Cybersecurity professionals use complex systems to identify technological security threats. Their duties may include monitoring individual security on a personal device or handling national security on large, mission-critical networks. With the recent uptick in demand for qualified cybersecurity specialists, earning a master's in cybersecurity offers increased overall value.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects rapid, substantial growth for jobs in information security analysis over the coming years. By 2021, experts predict that 3.5 million jobs in cybersecurity will be available, but unfilled. The industry needs qualified, skilled professionals, making right now a great time to earn a cybersecurity master's degree.
Keep reading to learn more about how to earn your master's in cybersecurity online and explore our ranking of affordable, accredited programs.
Top 10 Master's in Cybersecurity Programs
|1||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD|
|2||University of Dallas||Irving, TX|
|3||Lewis University||Romeoville, IL|
|4||University of Delaware||Newark, DE|
|5||Drexel University||Philadelphia, PA|
|6||New York University||New York, NY|
|7||Champlain College||Burlington, VT|
|8||Syracuse University||Syracuse, NY|
|9||Robert Morris University||Moon Township, PA|
|10||Webster University||St. Louis, MO|
What the Best Online Cybersecurity Master's Programs Have in Common
Like every college experience, cybersecurity programs vary between schools and programs. 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 NSA Center of Academic Excellence Designation
- The National Security Agency (NSA) sponsors two types of awards for excellence in cybersecurity programs: one 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 learn on their own schedule and complete their degree at their own pace. Strong cybersecurity programs show evidence of high retention and graduation rates, and some enroll a high percentage of online students.
Top Schools With Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs for 2020
Earning a master's in cybersecurity online prepares learners for advanced careers in a rapidly growing, in-demand industry. This guide ranks the best cybersecurity programs based on a variety of important factors, including affordability, flexibility, and overall program appeal. These rankings offer prospective students some insight into the top programs in the field and provide a framework for choosing the right program.
How We Rank Cybersecurity Programs
Want to know how we create our rankings? We assess schools based on academic quality, affordability, and online flexibility.
Affordability (20% of total score)
Program Appeal (60% of total score)
Online Flexibility (20% of total score)
Johns Hopkins University
As the nation's first research college, Johns Hopkins sustains a stellar reputation for rigorous academics, research, and teaching. The Whiting School of Engineering features an Engineering for Professionals program, which administers fully online and hybrid programs for learners to complete anywhere in the world.
The 10-course MS in cybersecurity, through a fully online or hybrid curriculum, trains security professionals to thwart attacks on information systems. The program offers tracks in analysis, networks, and systems. All students complete three foundation courses in cryptology, algorithms, and information assurance before advancing to a specialization. Each track requires 3-5 courses, and learners choose from a portfolio of options.
Analysis track enrollees may study quantum computation, intrusion detection, and reverse engineering and vulnerability analysis. Networks track learners study network programming, protocol design and simulation, web security, and other subjects. The systems track develops cybersecurity professionals to become adept in operating systems, object-oriented analysis and design, modeling and simulation of complex systems, and related topics.
Learners may select up to two elective courses. While faculty members deliver most courses online, some classes may require on-campus sessions. Admission to this master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and prerequisite coursework in calculus, a mathematics course such as linear algebra, and Java or C++. Including optional GRE scores bolsters candidates' applications.
University of Dallas
This private college in Texas offers programs aligned with Catholic values. The Gupta College of Business creates competent and responsible business leaders, including in technology-related fields such as cybersecurity.
Experienced industry professionals teach the MS in cybersecurity, which prepares enrollees to become skilled in digital forensics, cyberdefense, and penetration testing. This degree covers the eight areas that cybersecurity workers must master to qualify as certified information systems security professionals.
This 30-credit online master's in cybersecurity covers data protection, compliance, operational cybersecurity management, digital forensics, and other topics. During a required strategic security practicum, students complete an exercise in a simulated cybersecurity management role to demonstrate their mastery of course concepts.
Participants can further their professional development and build their network through organizations such as InfraGard, ISACA North Texas Chapter, and the Information Systems Security Association (North Texas Chapter). Once learners complete this master's in cybersecurity, they receive a digital badge from UD verifying their talents on their LinkedIn account and their CV.
Enrollees complete the degree in 1-2 years. All learners pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 2.0 GPA and prerequisite courses in marketing, cybersecurity, and management. Optional GMAT or GRE scores can bolster candidates' applications.
This Catholic college in Illinois delivers degrees to 7,000 students in multiple locations and online. The college emphasizes small class sizes that provide learners with individualized attention. The 33- to 51-credit MS in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity teaches enrollees how to investigate cyberthreats and design software to combat intrusions.
