A bachelor's in cybersecurity applies computer science training and web-based technology to protect data and information systems in a variety of settings. As more organizations confront the threat of cyber attacks, the demand for cybersecurity professionals continues to increase. A recent survey by ISACA — a nonprofit for informational security, assurance, and risk management professionals — reports a shortage of technologically skilled specialists to fill cybersecurity positions.
An online cybersecurity degree equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to launch a career in this exciting field. Distance learning formats provide flexible options for students who must work full time or tend to other responsibilities that make it difficult to attend a campus-based program. This guide to the best online bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity compares program features and requirements for the top-ranked accredited schools. It also provides useful information about financial assistance, career possibilities, and salary potential.
While earning a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree online does not guarantee a job, graduates enter a job market characterized by increasing employment growth rates and relatively high salaries. Degree holders acquire the proficiency in math, computer programming, and information technology required to find employment in high-demand fields, such as information security, network administration, operations research, and computer forensics. This chart presents career information, salary, and job growth projections for common careers open to bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity graduates.
Information security analysts protect and recover information from computers and other digital storage devices. They monitor threats and implement solutions to data breaches and attacks. They also install and maintain software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, and they must keep current about IT security developments. These analysts often work with law enforcement in data recovery.
These professionals employ mathematical and analytical methods to determine the most efficient and cost-effective operations for a company or organization. Their duties include examining information and applying appropriate computer software, statistical analysis packages, simulations, predictive models, and other methods. Many of these analysts specialize in an area of operations, such as finance, marketing, recruitment, or logistics.
These professionals collect and analyze evidence for criminal investigations and cases. At crime scenes, these technicians determine what evidence to collect and how to handle it. They catalog and preserve evidence for transfer to crime labs for further analysis. Technicians working in crime labs perform chemical, biological, microscopic, and data analysis on evidence recovered at crime scenes, as well as report their findings to law enforcement investigators.
Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, design, create, and install computing systems to improve an organization's efficiency. Their duties include conducting research on day-to-day operations and information needs, and designing and customizing systems. They select, configure, and install hardware and software using different techniques, including data modeling. They also conduct tests, code, and debug to ensure that systems function optimally and sustainably.
These administrators direct the maintenance of the day-to-day operations of computer networks and systems, including local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, email platforms, and other communication systems. They update and monitor security permissions and evaluate network security. They must be able to diagnose system alerts, mitigate threats, solve problems, and train staff to handle these issues.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts will enjoy a positive job growth through 2026. Career opportunities and salary prospects vary widely depending on the type of industry, geographical area, and required skill levels. The top-paying regions for these professionals include the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and New York. The highest employment rates are in the urban centers around the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Chicago and its suburbs.
Requirements for a bachelor’s in cybersecurity differ depending on the program. While some schools offer the degree as a standalone major, others offer cybersecurity as a concentration within a major in information technology, computer networks, or a related field. This list outlines courses commonly offered in a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Contact each school directly to learn about specific course requirements.
This course introduces students to risks, threats, attacks, and vulnerabilities associated with internet-connected systems, digital technology, data storage, computer programs, and information systems. Students study applications for individuals, businesses, and governments.
Students learn techniques for controlling threats to an organization’s computer network. The course examines the nature of hacking and viruses, and explores preventive measures, such as intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and virtual private networks.
Students learn about computer investigations using digital evidence controls. They study data acquisition techniques, email investigations, image file recovery, investigative report writing, expert witness testimony, and how to process crime scenes for legal purposes.
This course introduces the fundamental concepts and techniques in database management and development, including knowledgebase and relational database management systems. Topics include data modeling, relational query languages, relational database design, transaction processing, and current technologies.
Computer system security impacts individuals, organizations, and society. This course addresses the legal, ethical, and moral issues related to cybersecurity , including free speech, privacy, intellectual property, and professional codes of conduct.
Students should thoroughly research online bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity, comparing tuition costs, program requirements, retention and graduation rates, and school rankings. Learners should be sure to choose an accredited school. Accreditation affects eligibility for federal financial aid and private scholarships. It also expands employment and academic opportunities. In this section, we answer commonly asked questions about online cybersecurity degrees.
While the duration of a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity depends on the school you attend and how many courses you take each term, most programs take four years of full-time study to finish. Programs on a semester schedule require approximately 120 credits, with 180 credits needed for degrees offered in a quarterly system. Some accelerated programs may be completed in 18 months to three years if students maintain continuous full-time enrollment.
A graduate with an online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity receives the same diploma as a graduate from a traditional brick-and-mortar program. Your diploma does not indicate where or how you completed your degree. Online and campus-based programs offer the same courses, with identical graduation requirements. The same rigorous standards for assignments, examinations, and grading apply to both.
Accredited programs showcase faculty quality on their websites by providing short biographies, credentials, teaching responsibilities, and research interests. The best programs employ both cybersecurity professionals with considerable practical experience and professors with academic and research backgrounds.
Many programs require internships to provide students with hands-on experience in cybersecurity fields. Online programs often help you locate onsite options that fit your schedule. If you must remain close to home, some programs allow you to set up a local site placement or a virtual internship where you connect with your supervisor through video conferencing.
There are several bachelor’s in cybersecurity programs delivered completely online, based on asynchronous courses that students can take at their convenience. Some programs offer synchronous schedules, where the same cohort of students log in at a specific day and hour for lectures and workshops conducted by instructors in real time. Some schools offer hybrid programs requiring on-campus attendance for some courses, in addition to online work.
Bachelor’s in cybersecurity students should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine federal aid eligibility. They should also research all possible sources for privately funded assistance. Grants and scholarships, unlike federal and private loans, do not require repayment. Below are examples of need-based and merit-based scholarships for students studying cybersecurity or closely related fields.
The CIA Scholarship Program involves a rigorous application process. The scholarship, valued at $18,000 plus a stipend, requires a polygraph test, mental health evaluation, drug test, background checks, high academic marks, and documentation of financial need. Applicants apply in their senior year of high school for undergraduate study. Recipients work at the CIA during summers of their undergraduate experience to prepare for internships in STEM, security, and other related fields after graduation.
This scholarship for aspiring information security professionals offers up to $5,000 for students planning to study or studying cybersecurity or information security. Applicants may be high school seniors or undergraduate students in their first, second, or third year of study, with a minimum 3.3 GPA. A transcript, resume, personal statement, and letter of recommendation must accompany applications. Applications are scored on three criteria: passion, merit, and financial need.
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education awards up to $40,000 to women pursuing or planning to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in cybersecurity or information assurance. Applicants must attend either an on-campus or online program with full-time or part-time status. They must be U.S. citizens with at least a 3.3 GPA. A transcript, resume, three-page personal statement, and one letter of recommendation must accompany the online application form.
This scholarship is available to service members and civilians attending school in information assurance-related disciplines at the bachelor’s through graduate levels. Recipients receive full tuition and a stipend in exchange for serving one year in civilian or service member roles in the Navy for every year of the reward. The scholarship is restricted to universities designated as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAEs). Scholarships are awarded to students through a grant award to the CAE university.
The SWSIS program, administered by the Applied Computer Security Associates and Computing Research Association, promotes the participation of women in information security and related careers. SWSIS provides 10-15 scholarships annually with a maximum value of $10,000 for female students enrolled in undergraduate or master’s degrees related to cybersecurity, information security, and assurance. Applicants must be U.S. citizens enrolled in an accredited U.S. postsecondary institution. Undergraduate students must be in their junior or senior year of study.