    Location

    Augusta, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located on a picturesque campus in the heart of Maine, UMA offers a 30-credit online cybersecurity certificate. Transfer students may apply up to 15 credits toward program completion.

    Required courses include introduction to computer science, programming fundamentals, networking concepts, cybersecurity, and information security management.

    Each applicant must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. In-state students enjoy a tuition discount. Eighty-one percent of UMA graduates secure employment within 18 months of graduation.

    UMA holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  10. Anne Arundel Community College
    Location

    Arnold, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    This public institution, located in Arnold, Maryland, offers a 16-credit online network security certificate. The program prepares students to pursue professional credentials such as CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, and Cisco certified entry networking technician. All of the cybersecurity, networking, and digital forensics programs at AACC boast National Security Agency certification.

    Required courses include network essentials, network security fundamentals, and networking I and II. Some courses require prerequisites, such as theory and troubleshooting microcomputers and cyber essentials. The program may waive prerequisite requirements on a case-by-case basis.

    Each candidate must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. AACC requires an assessment and placement exam for applicants who do not submit ACT or SAT scores. Arundel County residents pay the lowest tuition rates, while students living elsewhere in Maryland pay reduced rates compared with the rest of the country.

    AACC holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

What To Expect From an Online Cybersecurity Program

Online cybersecurity programs vary among schools, but many programs feature similar elements. A certificate program typically requires less time and fewer credits than an associate degree. Some students choose to earn certificates during their associate or bachelor’s programs. Cybersecurity certificate programs generally require 3-30 credits. 

Earning a certificate from an accredited program allows students to easily transfer to other accredited institutions. Students can often apply these credits towards an associate or bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or related areas.

Cybersecurity certificate programs offer learners a way to test the waters of a new subject or skill area prior to committing to a full degree program. Online options provide a flexible alternative to on-campus tracks, with limited or no on-campus or in-person requirements. The shorter nature of certificate programs also contributes to a lower overall cost.

  • Admissions Process

    Admission requirements for cybersecurity certificate programs generally vary based on the type of institution. For instance, certificate programs offered by two-year colleges may maintain different admission requirements than four-year schools.

    Programs at two-year colleges typically require official transcripts demonstrating high school or undergraduate experience, along with SAT or ACT scores. Some schools and programs may also look for applicants with experience in cybersecurity, IT, or related areas. Applicants typically must have earned GPAs of at least 2.0 in previous coursework for consideration.

  • Different Certificate Types

    Learners can choose from a variety of cybersecurity certificate programs, each with its own advantages and benefits.

    Online cybersecurity programs allow students to learn and complete coursework from anywhere and on their own time. Often delivered asynchronously, online programs offer maximum flexibility, allowing enrollees to maintain full-time employment. Hybrid cybersecurity programs require some in-person elements, with most courses still fulfilled online.

    In addition to undergraduate and entry-level certificate programs, students may also pursue graduate-level professional programs. A learner with more experience who already holds a bachelor’s would benefit from these options.

    Cybersecurity certificates differ from certifications. Certifications, typically offered by learning institutes or companies in the field, focus on one specific skill and culminate in a certification exam. Certificates take a broader approach to cybersecurity and feature more classes in multiple areas.

    Certifications often benefit current professionals who need additional credentials for new professional roles. These programs provide preparatory materials for certification exams.

  • Popular Cybersecurity Certificate Courses

    Cybersecurity certificate programs cover many different topics and skills. Depending on the specific focus of the program, enrollees may encounter courses in different fields. Typically, programs include required core courses and additional elective courses students can tailor to their interests. The courses below serve as examples of courses often featured in cybersecurity programs.

    Network Security
    This course examines the tools and infrastructure in safeguarding networks, including firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection programs. Learners prepare to manage, build, and navigate network security systems to protect networks from threats and breaches.
    Cyberthreats and Security
    This general introduction course explores new and evolving tools and cyberthreats, existing and newly developed systems and processes, methods for managing and protecting data, and examining software through a data protection lens. Students gain a basic, foundational understanding of key concepts in cybersecurity.
    Cyberinvestigations and Forensics
    Coursework focuses on the process of criminal investigations in data and software. Students learn methods of investigation and how to use scientific processes to conduct inquiries for computers, cloud servers, and mobile devices.
    Governance and Compliance
    Enrollees learn the current policies in place for cybersecurity investigations, along with protections for internet users, businesses, and merchants. The course covers intellectual property, risk mitigation, and handling threats and compromised data.
    Cloud Privacy and Security
    This course introduces the basics of cloud storage and computing, emphasizing privacy and security procedures for cloud-based data. Students consider foundational topics in cloud security, threats to cloud-based data, designing and implementing security frameworks for cloud networks, and various policy requirements for those frameworks.

