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Best Online Master's Degrees in Cybersecurity

The best online master's degree programs in cybersecurity are usually in cybersecurity management and help students prepare for careers protecting online information. Explore these programs in depth, as well as possible career options after graduation.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Online master's degree programs in cybersecurity help prepare students to properly protect digital information. Some of the best of these online master's programs may hold special credentials in the field, provide flexible formats for flexibility, and/or include unique learning experiences, such as a practicum. Compare and contrast some of the best online master's degree programs in cybersecurity here.

1. Purdue University Global

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Mason City, IA$11,414

Purdue University Global has an online Master of Science (MS) in Cybersecurity Management that totals 60 credits. The program offers multiple start dates for flexibility and courses are offered in short, 6-week terms. Students who already hold some professional certifications in the field may be qualified to earn credit towards their degree. The program also offers an accelerated MS that waives some courses for students who earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Cybersecurity or Information Technology from the institution, meets GPA requirements, and passes a list of courses with a 'B' or better.

2. University of Delaware

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Newark, DE$33,678

The University of Delaware offers an online MS in Cybersecurity that totals 30 credits. The school has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Security Agency (NSA). Students can complete the master's program in 2 years and multiple start dates are available for flexibility. Courses are 7 weeks in length and as part of the curriculum, students get to use virtual machine environments to analyze real-world issues.

3. West Virginia University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Morgantown, WV$9,990

West Virginia University provides an online MS in Business Cybersecurity Management that totals 30 credits. Students in the program must complete a residency requirement and a business cybersecurity practicum where they complete a final project that applies the various business cybersecurity management skills they have gained throughout the program. The program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the program cost is the same for residents and non-residents.

4. Missouri State University- Springfield

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Springfield, MO$6,038

Missouri State University- Springfield offers an online MS in Cybersecurity that totals 30 credits and can be completed in 2 years. Students in the program may choose to pursue a graduate certificate in areas like data analytics or computer information systems, and can choose to complete a seminar course in cybersecurity. Students must also choose 2 courses from options in independent study, an internship, a cloud computing course, or a management information systems course. The program requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA and accepts up to 6 credits of transfer credit.

5. Central Washington University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Ellensburg, WA$11,116

Central Washington University has an online MS in Information Technology and Administrative Management that offers a specialization in cybersecurity management. The program follows a cohort model and can be taken full- or part-time. Students must complete 46 credits and can finish the program in 1 year. Students in the cybersecurity specialization must complete a culminating assignment in the form of a project, exam, or thesis.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville, TX$7,791
7National UniversityLa Jolla, CA$15,480
8Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City, UT$7,790
9University of Rhode IslandKingston, RI$14,924
10Roger Williams UniversityBristol, RI$15,386
11Southern Utah UniversityCedar City, UT$8,338
12Dakota State UniversityMadison, SD$6,464
13University of Detroit MercyDetroit, MI$28,422
14Davenport UniversityGrand Rapids, MI$15,126
15Robert Morris UniversityMoon Township, PAN/A
16Norfolk State UniversityNorfolk, VA$12,136
17La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$25,020
18Saint Mary's University of MinnesotaWinona, MN$9,000
19SUNY Polytechnic InstituteUtica, NY$12,668
20Wilmington UniversityNew Castle, DE$8,636
21Talladega CollegeTalladega, AL$16,200
22University of Maryland-University CollegeAdelphi, MD$8,514
23California State University-San MarcosSan Marcos, CA$9,147
24Mercy CollegeDobbs Ferry, NY$16,338
25Minnesota State University-MankatoMankato, MN$8,156
26Coastal Carolina UniversityConway, SC$10,674
27Our Lady of the Lake UniversitySan Antonio, TX$17,142
28DePaul UniversityChicago, IL$19,422
29Champlain CollegeBurlington, VT$14,310
30Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$34,995
31Capitol Technology UniversityLaurel, MD$11,178
32Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester, NY$45,808
33Lewis UniversityRomeoville, IL$14,550
34Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo, FL$8,498
35University of Maryland Eastern ShorePrincess Anne, MD$9,648
36Florida Institute of TechnologyMelbourne, FL$22,588
37University of the CumberlandsWilliamsburg, KY$5,970
38Stevens Institute of TechnologyHoboken, NJ$37,250
39Hampton UniversityHampton, VA$11,916
40University of TulsaTulsa, OK$22,720

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 Master's Programs in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a subset of information assurance and refers specifically to protecting information connected to the internet from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity may be offered as a specialization or as major at the master's level. Most online master's degree programs are MS degrees and are usually in cybersecurity management.

Online master's degree programs in cybersecurity are usually 30 credits in length and can typically be completed in 2 years. Many programs can be completed fully-online and some programs may require or give students a choice of culminating experience, such as a practicum, internship, or final exam. Several of these programs offer multiple start dates for flexibility, may be available in full- or part-time formats, and may have class terms as short as 6 or 7 weeks. Although it is less common, some programs may follow a cohort model and/or require a residency. Find out more about these degree programs and common requirements below.

Prerequisites and Admissions Information

Students interested in applying to an online master's degree program in cybersecurity need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some programs may require this degree to be in a field like computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, or another related area. Some programs may require applicants to have prior programming experience with languages such as C++ or Python, and/or knowledge of network protocols and operating systems.

It is fairly common for these degree programs to require applicants to meet a minimum GPA, usually around a 3.0 or higher. Programs may also require students to take the GRE or GMAT and/or to meet specific scores on these exams for entrance to the program. Other common admissions materials for these programs include transcripts, a resume with prior work experience, letters of recommendation, and/or a statement of purpose.

