Research Undergraduate Options at the Bachelor of Cyber Security Level: Multiple Online and On Campus Options.
In order to get a job opportunity in cybersecurity, nearly all positions will require the completion of a Bachelor's degree. Whether it is analyzing potential vulnerabilities on a network, performing penetration testing to detect problems, or actively stopping unauthorized intrusions, professionals need to have foundational competency in computer science and information technology.
A Quick Overview of the Degree
A Bachelor's degree in Cyber Security generally takes a full-time student four years to complete. Although some individuals enter this career with an associate degree or pursue a master’s degree for several years, bachelor’s degrees are the most common for cybersecurity careers. The first year or two entails completing general education or prerequisite courses.
Recent graduates from high school or students that have completed certification or an associates degree should consider advancing their education with a Bachelor's degree in cyber security. This education provides an enhancement to an associate-level program with more concentrations to choose from and double the amount of academic work required.
Gaining a Bachelor's degree in the field will open up numerous job opportunities in cyber security, such as digital forensics, penetration testing, developing applications for the network, and being an information technology consultant. Cyber security can be found as its own discipline or among the concentrations available in the disciplines of Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Network Security and Forensics.
Are There Online Bachelor of Cyber Security Programs?
There are numerous Bachelor's degrees that are available completely online with a direct cybersecurity discipline or a concentration within a related field. Examples of disciplines that may contain cybersecurity content include information systems, information technology, information assurance, computer science, computer engineering, and more. Concentrations and electives can also be found in other focuses, such as business administration and health informatics.
Gaining an online education for a Bachelor's degree can provide convenience to the student without needing to visit campus on a full-time basis. In some cases, students will need to visit campus to complete cybersecurity projects, group assignments, or satisfy on-campus residencies required in the curriculum. There may also be a hybrid version that features both on-campus and online courses within the full program.
With a Bachelor's degree typically requiring four years of study, pursuing an online program may require the use of a hybrid format as some university resources may be limited. There is the upside to using those resources, such as a cybersecurity center, where students can apply some of what they learned in a real-world scenario.
|Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity||Website|
|Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity||Website|
St. Ambrose University
|Bachelor||Bachelor of Business Administration - Cybersecurity Management||Website|
|Bachelor||B.S. Cyber Security||Website|
Types of Program Accreditation
It is important to review accreditation for online programs, as this verifies the educational experience that students obtain from the program and may improve their candidacy for many career opportunities in cybersecurity. There is regional accreditation that varies based on the location of the institution in the United States, such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Specific to cybersecurity focuses, students should look to see if the program is designated as National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE), which is a collaborative effort between the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This establishes that a university has met requirements in cyber defense and/or cyber operations.
What Are the Steps to Getting This Degree?
Students will need to acquire approximately 120 credit hours to complete the program, which includes general education that is set by the university, the major selected, and any electives or the minor if necessary within the curriculum. More advanced topics and courses related directly to the major are generally taken in the second half of the program.
General education will consist of various liberal arts courses, such as mathematics, arts and humanities, social sciences, history, writing and communication, and more. Common options related to cybersecurity include taking introductory-level coursework in criminal justice or criminology, statistics, technical writing, and college-level algebra and calculus.
The final two years are spent learning about computers and computer science with a large focus on network and cybersecurity, which is the process of protecting computer networks from invasions such as hacking and fraud. Internships are often a big part of the program and may be a requirement for graduation.
Some Bachelor's degrees will have requirements to complete an internship, which may be completed during one of the last semesters of the program or during the summer term. Throughout the program, students should maintain a 2.0 GPA or higher, which is needed to avoid academic probation or warning. Students that fail to improve their grades in these standings may be dismissed from the program.
Courses to Expect for a BS in Cyber Security
As a student in a cybersecurity baccalaureate program, you can expect to take courses like digital forensics analysis, network security, ethical hacking and information technology.
You’ll also learn basic computer troubleshooting and will become familiar with computer programming. Other courses may include cybercrime law, ethics, criminal investigations and information security. The program teaches students how to identify security risks, assess the user’s security needs and implement a security system that will protect the network from invasion.
|Bachelor||Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in Information Systems Security||Website|
Thomas Jefferson University
|Bachelor||B.S. Information Technology Management||Website|
|Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations||Website|
|Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation||Website|
|Bachelor||BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance||Website|
While completing the academic requirements of the program, the student will also be eligible for several industry certifications regarding computers, networking and cybersecurity. Certifications the graduate may earn include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM), CompTIA Security+, among others.