The degree consists of coursework, research projects, and a master's thesis that students complete in just one year. Degree-seekers complete 33 credits in cybersecurity essentials, network security, application security, and related topics. An encryption and authentication course explores contemporary cryptologic concepts and principles.
Nine elective credits give learners added flexibility to pursue other topics of interest. Degree-seekers develop projects for practical experience in their professional areas of interest, including penetration testing, network forensics, and reverse engineering. Participants use their knowledge of research design and methodology to conduct computer science research and present thesis projects to faculty and peers. The curriculum develops computer engineers with advanced creative abilities and problem-solving skills.
All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission to the online master's in cybersecurity requires a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or related major, along with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Learners without a computer science degree or related background can still enroll if they complete up to six additional courses.
University of Delaware
Through eight distinctive colleges, UD offers an affordable public education rich with the academic rigor you can expect from one of the nation's oldest colleges. The school offers more than 300 programs spanning many diverse disciplines. UD enjoys standing as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, as designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
The 30-credit MS in cybersecurity program maintains partnerships with state agencies, federal agencies, and companies in the private sector. The program ideally suits those with a background in engineering, computer science, or related fields. Students can complete the curriculum in as little as two years.
Degree-seekers learn from active practitioners and researchers with experience in the private sector and the military. Coursework examines digital forensics, test and reverse engineering, system hardening and protection, and applied cryptography. A smart grid course analyzes infrastructure technologies, their applications, and implications for electric utilities. Data mining courses offer learners practical experience in applying search engine technologies.
Faculty deliver this master's in cybersecurity using seven-week courses. All students in the MS pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or a related field; a minimum 3.0 GPA; and a high level of proficiency in a programming language such as C++, Java, or Python.
Drexel develops educational programs for learners who need the rigor and flexibility to advance in their education and profession while maintaining other obligations. Students interested in the cybersecurity profession can earn a degree from Drexel, a college designated a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency.
The 45-quarter-credit MS in cybersecurity blends a strong business education with technical competence in computer networking, mathematics, and other areas. The curriculum requires four courses in cybersecurity, information ethics, information policy, and security engineering. Each student uses 24 quarter credits to complete a computer science, electrical and computer engineering, or information science track.
The information science track allows learners to choose from eight courses, including data mining, information architecture, information forensics, and applied artificial intelligence. Unlike many institutions, Drexel allows learners to add a minor to this master's in cybersecurity, thereby further enhancing each enrollee's skills and marketability. The MS cultivates competencies that graduates can apply in positions with the government, military, and private sectors.
Students receive access to the career center, writing center, and an extensive library collection. For learners without a background in cybersecurity, Drexel provides an online post-baccalaureate certificate in computer science that develops foundational knowledge in information technology that learners can transfer to the MS. All enrollees pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Military personnel and Drexel alumni pay special rates. Admission requires school transcripts and GRE scores.
New York University
NYU opened its doors in 1831 to become one of the world's most prominent and respected research colleges. The Tandon School of Engineering enjoys a stellar reputation as one of the nation's top schools for applied sciences, engineering, technology, and management.
Tandon Online provides anytime, anywhere learning that gives learners access to the same distinguished faculty as on-campus programs. Tandon maintains its designation as a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations and Cyber Defense Research. The cybersecurity program at Tandon Online teaches students how to translate theory and research into practical solutions.
The MS in cybersecurity requires 30 credits, including a computer science core. A 12-credit security component examines network security; applied cryptography; application security; and information, security, and privacy.
With nine electives, learners pursue training in related areas such as machine learning and digital forensics. They may also pursue courses from other departments. For further professional development, students receive access to the National Science Foundation-funded Offensive Security, Incident Response, and Internet Security laboratory. Through the NYU Cyber Fellows program, a partnership with NYU and the New York City Cyber Command, enrollees can receive up to a 75% tuition discount.
NYU allows students to transfer select courses with a minimum "B" grade. Admission to the master's in cybersecurity requires an aptitude for calculus, one year of university-level science, a programming language (preferably C++), and GRE scores.
For more than 30 years, Champlain has administered online programs that offer rigorous academics and the support learners need to succeed. Champlain's accolades include designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.
The Vermont-based college offers a fully online MS in digital forensics. The degree's 30 credits develop a comprehensive portfolio of industry-specific competencies in digital forensic science, digital investigations, operating system analysis, malware analysis, and other areas. With elective credits, enrollees can acquire training in malware analysis, digital forensics, encryption, and more.
Learners receive practical experience by completing assignments in state-of-the-art virtual labs. Through the capstone thesis project, participants research ways to improve forensic investigations. Students earn digital forensic science graduate certificates even before they complete this online master's in cybersecurity. Graduates enter the workforce able to assess the legal issues that impact digital forensics; conduct forensic analysis of digital devices; and develop software tools for data processing, manipulation, and analysis.
