Cybersecurity Programs in Massachusetts

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Massachusetts boasts some of the most innovative tech companies in the world. Match that with a slate of prestigious research universities and you have a great destination for studying cyber security and becoming workforce-ready. Don’t want the details? Jump straight to our list of academic programs in the state. But to familiarize yourself with scholarships, salaries and resources, keep reading our concise guide to cyber degrees in Massachusetts.

Studying Cyber Security in Massachusetts

When HP published a list in 2014 of the top schools for cyber security degrees, four Massachusetts universities made the top quartile: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston University, Brandeis University and Worcester Polytechnic University. Indeed, those schools are active and respected in the field, but there’s more going on in the state:

  • The Northeastern University Institute of Information Assurance is a multidisciplinary center with connections to four campus labs: the Systems Security Lab, Energy-Efficient and Secure Systems Lab, Computer Architecture Laboratory, and Network and Distributed System Security. These labs run active projects sponsored by the likes of the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). One such ongoing project is the DARPA-funded DarkDroid, which searches for malicious code in Android applications.
  • The Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS) at Boston University won a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation in 2014 for the Modular Approach to Cloud Security (MACS) project, which seeks to build systems with multi-layered security.
  • Although it doesn’t feature a dedicated cyber security laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the most recognized research universities in the world, with plenty of funding for security projects. If you choose to study in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), you may do research alongside Dr. Ronald Rivest, a member of the inaugural class of the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame, or with his colleague and fellow Hall of Famer, Dr. Butler Lampson.
  • Dr. Susan Landau is perhaps the single leading expert on cyber security policy in the U.S. She’s also a member of the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame. Go to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and she might be your professor.
  • Even some of the state’s two-year colleges are hotbeds of cyber security activity. The governor’s office bestowed over $100,000 to Middlesex Community College in Lowell in 2016 to build a dedicated cybersecurity lab at the college’s Lowell campus as it expands its certificate and associate-level offerings.

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Online Cyber Security Programs in Massachusetts

Massachusetts colleges offer a healthy assortment of online cyber security programs at all levels. The biggest player in online education in the state (at least in this discipline) is probably Boston University, with graduate offerings for criminal justice and computer science types alike. The private women’s college Bay Path University runs applicable programs for undergrads and grad students, but only the latter is coeducational.

To keep tabs on new distance learning options, visit Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO) for a full directory of programs at the state’s 15 community colleges and nine state universities. It’s especially useful for finding associate degrees and undergrad certificates. University of Massachusetts campuses aren’t included in that database; for those, you’ll go through UMassOnline.

Online Associate Degrees in Cyber Security

You can’t quite complete an online Cyber Security degree at the associate level in Massachusetts, but you can get close. Ninety-five percent of Mount Wachusett Community College’s Computer Information Systems program is available through distance learning, including those courses that also count toward the school’s Cyber Security Certificate. Elsewhere, Quinsigamond Community College offers a Computer Systems Engineering Technology degree with a Computer Forensics option. The coursework is 80 percent online. Middlesex Community College’s AS in Computer Forensics is also mostly online.

If you want every credit to be online and you plan on continuing on to a four-year university, look to Bristol Community College, which runs a Computer Information Systems Transfer degree. In the past, the school has also placed its Associate in Science in Computer Information Systems (Computer Forensics) program online, though it doesn’t always offer the degree.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security

With so many Massachusetts colleges focusing on graduate-level cyber security programs, the state has a real deficit of online programs in the field, with only one to speak of: Bay Path University’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity-Digital Forensics. It’s aimed at students looking for employment as digital forensic examiners, who are charged with investigating crimes ranging from identity theft to cyberbullying.

Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security

It’s not until the graduate level that you’ll really have a lot of variety in terms of cyber security instruction. Boston University has the most diverse online options with two different paths: an MS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity and an MS in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Security. It’s hard to go wrong. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks both the online MS in Criminal Justice and the online Computer Information Technology programs among the best of their kind in the nation.

What else is out there? Northeastern University offers an MS in Information Assurance for folks coming in with foundational mathematics and IT knowledge. Elsewhere, the core courses in UMass-Lowell’s Master of Science in Security Studies: Cyber Security Concentration are mostly theoretical, with students rounding out their degree with technical electives.

Not everyone wants to get super technical, though:

  • The MS in Cybersecurity Management at Bay Path University is designed for people with limited exposure to computing, although the optional Digital Forensics concentration is available for those who live at their keyboards.
  • Brandeis University’s MS in Information Security Leadership has similar aims, but different expectations for incoming students, who should have a technical degree before starting in on coursework. That’s because the program’s required courses are mainly theory-based and the electives skew toward hands-on competencies.
  • You can choose security electives in Harvard’s Master of Liberal Arts in Information Management Systems that will allow you earn a Network & Cybersecurity Certificate without taking any extra courses. Those electives cover topics like networks, hardware & software, privacy, governance, strategy, and other skills you might need to secure and monitor systems in global organizations.

Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security

For undergrads who want to dabble in cyber security without committing to a full-on degree, Massachusetts Bay Community College’s hybrid Certificate in Cyber Security prepares enrollees for the CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and CISCO ICND1 certification exams with just five courses.

Most of Massachusetts’ online certificates are at the graduate level, however. UMass-Lowell’s Graduate Certificate in Network Security is geared toward IT and networking professionals with some math and programming knowledge, while Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity is broader, covering software design and risk management as well.

Boston University has two graduate certificate programs, which can be rolled into its online master’s programs. The first is in Information Security, a flexible course of study that allows students to choose any four of six available classes. The Graduate Certificate in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity, meanwhile, is less flexible: just four mandatory courses that can count toward the online Master of Criminal Justice.

Cyber Security Scholarships in Massachusetts

Three Massachusetts institutions receive National Science Foundation grants to fund the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service, the holy grail of cyber security awards. We’ve covered them below as well as several smaller (but still valuable) scholarships at other Bay State schools.

Bay Path University

  • Women in STEM Honors Program (WiSH) Scholarship: Information Assurance majors are eligible for WiSH program admittance. If successful, WiSH undergrads receive mentoring, take part in hands-on research, and get $2,500 a year toward tuition.

Boston University

  • Megan McClung Memorial Scholarship Fund: Specifically for students in the online Master of Criminal Justice program (which features a concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity), the Megan McClung Memorial Scholarship is not distributed every year. When it is, it goes to a student with a 3.5 GPA and financial need.

Massachusetts Bay Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College

  • Carl Tammi Award: Mount Wachusett students who are collecting a Cyber Security Certificate often stick around for a full Computer Information Systems degree. If so, they may be eligible for the Tammi Award, which is reserved for second-year Computer Information Systems students with a 3.0 GPA.

Northeastern University

  • Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service: Full tuition, healthcare, professional development funds, free textbooks and an annual living stipend worth $22,500 to $34,000 are on the line for graduate and undergraduate students majoring in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Information Assurance or Information Science. Northeastern tries to give out at least 10 awards annually. Those chosen for the scholarship are obligated to ply their trade for two to three years after graduation at an approved governmental agency.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Undergrads and grad students focused on cyber security can apply for an award that covers the cost of tuition, health insurance, travel, textbooks and living expenses. In return, recipients must pursue government internships and work with a local, state or federal agency after graduation.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Computer Science students and their Electrical and Computer Engineering peers are eligible for WPI’s iteration of the Scholarship for Service, which covers tuition, living expenses, books, health insurance and professional development.

Cyber Security Events in Massachusetts

Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Massachusetts

If you want to advance your career and your understanding of what’s happening in a fast-moving field, get out of the house and get talking to people with a shared interest in your field. The biggest meetups and communities are clustered around the Greater Boston area. Here are six to look into:

  • AmherstSec: A laid-back forum for people interested in security, AmherstSec meets about every other month to discuss a general theme or give feedback on other members’ project.
  • BeanSec: Grab a beer and talk shop every third Wednesday of the month in a Cambridge pub. BeanSec is more mixer than meeting and welcomes professionals, academics and students who appreciate a good vibe.
  • Boston CompSec: Although it took a hiatus for most of 2016, Boston CompSec still holds the title as the largest meetup for white hat hackers in the world. When it’s active, Boston CompSec is a well-oiled monthly presentation series featuring big names in tech, like the CSO of Akamai and the founder of OkCupid.
  • Boston Security Meetup: Check in with a community of security practitioners every month for a series of lightning discussions and socializing. The organizers take a tough stance against marketers and recruiters, so don’t expect sales pitches — just topical discussion.
  • InfoSec at Your Service: A 2016 entry to the cyber security scene, InfoSec at Your Service is a Framingham group open to both new and veteran professionals in the field. Become a member to listen in on presentations from outside speakers or join in member-led discussions.
  • OWASP Boston: Massachusetts’ lone chapter of the Open Web Application Security Project, OWASP Boston runs monthly chapter meetings and puts on occasional paid trainings on skills like penetration testing. OWASP also hosts a one-day annual event, the Boston Application Security Conference.

Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Massachusetts

Boston is a huge city, so it’s no surprise to see it host big events such as the 2018 Infosecurity Magazine Conference or executive conferences like the Boston Fed Cybersecurity Conference and the Boston Cyber Security Summit. But for someone still pursuing degree options, you’ll likely need something more accessible. Below are five annual events for cyber security types in Boston. We recommend you bookmark the Advanced Cyber Security Center to get an updated list of all upcoming events in the state.

  • Boston Conference on Cyber Security (BCCS): Boston College launched the BCCS in 2017 with plans to make it an annual gathering of experts working in government, business and academia.
  • BSides Boston: Admission to this conference will cost you $20, or you can pay a bit more to attend a training the day before. The agenda is packed with presentations that might just as easily fit in on a TedX stage.
  • National Cyber Crime Conference: The state Attorney’s General Office sponsors this three-day event for prosecutors, criminal investigators and digital forensic examiners to attend lectures, workshops and certification courses.
  • SOURCE: A two-day conference for professionals in the for-profit sector, SOURCE has all the usual presentations and networking opportunities, but its real focus is on daylong trainings, which typically cover either how to communicate highly technical information with non-techies or how to understand highly technical information as a non-techie.