What Are the Best Online Bachelor's Degrees for Cyber Security?
Depending on the university, there may be an online format for a Bachelor's degree in cyber security. This is an option that is becoming more common to find with CAE accreditation. Since the Bachelor's degree will require four years of education, there are many cases where programs will have a hybrid format of online education for common courses and on-campus sessions for more specialized electives.
Students that are looking to get into more advanced positions within information technology and cyber security should consider a combination of a Bachelor's and Master's degree in the field. Many institutions provide dual credit opportunity for advanced courses, which leads to a shortened time-frame to complete both programs.
Scheduling is typically the same for both online and on-campus programs with courses separated into seasonal terms. Another format is taking one course at a time in an accelerated format, which can also lead to slightly quicker time frames to graduate in if the student can commit to full-time enrollment. Having an online education can achieve this potential without a campus location commitment.
List of some of the Top Bachelors in Cybersecurity Degrees
University of Maryland - Global Campus
There are multiple Bachelor's degrees to consider that are related to cybersecurity, network systems, and software development. UMGC is a designated CAE and all programs are verified meeting Cyber Defense education criteria. One of the degrees is the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Policy, which focuses on risk management and the strategy involved to implement policy within an organization.
Students learn how to implement new technology into an existing information security system and hold a full understanding of ethics and regulations in the field. At least 120 credit hours are needed in the program, and this can be completed in either a hybrid or fully online format. Within the major itself, 33 courses are required, while 46 credit hours are reserved for electives and a potential minor selection.
Examples of courses within the major include Cybersecurity for Leaders and Managers, Fundamentals of Networking, and Cybersecurity in Business and Industry. Vendor certifications can be earned with this education, preparing students as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, EC-Council Certified Chief Information Security Officer, and CompTIA Network+ or Security+ professional.
The other two notable online programs are the Bachelor's degree within Computer Networks and Cybersecurity, and Software Development and Security. These emphasize the architecture and applications of information technology, providing skills to overview and enhance security within computer networks or implement security in software. Both of these programs can be completed online
A unique part-time program that is fully available online is the Bachelor of Professional Studies with a concentration in Cybersecurity Administration. The BPS offered by the university differs from traditional arts and science degrees with professional competencies, which is ideal for individuals that are already established working professionals or are looking to transfer in and complete their undergraduate degree.
When taking the cybersecurity focus of this program, students will gain the ability to develop and administer the network of an organization, understanding different aspects of the system regardless of industry. They can identify any vulnerabilities that can impact performance or compromise sensitive information. Different industries that graduates have gone on to include finance and accounting, retail, and health care.
Courses follow a schedule structure of eight-week modules, providing an easy opportunity and more focus for students to take one or two courses at one time. Up to 90 credit hours can be transferred into the program and there are no prerequisites needed to gain admission. There are also no on-campus residencies to fulfill within the curriculum, but there is an opportunity to join an on-campus experience if desired.
There are specific technical requirements that are needed to complete the program successfully in a virtual setting. A Windows or Mac computer should be used to access the learning management system with high-speed internet access. Hardware specific needs include a webcam and microphone or headset, and software such as Microsoft Office and a compatible web browser (such as Google Chrome) is necessary.
Old Dominion University
The College of Arts and Letters, and the Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research, offers a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity that is available completely online. Students will need to complete at least 30 credit hours of a total 120 in order to graduate. This program is designated as a CAE in Cyber Operations, which focuses on content from computer science and technical aspects of the field.
Core courses that students may take in the program include Basic Cybersecurity Programming and Networking, Cybersecurity Strategy and Policy, and Cryptography for Cybersecurity. Many advanced principles and applications courses require prerequisites in general education and the basic core curriculum. This program utilizes the Blackboard learning management system to maintain coursework for students.
Course format will vary between being able to view lectures on-demand or attend live classes through video webconferencing. Some may feature both formats, though live lectures would be limited in this scenario. Any requirements for hands-on training can be completed at a local facility where the student is located, or if they are near the university, can still utilize these resources even if they are an online student.
Students can meet with faculty members and other advisors through virtual office hours or with instant messaging, discussion boards, or email communication. This is also true with other peers in the program in order to ask questions or work with others on group assignments. Exams are completed through the course management system through focus-only mode or with a proctor.
