Is an MS Cyber Security online degree a good career investment? It depends on who you ask. If you ask the Bureau of Labor Statistics – the foremost authority on the workforce in America – the answer is an enthusiastic yes. Careers in cybersecurity are expected to grow as much as 28% by 2026, according to the BLS, and we have nowhere near enough cybersecurity experts and analysts today. The added job market pull of a master’s degree, and the higher-level positions a master’s opens up, make an online cyber security master’s degree a smart bet.
Getting Your Cyber Security Master’s Online
From the FBI, the NSA, and Homeland Security, to Wall Street, Hollywood, and Amazon, there’s one threat that overshadows all others – cyber security. If all these powerful forces can all agree on one thing, it’s that cyber attacks, whether for terroristic purposes or good old fashioned theft, are the single biggest danger facing American life, safety, and commerce. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and projected to get worse in the near future.
Recommended Online Cybersecurity Programs
If you’re already working in cybersecurity, or have a bachelor’s degree in some other computing field, it may be time to go back to school and increase your credentials with a master’s degree. You’ll not only distinguish yourself on the job market, but prepare yourself for the flood of work to come. An online degree program seems like a natural choice for anything related to computer science, so online cyber security master’s degree programs are some of the most highly-developed and trusted degrees you can get online. With experience in the field, and a job where you can apply your learning right away, a cyber security master’s online is an obvious win.
Methodology: Ranking the Most Affordable Online Cyber Security Master’s Degree Programs
To rank the 25 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Cybersecurity 2019, Value Colleges doesn’t just look at the money. After all, the cheapest cyber security master’s may not be the best. So you don’t waste your time, VC ranks only regionally-accredited programs with a track record of value. Many of the institutions on the Most Affordable ranking are also recognized as National Centers of Excellence in Cyber Security by the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA – an added element of reputability in a booming field.
Schools are ranked in order by their annual costs, according to current IPEDs data.
Southern Arkansas University
Southern Arkansas University’s online MS in Computer and Information Science (MCIS) with a concentration in Cyber Security and Privacy Option is one of the most affordable cyber security master’s online. The program provides a wide variety of online and onsite courses that are selected specifically for students in both theories and applications. The course work is reviewed regularly and updated the changing needs in the computer science field.
Students in SAU’s affordable online cyber security master’s degree program select general topics in computer science, or select from one of three concentrations. Those concentrations are information technology, data science, or cyber security and privacy. The cyber security and privacy concentration prepares students for careers in security and privacy architect, forensic specialist, or security and privacy compliance analyst. Students are required to be familiar with computer systems and computer applications to choose this concentration. Students will gain a strong foundation in security analytics, like penetration testing and digital forensics, as well as cyber defense and privacy compliance.
Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University’s online MS in Information Assurance and Security degree program is for individuals who have an undergraduate Computer Science or Management Information Systems major or minor, or have a baccalaureate degree in a related technical field and appropriate professional experience. Individuals who do not have appropriate academic, technical, or experiential backgrounds may be able to take courses to ensure a minimum standard of technical competence. The department chair makes decisions about the option to do STEM work decisions on an individual basis.
SHSU prepares students in the online cyber security master’s degree program for a career in commercial, industrial and governmental information assurance. They will have foundational knowledge in information security and the means by which to ensure the safety of private data and businesses’ information and resources. They will learn how to secure network systems, prevent network damage, perform risk assessments and plan for disaster recovery. SNSU’s low tuition makes for the Southwest’s most affordable cyber security master’s online.
Dakota State University
Dakota State University’s online MS in Cyber Defense degree program provides students with the tools to provide better security, protect information, and prevent digital attacks. DSU has been named a national center of excellence in information assurance education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As society and business has a growing dependence on networks, they are opening themselves up to vulnerability and cyber attacks.
Students in Dakota State’s affordable MS cyber security online program will gain a broad understanding of data privacy, computer forensics, hacking and intrusion detection. Students will be better able to lead technical strategic efforts and understand all aspect of networking in any industry. By the end of the program, students will be experts in cyber security. Upon graduation, students will be able to find employment in network security, penetration testing, system administration, and incident response.
