Best Cyber Security Certification Programs Online

Explore online cybersecurity certificate programs, including areas of concentration, common coursework, and admission requirements. Also, learn how to choose the right online certificate program in cybersecurity for you. Schools offering Computer Forensics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

When putting together our list of the top online certificate programs in the field of cybersecurity, we took into consideration program cost, flexibility, and length. Below, you can explore the best schools that offer cybersecurity-related certificate programs.

1. Towson University

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Towson, MD $9,940 81%

Towson University has an online 15-credit graduate certificate in information security and assurance program that features the following classes:

  • Network Security
  • Risk Analysis and Information Systems Vulnerability
  • Systems Development Process
  • Information Technology Infrastructure
  • Case Studies in Information Security

This certificate is for those in the IT field and those with a non-IT bachelor's degree who want to increase their cybersecurity and information security skills and knowledge. Although this is a stand-alone certificate, students can apply their credits towards Towson University's full master's program in applied information technology. The estimated 2020 cost per credit for in-state graduate students is $612 and for out-of-state graduate students it is $1,104.

2. Minnesota West Community and Technical College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Granite Falls, MN $5,692 90%

Minnesota West Community and Technical College's online certificate in information security management is designed for those who are in or want to pursue a managerial role in the cybersecurity or information security field. This certificate requires 14 credits with coursework in the following subject areas:

  • Microcomputers
  • Networking
  • Information security
  • Security management

Students study topics related to encryption and cyber-attacks as well as management-related concepts, such as ethical and legal issues. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the cost per credit for online classes was $189.18.

3. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Fergus Falls, MN $5,335 86%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers an online cybersecurity certificate program that requires 30 credits. Students are able to earn their cybersecurity certificate in about 1 year when taking 5 classes during the fall semester and 5 classes during the spring semester. Coursework centers on the following topics:

  • SQL, Cisco 1 and 2, and Linux 1
  • Network defense
  • Network security
  • Security countermeasures and breaches

As students progress through their certificate program, they will study IT subject areas that will prepare them to earn important industry certifications, such as the Cisco CCENT and the CompTIA Security+. For the 2019-2020 academic year, the cost per credit for online delivery courses at this university was $198.95.

4. Missouri University of Science and Technology

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Rolla, MO $9,440 97%

Missouri University of Science and Technology offers an online graduate certificate in cybersecurity that features 2 required courses that center on cryptography and security operations and program management and 2 elective courses that allow students to choose from the following classes:

  • Formal Methods in Computer Security
  • Advanced Network Security
  • Secure Data Analysis
  • Cloud Computing and Big Data Management

This online certificate program has a 5-8-week semester format with online classes that can be live-streamed or viewed later. Students are able to apply the credits they earn in their certificate program to Missouri University of Science and Technology's Master of Science in Computer Science degree. The cost per credit for Missouri University of Science and Technology's distance programs is $1,200 for the 2019-2020 year.

5. University of Arizona

Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Tucson, AZ $12,467 92%

The University of Arizona has an online cybersecurity certificate program that requires students to complete the following 3 courses:

  • Network Security
  • Cybersecurity Expert
  • Computer Security

These courses feature hands-on lab experiences that give students the real-world skills they will need in their cybersecurity careers. Additionally, the content of these courses was developed to align with the National Initiative on Cybersecurity for Education (NICE) / National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, which aims to fully prepare cybersecurity workers. The total for each course in this cybersecurity program is $1,500.