University of Arizona
The College of Applied Science and Technology offer a Bachelor of Applied Science in Cyber Operations. Students can pick a concentration in Cyber Law and Policy, Defense and Forensics, or Engineering to customize the program and meet specific needs to the type of cybersecurity career desired. Students will gain the skills needed to apply analytical and critical thinking for organizational solutions, and there is a focus on protecting cloud-based networks.
120 credit hours are needed to complete this Bachelor's degree regardless of concentration selected. For students that live within the state, there are multiple locations to consider if a hybrid approach of online and on-campus coursework is desired. Topics covered within Cyber Law and Policy include how to analyze intelligence, the process of escalating major issues, and American security policy.
Students will apply what they have learned to the school's virtual and unstructured real-world scenario, CyberApolis. Over 15,000 simulated people are ran by artificial intelligence algorithms that provide an opportunity for protect sensitive information and identify any key problems as multiple daily banking transactions, email distribution, and other various activities are completed.
This program is designed for students that are looking to complete the second half of their undergraduate education, and they accept up to 60 credit hours of coursework. Prospective students transferring over must be pursuing a degree from an accredited institution and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher. In addition, other admission items include an update resume and a statement of goals for their cybersecurity career.
The Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security can be completed online with two different concentration options: Computer Forensics and Vulnerability Management, and Information Warfare and Security Management. This program has multiple start dates throughout the year for convenience in students entering the program. Graduates have gone on to take jobs within health care, banking institutions, and the US Military.
One unique aspect of the program is that it is tailored for students transferring from an associate program or already has at least 30 credit hours of college-level courses. This is a requirement in the admission process, which leads to a faster process of graduating from the program. A total of 90 credit hours can be transferred into the program, meaning at least 30 credit hours must be obtained at this university.
Reviewing the curriculum overall, students must complete general education, foundational topics in cybersecurity, the concentration focus if desired, and a capstone project that brings together what the student has learned in the program. Most of the student's transfer credits will satisfy courses within general education and foundational courses.
An example of courses that students can take on the foundational level within cybersecurity include Windows Server Administration, Relational Database Management with SQL, and Management of Information Assurance. Both of the concentrations require 18 credit hours to complete their specialty courses, which students can explore advanced topics in cyber investigations or national security.
University of Illinois at Springfield
A few online programs within the Department of Computer Science provide students with the capability to learn about computer systems and the security infrastructure around them. One of the more direct disciplines is Information Systems Security, which requires 120 credit hours to complete curriculum requirements. This program is verified within Information Assurance education through a recognized CAE.
Students will learn about the architecture of information security and be able to identify suspicious activities and vulnerabilities within the network. They also are capable of understanding various processes set by an organization, and the legal and ethical aspects of cybersecurity. Examples of core courses in this program include Foundations of Network Security and Information Assurance, Systems Programming Languages, and Windows Network Administration.
Within the 120 credit hours needed to complete the program, there are 48 credit hours that must be completed within the 300 to 400 level, which are more advanced courses within computer science. 30 of these 48 credit hours must be completed at the university. This means 18 credit hours transferred over, if they match advanced courses offered at the institution, will count toward this requirement.
Admission into the program has the prerequisites of Java programming, calculus, statistics, and discrete or finite mathematics. There are similar courses offered by the department if an applicant does not meet these prerequisites in the program. Applicants should also show a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA from their high school education or transfer over from a different undergraduate program.
George Mason University
An online program is available through the Volgenau School of Engineering called the Bachelor of Applied Science, which is focused on completing undergraduate studies for those earning an associate degree. There is a concentration available in Cybersecurity, which is available exclusively to those with prior education in a similar field.
There are restrictions to admittance into the program, needing to have an education in this field at certain locations. However, students do have the capability to study anywhere in the country if they have met these requirements. All courses are available in an asynchronous format and availability may differ based on terms, which students need to consider if advanced course prerequisites are needed.
Between 120 to 126 total credit hours are needed to complete the degree, which includes 33 credit hours in core courses and the concentration itself. 95 total credit hours will be needed in advance coursework and what is needed in the Mason Core, which are general electives and other technical writing needs for the degree. At least 15 credit hours are needed in technical elective options.
Other programs that students can consider with cybersecurity education include the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Cyber Security Engineering, and a concentration in Information Security with the Information Technology discipline. These are full programs that require a similar number of credit hours to complete, and in a four-year time frame for students in full-time enrollment.
The Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity is available through the university's global campus, which offers a full experience in the field without any on-campus requirements. Students gain competence in design and analysis within information system security and will have the capability to lead others within an organization. There are multiple start dates offered through the year, and the program is designated as a CAE within Cyber Defense.
180 total quarter credit hours are needed to complete the program. The curriculum will mostly consist of general education in the early part of the education, then transfers over to discipline-focused courses in the later years. Specific examples of courses that students will take within cybersecurity include Certified Ethical Hacking, Routing and Switching, and Digital Forensics.
Each course is completed in a 10-week module, and recommended time estimates for each course is between 15 to 18 hours in a given week. Typically, students can finish the program within a span of three to four years. There is an opportunity to gain both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in the cybersecurity field in an accelerated format if taken together.
Transfer credit can be utilized through direct prior education at other institutions or by passing standardized exams that showcase competency in the topics. Prior credit can come from community colleges if coursework is similar to what is studied at Purdue. Up to 75 percent of the curriculum can be transferred into with credit hours from other sources if approved.
City University of Seattle
A Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance is available completely online for a convenient process to complete higher education in this field. Students will learn how to use tools for network security, general information system terminology and an overview of the processes, and networking protocol. Programming will be completed in C++ and Python.
The curriculum is divided up into 180 total quarter credit hours, and through an accelerated format, can be completed in just two years. Various general education credits are needed in college-level mathematics, humanities, and social sciences. Core competencies within the discipline include Cybersecurity Technology, and Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (85 total credit hours).
Students will pursue 20 credit hours worth of preparatory courses, 10 credit hours of electives, and the program culminates with a bureaupathology capstone course. Careers in risk analysis, information assurance, and corporate investigations have been gained by graduates from this program.
The academic year begins on July 1st for the summer quarter, and the schedule is divided up into seasonal quarters throughout the year. Deadlines for admission are at least 30 days prior to the start of the quarter to be considered. The Prior Learning Assessment program will evaluate prior work and students may be able to test out of certain courses if they have the experience needed.
Dakota State University
The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations. Students will explore traditional computer science courses with an addition of data structure, networking, and information security management. There is an ability to combine this program with a Master's degree in Computer Science with the ability to graduate within five years.
For the Bachelor's degree program, students will learn how to analyze an organization's information systems to determine any vulnerabilities that exist. They will be able to implement any actions required to eliminate threats, such as software and other various tools. Familiarity in working with multiple programming languages and devices (mobile, computer systems, etc.) will be gained in the program.
A traditional 120 credit hours are needed for the online program, which breaks down into 78 required courses for the base program, 30 credit hours of general education, and 12 elective credit hours. Students have the potential to pass out of Introduction to Discrete Mathematics, but they will need to make up the three credit hours with an additional elective.
Graduates have gone on to become cyber security analysts and information systems security managers when completing this degree. Examples of organizations that have hired individuals from this program include the National Security Agency, Pacific Northwest National Library, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. Another online program to consider at DSU is the BS in Network and Security Administration.
Penn State University
The College of Information Sciences and Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis that is recognized by the DHS and NSA. Students will learn how to analyze and manage security threats, communicate these situations with others that they work with in the organization, and use various analytical tools such as ArcGIS. Another program to consider is the BS in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations.
Both of these programs are offered online through the Penn State World Campus. Between 77 to 85 credit hours are required for the major in Security and Risk Analysis, and this includes 15 credit hours for general education. Examples of courses that will be taken in this major include Introduction to Security and Risk Analysis, Decision Theory and Analysis, and Threat of Terrorism and Crime.
An internship is required to fulfill requirements set by the college. This counts for one credit hour toward the program and must be approved by an instructor. Students can pursue additional help through the World Campus Student Affairs center, which also aids in connecting with other students, interview preparation, and managing any anxiety they are dealing with in the education process.
These internship experiences will give students the ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-world situation. This includes disaster recovery efforts after a significant attack or developing security policies. Graduates have gone on to take positions as an application security specialist, information protection associate, and counter-terrorism analyst.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
The School of Information Systems and Applied technologies offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with five different course tracks to choose from. One of them is directly under Cybersecurity, with subjects in network protocol and information assurance. Another similar concentration to consider is in Network and System Administration.
Regardless of track selected, at least 15 credit hours are needed in the concentration, and all courses are at the 300 to 400 level. All of these courses must be passed with a C grade or higher. One of the final courses is the senior project, which puts students together in groups to develop and solve real-world information technology problems.
