Online Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

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Typical Admissions Requirements for Online Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Admission requirements are rarely the same between two different schools, and will vary depending on an institution's particular profile and selectiveness. One university may insist that incoming students will have previously completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science, while others may set this parameter a bit more broadly. While many universities require a 3.0 GPA to apply to their programs, a few may set their minimum even higher than this, to ensure that they only get a limited number of applications to sort.

Additionally, contrasts between different online master’s programs can be found in whether or not they require letters of recommendation, a GRE score, and language proficiency. A final major difference between programs can be found in their cost. Especially in distance education, where physical distance or campus amenities are no longer factored in, the cost of tuition can often be the deciding factor for students.

The following baseline requirements for admission will be found across the board, with little or no variation between different universities:

  • Completed bachelor’s degree
  • University transcripts
  • Application documents
  • CV

Courses in Online Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

As with admission requirements, there will be a bit of variance between different universities and their curricula. Especially in an incredibly fast-moving environment like cybersecurity, quality institutions will also make space for new or evolving material in their lesson plans. As an example, here are the three required “foundation” courses that students must complete as part of the program at Johns Hopkins University:

  • Cryptology
  • Foundations of Algorithms
  • Foundations of Information Assurance

After completing their foundation courses, or concurrently with them, students participating in the Johns Hopkins master in cybersecurity then have the choices among the following concentrations:

  • Analysis
  • Assured Autonomy
  • Networks
  • Systems

Program Accreditation for Online Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

Program accreditation for master’s in cybersecurity is fairly straightforward, as this is not a licensed profession or requires a certification. As such, the programs discussed on our list are accredited by the same bodies that accredit their hosting university. In the US, these are regional organizations, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Learning or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Prospective students should be careful to choose among fully accredited universities with a good working reputation. Although computer science has a reputation for being less focused on prestigious educational backgrounds than others, accreditation is also a means of measuring the overall quality of education and service that a school can offer. As distance learning students often do not have the opportunity to simply pop into an administration office the way that on-campus students can, choosing a university with a well-trained and responsive staff can be nearly as important as attending one with a great faculty.

Featured Online Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity

Michigan State University

Michigan State University offers an online degree program under the name “online master in science in cybercrime and digital investigation.” MSU’s program may be a great fit for students coming from a non-computer science background, as it is open to applicants who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields.

With its special emphasis on investigations, an online master's at MSU will be attractive to applicants interested in a future career in law enforcement. According to its website, the school partners with multiple government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security.

  • Location: East Lansing, Michigan
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $1,850 per credit

University of Tulsa

Oklahoma may not be the first state to come to mind when thinking about the world of tech and cybersecurity, but according to its own website, the University of Tulsa ranks with Harvard University in this realm.

Dedicated students can finish this program within 20 months, and can expect a curriculum that is 100 percent online with no hybrid or classroom components. The University of Tulsa does require a GRE score, but makes waivers available on a case-by-case basis.

  • Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Duration: 20 months or more
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $1,431 per credit hour

California State University San Marcos

CSUSM is a smaller California university whose online offerings are nevertheless extensive. The master’s of science in cybersecurity is one of the premier programs the university has made available through distance education. It recently ranked 7th on a Fortune Magazine list of the US’s best master’s programs in this category.

California State University San Marcos also has a close working relationship with the National Security Agency, making this an interesting option for prospective students interested in working in the defense sector.

  • Location: San Marcos, California
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Tuition: $31,350

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins has an international reputation for the quality of its medical school and attached hospitals, but it also has a sizable engineering school. The master of science in cybersecurity is offered through the university’s Whiting School of Engineering, and can be completed in ten discrete courses. Johns Hopkins does not require applicants to take the GRE or submit scores to apply to the program.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $4,920 per course

University of Nevada, Reno

The University of Nevada in Reno offers a master’s in cybersecurity with an outlook toward private industry. The university partners with private companies, and offers prospective students a fairly quick application process without a GRE requirement.

  • Location: Reno, Nevada
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $730 per credit

Western Governors University

Western Governors University is physically located in Utah, but offers a curriculum that is accessible across the world. WGU offers a fully online master’s in cybersecurity and information assurance, heavily geared towards careers in private industry.

As the title suggests, this program emphasizes data and information technology and boasts partnerships with large actors in the space, like Amazon Web Services.

  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Duration: 22 months or more
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Tuition: $4,295 per term

Jobs for Those With Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity

Because of the breadth of the field, cybersecurity experts can be found across the private and public sectors. Graduates of one of the programs listed above could just as easily find themselves employed at a forward-thinking start-up as working for one of the big national security organizations such as the NSA, FBI, or CIA.

With the ever-growing number of systems that are now connected to the web or to data centers worldwide, the need for cybersecurity experts should stay steady over the next few decades.

Become a Cybersecurity Analyst

As online threats grow and evolve, the need for people who can not only explain but counter these threats will grow as well. Analysts may work for themselves or for agencies, companies, or media organizations that have a particular interest or stake in cybersecurity.

Become a White Hat Hacker

So-called white hat hackers are trained cybersecurity professionals who emulate the roles of criminally minded hackers and try to find vulnerabilities in systems. White hat hackers may work for national security agencies, cybersecurity firms, or even software companies developing new tools.

Become an Instructor

As with most other qualifications at the graduate level, a master’s degree in cybersecurity can be a fantastic entry for individuals looking to get into the instruction and training side of the industry. This could mean a career in academia, teaching other students about higher-level cybersecurity, or training public or private sector employees.

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