  • How Much Do Cybersecurity Certificates Cost?

    The cost of a cybersecurity certificate varies based on the type of institution, delivery method, location, and program length. The average annual cost for required tuition and fees at a public, two-year college for full-time students reached $3,564 for the 2018-19 academic year. Because certificates generally require around two semesters to complete, this cost can potentially serve as an approximate average for in-state students seeking certificates at these institutions.

    Cybersecurity certifications offered by private learning institutions like CompTIA can range from $300-$1,000 for study materials and the required exam. Bootcamps typically cost more than $10,000 but offer a shortened, accelerated format.

    Tuition costs generally exclude materials like devices, hardware, and textbooks. Students pursuing certificates at colleges or universities can take advantage of federal financial aid to help lower their financial burden.

Jobs You Can Get With a Cybersecurity Certificate

The information security analysis field continues to grow rapidly, demanding a constant flow of qualified professionals. The BLS projects that employment in the field will grow by 31% from 2019-2029, much faster than the average 4% growth rate.

Although the BLS lists many computer and cybersecurity professions that may require a bachelor’s degree, many employers in these sectors may look just as favorably on experience and certificates. Information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $99,730 as of 2019.

A cybersecurity certificate alone does not qualify candidates for roles requiring bachelor’s degrees, but it can help bolster a resume in a competitive job market.

  • Information Security Analysts

    Information security analysts work within businesses and organizations to develop security frameworks and protect data. They investigate violations or security breaches, maintain firewalls and other data protection systems, and assist employees with computer and device security. These analysts work in many industries and sectors.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +31%
    • Median Annual Salary: $99,730

  • Computer Support Specialists

    Computer support specialists work for information technology and computer companies to provide assistance to users. They help customers troubleshoot and fix issues, install software, and learn to use device features. Some companies employ these specialists to assist company employees with computer training and software maintenance.

    • Required Education: Some postsecondary education or computer training
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +8%
    • Median Annual Salary: $54,760

  • Web Developers

    Web developers work with individuals and businesses to design and create websites. They must possess a strong working knowledge of coding languages and web development software, often with some knowledge in graphic design. They create and code websites, along with monitoring usage and traffic. They mend coding issues and handle malfunctions and crashes.

    • Required Education: Associate degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +8%
    • Median Annual Salary: $73,760

  • Computer Systems Analysts

    Computer system analysts work with companies to increase the efficiency of their existing computer and network systems. They apply a foundational understanding of business to the principles of information technology.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +7%
    • Median Annual Salary: $90,920

  • Computer Network Architects

    Computer network architects design and implement networks for use in business. They may create a system for a specific office or design systems and infrastructures used across multiple servers and locations. These professionals also create network security systems and monitor breaches.

    • Required Education: Bachelor’s degree
    • Job Outlook (2019-29): +5% 
    • Median Annual Salary: $112,690

Explore More Cybersecurity Careers

Selecting the Right Online Cybersecurity Certificate

Our list of the best online cybersecurity certificate programs offers a great place to begin your research. However, every student should also carefully consider the following factors when searching for their program:

Potential for Further Education
Consider whether you want to eventually build off of your certificate and work toward an associate or bachelor’s degree and select a program that allows for this growth.
Type of Program
Think about whether you want to pursue a certificate or a more long-term program. This can help you decide whether to enroll in a program at a college, with a certifying organization, or in a bootcamp.
Cost and Available Aid
Certificate or diploma programs at community colleges may cost significantly less than bootcamp programs. Determine your budget and how much you want to spend, along with any available financial aid options for each program.
Admission Requirements
Some bootcamp or certificate programs may require prior knowledge or experience in cybersecurity or information technology. Choose a program that best accommodates your knowledge and experience level.
Job Requirements
If you have a specific career in mind, consider the education requirements for that career and choose a program based on that goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is cybersecurity a good career?

    Yes. Employment in the field continues to grow rapidly, making right now an ideal time to earn your credentials and start a career. Professionals in this field also earn a generous median salary.

  • What's the difference between a cybersecurity certificate and certification?

    Certifications generally highlight a specific skill, such as certain coding languages, and are bestowed by independent companies. Schools deliver certificate programs, which offer more broad knowledge of a field.

  • How much does a cybersecurity program cost?

    Costs for cybersecurity programs vary widely based on factors like program type, school type, and program length. They range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand or more. Some programs offer financial aid options for students.

  • Can you get a job in cybersecurity with a certificate?

    Yes. While some employers may specifically seek candidates with degrees, others may look for applicants with specific training developed in a certificate program and relevant experience. This varies from employer to employer.

  • Is a certificate in cybersecurity worth it?

    Yes. Graduates can enter a rapidly growing industry and establish a background to eventually pursue higher degrees. Certificates provide pathways to the job field and further education.

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