University of the Cumberlands
University of the Cumberlands’ online MS in Information Security degree program was created for students who have an undergraduate degree and are currently working in the information technology field. Employment in information security is on the rise as new threats occur every day and every corporation faces looming security risks. UCS was named a National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
This degree program’s mission is to create leaders in the information technology security field. Students will continue to pursue ways of preventing risk or mitigating the risk of data loss. The Information Security program at UCS aligns with DHS and NSA’s cyber security education standards. It also conforms to the CISSP common body of knowledge. Upon completion of this affordable online cyber security master’s degree program, students will be able to begin a security systems career and ready to take the CISSP certification exam.
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s online Master of Engineering in Cyber Security degree program provides students with specializations in cyber security, so they can better prepare themselves for security threats and concerns. As technology becomes a staple in our lives and more things are controlled by computers or programs, the need for individuals experienced in cyber security increases. All organizations across public, private, non-profits and non government agencies depend on cyber security to protect their business and their customers.
TAMU’s online cyber security master’s degree program requires 9 credits of cyber security core coursework, 6 credits of cyber security focused electives, 9 credits in concentration areas, and 6 credits of free electives. These electives are chosen with the assistance of a faculty advisor. This program requires a total of 30 credit hours for completion. With TAMU’s low tuition, it’s one of the most affordable cyber security master’s online programs in the US.
Western Governors University
The Western Governors University online MS in Cyber Security and Information Assurance was created with cyber security experts and leading technology employers and is in line with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) standards. It also meets the guidelines of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA). This program prepares students for the latest cyber threats, like viruses, malware, and scams.
WGU’s affordable cyber security master’s online program focuses on the latest best practices in systems and services, as well as networking and security. Students will learn the fundamentals of scripting and programming, data management, and information technology. Students will be better able to detect system vulnerabilities and protect private data. Upon graduating from this degree program, students will be able to find employment as computer and information systems managers, database administrators, network architects, and security specialists, just to name a few.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s online MS in Information Security and Assurance provides students with the ability to develop, coordinate, and protect information. The instructors and faculty are experts in their field. The course work focuses on three key perspectives, enterprise, or the system of systems view of organizations, knowledge management, and quality management, giving students solid foundation in business and security assurance. Students gain a deeper understanding of the modern business information systems in which organizations operate. They debate the risks of bad data, poor design, incorrect use, and threatening actions and how the impact organizations.
As a leader in online education, Embry-Riddle Worldwide takes an interdisciplinary approach to creating strong decision makers who can strengthen business intelligence and information systems while being a driver for enterprise-wide policy changes. Businesses thrive on information and the sharing of data, but new threats emerge daily putting organizations at risk with potential impacts on profits and reputation. ERAU’s online cyber security master’s degree is everything great about Embry-Riddle in an affordable program.
University of Maryland University College
In the University of Maryland University College online MS in Cyber Security Technology, students learn how cyber security technology determines the success of organizations and critical infrastructures. This program highlights emerging topics and allows students to develop the skills employers want. It gives the opportunity network with prospective employers through conferences and recruitment events. University of Maryland provides students hands on experience in their technology lab.
This program teaches students to marry digital strategy and the organization’s mission. Students are better able to think critically and analyze situations and improve them. Students learn the benefits of proactive risk management and provide solutions and make better decisions through the use of data analytics. Students gain a deep understanding of cloud and mobile environments and learn to build fault tolerant environments. Upon completion of the MS cyber security online program, students are able to become cyber leaders in an innovative and technology driven world.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida’s online Master’s in Cyber Security degree is an interdisciplinary program combines in collaboration by the USF Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Behavioral and Community Sciences; and Business and Engineering. The cyber security master’s online program develops the students’ knowledge through an interdisciplinary set of courses and select from one of four concentrations: cyber intelligence, digital forensics, information assurance or computer security fundamentals. Some of the concentrations can be done online.
To apply to one of the most affordable online cyber security master’s degree programs in the nation, students must have the fundamentals of computer networking, operating system design and C/C++ programming. They should understand algorithms and data structures. They also need to know how a computer network operates and a strong foundation in computer organization. USF is a leader in online instruction, and well known as a best value.