Altogether, there are 120 total credit hours needed for both on-campus and online students. In addition to the major electives, there are 15 electives to further customize the degree. Other credit hours are allocated to core university courses in mathematics and social services for general education, and courses specific to the Information Technology Major.
Prospective students should have at least a high school diploma with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or above. Alternative admission criteria include ranking in the top 10 percent of the graduating class or getting a test score of 23 on the ACT or 1140 on the SAT. Transfer students from a different university should have at least 26 transferrable semester credit hours with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA.
University of Phoenix
An Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity can be earned online through the University of Phoenix. Prospective students have the ability to enter into the program multiple times throughout the year with added flexibility in start times. Alternatively, the institution also provides the Cybersecurity Policy and Governance certificate as an alternative undergraduate program.
For the Bachelor's degree, students will gain the foundational skills necessary to thrive in their cyber security career. They will be able to utilize skills gained in engineering and science courses toward real-world situations. Many specialty topics, such as risk management, computer forensics, and ethical hacking, will be explored in the discipline.
Courses that students will see within the 120 credit-hour curriculum include multiple levels of Computer Network Defense, Infrastructure Administration, and Web and Cloud Computing and Security. Examples of certification exams that this program will prepare students for include a Certified Security Analyst and Chief Information Security Officer through the EC Council, and CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst.
Benefits of taking the program at the University of Phoenix includes the ability to waive courses that students already have credit for. The maximum number of transfer credits eligible for the program is 90 credit hours. Students will receive vouchers for the specialization certification exams they are looking to complete.
Majors and Minors in the Bachelor’s Degree
Cyber security concentrations may be pursued as a major or minor component of the Bachelor’s degree. The major will be the main focus of the degree after completing a number of general education requirements and entry-level computer science courses. Examples of advanced topics included digital forensics, information technology management, and ethics and legal issues.
As a minor, this must be combined with a major that is not in a directly related field, but one that can combine the elements of elective contents within computer infrastructure and network security. Minors will typically require around four or five courses that will be studied in addition to the major, which can be in business administration, health care, public policy, and more.
Applied Science Bachelor’s Degrees
Some universities offer a program that is dedicated to those transferring over from an Associates in Cyber Security program or have a certain amount of credits from an undergraduate program at a different institution. The benefit of these programs is they are frequently offered in an online format for additional convenience to students. These are typically not labeled as a Bachelor of Science or Arts program, instead having a listing such as a Bachelor of Applied Science, which matches the associate degrees, with a concentration of cybersecurity.
Typical Admission Requirements for a Bachelors
The admission process for entry into a Bachelor’s degree program with an emphasis in cybersecurity requires the completion of a high school diploma. Depending on the program, there will be varying requirements needed in terms of prerequisites, how high the student completed within their class, and standardized testing scores. More prestigious universities may be more selective with their students, but the field of cybersecurity has a need for more educated employees in various industries.
Prerequisites that are handy to have are college-level mathematics, writing, and public speaking capability. Some high schools may offer courses that satisfy general education needs at a university, or they may partner with a local community college or nearby institution. This gives students the ability to eliminate some early requirements in the curriculum and graduate at a quicker rate.
While standardized testing with the SAT and ACT are being phased out at some institutions, these are still frequently required in the admission process or can help boost the prospects of a candidate. Additional application items include letters of recommendation from prior teachers or professionals that can vouch for work experience or volunteer efforts earned.
Accelerated Format with a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree
Another potential opportunity for students that already know they are going toward additional studies in cybersecurity and information assurance may consider taking an accelerated program. This offering combines similar courses offered within the major of a Bachelor’s degree and advanced studies in a Master’s degree.
Students will typically have a deadline where they need to declare and send in an application for the Master’s degree while pursuing their studies. They should already hold outstanding coursework in their current undergraduate studies to qualify. Usually, this type of format is only available at the same institution, meaning the student will have to complete both degrees at the same university offering them.
