5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

Updated February 6, 2023

Thinking about pursuing a master's degree in cybersecurity? Explore some of the best accredited cybersecurity master's programs and available jobs for graduates.

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 discover your college program?

Credit: GCShutter / E+ / Getty Images

While the world depends on digital data, it faces rising data security threats. Cybersecurity has emerged as one of the most in-demand fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that information security analysts will see total jobs grow 35% from 2021-2031.

As cybercriminals grow more sophisticated, information security professionals must match — and exceed — their skill level. A master's in cybersecurity allows current industry professionals to advance their knowledge and skills. This degree can help graduates seek higher-paying jobs and have more influence in the field.

Though cybersecurity is a new field, many universities offer cybersecurity master's degree programs. Students can also pursue a cybersecurity concentration in related fields, such as computer science or computer engineering.

What Is a Master's in Cybersecurity Degree?

A master's in cybersecurity can equip graduates to serve as leaders, researchers, and analysts in the growing information security field.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and fees for graduate programs were $19,750 for 2020-2021.

Cybersecurity master's degrees usually include courses in cryptography, digital forensics, and ethical hacking. Degree-seekers can often pursue specializations such as analysis, systems, or network security. Earning a cybersecurity master's degree usually takes about two years. Most programs comprise 30-36 credits.

Admission to a cybersecurity graduate program requires an undergraduate degree. Most applicants hold a bachelor's in a related field such as engineering or computer science. Some cybersecurity schools prefer applicants with professional experience in information technology or computer science.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition and fees for graduate programs were $19,750 for 2020-2021. Federal and private financial aid can help students pay for school. Studying online, part-time, or at an in-state public school may reduce educational costs.

Should You Get a Master's in Cybersecurity?

Graduate programs offer a variety of benefits for cybersecurity professionals. Earning a master's in cybersecurity can help pros land information security leadership positions at companies or public agencies.

  • Job Security: The need for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow. Master's in cybersecurity graduates can look forward to a strong job market in their field.
  • Policy Influence: Cybersecurity has emerged as a leading concern for public policymakers. Threats to digital security affect corporate America, national security, and American families.
  • High Salaries: Because jobs in cybersecurity often require technical skills and specialization, salaries typically exceed the national median wage. Many cybersecurity positions earn more than $90,000 in average annual income. Top-earning professionals can earn much more.
  • Diverse Career Options: Master's in cybersecurity jobs include penetration testing, security engineering, and information security analysis. Graduates can also seek leadership, teaching, or research roles by pursuing doctorates in cybersecurity.

Top Online Master's Programs

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

Admission Requirements for a Cybersecurity Master's Program

Applicants to master's in cybersecurity degree programs often must hold a bachelor's degree. Some schools require a bachelor's in cybersecurity or computer science. Other programs may accept majors in different fields, provided students can demonstrate data security competence.

Many schools require a minimum 3.0 GPA for admission into a cybersecurity master's program. However, this requirement varies between schools. Some institutions set minimum overall GPA requirements, but others only look at applicants' grades in computer science courses.

Some universities and colleges ask applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Reference letters from professors or employers may also help meet admission requirements. Prospective students may need industry experience, along with academic coursework. Applicants should contact their school to learn about timelines and specific admission requirements.

Read more about online master's in cybersecurity programs

Should you get a degree in computer science?

Cybersecurity Master's Degree Options

Technology-focused master's degrees can take many forms. Some students complete general computer science programs. Others earn specialized degrees in subfields like cybersecurity. Some top cybersecurity schools allow students in other computer-related degrees to concentrate in cybersecurity. Many universities include cybersecurity coursework within broader programs.

Students can pursue careers in cybersecurity from backgrounds in almost any computer-focused field. However, aspiring cybersecurity professionals should concentrate in the discipline.