Wilmington University’s online MS in Cybersecurity is designed for the working student. The online cyber security master’s degree program arms students with the tools to fight against cyber terrorism and protect against multivector cyber attacks in a content-rich program which addresses cyber intelligence, forensics, preservation of critical infrastructures, counter sabotage and espionage. WilmU’s instructors are leaders in their field and help students to master the skills needed to build defense scenarios and guard against warfare and attack.
Students finish this program prepared to utilize the knowledge and skills obtained from course work and apply it directly to their jobs. Graduates from this program can find jobs as a Chief Information Security Officer, Computer Security Incident Responder, Penetration Tester, or a Cryptographer/Cryptologist just to name a few. Graduates are able to find jobs in financial companies, security software companies, e-commerce, and government, defense, or intelligence agencies.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University’s online MS in Information Assurance is a 100% online cyber security master’s degree program offered through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The classes are digital streaming video which allows students to take them at a pace that works for them. The cyber security masters online course requires 30 credit hours including 18 core courses, 6 credits of research, and 3 credits of a creative course, or the capstone in lieu of a thesis. With Iowa State’s reputation for low costs, it’s one of the most affordable online cyber security master’s degree programs anywhere.
Students in ISU’s cyber security master’s online program learn advanced computer networking in addition to computer security. Students gain a deeper understanding of the ethical and legal issues surrounding computer security. Students also gain a fundamental understanding of information warfare. Students will benefit from hands on experience in lab experiments. They will also gain a broader understanding of networking standards, protocols, and their implementation, as well as network application protocols, IP routing, network security issues.
Jacksonville State University
Jacksonville State University’s online MS in Computer Systems and Software Design offers a concentration in Information Security and Assurance. The mission of JSU’s program is inform the next generation of managers, analysts, and programmers how to specify, design, and deploy a new generation of tools in computing and information systems. The online cyber security master’s degree program was created for students interested in information technology careers in business, government, or organization.
In Jacksonville State affordable cybersecurity master’s online, students learn a focused approach to resolving today’s software development problems. They focus on methodology and practices used by successful software companies. Students interested in this program must have either an undergraduate degree that required courses in computer science, software engineering, or information systems or have a degree in another field, but also three to five years experience in systems and software design.
Excelsior College’s online Masters in Cyber Security is intended to teach students how to protect private information and cyber assets by detection, countering, preventative and recovery actions. All businesses, agencies and organizations have a critical need for cyber security. At the end of the program, students will have the ability to understand their ethical and social responsibility as it relates to cyber security. They will study the impacts that culture, diversity, and interpersonal relations have on cyber security.
Excelsior’s affordable cyber security master’s online program teaches students to be able to detect and respond to cyber-attacks on network systems. Students learn the value of risk assessments and vulnerability detection on information systems. Students gain an understanding cyber security issues and threats. They are given a foundation in proper monitoring, maintenance, and enhancement enterprise-wide protection of information with effective information and risk management and risk techniques.
Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University’s online MS in Cybersecurity gives students a complete education. It combines online and on-campus classes. Faculty and staff at Saint Leo know that cyber technology changes all the time. That’s why this program helps students develop the flexibility that they’ll need. Students here prepare to meet new technology changes. Those who graduate from this program learn how to defend different cyber environments from attacks. They also learn best practices for cyber research. This program is also extremely affordable, so if you’re looking for the cheapest Cyber Security Masters degree, add this school to your list.
Saint Leo University is a Catholic school in central Florida. That said, it welcomes students from all faiths. As a Catholic liberal arts university, Saint Leo is dedicated to nurturing the mind, body, and spirit, and its classes reflect those values. Saint Leo’s classes offer a solid foundation. From there, students can build more specialized knowledge. This system definitely works. They consistently get rated as one of the top universities in the south, as well as one of the most affordable.
Purdue University’s MS in Cyber Security Management is a 100% online program that gives working professionals the freedom to learn on their own schedules. The program also offers several start dates, adding to this program’s flexibility. Cyber Security Management students study via “learning labs.” These labs mimic real-world environments. Like Saint Leo, Purdue also has a very affordable program, so look into this one if you want the cheapest Cyber Security Masters degree.