Typical Coursework for a Bachelor’s Degree
|One of the most common general education requirements for cybersecurity degrees are college-level mathematics, including linear algebra and business calculus. Concepts involved in these courses help in various security processes, such as cryptography. No advanced mathematical courses are needed for entry-level cybersecurity positions, but can help for positions at a later time.|
College Writing and Composition
|Completing reports on vulnerability testing and recommending new innovations into a cybersecurity solution are requirements when designing or improving the infrastructure. This requires strong writing skills and understanding what type of writing format is necessary in certain situations. Additional courses in speech preparation and presentation can also build on these topics.|
|Another common general education requirement within Bachelor’s degrees are social sciences. These courses are studies within economics, sociology, and US history. Having these concepts helps build toward improving the cybersecurity infrastructure and where it can be further implemented in society.|
Computer Systems Security
|It is important to understand the operating system being used by the organization to maintain and store information. These computer systems have different features available, and in turn, different vulnerabilities and disaster recovery methods when necessary. Many programs will provide a curriculum with multiple operating systems, with the most popular being Windows and Linux.|
|Accessing and manipulating information requires competence in computer programming, such as C++, Java, Python, or SQL for database management. Programs that specialize with data analytics will typically focus on the Python language as it is the most popular used in the field. Programming topics are more commonly found in the computer science discipline with specializations in cybersecurity and information assurance.|
|Data science programs can frequently have components of cybersecurity topics, and the basics include analytical processes and tools needed to gather and organize big data. Courses may include the process of data mining and cleaning information from structured and unstructured data sources. Algorithms are needed to quickly sort information in an automated process, and data visualization makes information easily understandable for others.|
|One of the top techniques used in securing information is encrypting and decrypting sensitive data. It is important to keep private data, such as where a client or employee lives, or their banking information, from being leaked on the internet. Cryptography provides an opportunity to keep this information hidden even if it is intercepted by unauthorized activity, and these courses also look at tools that extract data through decryption.|
|These courses explore the investigation process of digital information stored on devices and over networks in order to detect and solve criminal activity. Students gain the ability to recreate information that was attempted to be destroyed or erased. Other topics include rules and regulations set by the federal government online and what exists in the dark web.|
|For students looking for a career in cybersecurity at the national level, they must take courses that focus on defending American citizens and the economy from cyberterrorism. Cyber attacks frequently take place and must be protected in order to keep attackers from other countries, or domestic cyberterrorists, gaining access to the national infrastructure to create damage and chaos in media and network communications.|
|The protection of networks, communication, and access points within a large organization’s computer systems is enterprise security. Courses can look at the differences in these large-scale cybersecurity solutions and tools that are used. While these courses generally tackle advanced topics beyond the Bachelor’s degree level, some programs may provide introductory concepts and looking at the architecture of a large enterprise’s information systems.|
Full-Time Versus Part-Time Enrollment for a Bachelor’s Degree
Gaining this type of degree within cybersecurity, information assurance, or a related discipline, typically requires three to four years of studying on a full-time basis. A total of 120 credit hours are needed, which can vary slightly depending on the specific program and if the student is able to test out of graduate-level courses by receiving credit at a community college.
Some universities may have an accelerated format that quickens the process of the Bachelor’s degree. Students may be able to test out of certain general education requirements that are needed at the beginning of the program. They may be able to add courses during the summer months or take additional credit hours than what is recommended if they excel at prior coursework earlier in their studies.
Generally, it is recommended that students pursue the Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity with full-time enrollment as it requires up to four years, or roughly 15 credit hours per traditional fall and spring semester. Part-time education will require at least five to six years as courses are spread out further per term, which can also extend tuition costs and additional fees or students.
What to Expect with Part-Time Enrollment
There are benefits to pursuing a Bachelor’s degree on a part-time basis, especially when this is taking place in an online format. This type of education provides the most flexible option to learn cybersecurity and other aspects of computer and network security. Within this format, there are no requirements to take courses on-campus, or students may have the ability to complete some coursework on campus at nights or weekends.
Having part-time coursework also adds time for a student to continue working in a professional setting or commit to other life obligations. This flexibility makes it easier to pay for schooling instead of relying exclusively on loans to pay for one’s education. They can also use this education to improve their position at an organization they already work for.
In addition to the extended time requirement, financial aid may be limited for some students. Both scholarships and federal aid may be reduced, or ineligible altogether, for students that do not meet a minimum amount of credit hours in an academic year. Students must also be responsible to get their coursework done, which can be tougher to accomplish when having more freedom to view lectures and complete assignments.
Tuition Costs for a Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security
A wide variety of tuition ranges are set for Bachelor’s degrees based on where the university is located, if the program is going to be taken on campus or online, and if the student is a resident of the state where the university is located. Smaller colleges may offer cheaper tuition than bigger institutions, but individuals should review all fees and other expenses, such as room and board, to determine the total cost of their education.