Cyber Security Jobs in Massachusetts

Massachusetts cyber security grads can choose from various Fortune 500 companies when they graduate. Dell EMC, which sells secure data storage, is the biggest employer of cyber security professionals in the state, according to the Boston Business Journal. Major defense contractor Raytheon, which counts cyber as one of its main competencies, is also headquartered in the state. Finally, IBM Security is run out of Waltham.

But don’t ignore lesser-known Massachusetts-based businesses: Veracode, Rapid7, Sophos and Carbon Black. Boston Business Journal reports that each one hires 200 to 400 Massachusetts cyber security pros, and they are all mainstays in the top 50 of the Cybersecurity 500, a list of the best companies in the sector according to the company Cybersecurity Ventures. Add to that list local players Mimecast, RSA, Black Duck Software and Threat Stack, and you’ve got a healthy ecosystem of mid-size to large businesses focusing on security in the Bay State. In fact, as of mid-2015, Boston employed more information security analysts than all but five metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) is trying to develop the state’s security workforce further. A consortium of research universities, financial and healthcare institutions, and technology firms, ACSC has forged a data sharing agreement between industries and universities so that the latter can find solutions to issues important to the former. They’re also arranging internships for students from such universities to be exposed to the industries they hope to work in.

Cyber Security Salaries in Massachusetts

The good news: Massachusetts companies post a ton of cyber security jobs each year. The tradeoff is that you won’t earn as much as you might elsewhere in the country. The going rate for information security analysts was $89,100 in 2015, according to government figures, $1,000 lower than the national average. That’s disappointing because the state’s cost of living is about 33 percent higher than the national average, meaning your money isn’t going as far. Changing the job title leads to different results, but you’re always going to be close to the national average. For instance, Massachusetts IT security specialists gross $113,000 a year, according to data from Indeed.com, which is again about $1,000 off the national pace. One area where you’ll likely earn more compared to peers across the country is at the leadership level, with information managers pulling in $105,000 a year.

However, there are other ways to view salary potential. One way is to look at return on investment. Although the tuition may seem astronomical, Massachusetts computer science graduates have extremely valuable degrees. Five Bay State institutions cracked the top 50 on PayScale’s 2016 list of schools with the best 20-year net returns: MIT, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Northeastern University, Boston College and Boston University.

All Cyber Security Programs in Massachusetts

Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 15 Massachusetts schools.

School NameProgramsNSA
Assumption CollegeWorcester, Massachusetts
Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
Bay Path UniversityLongmeadow, Massachusetts
Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity – Digital Forensics
Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management
Boston CollegeChestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy and Governance
Boston UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity
MS in Computer Information Systems with Concentration in Security
MS in Computer Science with Concentration in Security
MS in Computer Science with Specialization in Cyber Security
Online Graduate Certificate in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity
Online Graduate Certificate in Digital Forensics
Online Graduate Certificate in Information Security
Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice with Concentration in Cybercrime Investigation & Cybersecurity
Online MS in Computer Information Systems with Concentration in Security
NSA
CAE
Brandeis UniversityWaltham, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Information Security Leadership
Bristol Community CollegeFall River, Massachusetts
Associate in Science in Computer Information Systems
Harvard UniversityCambridge, Massachusetts
Online Cybersecurity Certificate
Online Master of Liberal Arts in Information Management Systems – Cybersecurity Certificate
Massachusetts Bay Community CollegeWellesley Hills, Massachusetts
Advanced Cyber Security Certificate
Associate in Science – Cyber Security
Cyber Security Certificate
Middlesex Community CollegeBedford, Massachusetts
Advanced Certificate in IT Cybersecurity
Associate in Science in Liberal Studies Information Technology – Cybersecurity Transfer
Entry-Level Certificate in IT Cybersecurity
Mount Wachusett Community CollegeGardner, Massachusetts
Cyber Security Certificate
Northeastern UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
Graduate Certificate in Information Security Management
Master of Science in Cybersecurity
PhD in Information Assurance
NSA
CAE
Quinsigamond Community CollegeWorcester, Massachusetts
Associate in Science in Computer Systems Engineering Technology – Forensics Option
Certificate in Computer Systems Engineering Technology – Cyber Security
University of Massachusetts AmherstAmherst, Massachusetts
BS in Computer Science with Security & Privacy Track
NSA
CAE
University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, Massachusetts
Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity
Online Master of Science in Security Studies: Cyber Security Concentration
NSA
CAE
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcester, Massachusetts
Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity
Information Security Management Graduate Certificate
MS in Computer Science – Specialization in Security
PhD in Computer Science – Cybersecurity Focus
NSA
CAE

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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.