  • MS in Cybersecurity: This degree helps prepare students to protect digital data and investigate cybercrimes. Cybersecurity master's degrees include coursework in cryptography, digital forensics, and ethical hacking. Students often come from academic backgrounds in other computer science areas. Many MS in cybersecurity candidates hold professional experience and training in the discipline.
  • MS in Computer Science: Computer science focuses on the discipline's underlying theories. Students pursuing this degree may take advanced courses in machine learning and statistics. Some schools offer concentrations in software engineering, visual computing, or human-centered computing. Practicing computer scientists and engineers often enroll in this degree.
  • MS in Computer Engineering: In this master's program, students apply engineering principles to computer software and hardware. Computer engineering programs help prepare students for technically demanding careers in software, computer networks or hardware, and computer architecture. Although these programs' curricula may include cybersecurity courses, they focus on other areas of study.
  • MS in Information Technology: This computer science degree can include a cybersecurity component, depending on the school. Information security programs typically incorporate courses in application development and operating systems. This degree can lead to jobs as software engineers or computer network architects.
  • MS in Information Assurance: Less common than other cybersecurity-related degrees, information assurance programs focus on protecting digital and physical data. This degree existed before the internet, offering a broader scope than a cybersecurity master's degree. Coursework includes cybersecurity, cryptography, and data analysis. Alumni can compete for jobs in security leadership and management.
  • MBA in Information Security: This professional degree offers a core curriculum in business. Coursework covers marketing, finance, economics, and leadership. The degree also includes elective or concentration coursework in information security. The MBA tends to emphasize cybersecurity's business applications over its technical aspects. This program can help students kick off careers managing technical teams.
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.

Match me with a bootcamp.

Find programs with your skills, schedule, and goals in mind.

Popular Master's in Cybersecurity Courses

Cybersecurity master's degrees often include three types of classes: core courses, electives, and research or practicums.

Some cybersecurity master's degree programs offer cross-disciplinary courses. The list below includes common cybersecurity graduate courses and concentrations. Not all schools offer these classes, but this list provides a snapshot of a master's degree in this field.

  • Foundations of Information Assurance: This introductory class covers basic skills and concepts in network protection and data. Students learn to plan, implement, and manage security systems at the enterprise level. Topics include threats, cryptography, network security, and data mining. The curriculum also explores software vulnerabilities, programming for malice, and operating system protection.
  • Cyberlaw and Ethics: This multidisciplinary course examines legal and ethical issues related to privacy, U.S. law, fraud, and international business. Learners explore government approaches to content control and rights. The course also addresses public policy implications of content, governance, and intellectual property.
  • Human Factors in Security: In this course, students investigate cybersecurity's human side. Key topics include integrity, practices, and procedures. Learners consider security awareness training and information technology within an organizational environment. They also look at strategies to protect organizations from security-compromising behavior.
  • Network Security: Students in this course explore topics related to network assessment and defense. They consider the design principles of secure network protocols and systems. Real-world case studies help students learn about digital watermarking, access control, intrusion detection, and information hiding. Other topics include authentication, integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
  • Applied Cryptography: Applied cryptography is a master's in cybersecurity pillar course. Topics in this information security course include cryptanalysis, symmetric cryptography, and cryptographic algorithms. Learners also explore digital signatures, pseudo-random generators, cryptographic protocols, and public-key cryptography.

The Master's in Cybersecurity Practicum and Thesis

Most MS in cybersecurity programs include a practicum. MS candidates may complete their practicums in academic, corporate, or government settings. Under faculty direction, students investigate problems, experiment with solutions, and document their work. For many learners, the practicum serves as a bridge between academia and the workplace.

In some cybersecurity master's degree programs, students can complete a capstone master's thesis project. A thesis usually involves researching a significant, well-defined problem. Candidates then present evidence with both practical and academic merit. Typically, students must present and defend their theses before a panel of faculty members and industry experts.

How Much Will a Master's in Cybersecurity Degree Cost?

Cybersecurity master's degree program costs depend on many different factors. Residency is one important consideration. Public institutions typically offer lower tuition rates to in-state residents. Some schools extend in-state pricing to online students who live in other states.

Private schools usually charge higher tuition than public colleges. According to NCES, graduate tuition at public institutions cost an average of $12,390 for the 2020-2021 school year, while private school tuition averaged $26,620. An institution's prestige can also affect expenses. Students may also incur costs for technology and living expenses.

Fortunately, many degree-seekers can take advantage of financing options. Universities offer scholarships, and some companies provide employee tuition reimbursement. Students can also take advantage of federal student aid, student loans, and private scholarships.

Top Online Master's Programs

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

What Can I Do With a Master's in Cybersecurity?