Overall, prospective students can expect to pay anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000 per academic year for a Bachelor’s degree program. This tends to fall around the $10,000 estimate on average when reviewing Bachelor’s degrees across the country. When adding together other resource fees, books, and room and board costs for a four-year program, total costs can stretch into the $50,000 to $70,000 level.
One of the biggest reasons for increase of tuition rates are students that enroll at an institution that is in a different state than they reside in. Out-of-state tuition fees can nearly raise by double to triple the amount of a traditional rate if a student lives in one state, but commutes or does not have residency in the state the university is located. In some cases, the impact is not as severe, such as the University of North Dakota charging $9,493.92 annually for in-state residents and $15,977.28 for other United States citizens.
Ways to Save on Tuition Rates
Colleges will often charge per credit hour, which allows students to transfer in other credits to lower their tuition costs. A common pathway is completing college-level courses that are offered in high school where available, or completing an associate degree at a community college and transferring the credits over. Students will need to verify if these credits can be accepted by the institution where the Bachelor’s degree will be pursued.
Online programs that are similar to the on-campus format will typically carry the same costs, but out-of-state tuition may be waived. In some cases, students may find a cheaper tuition rate per credit hour when pursuing an online program. This is due to the lower requirements for using student resources that are available on campus, instead utilizing features through the learning management system.
Scholarship Options for a Bachelor’s Degree
Students have the ability to cut back on their tuition costs by applying for scholarships. These opportunities may be available through the university by sponsors, from vendors looking to aid students meeting certain qualifications, or associations looking to bring more individuals into the cybersecurity profession. Scholarships will give students a certain amount of tuition off a term or academic year, or they could pay for the entire tuition.
In order to qualify for a scholarship, students must meet the requirements set by the organization or university that is distributing the award. Typically, the standards are based on prior academic record or dealing with financial hardship. Students that are able to demonstrate a strong background in their academics with a high GPA, or are coming from a background that may not be able to afford higher education, may qualify.
Application requirements for a scholarship often require the individual to submit an essay that details why they are looking to pursue a cybersecurity program or answering questions on why they qualify for the scholarship over others. Scholarships may also be tailored toward a specific demographic, such as minorities or women, who are underrepresented in the information technology sector overall.
Examples of Cyber Security Scholarships
- The International Information System Security Certification Consortium, referred to as (ISC)^2, offers a cybersecurity scholarship for undergraduate students that ranges between $1,000 to $5,000. In order to qualify, students must maintain a 3.3 GPA and either need to be a senior in high school or entering into an undergraduate program in the upcoming fall semester.
- The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, in conjunction with (ISC)^2, offers the Women’s Cybersecurity Scholarship, which has similar application requirements to the standard scholarship, but it is limited to women. Additional requirements in the application process include a letter of recommendation that verifies the skills of the individual, a resume showing work or volunteer history, and multiple essay questions.
- Harmony Tech offers an annual $1,000 scholarship for students that are entering an undergraduate program with a discipline in cybersecurity or information assurance. To be eligible for this award, students must be a United States citizen, hold an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher, and the university must be regionally accredited. Students can be pursuing online or on-campus programs on a full-time or part-time basis.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security?
Holding a Bachelor’s degree is a standard for cybersecurity professionals. Many positions require advanced skills in understanding various computer and network systems and the operating systems that are used in this process in order to implement and analyze security solutions. This requires the completion of a Bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in cybersecurity.
If considering a minor in cybersecurity, students should consider what matches up well with their major focus area. For example, studying a few concepts in cybersecurity, such as cryptography, can be beneficial with a major in business administration or health informatics. Working with sensitive patient data or private business transactions must be encrypted if the information is compromised from unauthorized intrusion.
Many job opportunities will list that a Bachelor’s degree is required for the cybersecurity position. Individuals without much computer science or information technology experience, and do not hold a Bachelor’s degree, should consider completing this undergraduate program to gain full understanding of all concepts involved with cybersecurity. A certification may be enough for those that already have this level of education.
Other factors, such as prior work history and at least completing an associate degree, may still open the door for these jobs. Eventual graduates should review all job requirements to determine how to highlight their resume and present themselves in an interview to be considered for the professional opportunity.