Degree-seekers should expect to spend about 15-20 hours a week completing this program. The MS in digital forensics features eight-week sessions. All enrollees pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency. Active-duty military, National Guard, and Reserve students receive a steep tuition discount. Admission to the online master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 2.5 GPA, and the school does not ask for GRE or GMAT scores.
Established in 1870, Syracuse is a private college located in Upstate New York. Syracuse offers a curriculum that blends liberal arts and professional studies. The College of Engineering and Computer Science designs master's programs steeped in rigorous academics, cutting-edge research, and multidisciplinary collaborative experiences.
The MS in cybersecurity continues that tradition with a curriculum that learners complete as part of a cohort in just 15 months. The degree includes a 15-credit core and technical electives. Students complete core courses such as computer security, internet security, and assurance foundations. Electives provide learners with technical expertise in biometrics and machine learning.
The program features live class sessions that facilitate discussions in real time. Degree-seekers supplement virtual learning with in-person immersions that encourage collaboration between peers and faculty. Participants attend workshops and learn from industry experts during these immersions. Engineering enrollees receive a WeWork Global Access membership.
Participants also receive access to LinkedIn Premium Career, with tools such as LinkedIn learning courses, interview preparation, and InMail communication with hiring managers. All students in the online master's in cybersecurity pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of residency.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA; a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field; and knowledge of data structures, discrete mathematics, and a programming language such as C or C++. The school waives GRE scores for qualified applicants.
Robert Morris University
RMU has evolved from a Pennsylvania accountancy school to a college with top-ranked programs in various disciplines. Learners receive the best of both worlds at RMU: the rigor of a big research college in a small-college atmosphere. RMU offers 27 online degrees, including the MS in cybersecurity and information assurance. The fully online curriculum mirrors the on-campus version of the degree.
This 30-credit curriculum develops learners' proficiencies in areas such as hardware and operating systems, database management systems, computer network security, and information technology security and assurance. Courses give learners practical expertise in how to conduct ethical hacking and penetration testing to identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities. A secure programming class teaches enrollees how to build programs without the security lapses sometimes caused by software developers.
Each learner demonstrates their level of professional competence and research skills during a capstone research project, research report, or portfolio-based internship experience. Enrollees can also prepare for professional security certifications, such as certified information systems security professional or certified information security manager.
Graduates leave the program knowledgeable about how to identify threats to information security, develop information security policies, and deploy tools and techniques to combat information security threats. Admission requires completion of coursework in a computer language, such as C++ or Java, with a minimum "C" grade.
Webster specializes in global, personalized educational programming. Once a college for women, Webster now offers a comprehensive catalog of degrees in a coeducational setting. The Missouri-based institution operates a main campus in Webster Groves, locations around the world, and an online platform.
Webster's 36-credit MS in cybersecurity prepares cybersecurity professionals to become skilled in mounting an effective defense against cyberintrusions by applying their knowledge in digital forensics, intelligence and counterintelligence, and pre-emptive operations.
The online curriculum requires a seven-course core that examines cybersecurity communications, cybersecurity infrastructures, and encryption methods and techniques. Degree-seekers use four elective courses to choose from options such as social engineering or cybersecurity in cloud computing.
A course focused on cybersecurity intelligence and counterintelligence examines the techniques professionals use to evade, trick, or trap parties looking to steal or negatively hamper access to critical information. An internship gives learners experience under the supervision of a qualified professional in a cybersecurity-related setting. In addition to professional cybersecurity duties, internship participants complete written assignments that document their competencies.
Each enrollee completes the MS in cybersecurity with a capstone course requiring a research paper or team project. With additional coursework, each learner can build on their expertise by pursuing technical and nontechnical certificates.
Online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency, and military personnel enjoy steep tuition discounts. Admission to this online master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants should also possess experience with math, computer systems, digital networks, and similar topics.
Valpo, a Lutheran institution in Indiana with academic programs grounded in liberal arts and professional training, operates the Center For Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Education. This center studies the latest methods and techniques for cyberattack prevention and counterattacks. Degree-seekers become skilled technologists able to address these threats through an online graduate program taught by experts.
The 36-credit MS in cybersecurity allows learners to build a curriculum that addresses their areas of interest. Faculty members emphasize practical learning experiences. Students address security issues and conduct cyberoperations through a curriculum that fosters collaboration and teamwork. A four-course core examines information security; IT risk management; technology, law, and society; and security and administration of systems in a Windows or Linux environment.
