Last Updated: August 10, 2021
Cyber Security Degree Programs
Cyber Security or Information security is the procedure of shielding computers, programs, and networks from unwarranted and unlicensed access and against attacks and exploitation. Cyber Security degrees are relatively new in the world of higher education as interest in this field has expanded with the growth of computers. Students armed with these degrees can become ethical hackers who are employed by firms to try and discover their digital security flaws.
The field has been growing at a fast pace due to the advancements in the IT field with the necessity of Cyber Security increasing day by day. Due to this increased requirement for people with Cyber Security degrees, universities and colleges are offering the course through online and offline modes in order to fill the requirement in the job market.
Choosing the Best Cyber Security Program
While planning to pursue a course in Cyber Security, candidates have to be on the constant lookout for programs that have updated content and learning methods so as to flourish in the field after the completion of the course. The rate of innovation and change within the Cyber Security field only serves to make the decision-making process more difficult for students who want to pursue higher education in security.
The good news is that more and more institutes are offering these degree programs with many participating in path-breaking research. Students thus have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in learning and security research opportunities at many of the top institutions. Moreover, the global lack of Cyber Security talent (a shortage of 1.5 million professionals by 2020) means that pursuing a degree or research program can turn out to be a highly rewarding career move.
The factors that candidates have to consider while looking for Cyber Security programs are as follows-
- The institute must have well-equipped computer labs and top-notch facilities that can facilitate learning.
- The institute must be closely associated with both the government and private sector.
- The university must provide scholarships and grants for both undergraduate & graduate students.
- It is ideal if the institute is in close proximity to tech areas, government defense agencies, and hubs of corporate activity.
- The institute must offer subject expertise and CAE (hallmark of quality) designations.
Cyber Security as a Specialization
Candidates who are already pursuing a degree in Administration, Information Systems, Criminal Justice, or Software Development will be able to study Cyber Security as a specialization that can increase their potential within their field. By choosing to learn Cyber Security, candidates will be able to develop the following skills that can help advance their career through the knowledge of uncommon skills and thereby apply for specific job positions.
The skills that candidates will get to learn include-
- Detecting cyber threats and protecting data from them.
- Identify and differentiate between the security models.
- Find and evaluate vulnerabilities in the network.
Duration of a Cyber Security Degree
The duration of a bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security is around 4 years or whatever time the candidate takes to complete 120 credits in all. Master’s courses have a duration of 1-2 years whereas a doctoral degree in the subject will take around 3-5 years in all.
General Course Content for Cyber Security Degree
While choosing a degree under Cyber Security, candidates will have to go through the course content for each program which can vary extensively from each other. It is also important that the course does not focus entirely on theory and will focus on the practical side of the subjects being taught. This is to make the candidates gain experience working in the real world than just reading and memorizing books.
The courses that are taught under a Cyber Security degree can vary from institution to institution depending on what each course focuses. But at the same time, a few subjects will remain common wherever the candidate chooses to study the subject. These common courses are-
- Principles of Cyber Security
- Data Mining
- Risk Management
- Ethical Hacking
- Network Security
- Cyber Threats
- Basic Data Analysis
- Penetration Testing
- Digital Forensics
BA in Cyber Security
Candidates who wish to pursue a degree in Cyber Security will have to look at the curriculum offered by different institutes before applying for the course. This is because not every top university in the field might provide the specializations and course content that meet the candidate’s requirements. A degree in this field will help candidates learn the basics of the course rather than focus on distinct specializations though the subjects the institution focuses on will matter a lot.
The duration of a bachelor’s program is 4 years but some universities only require the candidate to complete 120 credit hour criteria which can be completed within a duration of 3 years at the earliest.
Admission Requirements for BA in Cyber Security
Candidates who wish to enroll for a bachelor’s program in Cyber Security will have to fulfil the following requirements while applying to institutes-
MA in Cyber Security
Candidates who are in the field of Cyber Security often do not stop their education after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. The most obvious option for them is to enhance and specialize their skills by doing a master’s degree in the same field so as to find the best career options. The duration of a master’s program ranges from 1 to 2 years depending upon the institution the candidate is studying in.