A master's in cybersecurity can open doors to high-paying, in-demand technology professions. The BLS projects that the computer and technology field will add 682,800 new jobs from 2021-2031. These jobs paid a median annual salary of $97,430 as of 2021.

The BLS also projects that information security analyst jobs will grow by 35% from 2021-2031. As of 2021, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $102,600.

Cybersecurity specialists can work in various industries, including healthcare, national security, plus banking and finance. A master's degree can help security professionals prepare to assume leadership roles, influence public policy, and teach cybersecurity. A master's in cybersecurity can also lay the groundwork for a Ph.D. in the field.

Top Jobs for Master's in Cybersecurity Graduates

Discover more cybersecurity jobs

Explore government cybersecurity careers

Selecting Your Cybersecurity Master's Degree Program

Students must weigh various factors when selecting a master's in cybersecurity program. Two factors — cost and location — rank high on many people's lists, but future learners should also consider the following:

  • School Size: What type of school best suits your personality, learning preferences, and goals? Some students prefer a small school with personal attention from faculty. Others favor a large institution with a national brand and an extensive alumni network.
  • Concentrations: Does this school offer the concentration you want? How important is that concentration to you?
  • Staff Credentials: How many teachers hold professional and academic experience in the field?
  • Program Length: Can you fast-track your education with this program? Is it possible to slow things down if necessary?
  • Prestige/Reputation: How could this school's reputation affect your job search? Will employers recognize the name?
  • Earning Potential for Graduates: If available, find out what salaries do recent alumni earn?
  • Online vs. In-Person: Do you want to study online, in person, or hybrid? Consider your learning preferences and if a prospective college offers that format.
  • Accreditation: Does this school hold accreditation? What about programmatic accreditation?

Should You Get Your Cybersecurity Master's Online?

More than seven million American students enrolled in online education programs in 2020, according to NCES. Distance learning has brought educational opportunities to working students, stay-at-home parents, and other learners who need more flexibility and accessibility.

During the spring of 2020, NCES reports 75% of U.S. students were enrolled in at least one online course.

Of course, not all schools offer online degrees, and not all majors fit easily into distance learning formats. However, few programs suit online education as well as cybersecurity, a computer-based field.

Should you study cybersecurity at an HBCU?

Discover which certifications can boost your career

Top Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

This list of the top five master's in cybersecurity programs for 2023 can help you find your ideal program. We rank schools based on factors such as retention rate, post-graduation student debt, and return on investment. Visit our ranking methodology page to learn more.

#1 5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

Sacred Heart University

  • Fairfield, CT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

This Catholic university in Fairfield, Connecticut, provides a liberal arts education focusing on career development. Founded in 1963, SHU serves more than 10,000 students.

MS in Cybersecurity

Sacred Heart University, the first National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense-designated school in Connecticut, offers an MS in cybersecurity. Faculty research interests include digital signal processing, cloud computing, and network security.

The MS can prepare learners to prevent and respond to cyberattacks in 12-18 months. Students develop practical experience by using cybersecurity tools, performing research, and learning risk management techniques. The program includes three tracks: computer science, information technology, and data science. 

SHU also features a bachelor's-to-master's cybersecurity 4+1 dual degree option. The School of Computer Science & Engineering, which delivers the cybersecurity MS, accepts applications to the thesis-optional program year-round.

Applying to SHU

Admission requirements include an online application, official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. The program accepts applications on a rolling basis and includes spring, late spring, and fall start dates. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Tuition: $965/credit
  • Required Credits: 30-36 credits
  • Program Length: 12-18 months
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$44,080
Out-of-state
$44,080
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
9,313
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

John Jay, founded in 1964, operates within the City University of New York system. The school delivers liberal arts and career-focused education with an emphasis on justice, enrolling more than 15,000 students.

MS in Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity

The MS in digital forensics and cybersecurity from John Jay College of Criminal Justice combines computer science, criminal justice, and law. The on-campus program offers part-time and full-time options to welcome recent graduates and working professionals. Students can engage in small classes and participate in faculty research, cooperative education, and internships.

The curriculum includes classes in forensic management of digital evidence, network security, and digital forensic applications. Students can take electives like applied cryptography, risk assessment and management, and cybercriminology. The program requires two capstones with choices of faculty-mentored research, a seminar with fieldwork, or a research practicum.