Degree-seekers design the rest of this online master's in cybersecurity with elective credits. They choose skills they want to acquire from options such as reverse program engineering, cyberwelfare, data mining, and secure software development. Degree-seekers who pursue certification as certified information systems security professionals receive credit toward their degree.
Participants choose whether to conclude this MS in cybersecurity with an internship or research project. Coursework integrates emerging technologies to prepare learners for an evolving technological landscape.
Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least a minor in computer science, engineering, or a related field. Those without a suitable background may need to complete a bridge semester of prerequisite coursework.
University of Southern California
USC's distinguished programs prepare researchers to become considered experts in their disciplines. The school's Viterbi School of Engineering ranks among the nation's elite engineering colleges. The MS in cybersecurity engineering continues this tradition of excellence by preparing learners to develop, engineer, and manage secure information systems. The MS also equips learners with the foundation necessary for doctoral study in information security.
The degree's format allows degree-seekers to engage with their on-campus counterparts. The curriculum requires 28 units, of which four required courses focus on security systems, computer systems assurance, security and privacy in informatics, and policy for information security.
Enrollees supplement these courses with electives such as applied cryptography and computer forensics. One elective course focuses on how information security professionals can integrate physical and cybersecurity for the oil and gas sector. Learners put their knowledge to use by engaging in lab simulations designed by information security experts.
With full-time enrollment, students can complete this master's in cybersecurity in 18-24 months, while part-timers typically graduate in 3.5 years. All participants pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency. Admission requirements include GRE scores and a bachelor's in computer science, electrical engineering, or a related field. The program starts in mid-August.
Located in Missouri, Maryville is a private college with a 10,000-student enrollment, more than half of whom are virtual learners. The John E. Simon School of Business administers the fully online MS in cybersecurity. The degree provides a well-rounded curriculum that gives degree-seekers a competitive advantage in the professional marketplace.
Faculty -- who often still work in cybersecurity -- use lectures, case studies, and practical experiences to create expert-level cybersecurity professionals in just 12 months. Students develop state-of-the-art techniques in cybersecurity while taking business and computer engineering courses. The 30-credit curriculum of the master's in cybersecurity examines pen testing, network security, forensic examination and analysis, mobile device hacking and forensics, and other topics.
Learners hone their skills in the Maryville Virtual Lab, a training ground recognized by Apple for innovation. They also receive access to Maryville's Cyber Fusion Center, a cybersecurity operations facility that provides services to schools and nonprofits.
The capstone for the master's in cybersecurity focuses on legal aspects of privacy and compliance. The program prepares learners to sit for certification exams such as certified ethical hacker, EnCase certified examiner, and certified information systems security professional.
Maryville's support services include help from online life coaches who assist learners with academic success strategies and other matters. The personal counseling department goes a step further by offering crisis assistance, guided meditation recordings, and other mental health resources. Through Maryville's career services department, participants receive access to internship opportunities. Admission to the MS in cybersecurity requires all school transcripts.
University of Arizona
UArizona offers online degrees through its growing virtual college. The 33-credit MS in cybersecurity, administered by the college of management and college of engineering, offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with two tracks: information systems and physical systems. The department has received designated status as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.
Both tracks require a common core covering topics such as data mining, computer networks, and systems cybersecurity engineering. The 21-unit information systems track cultivates technologists proficient in cyberthreat intelligence, systems security management, and other areas. The physical systems track focuses more on the systems engineering process, machine learning, and information security and research.
Students supplement lectures with weekly assignments, projects, labs, and other online activities. Upon completion of this degree, participants can earn continuing professional units for certifications such as certified information systems security professional and information systems security architecture professional. Graduates leave the program equipped to perform vulnerability testing, conduct forensic investigations, and use data analytics to protect information systems.
This cybersecurity degree program features eight- and 16-week sessions, depending on the track. Online learners never pay out-of-state tuition at UArizona. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and at least two years of technical work experience; relevant industry certification; or a major in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or another relevant field. The school offers six start terms per year.
University of Rhode Island
URI offers 76 graduate programs, including several online options. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designate URI as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and Research.
The 36-credit professional science master's in cybersecurity allows professionals to continue their education without sacrificing their employment. Enrollees complete the fully online degree around their schedules by using on-demand video lectures and applying their learning to projects in cloud-based labs. Those with limited technical backgrounds begin the cybersecurity degree with a self-paced course that acquaints them with the fundamentals of the field.
All students complete a core that examines information assurance, network and systems security, and organizational decision-making in a cybersecurity work environment. A five-course module focuses on security and forensics response. Faculty use these courses to empower professionals with advanced techniques in digital forensics, incident response, and penetration testing. A course on intrusion detection and defense allows learners to investigate the most up-to-date research and apply lessons through case studies.
