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Online Information Systems Security Degree Programs

Learn about online information systems security degree programs and how you can learn to protect computer networks and information from hackers and other security threats. Read about how online programs are structured, topics you'll study, and get career information.

What Types of Online Degrees Are Available in Information Systems Security?

Degree programs in information systems security are offered entirely online at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. You can also find online diplomas as well as undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. This field - sometimes referred to as cyber security - focuses on protecting computer networks and important information from hackers and other security breaches.

Some programs at the undergraduate or graduate levels are designed to prepare you for certification exams, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential, Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) or CompTIA Security+ certification. Additionally, some master's programs are designed to prepare you for National Security Agency-approved certification for Information Systems Security Officers and Information Systems Security (INFOSEC) Professionals.

Program OptionsUndergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates offered online
Online Course StructureNo special requirements; courses typically presented asynchronously
Common CoursesComputer viruses, phishing, Trojan horses, identity theft, tunneling
Median Salary (2018) $98,350 (for all information security analysts
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 28% growth (for all information security analysts

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 

How Do I Participate in Online Programs?

Most online information systems security degree programs are presented asynchronously, allowing you to access your coursework at any time from anywhere that has an Internet connection. However, you are generally required to adhere to assignment deadlines and take scheduled exams. You'll access lectures and coursework online through the school's website or course management system. Although online programs generally require more self-direction, you'll still be able to talk with instructors and fellow students via e-mail, telephone, Web conference, discussion boards or Web chat, depending on the program.

What Will I Study?

Information systems security programs in general include topics such as Trojan horses and computer viruses, phishing, tunneling, identity theft and zombie computers. You'll learn to set up secure networks and servers and teach others to avoid security threats. Additionally, you'll learn to identify threats to network or computer security and develop responses and preventative measures, which could include security software, firewall systems and other solutions.

Some master's degree programs have a focus on management, designed to prepare you to take on supervisory roles within an organization's security team. Depending on the program, you may have to complete a capstone project.

Potential courses in an undergraduate or graduate information systems security degree program may include:

  • Information systems analysis
  • Database design
  • Data mining
  • Network forensics
  • Database security

What Might I Do with My Degree?

With an undergraduate degree in information systems security, you might work as a computer security specialist. As a graduate of a master's degree program, you could find supervisory positions such as information security officer. You might put your knowledge to work for businesses, the military, law enforcement or even government agencies like the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. You may watch for and respond to network security breaches and potentially gather evidence for prosecuting cyber crimes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts are expected to see an 28% employment increase between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the average for all jobs (www.bls.gov). These professionals earned a median annual salary of $98,350  in May 2018, also per the BLS. According to July 2019 salary information released by Payscale.com, information security officers reported a median annual salary of $91,665.