Building on a Bachelor’s Degree
Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree can provide job opportunities in cybersecurity, but there are other ways to put this education to good use. One way is to go back into a university after gaining a few years of work experience from their undergraduate education. This can lead to more advanced positions in cybersecurity, such as building and innovating information system architecture to improve security, or executive positions within the information technology sector.
Students can also add an additional year onto the program and get a Master’s degree in the cybersecurity discipline. For this pathway, students can enter advanced positions immediately after college if they demonstrate high academic merit through their junior year. This format overlaps similar courses in the major and within the core coursework of the Master’s degree program, requiring just five full years instead of six years on a full-time basis.
Information security analyst positions are one of the most popular for graduates from cybersecurity degrees. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, average salaries hit near the $100,000 mark, which can be expected in the financial and insurance industries, or being part of the information system development process. The highest salaries, which are over the $108,000 estimate, can be found in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC, where many federal government positions exist.
Security analysts can have a number of specific roles, but overall, they monitor an organization’s information systems and ensure that operations are running smoothly and that vulnerabilities are limited. They may determine upgrades that need to take place to improve security and they can help employees understand security procedures that they need to pass in order to use applications.
Massive growth is expected for security analysts, jumping 31 percent between the years of 2019-29. As individuals upload more of their personal information and utilize cloud computing, and organizations rely more on data-driven decision making, improved security measures are needed to keep up with this growth and advanced attacks from hacking intrusions.
One of the specific activities that security analysts can perform are penetration testing. Bachelor’s degrees can cover the basics of this process and is recommended for these duties. This activity identifies any vulnerabilities within a network in a controlled environment, giving the organization an opportunity to discover potential issues without having to deal with it in a live setting.
Being able to perform penetration testing gives professionals the ability to report on specific issues and the effects it can have on their network and computer systems. They can also test disaster mitigation efforts to determine if they have capable processes in place, such as firewalls and backup recovery, to minimize or prevent data breaches.
Looking outside of strictly security-focused positions, these degrees can provide opportunities in database administration. Duties in this opportunity include storing and maintaining sources of data that may need to be identified, verified, and ensures that processes and activities run efficiently. It is important to make sure that information within a database is secure to avoid unauthorized access from employees, clients, or rogue applications.
Other needs from administrators in these positions are updating the database management systems that an organization uses. By updating platforms and applications, this can improve security measures as updates to the system or using further innovative software and hardware solutions will increasingly protect this information.
Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree with a discipline or emphasis in cyber security will open up many entry-level positions in the information technology field. Gaining a degree provides theory and concepts into the specific profession that is pursued, and it will also help prepare students for an exam certification. Some programs will provide a path to receive certification from top vendors such as CompTIA, Cisco, and Microsoft.
Risk assurance associates will have a main focus point of assessing risk within an organization and work with other team members to ensure that they understand and are following protocol. They must have a strong concept on organizing and completing various tasks and should accurately analyze client information. Professionals must have strong communication skills and work with various levels of employment and/or potential clients.
A business intelligence analyst analyzes the data flow within an organization and determines its validity. This is integral to higher-level employees making important business decisions to advance and improve the company. They aid in mining and cleaning raw data and must protect information on the network and stored in various locations.
Counter-terrorism analysts monitor the threat of enemy activity in other countries and determine any potential attacks that could occur against the United States. Analysts will frequently write detailed actions and report their findings to other team members and higher-level management. These positions are often available through government agencies and when organizing foreign travel in military service.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts receive an annual mean wage of $99,730. Cyber security professionals fall into the category of information security as they monitor networks at their organization and ensure that there are no unauthorized intrusions or data breaches taking place. Other categories within information security include penetration testing, cryptography, software development, and innovation in the field.
BLS recommends that job seekers have a Bachelor’s degree when looking for opportunities in this line of employment. There is plenty of opportunity in information security overall with the expectation of 32 percent job growth between 2018-28. Employment levels are high across the country, not only in the highest portions of Virginia and Washington DC, but also in New York, California, Texas, and many parts of the Southeast.
The highest salaries for information security analysts are generally found along the Northeastern portion of the United States. The New York City metropolitan area averages $127,850 annually among the estimated employment of over 8,850 in the area. Washington DC is home to the largest amount of information security employment, and the average salary is approximately $117,810 in the area.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected employment rise of 10 percent between 2019-29 for database administration jobs. This is due to the rising usage of cloud computing and analyzing big data through machine learning and artificial intelligence. Average salaries for administration and architecture positions is estimated at $93,750 annually when looking at the United States overall.