Degree-seekers in this master's in cybersecurity continue to accumulate experience through internships at partner organizations. Some learners' existing employment may qualify to fulfill the professional experience requirement. All enrollees pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission requires a bachelor's in IT or related field and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The school does not require GRE scores.
DeSales is a medium-sized Catholic college located in Pennsylvania. Students receive a rigorous education rooted in the school's Salesian spiritual values. The fully online master of criminal justice with a focus in digital forensics takes a different approach to cybersecurity by blending criminology coursework with digital forensics theories and applications.
The 30-credit curriculum develops professionals skilled in the use of digital technology to investigate cybercrimes. Faculty members teach degree-seekers about criminological theory and practice through courses in policing in America, ethics in criminal justice, and research methods and evaluation.
The four-course concentration trains criminal justice professionals to become efficient in collecting cybercrime evidence. Students learn how to conduct online crime investigations by using methods such as email tracing, log analysis, and other techniques. The program culminates in a master's thesis, a 300-hour internship at a relevant agency, or an in-depth policy paper that uses research to address an agency challenge.
Graduates leave the program able to use the latest forensic tools and encryption techniques. Students can complete this degree on a full- or part-time basis. All enrollees pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Criminal justice professionals receive a 20% tuition discount when they enroll in this online master's in cybersecurity. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, but DeSales does not request GRE scores.
Situated in Central New York, UC is a private college that began offering graduate programs in 1998. This college holds a designation from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education. The MS in cybersecurity gives learners technical skills that they can apply immediately to the workforce. The program also prepares students for certifications such as certified information systems security professional and certified forensic computer examiner.
Students can complete this fully online, 30-credit cybersecurity degree in just two years if they take two classes per 16-week term. Students learn from experts in intelligence, information assurance, and related fields. The curriculum allows customization through five specializations: computer forensics, cyberoperations, electronic crime, intelligence, and malware analysis.
All enrollees complete a common core that develops their expertise in cybercrime investigations and national security technologies and approaches. Before they move on to their 12-credit specialization, learners must participate in an on-campus or online virtual cybersecurity residency for two days.
Those who choose the intelligence specialization focus on terrorism, cybersurveillance, and counterintelligence. The electronic crime specialization focuses on fraud management within organizations. The other three specializations focus on different niches in cybersecurity. All degree-seekers apply their learning and skills in a cybersecurity research project in their specialization.
All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and work experience in information technology, computer science, or a related field.
Located in Virginia Beach, Regent creates academic programs that promote Christian leadership. This university operates a virtual college that educates many of the school's more than 10,000 students. The 30-credit MS in cybersecurity provides an education steeped in technical expertise and Christian values. The program ideally suits degree-seekers with strong ethics and analytical skills, along with those transitioning from the military.
The 30-credit curriculum offers tracks in cybersecurity management and cybersecurity policy. Both tracks share a common core of courses that develop technical competencies in internet and network security, digital systems design and forensics, cybersecurity compliance, and other topics. Students use nine credits to complete their concentration coursework.
Participants receive the training necessary to qualify for positions as cybersecurity policy specialists, cybersecurity network analysts, and compliance analysts. Faculty use eight-week sessions to deliver the online master's in cybersecurity. Student resources at Regent include access to the career management office and mental health counseling. Regent is one of the nation's most affordable private Christian colleges.
This military-friendly school honors veterans and servicemembers with a steep tuition discount. All other enrollees pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission to the MS in cybersecurity requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and a background in cybersecurity, computer science, or systems technology.
University of the Cumberlands
Cumberlands was founded by Baptist ministers to prepare servant leaders. Located near the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, Cumberlands continues to offer educational programs that emphasize rigor and Christian leadership through service. The school now reaches learners around the world through distance learning.
The MS in digital forensics equips students with advanced technical skills to fight cybercrime. The program enrolls degree-seekers already working in the field to develop their expertise in the investigation of cybercrime, data recovery, and cyberforensics. The curriculum requires 31 credits that cover investigation and triage; digital forensics evidence; laws, regulations, investigations, and compliance; and three other topics.
Nine-credit specializations in cybersecurity and criminal justice help learners deepen their knowledge in each domain. A blockchain elective examines the structures of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and multi-chain blockchain platforms. During a capstone digital forensics project, students simulate a cybersecurity incident, implement a response plan, and report data during a mock attorney meeting.
Enrollees receive hands-on training when they complete an internship at a firm or conduct a project in collaboration with faculty. Employment in an area that relates to the program may fulfill the practicum requirement. Cumberland holds designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.
All students pay the same affordable tuition rate. Admission to the master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 2.5 GPA.
