Online Ph.D. in Cybersecurity

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How to Choose a Program

Online PhDs in cyber security are limited, but slowly growing in number. We should stress that these are research degrees, intended for folks who are ready to devote 3-7 years of their life to a particular area of interest. If you’re thinking about becoming a professor or a high-level researcher, read on. If you’re after a pay rise or a better job, have a look at the sections on online certificates and online master’s degrees.

Decide whether you’re ready for distance learning.
A PhD is a long, tough, and sometimes very lonely degree. If you have a supportive employer, a network of security colleagues, and a lot of self-discipline, you can do it through distance learning. But don’t underestimate the time and effort it’s going to take. Some online programs have on-campus opportunities to avoid isolation.
Find out if you meet the application requirements.
When it comes to online PhDs, many universities are seeking candidates with extensive work experience, a master’s degree, and outside security certifications. Be sure you fit the profile.
Talk it over extensively.
Contact alumni of the PhD program (on-campus and online) to find out what they thought of the experience. Ask to meet your potential supervisor in person. Grill university staff on time commitments, the curriculum, and career opportunities after graduation.
Request a course demo.
Although your research project/thesis will be self-directed, you will often be required to complete 2-3 years of advanced coursework as well. Discover what it’s like to interact with other students in a virtual environment.
Consider the reputation of the university.
Name recognition counts for a lot in the cyber security world. Explore reviews and network with colleagues to discover whether the university, the department of computer science (or the equivalent), and the faculty are well-respected. If not, run for the hills.
Learn whether your school has a CAE-R designation.
This NSA CAE designation is awarded to universities that offer higher-level doctoral research programs in cybersecurity.

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What to Look for in an Online PhD in Cybersecurity

So you’ve made the decision, you’ve amassed a list of PhD scholarships & grants, you’ve talked to your employer about your goals, and you’ve blocked out the next decade of your life. How do you choose between one program and the next? Consider online PhDs that have:

Fantastic PhD Supervisors
We can’t stress this enough. Your advisor is going to make or break your PhD experience. You want someone who’s comfortable with online communication & teaching, and available for long-distance discussions & meetings.
Strengths in Your Field of Interest
This is a no-brainer, but we’ll say it anyway. Whether it’s security policy, national security, or the Cloud, pick the program that most closely matches your area of interest.
Real-World Partnerships
Good universities often have relationships with major security partners (e.g. NSA, DHS, Cisco, government contractors, etc.)—find out if online students in the PhD program can collaborate with these partners. You’ll want to be working on a dissertation or research project that has real clout.
Distance Learning Support
Is it easy to access critical research documents and materials remotely? Will you be participating in virtual labs and simulated environments? Will you have opportunities to attend meetings and talk to visiting speakers from a distance? In other words, will the PhD program give you the same support that it offers to on-campus students?
Networking Opportunities
We mentioned that schools often include on-campus experiences where you can meet your fellow PhD students. But you can also ask about what happens during online classes and in the later research years. Does the university provide funding for you to attend conferences? If not, why not?

All Online Doctorate in Cybersecurity Programs

Below are all the matching online programs we found in our directory, from 5 US schools.

SCHOOL NAMEPROGRAMSNSA
Capitol Technology UniversityLaurel, Maryland
Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity
Capitol Technology University has a Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity program that is offered primarily online. Students will need to be in residence at the university in Laurel, Maryland, for one course a year for the three years of the program. The degree requires 54 to 66 credits and includes a dissertation. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in information assurance, computer science, IT, or a closely related field. Additionally, applicants who do not currently hold one of four industry certifications – CISSP, GSE, CGEIT, or CISM – must take a comprehensive entrance exam. The university also requires applicants to have at least five years of relevant work experience. Students may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester.
NSA
CAE
Dakota State UniversityMadison, South Dakota
Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Operations
Dakota State University offers a Doctor of Science in Cyber Security that students can earn in a primarily online format. In addition to taking classes in a web-enhanced online environment, candidates must complete three onsite research seminars at the campus in Madison, South Dakota. The research seminars are held annually and last for several days. Applicants to the program must have a master’s degree from an accredited university and must have earned either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science. The minimum acceptable GPA is 3.0, and students who earned a GPA of 3.25 or higher are exempt from submitting GRE scores. Students may only enter the program in the fall semester.
NSA
CAE
University of FairfaxRoanoke, Virginia
Doctor of Science in Information Assurance (DSc)Doctorate in Information Assurance (DIA)
The University of Fairfax offers a Doctorate of Information Assurance for online students. To earn the degree, candidates must complete at least 60 credits beyond the master’s level, which generally requires three to five years of study. Students will have both synchronous and asynchronous elements in their coursework. The curriculum includes core courses, specialization courses, research methods courses, research preparation courses, and dissertation development courses. The program requires students to take two comprehensive exams and to complete a research project and dissertation on a focused cybersecurity problem. Students can use their dissertation to seek publishing opportunities. Applicants should have a master’s degree and a minimum of five years of relevant professional experience.
University of Rhode IslandKingston, Rhode Island
PhD in Computer Science – Digital Forensics
NSA
CAE

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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.

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.