Common Courses

Typically, students in online master's programs in cybersecurity take core courses in the field and may be able to pick and choose amongst various topics to pursue interests and/or career goals. Some common course topics for these degree programs include:

  • Cybersecurity- Students may take an introductory/foundational and/or an advanced course in cybersecurity that explores various concepts of the field. Students may discuss topics in security policies, user security, and cryptography and some of these programs may include a research project.
  • Forensics- Students may take courses in computer or digital forensics that are designed to help teach students how to analyze criminal evidence. These courses usually include hands-on learning exercises to train students in forensic methods applied to different technologies.
  • Ethics/Legal Issues- Courses in information ethics and legal issues surrounding cybersecurity explore concepts in privacy, confidentiality, and legal protections. Specific topics for these courses may include cyberspace law, risk analysis, censorship, accuracy, data collection laws, and more.
  • Information Security Management- Information security management courses are designed to help equip students with managerial skills, as well as knowledge of developing and implementing information security policies. Students in these courses may explore topics in auditing compliance, information assurance strategies, management of security controls, and mitigating risk in infrastructure.
  • Network Security- Students in network security courses examine organizational networks and learn about different security methods for private and public networks. Some of these courses may require a research project and usually provide hands-on training in the subject.

How to Choose an Online Master's in Cybersecurity

There are many different criteria to consider when choosing any degree program, including online master's programs in cybersecurity. Students wishing to pursue an online cybersecurity degree at the master's level should first determine what format of program works best for them. For example, full- and part-time programs are available, as well as programs that provide multiple start dates throughout the year for students to start as soon as possible. Another factor to consider may be programs that require a thesis or other hands-on learning experience, such as a practicum or internship experience. Many of these online programs make these experiences optional, but students may want to think about whether these experiences could potentially help them reach their desired career.

There are many additional considerations considering online master's programs that may come down to preference and/or student needs. Some students may prefer a program that offers small class sizes to receive more individualized attention from instructors. There are some students who may need to look for programs that accept transfer credit to help cut down on time and cost.

Cost is another huge consideration, as students typically need to find a program within their budget. Tuition costs vary from institutions, but some online master's programs in cybersecurity cost more than $1,200 per credit hour. Most institutions accept various forms of financial aid and offer additional ways for students to save on their degree. For example, some programs provide tuition discounts for military service members and/or international students or accept certifications in the field as credit towards the degree. Below, we discuss a couple other factors to consider when choosing a cybersecurity program.

Accreditation

Students usually want to ensure that their program and/or school of choice is of sound academic quality, which means that students should begin by searching for an accredited institution that offers their degree. Many online master's degree programs in cybersecurity are available from schools that are accredited by regional accreditation groups, such as the Higher Learning Commission.

Some specific programs in the field of cybersecurity have additional accreditation at the program level and/or other unique designations. For example, some business degree programs with a cybersecurity specialization also have accreditation from the business-specific organization, AACSB. There are also some institutions that have special designations from the DHS and NSA in the field of cyber defense. These additional distinctions demonstrate additional academic excellence in the field of cybersecurity.

Master's in Computer Science vs. Master's in Cybersecurity

Some students may be trying to figure out if they want to pursue a master's in cybersecurity or a master's degree in computer science. Master's degree programs in computer science are also commonly available in online formats and are typically offered as an MS degree. These degree programs vary from 30 to 45 credits, offer a thesis and non-thesis option, and are usually completed fully online. Some similarities between online master's degree programs in cybersecurity and programs in computer science are that both typically provide multiple start dates for flexibility, allow students to finish the degree program in 2 years when taken full-time, and help prepare students for some similar careers.

One of the biggest differences between an online master's degree in cybersecurity and one in computer science is the scope of the degree. Computer science degree programs are broader in nature and cover various areas of the field. These programs require students to take core courses, as well as courses from different subfields and/or provide students with different concentration areas or tracks, such as cybersecurity, software engineering, data science, and data communications and networking. Online master's degree programs in computer science may also place less emphasis on management than a degree in cybersecurity management.

Career Options for Graduates with a Degree in Cybersecurity

A master's degree in cybersecurity provides graduates with flexibility when choosing a career. There are many different information technology (IT) and computer science jobs that incorporate information and cybersecurity. A few examples of possible job titles for graduates with a degree in cybersecurity include:

  • IT director
  • Information security manager
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Security management specialist
  • Database administrator
  • Cybersecurity specialist
  • Computer network architect

Computer and Information Systems Managers

The typical requirements for this position include a bachelor's degree and some work experience, but professionals who have earned graduate degrees are common in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these managers made a median salary of $142,530 in 2018 and had a job outlook of 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the national average. Computer and information systems managers may include job titles like IT security managers or IT directors. These professionals are responsible for planning and overseeing technology-related activities in their organization. They typically supervise staff members, analyze costs and benefits of projects, and determine needed upgrades for systems.

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts need at least a bachelor's degree, but some employers may prefer those with a master's degree. These analysts made a median salary of $98,350 in 2018 and had a job outlook of 32% (much faster than average) from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS. Information security analysts must carefully plan out and implement security measures for their organization and cut down on chances for cyberattacks. This may require them to install software, research current technologies, create security standards, test systems, and train users on security measures.

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects also need at least a bachelor's degree, but some employers may prefer those with a master's. The BLS reported that computer network architects made a median salary of $109,020 in 2018 and had a job outlook of 5% from 2018 to 2028, which is as fast as the national average. These architects are responsible for designing communication networks and ensuring that these networks are working properly. They may design layouts for communication networks and include information security measures, as well as upgrade software and hardware as needed.