University of San Diego
This private Catholic college opens the door to all faiths, providing students with an education that ranks among the best in the nation. The university operates the Center for CyberSecurity Engineering and Technology, which develops programs and training that address critical threats to information systems. The fully online MS in cybersecurity operations and leadership (MS-CSOL) trains professionals who can manage people, resources, and technical processes.
The 31-unit curriculum enrolls those already working in the IT field, as well as learners with and without cybersecurity industry experience. In just 20 months, enrollees develop technical expertise and acquire the leadership skills necessary for career advancement. Learners study areas such as applied cryptography, secure systems architecture, cyberintelligence, and secure software design and development. The program also teaches degree-seekers how to deploy a team to respond to network breaches.
At the end of the program, each student completes a project that synthesizes principles and concepts of the field. Enrollees culminate the capstone with an e-portfolio that showcases their expertise and serves as an invaluable marketing tool for potential employers. USD works with stakeholders in cybersecurity to keep the program up to date and to place graduates in employment.
The cybersecurity degree follows seven-week courses. USD enrollees pay affordable tuition rates, and MS-CSOL students can access scholarship opportunities to cut down on program costs. Admission to the online master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores.
University of California, Berkeley
Some of the brightest minds from around the globe converge at Berkeley to make significant contributions to the world. Berkeley's wealth of accomplishments spans disciplines, including advances in gene editing and innovations in computer-aided circuit design.
Learners interested in making their mark in information assurance receive advanced training in the school of information's master of information and cybersecurity. Enrollees acquire core technical skills by studying the behavioral, economic, and legal impacts of cybersecurity. This master's in cybersecurity requires nine courses, which students can complete in just 20 months. Participants study secure coding, cryptography, operating system security, and other topics.
A course on privacy engineering examines the history of privacy regulations and delves into threat-specific privacy frameworks. Enrollees engage in an immersion on campus in Berkeley and cap the program with a semester-long project that they complete with peers.
The program features live classes, personal coaching, and access to industry connections. Enrollees gain access to the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, a research hub, and an extensive global network. Participants also get to know business professionals in the San Francisco Bay area's technology hub. All degree-seekers in the online master's in cybersecurity pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
The admissions department considers applicants' academic history, work experience, and GRE/GMAT scores.
La Salle University
Founded in 1863 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, La Salle offers educational programs honoring its Lasallian Catholic heritage. La Salle offers an MS in cybersecurity designed for professionals with a background in information technology, computer science, business administration, or criminal justice. The fully online curriculum features synchronous and asynchronous courses.
Students complete 30 credits that examine technical aspects of information assurance, such as network security, information security, computer and internet fraud, and digital computer forensics. A course on cybercrime, cyberwarfare, and cyberespionage explores differences between cyberthreats. Participants use case studies to determine threats and develop strategies to reduce breaches.
Enrollees develop leadership skills through a course that requires self-evaluation of their management style, along with feedback from coworkers and peers. Each student completes a capstone that applies their learning in a research project or experiential learning activity. This project culminates with an oral presentation and a written report outlining the degree-seeker's accomplishments.
Full-time enrollees complete at least six credits each term. Learners focus on one eight-week course at a time and complete the MS in cybersecurity in under 24 months. Online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission to the online master's in cybersecurity requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in a major such as management science, electrical engineering, or computer science. The program enrolls degree-seekers in the fall, spring, and summer.
Stevenson serves about 2,700 enrollees, with about 30% electing to study online. The Maryland school, based in Owings Mills, emphasizes programming that provides learners with career training. Degree-seekers study in classrooms with a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio that fosters personalized learning.
One of Stevenson's newer programs, the MS in cybersecurity and digital forensics, trains professionals to become skilled in collecting the evidence needed to initiate prosecutions and secure convictions for cybercrime. The curriculum covers topics such as network penetration testing, Windows forensic examinations, mock intrusion and response, and file systems forensic analysis.
Learners receive remote access to a virtual lab where they use state-of-the-art forensic technology to earn practical experience. Lab activities include simulations of electronic thefts and cyberattacks. Students learn from faculty with extensive real-world experience in the field. Upon completion of the online master's in cybersecurity, graduates qualify for careers as cybersecurity engineers, cybersecurity analysts, and network architects.
Enrollees can begin planning for their career through Stevenson's 24/7 Career Connections service, which provides learners and graduates with job postings from numerous employers. Stevenson offers a reduced tuition rate to students at partner colleges around the state and other organizations. All other students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of where they live. Admission to the program requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in a technical or quantitative major or related professional work experience.