Rank School Name Location Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 College of Central Florida Ocala, FL $2,570 81%
7 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN $22,275 99%
8 Central Texas College Killeen, TX $33,90 66%
9 Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD $7,880 43%
10 St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL $2,682 74%
11 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA $10,560 93%
12 Broward College Fort Lauderdale, FL $ 2,830 74%
13 Southeastern Technical College Vidalia, GA $2,863 97%
14 Lincoln Land Community College Springfield, IL $6,480 68%
15 The University of Montana Missoula, MT $6,505 89%
16 Niagara University Niagara University, NY $33,180 99%
17 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY $3,426 94%
18 Hinds Community College Raymond, MS $3,130 91%
19 Radford University Radford, VA $11,210 86%
20 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX $8,296 89%
21 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE $7,790 87%
22 University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI $14,138 95%
23 Roger Williams University Bristol, RI $34,522 100%
24 University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA $15,180 91%
25 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI $18,414 97%
26 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL $30,900 100%
27 Champlain College Burlington, VT $41,010 100%
28 University of Louisville Louisville, KY $11,656 97%
29 La Salle University Philadelphia, PA $30,710 99%
30 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN $4,368 74%
31 Eastern New Mexico University Ruidoso Branch Community College Ruidoso, NM $1,580 76%
32 St Philip's College San Antonio, TX $6,300 88%
33 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA $6,347 91%
34 Allegany College of Maryland Cumberland, MD $7,580 95%
35 Westmoreland County Community College Youngwood, PA $9,348 81%
36 Linfield College-Online and Continuing Education McMinnville, OR $43,302 100%
37 Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh, PA $7,861 66%
38 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME $7,988 94%
39 Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore, MD $7,110 75%
40 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA $18,848 59%
41 The College of Saint Scholastica Duluth, MN $37,212 100%
42 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA $53,244 100%
43 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH $31,136 75%
44 Virginia International University Fairfax, VA $10,328 17%
45 Elmhurst College Elmhurst, IL $37,055 100%
46 Regis University Denver, CO $36,810 99%
47 Capitol Technology University Laurel, MD $25,540 98%
48 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY $42,345 98%
49 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY $39,600 92%
50 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA $13,988 72%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

Online certificate programs in cybersecurity focus on the subjects of information security, network security, and digital forensics. Students are able to earn their online certificate in cybersecurity 100% online with no on-campus or in-person requirements.

Graduate Versus Undergraduate Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

There are 2 types of certificate programs: graduate and undergraduate programs. The main difference between graduate and undergraduate programs is admission requirements. To apply to a graduate-level program, you must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Additionally, in a graduate certificate program, students take graduate-level courses and can sometimes apply those credits to a full master's degree. Generally, graduate programs are more popular than undergraduate programs.

Length and Credits

Online certificate programs in cybersecurity are short programs that can typically be completed in about 1 year of study. There are no general education coursework requirements, and students take classes that focus solely on cybersecurity topics.

These online certificate programs generally require anywhere from 12 to 18 credits, although some programs may require up to 30 credits.

Areas of Concentration for Online Cybersecurity Certificate Program

Within the field of cybersecurity are several subfields, including information assurance, information management systems, and computer forensics. These areas of concentration are similar to cybersecurity and cover many of the same topics. Students can earn an online certificate in one of these subfields as well.

Information Assurance Certificate Programs

This concentration area focuses on the practice of keeping information systems safe and secure. Students learn how to manage and defend IT systems, operating systems, and network systems. Classes that make up an information assurance certificate program include risk management, security management, and information security ethics.

Information Security Management Certificate Programs

Similar to information assurance, information security management centers on the study of safeguarding computer systems and networks. However, information security management certificate programs focus more on management skills and concepts. Students take classes on project management, information security policy, and decision making.

Computer Forensics Certificate Programs

Computer forensics certificate programs have a special focus on identifying, mitigating, and analyzing cyber-crimes and attacks. Students learn methods for analyzing and preserving computer forensic evidence and strategies for detecting and responding to attacks.

Admissions Requirements for Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

To apply to an online graduate certificate program in cybersecurity, you must already hold a bachelor's degree. Some programs, but not all, require you to have earned at least a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate coursework.

For undergraduate certificate programs, you need to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some undergraduate programs require that you have completed at least 2 years of college-level coursework; however, a college degree is not required for undergraduate-level programs.

You must also submit an application, a fee, and transcripts. A limited number of programs may require that you submit an admissions essay and a current resume.

Common Courses in Online Cybersecurity Certificate Programs

The curriculum of online cybersecurity certificate programs varies greatly by program. However, there are some common topics that you will likely study, which you can learn about below.

Network Security

This is a course that centers on topics related to security practices regarding computer networks. Students study a broad range of information technology (IT) security methods, including the following:

  • Firewalls
  • Wireless network security
  • Public-key cryptography
  • Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)
  • Data encryption algorithms

Most courses also focus on current issues in the field, such as hacking techniques, malicious software attacks, and intrusion detection.