Applying to John Jay

Each applicant needs a background in computer science, a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other requirements include three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a personal statement. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $5,545/semester (in state); $855/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 36
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,930
Out-of-state
$14,880
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
15,766
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

Regent University

  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Regent, a Christian higher education institution in Virginia Beach, serves about 13,000 students. The school features more than 150 academic programs, including associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.

MS in Cybersecurity - Cybersecurity Management

Regent University's fully online MS in cybersecurity - cybersecurity management degree explores cybersecurity ethics, network security, and disaster recovery. Students take classes like cybersecurity compliance, organizational development, and information security management. The program develops leadership skills as learners gain expertise in identity management, organizational change, and systems security. 

Potential careers for graduates include cybersecurity manager, security architect, and digital security project manager. The MS program also offers concentrations in cybersecurity policy and cybersecurity practitioners. The school's Institute for Cybersecurity includes a multimillion-dollar Cyber Range that provides practical experience for online and on-campus students through advanced cybersecurity training. 

Applying to Regent

Admission requirements include an online application, a completed admissions questionnaire, unofficial college transcripts, and a photo of a government-issued ID. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $695/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Delivery Format: 100% online
Average Tuition
In-state
$17,220
Out-of-state
$17,220
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
50%
Students Enrolled
10,483
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

Robert Morris University

  • Moon Township, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Moon Township, Pennsylvania's RMU offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs and certificates. Learners can choose from over 120 organizations and clubs.

MS in Cybersecurity

Students can complete MS in cybersecurity degrees from Robert Morris University's School of Informatics, Humanities, and Social Sciences online or on campus. RMU holds a designation from the U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

The cybersecurity MS curriculum requires operating systems security, cybersecurity strategy and governance, and software and application security courses. The degree's final semester includes a cybersecurity capstone. Students learn to use cryptography to protect data, understand legal and ethical issues of cyberinfrastructure, and respond to cyberattacks with relevant techniques.

Applying to RMU

Each candidate must provide official undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.75 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. The program also requires an essay explaining the applicant's interest in cybersecurity.

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $800/credit
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Delivery Format: 100% online (asynchronous) or on campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$30,830
Out-of-state
$30,830
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
4,134
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 5 Best Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs 2023

University of Baltimore

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

As a part of the University System of Maryland, UBalt offers more than 70 academic programs and certificates. The university strives to expand access to students who may find it difficult to attend traditional college programs. 

MS in Cyber Forensics

The University of Baltimore's MS in cyberforensics program explores issues like data recovery and analysis, evidence preservation, and investigation of computer and digital crimes. Students take classes like advanced Python for forensics, ethical hacking, and money laundering. The 30-credit program also includes internship and capstone experiences. 

UBalt's digital lab provides practical experience opportunities with cybersecurity industry software. Classes take place on campus at night, making it easier for working professionals to enroll in the program. Graduates can apply for jobs like computer forensics investigator, cyberanalyst, and cyberproject manager. 

Current or prospective Maryland police officers may qualify for scholarships for this program.

Applying to UBalt

Each applicant needs a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The program requires a complete online application, letter of recommendation, statement of personal interest, and official transcript. 

Program at a Glance

  • School Type: Public 
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $2,397/3 credits (in state, part time); $3,474/3 credits (out of state, part time)
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Delivery Format: On campus
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,014
Out-of-state
$19,374
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
4,169
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

FAQ About Cybersecurity Master's Degree Programs


What kind of degree do you need for cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity professionals come from diverse academic backgrounds. However, the field's highest-paying jobs, such as cybersecurity engineer and information security manager, often go to candidates with advanced education, such as master's degrees.

What is the best degree for cybersecurity?

Most employers require a bachelor's degree for cybersecurity roles. However, bachelor's graduates may find that a master's degree can open up even more career opportunities and higher salaries in the field.

Is it worth doing a master's in cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity offers one of the fastest-growing, highest-paying careers available. Professionals may need master's degrees to compete for the most lucrative cybersecurity jobs.

How much does an MS in cybersecurity graduate make?

The cybersecurity field offers many lucrative careers. As of November 2022, Payscale reports that professionals with a master's degree in cybersecurity earned an average annual salary of $91,000. Cybersecurity engineers and information security managers can make even more.

Recommended Reading

Take the next step toward your future.

Discover programs you’re interested in and take charge of your education.