The Sisters of Mercy founded this college in 1950. Located in the New York City area, the college offers more than 90 programs administered through five schools. In addition to campuses in Dobbs Ferry, the Bronx, Yorktown Heights, and Manhattan, Mercy operates a robust virtual college. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designate Mercy a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
Mercy offers a 30-credit MS in cybersecurity to prepare professionals who can develop solutions to protect private data and infrastructure. The curriculum also prepares learners for professional certifications, such as the certified information system security professional credential. At the beginning of the program, all enrollees refresh their knowledge with a cybersecurity science course.
The rest of the curriculum covers topics such as forensic computing, distributed database/security, and wireless network and security. A series of courses focuses exclusively on the legal and managerial aspects of cybersecurity. Each degree-seeker chooses whether to conclude the cybersecurity program with a thesis or master's project.
All students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and foundational coursework in computer networking and database management. Applicants with a degree in a non-technical major may receive admission to the regular program if they complete a set of prerequisite courses in statistics, local area networks, and cryptography.
This private nonprofit college located in Nebraska offers a comprehensive catalog of fully online degrees. BU emphasizes career-focused programs and affordability. The university received the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity designation from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. BU's 36-credit MS in cybersecurity enrolls entry-level professionals who want to acquire or advance skills in the cybersecurity domain.
The core curriculum examines topics such as computer forensics, information security management, security architecture and design, and risk management. An ethical hacking course teaches students offensive and defensive techniques that professionals use to protect cyberassets. Learners develop mastery in techniques such as penetration testing, application vulnerability scanning, and intrusion detection and response.
With nine elective credits, degree-seekers can pursue additional training in areas such as white-collar crime and information warfare. Those interested in the healthcare field can take an elective that delves into the application of health information technology to improve patient outcomes.
BU offers an online accelerated cohort option for experienced professionals with work experience and current security certification in IT, management information systems, or information security. Whether they study on campus or online, all students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Each applicant to the master's in cybersecurity must have a minimum 2.5 GPA in their most recent 60 credits of coursework.
What Is a Master's in Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity master's programs emphasize the systems and technology used in cyberdefense and operations. This differs from information security and information technology, as IT explores the use and storage of information using technology, whereas cybersecurity focuses on methods for securing computers, networks, and other technology from attack or misuse. However, some cybersecurity programs offer concentrations in IT and other closely related fields, as these topics overlap in many ways.
Cybersecurity master's programs prepare students to take on more advanced roles in the field and include classes in specialized topics, such as applied cryptology. These programs vary in length depending on credit requirements. Typically, students can earn a master's in cybersecurity in 1-3 years.
Master's in cybersecurity programs often vary in course and credit requirements, but many require 30-45 credits. Students complete core requirements followed by courses in their chosen emphasis or concentration.
Many programs offer online students in-state or flat-rate tuition, and some students may incur lower costs by completing their degree at an accelerated pace.
MS in Cybersecurity Admission Requirements
Admission requirements for MS in cybersecurity programs vary, but many programs maintain similar admission standards and look for common characteristics among applicants.
Generally, master's programs prefer applicants who already hold a bachelor's degree. Cybersecurity programs may look for applicants with a background in computer science or experience with programming and the basic elements of cybersecurity. Some programs admit applicants without a background in computer science or cybersecurity, but typically require those students to complete prerequisite courses.
Some programs require applicants to submit GRE scores. Many programs only admit applicants with certain GPA scores; for instance, some top programs require candidates to have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Other programs consider applicants with a lower cumulative average.
Graduate programs often require other application materials, such as letters of recommendation or evidence of work experience in the field. Holding a certificate or degree in the field may offer applicants an advantage.
Typical MS in Cybersecurity Online Courses
Cybersecurity master's programs cover concrete skills, analysis, critical thinking, and theory. Through coursework, students apply concepts and theoretical knowledge to real-world, hands-on cybersecurity systems and threat scenarios.
Core courses in these programs typically examine topics such as internet security, information security, algorithms, and engineering security systems. Depending on each student's chosen concentration, they may then pursue specialized courses in areas such as data mining, software modeling, programming, and information systems.
Master's programs in cybersecurity may also require a capstone course, practicum, or thesis.
The list below describes some common offerings in MS in cybersecurity programs. Keep in mind that course content varies from school to school.
Cyberlaw and Ethics
This course explores the legal aspects of online commerce and business. Students explore issues in digital property and information, with a focus on how the law protects private data and online transactions.
This course builds upon foundational knowledge of computer security, exploring different types of computer security systems and how they function. Students learn about authentication processes, access control, viruses, and potential software vulnerabilities.
In addition to exploring techniques for building secure networks, students in this course also examine various security protocols and security systems. Students learn how to conduct a vulnerability assessment and identify weak areas vulnerable to breaches.