Cloud Computing

In this course, students learn about the design and architecture of cloud computing systems as well as methods for maintaining these systems. Course topics include virtualization and disaster recovery, cloud computing security and privacy, and MapReduce and Hadoop programming models.

Digital Forensics

This class centers on computer forensics methods and techniques in relation to cybercrime. Students learn how to recover, examine, and analyze forensic evidence that comes from operating systems and files. Specific methods students study are file signature analysis, data bookmarking, and hash analysis. Some courses of this type prepare students to take the EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE) exam as well.

Network Defense

This is a class that covers the techniques and methods for defending computer systems against attacks. Some of the specific defense methods that are covered include:

  • Application and circuit gateways
  • Proxies
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

Students also learn to install and maintain the hardware and software that is used to secure computer systems.

Microcomputers

Microcomputers is an introductory course that covers the basics of document integration, telecommunication, computer programming, and word processing. Some courses of this type have an emphasis on microcomputer databases, and students study basic database topics, such as file creation, form development, database tables, and report generation.

Risk Analysis and Management

This class focuses on the different risks and vulnerabilities that computer information systems are exposed to. Students learn about a range of possible risks, including cyber-attacks, internal risks, and structural risks. Also, the vulnerabilities inherent in hardware and software applications are covered. Lastly, students learn assessment techniques for discovering risks and vulnerabilities and how to create countermeasures to mitigate them.

How to Choose an Online Cybersecurity Certificate Program

When deciding which certificate program in cybersecurity is the right one for you, there are several factors that you should consider, including cost and financial aid opportunities. You should also consider if your certificate program prepares you to earn industry certifications or allows you to transfer your certificate credits to a full master's degree program.

Cost

The first thing you should consider when choosing a cybersecurity certificate program is the program's total cost, including the per-credit tuition price and extra fees.

Tuition

Online cybersecurity certificate programs can charge anywhere from $189 to $1,200 per credit hour. The total tuition for these programs can then cost anywhere from $2,646 to $16,560. Some universities charge online out-of-state students more than their in-state peers, so it's important you consider your residency status when choosing a program.

Fees

Universities also usually charge additional fees that are added to the base tuition price. These fees can range from $10 to $200 and upwards and can be either one-time fees or fees charged each semester. Examples of fees include technology, student activity, exam, and graduation fees. You can always check with your university and inquire about which fees will apply to you.

Financial Aid

There are several pathways of financial aid available that can help you afford your cybersecurity certificate.

Federal Aid

One of the first steps you should complete is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application will show all the types of federal aid that you qualify for. Typically, when it comes to federal loans, undergraduate students can receive direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and PLUS loans, while graduate students can only receive unsubsidized loans and PLUS loans. Usually, the amount of aid you qualify for depends on your financial needs and your enrollment status.

Employer Reimbursement

Some employers will help you pay for your certificate program by reimbursing you for the money you spend on tuition, textbooks, and fees. First, you will need to contact your employer about their reimbursement program and how it works. Employers sometimes only help finance a certain kind of degree or program, and some may not help you earn a degree that is not from an accredited school. Additionally, employers may work with only certain schools.

Certification Preparation

Another factor to consider when choosing a program is whether or not the courses you take will prepare you for industry certification. These certifications require that you take additional exams, but earning these certifications can improve your job prospects by showing potential employers that you have the right skills and knowledge for the job.

Some examples of certifications that online cybersecurity certificate programs could prepare you to earn include:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • Cisco CCENT
  • CompTIA Network
  • EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE)
  • ISCA
  • (ISC)2

If you have a goal to earn any of these certifications, check with your program about which courses could help you pass your certification exam.

Master's Program Transfer Credits

You should also consider whether or not you want to pursue a full master's degree program in cybersecurity or computer science. Some online certificate programs in cybersecurity allow you to apply the credits you earn in your certificate program towards a master's degree at the same university.

However, not all universities offer a comparative master's degree. If you want your online certificate to act as a stepping stone to a master's degree, choose a program that allows you to easily apply the credits you earn to another program or degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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