Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

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Find the right education path to take advantage of this fast-growing industry and join the front-lines on technology and security.

Cybersecurity certificate programs offer learners affordable training to pursue entry-level positions in a rapidly growing field. These one-year programs help students acquire tech skills and knowledge to seek employment as security information security analysts and digital forensic analysts. 

The job outlook and earning potential for cybersecurity certificate-holders appear bright. CareerOneStop projects a 33% growth in employment for information security analysts from 2020-2030. These professionals, 21% of whom possess no college degree, also make an annual median wage of $103,590.

Unlike certifications, certificate programs in cybersecurity result in academic credentials that help learners enter the cybersecurity workforce or earn transferable credits for additional education. Students can benefit greatly from pursuing a cybersecurity certificate in today’s competitive and growing job market.

Explore This Page: Types of Certificates | Typical Courses | Admissions Process | Why Get a Certificate | Selecting Your Program | FAQs

What to Expect From a Cybersecurity Certificate Program

Cybersecurity certificate programs offer training in online data defense. These programs cover information assurance policies, networks and systems safeguarding, ethical hacking, and small enterprise networks. After completing cybersecurity certificate programs, students can pursue work as consultants and analysts in the field. 

These one-year programs typically require 12-18 credits. Required courses often include digital forensics, cyberlaw and policy, malware and incident response, and cloud security. Some courses from cybersecurity certificate programs can transfer to associate and bachelor’s programs. Costs vary by program, but typical tuition for a cybersecurity certificate program is about $6,250.

Read on to learn about the types of cybersecurity certificates, including courses and frequently asked questions. We also cover admission requirements and how to select the right certificate program for you. 

Types of Cybersecurity Certificates

Many schools offer training in particular areas of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity certificate concentrations include cyberlaw, information assurance, healthcare security, and computer networking. 

Certificates serve as evidence of completing an academic program. Alternatively, industry organizations offer certifications. Cybersecurity certifications typically focus on specific information and usually require learners to pass an exam. Those new to the field can benefit more from cybersecurity certificate programs rather than industry-focused certifications.

Schools offer cybersecurity certificates for beginners and graduate students in online, in-person, and hybrid learning formats. Certificate learners can also engage in asynchronous and synchronous instruction to better meet their learning preferences. Working professionals often prefer hybrid or online learning formats with asynchronous course delivery, as these programs offer the most flexibility.

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Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Common Cybersecurity Certificate Courses

Most cybersecurity certificate programs offer similar courses in defensive security and cybersecurity practices. Some schools may allow students to choose 1-2 electives to tailor the program to their academic needs. While many programs offer elective courses, not all schools include this feature. Some of the most popular cybersecurity certificate courses include:

Undergraduate Certificate Courses

Digital Forensics Fundamentals
This class offers practical applications to digital investigations, including detecting security issues in computer networks. Learners develop skills in data tracking, evidence collection, technical writing, and storage media analysis.
Mobile Device Hacking
Students learn how mobile device apps and operating systems function. Instructors demonstrate how to locate and exploit security vulnerabilities, along with implementing solutions. Learners explore essential jailbreaking, malware, rooting, and NFC attacks.
Enterprise Networking, Administration, and Security
Enrollees learn to design, implement, and update secure enterprise networks. Specific topics include network address translation, wide area networks, and virtual private networks. The class also prepares students to pursue the Cisco certified network associate certification.
This class focuses on computer-related crimes that cybersecurity professionals encounter daily. Learners develop the knowledge to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems and applications and evaluate digital evidence to prevent cybercrime.
Computer Forensics
Coursework examines the best practices and tools to investigate cybercrime. Faculty use virtual labs to instruct students on mitigating risk, recovering data, and assembling digital evidence for prosecuting cybercrime.

Graduate Certificate Courses

Systems Development Process
Enrollees explore information system design plus structured and object-oriented analysis. Coursework includes information on lifecycle models, development environments, and modeling quality assurance.
Web Technologies and Development Fundamentals
This class offers a detailed introduction to dynamic HTML, HTTP protocol, and common gateway interface programming. Instructors use Java to introduce learners to object-oriented programming. The course also explores database connectivity, graphical user interfaces, and distributed information systems server architectures.
Ethics, Policy, and Law in Cyberspace
This advanced course helps students understand legal resources and policies that affect management-level cybersecurity professionals. Instructors provide safe methods for conducting business in online marketplaces.
Programming for Graduate Students
Students learn the value of programming skills through topics such as object-oriented design, pseudocode, and algorithms.
Software Engineering and Security
This class covers defensive programming, reliability, program understandability, and misconceptions in programming. Incoming students should possess a working knowledge of object-oriented programming languages like Java and C++.

Read these tips for taking cybersecurity classes online

Admissions Process for Certificate Programs

Applicants for undergraduate cybersecurity certificates typically need a GED certificate or high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Some undergraduate programs expect incoming students to have college-level prerequisites, such as English composition. 

Applications may also ask for letters of reference. Competitive applicants have a 3.0 or higher GPA. Most programs do not expect undergraduate cybersecurity certificate-seekers to possess work experience in cybersecurity or in-depth industry knowledge.

Graduate-level cybersecurity certificate candidates need a bachelor’s degree to apply. These more advanced programs typically require applicants to submit transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate studies. 

How Much Do Certificates in Cybersecurity Cost?

Cybersecurity certificate costs vary. Online learners who qualify for in-state rates at public schools spend less on tuition than out-of-state learners. Additionally, private institutions feature higher tuition rates than public schools. 

Generally, cybersecurity certificates can cost about $3,999-$8,492. In addition to the lower cost of certificates compared to associate degrees, learners also spend less time enrolled. In this way, cybersecurity certificate learners can spend less time and money on their education. Graduates can also pursue employment more quickly. 