Admission Requirements for MA in Cyber Security
The general admission requirements for candidates who are applying for a Master’s degree in the subject are as follows-
- TOEFL/IELTS Scores
- BS in CS or Cyber Security
- Letters of Recommendation
Specializations Offered for MA in Cyber Security
Candidates who have opted to study a Master’s degree in Cyber Security has a number of specializations which a student or professional can opt for. The options include -
- Ethical hacking and penetration testing- to hack websites or data that is kind of malware.
- Information assurance- to ensure Cyber Security.
- Systems security- to secure any system say a PC or a laptop.
- Cybercrime- to prevent crimes committed while using the web or the internet
- Digital forensics- to investigate and recover based on information related to digital sources.
- Cryptography to protect data through unique cryptographic algorithms.
Ph.D. in Cyber Security
Candidates who wish to do research within the field of Cyber Security will have to apply for the same after their bachelor’s degree. They will be considered for Ph.D. only after the completion of a specific number of credit hours have been completed with a GPA of 3.5 and above. Candidates will also be able to apply for a Ph.D. after they have completed their master’s degree in the field.
Candidates will have to spend a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5 years in all for the completion of this course. Once the candidate has completed the coursework that is necessary, they will be required to publish a paper or pass an oral examination where they defend their paper in front of a panel of faculty members.
Admission Requirements for Ph.D. in Cyber Security
Students seeking further education in Cyber Security can opt for research programs such as PhDs, which are offered by a number of institutions in the country. The general requirements to apply for a research degree are as follows-
- GRE scores
- BS in CS or Cyber Security
- MS in CS or Cyber Security (Some institutions may require a minimum number of credits in the respective master’s degree courses in order to be eligible)
- Letters of Recommendation
- A complete CV detailing both academic and professional accomplishments.
Top Universities for Cyber Security
The top universities for studying a degree in Cyber Security according to the US news are as follows-
- Carnegie Mellon University- $58, 924 per year
- Georgia Institute of Technology- $33,794 per year
- University of California- Berkeley- $43,980 per year
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology- $53,818 per year
- University of Illinois- Champaign- $34,312 per year
Career Prospects After Cyber Security Degree
Individuals or students with Cyber Security degrees work to analyze and decrypt information in its various forms to stop cyber-terrorism. Cyber Security experts also work to develop digital systems for companies to store and manage data. In essence, the proper functioning and maintenance of a digital platform require the involvement of a Cyber Security expert, in addition to optimizing its security.
A four-year Cyber Security degree will teach the students about the different methods of protecting various IT systems and their data. The learners get training in system administrator roles, databases, and data recovery. The students also get to learn specialized skills such as digital forensics and criminal psychology.
The positions that students are made eligible for when they get out of school are the following:
- Security Analyst- Their job description includes the planning and active protection of the computer networks in the organization they work in. This will include checking for security breaches, installing software for the protection of sensitive information, and sometimes even recommending security enhancements that can better the systems within the organization.
Median Salary: $103,590 per year.
- Cryptographer- Their job includes storing private governmental information in an encrypted and computerized format. They will mostly need education based on mathematics and might also need to break similar encryptions if required. Candidates who want to work in this field will be able to work for the government mainly and will have to write computer programs. They will also be able to work as a cryptanalyst.
Median Salary: $101,040 per year.
- Security Software Developer- They will have to create computer programs for improving the safety and security of computer systems and other data. This will include the planning, designing, and execution of the security software along with the test runs required to confirm the efficiency of the software that has been created.
Median Salary: $110,140 per year.
- Security Architect- They focus on the maintenance of existing software that protects the computer system of the company. This includes anticipating the attacks the networks might face and creating safeguards that will keep them safe if there is an attack. They will have to research potential threats they might face, design new architectures for the protection of existing software, and also run vulnerability checks every now and then.
Median Salary: $ 116,780 per year
- System Administrator- This job includes maintaining and managing the servers and other desktop and mobile equipment of the organization on a daily basis. Their duties will include testing the efficiency of data storing networks and also ensuring that the computer systems of all employees work without trouble.
Median Salary: $84,810 per year