Jobs for MS in Cybersecurity Graduates
Fortunately, the cybersecurity field continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to some estimates, the number of job openings in cybersecurity greatly surpasses the number of qualified professionals, creating a critical shortage in workers. Data from The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows a 33% increase in new cybersecurity programs, and Burning Glass found that job postings in the field increased by 94% in less than a decade.
Careers in cybersecurity often provide highly competitive salaries. For instance, information security analysts earn a median salary of $99,730. Earning advanced degrees and certifications may increase earning potential. The overall outlook for the majority of careers in cybersecurity remains lucrative and positive.
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts examine an organization's networks and computer systems to identify potential vulnerabilities. These analysts create defense systems for information systems and networks using tools such as firewalls, encryption, and security software. Employers in this field may look for applicants with a graduate degree and experience in the field.
Job Outlook: 32% growth 2018-2028
Median Annual Salary: $99,730
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists develop new computing and information technology and find new ways to apply existing technology to solve problems. They may design or improve upon computer hardware or software. These scientists typically hold at least a master's degree.
Job Outlook: 16% growth 2018-2028
Median Annual Salary: $122,840
Computer Network Architects
Computer network architects design and implement networking systems for businesses and organizations. They design management systems for these networks and advise clients on best practices for protecting network data communication. They may work as independent contractors or work for businesses as network professionals.
Job Outlook: 5% growth 2018-2028
Median Annual Salary: $112,690
Computer Systems Analysts
Computer systems analysts look at an organization's network system and examine IT needs and functions. They stay up-to-date on new technology and computer systems and present upgrades to management, identifying the benefits of implementing those systems.
Job Outlook: 9% growth 2018-2028
Median Annual Salary: $90,920
Network and Computer Systems Administrators
Network and computer systems administrators oversee all IT-related functions within a business or organization. They manage the network, security, and information technology within the company and may supervise employees in those areas. They install new hardware and software systems, monitor security, and help employees use new programs and devices.
Job Outlook: 5% growth 2018-2028
Median Annual Salary: $83,510
How to Find the Right Online Master's Cybersecurity Program
Schools in our top 25 boast outstanding credentials. They hold NSA CAE designations, they have great professors, and they're concerned with real-world challenges. When making a decision, you may also consider factors such as:
Remember, too, that an online master's in cybersecurity is just one option. This ranking does not include schools that only offer online cybersecurity graduate certificates. Visit our directory of online certificate programs for alternative ideas.
Why Get Your Master's in Cybersecurity Online?
More and more, students turn to online options to earn their degrees. Earning a degree online offers a great deal of flexibility for learners, particularly those with personal and professional obligations that make traditional on-campus programs difficult. Online programs often allow students the option to complete all work asynchronously and move through course requirements at their own pace.
Earning a master's in cybersecurity online offers even more advantages specific to this field. For instance, students practicing skills in cybersecurity can do so from their own computers and devices. Students already working in the field may find that online courses in cybersecurity help them grow and prepare to take on more professional responsibilities.
Prospective online learners should consider their lifestyle when deciding whether online learning will suit their needs. Distance learners must possess strong skills in time management and organization. They must also commit a certain amount of hours per week to school work and studying, in addition to their other commitments.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who may want to earn a cybersecurity master's degree?
- A degree in cybersecurity can lead to a fulfilling, lucrative career in fields such as business, homeland security, and forensics. Individuals with a background or interest in information technology, computer systems, and related topics can gain insights into how to keep data safe.
- Why should you earn a master's in cybersecurity?
- By earning an advanced degree, entry-level cybersecurity professionals enhance their existing knowledge and skills and can advance to leadership roles with higher earning potential. An online master's in cybersecurity covers advanced topics including digital forensics, ethical hacking, and risk management.
- What are a few career paths one may take with an MS in cybersecurity?
- Opportunities for individuals with a master's degree in cybersecurity include computer and information systems manager, cybersecurity consultant, and information security analyst. The BLS projects a 32% job growth rate for information security analysts from 2018-2028, indicating strong employment potential in the field.
- How long does it take to earn a master's in cybersecurity?
- Students can complete a traditional cybersecurity master's degree in two years. Over four semesters, learners complete 30-36 credits. Online master's programs may offer opportunities to earn a degree on an accelerated schedule. Individuals with extensive experience and a strong background in cybersecurity can earn an accelerated master's degree in as few as 18 months.
- What are some skills that may be learned in a cybersecurity master's program?
- A master's in cybersecurity trains students to identify, analyze, prevent, and combat electronic security breaches and threats. Students may find opportunities to specialize in computer and network security, governance and compliance, or information technology auditing. Learners also build transferable research, analytical, and problem-solving skills.