Like the wide-ranging nature of the profession itself, cybersecurity degrees are offered in a number of formats. From cybersecurity associate’s degrees to advanced cybersecurity Ph.D. programs, colleges and universities have created a number of options to suit the needs of different kinds of students.
Some popular degree types and programs include:
Cybersecurity associate degree
An associate degree in cybersecurity is the first step towards a rewarding career in a growing and important industry. Associate degree programs can last anywhere from one year to two years and are designed to help students get baseline exposure to the cybersecurity industry and prepare to take industry certification exams.
Associate’s degrees are offered in both online and campus-based formats and are a solid option for students who are looking to explore the career before fully committing to a four-year degree program. The good news is that many undergraduate programs accept transfer credit, so there is a potential that the credits earned during an associate program can later be applied to a bachelor’s degree.
Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is often considered a necessity for entry into the cybersecurity profession. Because of the technical nature of the cybersecurity, companies, and organizations hiring for cybersecurity positions often (but not always) look for applicants holding a cybersecurity degree, or a degree in a closely related field.
One interesting trend in cybersecurity undergraduate programs is that they are increasingly becoming multidisciplinary and incorporating a number of fields, such as law, policy, and communications, as well as the traditional information security curriculum.
Another trend in undergraduate cybersecurity studies is that programs are becoming increasingly flexible in terms of when and where students can complete degree requirements. Campus, online, and hybrid cybersecurity programs exist across the country.
Cybersecurity master’s degree
A master’s degree in cybersecurity is a great option for students with a related undergraduate degree (such as computer science, engineering, or mathematics) who are looking to develop specific expertise and connections to take advantage of the massive opportunities unfolding in cybersecurity space.
Master’s degrees also allow students to explore and decide on a specialty within the field. In terms of cybersecurity, these options range from developing specific experience on data, networking, and information architecture and infrastructure to developing expertise as a testing or forensic analyst.
Given the growing number of opportunities in the cybersecurity field, a master’s degree is a great way to prepare for a future of leadership and advancement in the industry.
Cybersecurity certification programs
Certification is an important facet of the cybersecurity industry. The kinds of certifications that exist can be broken down into two general categories. There are academic certification programs, which are designed to help professionals that already have degrees or work experience to sharpen cybersecurity skills. These programs exist at both the post-baccalaureate level and for professionals looking for more senior or executive-level training.
Professional certification programs are also part of the cybersecurity field. Most jobs require some level of professional certification, and many of the certifications require updating or challenging to stay current.
Cybersecurity Ph.D. programs
Like other cybersecurity degree programs, there has also been an evolution in cybersecurity Ph.D. programs. With increased flexibility and more options to study across disciplines, cybersecurity Ph.D. programs have never been more attractive to students looking to really refine their expertise.
Often Ph.D. programs within technical disciplines like computer science and engineering are best geared towards professionals looking for roles in research, or something closely related.
However, a lot of industry leadership roles also require some level of advanced education, including a Ph.D. One thing is for sure, the cybersecurity industry is growing so fast, and is projected to be in the growth phase for several years, that professionals with relevant doctoral degrees certainly will have ample career opportunities.
MBA in cybersecurity
Even though cybersecurity is considered a technical field, the industry requires a wide array of well-trained professionals. Recently, to meet the growing demand for management and consulting roles, universities have begun offering Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees with a specific focus in cybersecurity.
These new MBA programs combine both technical background and expertise with the organizational, finance, and management side of a traditional business degree. This opens up a lot of possibilities and potential for career options.
Master’s information security
A master’s in information security or a master’s in information assurance prepares students to take leadership roles within the cybersecurity industry.
Cybersecurity analytics degree
Cyber analytics, or security analytics, can then be described as the use of data analytics to achieve a cybersecurity objective. It is a powerful tool born of a deep understanding of data that can describe cybersecurity risks, diagnose vulnerabilities, predict future malicious behavior, and prescribe protective remedies.
Cyber analytics has evolved over the last few decades to become the basis for essential cybersecurity solutions and practices. It has provided a crucial understanding of bad actors, techniques, and behaviors.
Computer science with a cybersecurity emphasis
The ideal candidate for a computer science major with a concentration in cybersecurity desires a broad understanding of computer science principles and to work in the cybersecurity field.
Before a concentration or emphasis in cybersecurity became widely available, most cybersecurity professionals obtained a computer science degree with additional coursework designed to provide a better understanding of the principles of security. The newer cybersecurity degree programs have shifted that balance more toward a specialized degree rather than a concentration or emphasis within the traditional computer science program.
Cybersecurity law degree
There are essentially four graduate degrees that qualify an individual to work on the legal side of cybersecurity. These are an MLS, a J.D., an LL.M., and an S.J.D. The main focus of this guide will be the LL.M. degree with a concentration in cybersecurity. It is the most beneficial law degree for students aspiring to become practicing cybersecurity lawyers.
Cybersecurity engineering master’s
A master of science in cybersecurity engineering degree prepares graduates to either begin or further advance their career in the field of cybersecurity. Graduates will understand computer science and security principles beyond the baccalaureate level. They will acquire the skills necessary to defend against cyberattacks by detecting, triaging, and mitigating cybersecurity breaches.