Generally, cybersecurity certificates can cost about $3,999-$8,492.

Many students worry about funding their education. Thankfully, learners can choose from several financial aid sources to help offset the cost of their cybersecurity certificates. The first step is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can also apply for scholarships and grants through their institutions or outside organizations.

Why Get a Cybersecurity Certificate?

There are many paths toward cybersecurity employment. Earning a certificate in cybersecurity is one of the fastest and effective ways to develop an applicable skillset to pursue jobs in the field. 

While many employers seek candidates with a bachelor’s, others look for experience in the field. With a certificate and some professional experience, candidates can stand out in the job market and pursue entry-level cybersecurity jobs.

Certificate programs take less time and money to complete than associate or bachelor’s degree holders in cybersecurity. Moreover, certificate students only take cybersecurity, and IT classes in these programs. Degree-seekers spend more time in school and take classes in other academic areas.

While cybersecurity bootcamps’ accelerated pace and shorter time commitment may work well for some students, completing a bootcamp does not result in an academic credential. However, cybersecurity certificates from accredited institutions offer valuable skills and transferable credits that graduates can apply to their future education.

Transition from general IT to cybersecurity Discover government cybersecurity careers

Cybersecurity Certificates Versus Associate Degrees

Prospective students new to the field can consider certificate and associate programs in cybersecurity. Both paths can provide a springboard into entry-level roles in the field. While they possess similarities, these academic programs are quite different.

Certificates typically take one year or less to complete, while associate degrees take up to two years. Certificate programs help students develop skills in sub-areas of the field. Associate programs require general education classes, technology classes, field experiences, and electives.

Comparing Certificate and Associate Programs

Key Factors Certificate in Cybersecurity Associate Degree in Cybersecurity
Electives May offer zero elective options Electives usually available
Length One year or less Up to two years
Curriculum No general education classes, only classes in cybersecurity topics Broader focus in cybersecurity, in addition to English, math, and science classes
Cost Varies among schools: $3,999-$8,492 Varies among schools: $6,754-$16,252
Classes Cryptography for cybersecurity, networked systems security, data analytics for cybersecurity Network fundamentals, network defense, math, English, computer ethics
Required Education Undergraduate certificate; high school diploma or GED Certificate; bachelor’s degree High school diploma or GED certificate
Get more information about associate degrees in cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Certificates Versus Bootcamps

Bootcamps and certificates have some similarities and key differences. Bootcamps offer a more concentrated curriculum in a shorter timeframe. They also prepare learners to pursue entry-level positions. 

Unlike undergraduate and graduate certificates, private companies can offer bootcamps. In this way, bootcamp curricula do not need to meet the same academic standards set by national or regional accrediting bodies, such as the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. Consider the following information for a comparison of these programs.

Comparing Certificate Programs and Bootcamps

Key Factors Certificate in Cybersecurity Cybersecurity Bootcamp
Courses Foundations of information security, security tools and technologies, applied security solutions Risk assessment, ethical hacking, incident response, vulnerability scanning
Accreditation The best cybersecurity certificate programs feature accreditation from recognized agencies like ABET. Bootcamps do not possess accreditation from a national or regional body but may feature higher education authorization from the state or tech associations.
Cost Varies among schools: $3,999-$8,492 Varies among programs: $9,540-$15,980

Get more information about cybersecurity bootcamps

Selecting the Best Cybersecurity Certificate Program for You

Prospective cybersecurity certificate students should consider many factors when choosing their programs. Your educational level determines your qualification for an undergraduate or graduate certificate. Regardless of the program’s level, be sure to select a school that holds programmatic accreditation from ABET and a regional or national accrediting body.

The best cybersecurity certificate aligns with your academic needs and career aspirations. Apply to programs that offer specific curricula or concentrations in cybersecurity topics that interest you. 

Lastly, cost and location are additional important factors to consider. Certificate-seekers can expect to pay higher tuition at private institutions than in-state public schools. Depending on the program, students may save money by enrolling in online vs. in-person cybersecurity programs.

Should You Get Your Certificate in Cybersecurity Online?

Many schools offer certificates in online or hybrid formats. While some learners enjoy face-to-face interaction with professors and fellow students in classroom settings, online learning provides additional flexibility.

Online learning also helps students pursue their academic goals while maintaining other aspects of life. Working professionals and students with familial obligations can benefit from asynchronous online education, allowing them to pursue their certificates anywhere with internet access. Moreover, cybersecurity classes translate well to an online learning environment.

Learn more about online certificate programs in cybersecurity

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cybersecurity Certificates

  • Is a cybersecurity certificate worth it?

    According to the California Institute of Arts and Technology, cybersecurity certificate-holders can increase their current salaries by $13,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in employment for the computer and information technology field from 2020-2030.
  • Can you get a job with a certificate in cybersecurity?

    Yes. Cybersecurity certificate-holders can pursue entry-level roles such as IT consultants, analysts, technicians, and auditors. Requirements for each role vary among companies. Some employers may require applicants to possess prior work experience in addition to a certificate.
  • What is the best cybersecurity certificate for beginners?

    Undergraduate programs offer the best cybersecurity certificate for beginners. Compared to graduate-level certificates, undergraduate coursework focuses on foundational information and basic cybersecurity skills.
  • Are cybersecurity certificate programs expensive?

    The cost of cybersecurity programs varies among programs. Certificate-seekers can expect to spend about $3,999-$8,492. Learners can offset the cost by applying for scholarships and grants through their schools and other financial aid providers.

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Are you ready to find a school that's aligned with your interests?

Find the right education path to take advantage of this fast-growing industry and join the front-lines on technology and security.