Like every college experience, cybersecurity programs vary between schools. However, despite their differences, many top schools and cybersecurity programs share similar characteristics. The list below includes some of these commonalities.
- They Are Accredited: Accreditation provides assurance that a school offers a high-quality education and meets established standards for instruction and curriculum. Choosing an accredited program should be a top priority for prospective students; federal financial aid requires enrollment in an accredited institution, and future employers typically seek graduates from accredited programs. Institutions may hold regional or national accreditation, and some programs may also hold programmatic accreditation. Our rankings only feature accredited programs.
- They Hold National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence Designation: The NSA sponsors two types of awards for excellence in cybersecurity programs: a designation in cyberdefense and one in cyberoperations. To earn this distinguished credential, programs must meet strict criteria for curriculum and focus areas. The designation highlights programs that feature special technology and techniques. These programs stand out to employers, since they provide crucial experience and training in cyberdefense and operations and prepare students for in-demand careers.
- They Are Affordable: Pursuing a master’s in cybersecurity can incur some steep costs. However, many of the top programs offer affordable, flexible options for students. Online master’s in cybersecurity programs sometimes allow enrollees to complete required coursework at an accelerated pace, which can lower overall costs. Some top programs also offer in-state tuition rates for all online learners. Online programs allow students to avoid on-campus costs such as commuting expenses, activity fees, and parking permits.
- They Provide Strong Online Programs: Many of the top cybersecurity schools offer strong, well-developed online programs. These programs may also provide a variety of specialization options. Several top programs provide students with the flexibility to attend lectures and complete coursework at their convenience. Strong cybersecurity programs show evidence of high retention and graduation rates, and some enroll a high percentage of online students.