Purdue Online offers an innovative, personalized educational approach. Built on a Purdue’s acquisition of Kaplan University, Purdue Online knows that working adults deserve the same education quality as on-campus students. Purdue online combines quality with flexibility and affordability, including one of the most affordable online cyber security master’s degree programs in the nation. With personalized support and up-to-date learning, Purdue can help you make a huge career difference.
Bellevue University’s online MS in Cybersecurity degree program is designed to prepare professionals for to prevent cyber attacks, respond to attacks that have already happened, identify system vulnerabilities, and more. With this degree, students can take your career in any number of directions, from corporate and finance to government. With both a traditional and an accelerated program, working students have plenty of options. Your MS Cyber Security online program will meet your educational and flexibility needs.
As an open-access institution, Bellevue University provides opportunities for all students. Balancing affordability with career preparation, this school takes students beyond basic learning. Students get to truly master their subjects. The program fosters career confidence. As a result, students prepare themselves for better career success than they would with other forms of education. For an in-depth career advancement opportunity, Bellevue is an excellent option.
George Mason University
George Mason University’s MS in Applied Information Technology, with a Cyber Security concentration, is designed for those who want to pursue Cyber Security but also want opportunities to branch out. The online cyber security master’s degree program emphasizes leadership skills as well as tech skills, promoting foresight and critical thinking. George Mason is most concerned with developing ethical leaders in the security sector – particularly because of its deep connection to Washington, DC.
GMU is a leader in online learning communities. It offers plenty of flexibility so that all types of learners can thrive. As Virginia’s largest public research university, GMU offers lots of resources, opportunities, and accessibility for all of its students. GMU is also known for value, with the affordability of a public university and the resources of a Beltway research institution. If you need flexibility but also want the best educational standards from your courses, then check out GMU.
Valparaiso University’s online MS in Cyber Security prepares students to meet evolving needs. As technology gets more advanced, so does the possibility of a cyber attack. This program helps students look for growing patterns. This way, graduates are prepared for anything. This online learning program simulates real-world environments. When you earn your online Cyber Security Master’s Degree from Valparaiso, you can meet your career head-on.
Valparaiso University creates tailored, individualized learning plans for each of its students. Even online students get lots of one-on-one faculty interaction in a personalized environment. This Lutheran school accepts students of all faiths. (About 15% of the student population is non-Christian.) With a commitment to quality and to nurturing the whole person, this school appeals to those who want more from their education – including affordability.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona’s MS Cyber Security online program works best for those who already have a few years of professional experience under their belts. Students in this 100% online program can choose from two options: information systems or physical systems. Either way, students prepare for a quickly-growing field. The program emphasizes critical thinking skills. All in all, this online Cyber Security Master’s degree program combines the rigors of the classroom with the flexibility of online learning.
The University of Arizona provides nearly all the same benefits to online students as it does for on-campus students. Online learners enjoy a web-based orientation, research help, academic tutoring, and more. UA’s affordable cyber security master’s online program is a bargain for all – even out-of-state students pay the same tuition as their in-state peers. Thanks to all of these benefits, the Center for World University Rankings put the University of Arizona in the top 1% of all higher ed institutions
University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island online Professional Science Master’s in Cyber Security provides all of the theory, experience, and expertise of a conventional MS without a thesis requirement. While it does require an internship, students may be able to complete that internship where the currently work. If you’re looking at Cybersecurity Masters programs with a lot of practicality and real-world preparation, check out the University of Rhode Island.
With a small student to teacher ratio, University of Rhode Island offers lots of personal attention for its students, even those who take classes online. This diverse community encourages students to think big. Today’s workforce is full of unique challenges, and the URI faculty prepare their students to meet all of those challenges. Look into URI if you want an affordable online cyber security master’s degree that offers real career opportunity.
Regis University’s MS in Information Assurance offers three certificates that can be taken along with the degree for a specialization: Cybersecurity, Executive Information Technology, or Information Assurance Policy Management. Graduates from this program move on to jobs in private security and in the government sector. The program prepares students to protect data at every stage of delivery. If you choose Regis University, you might choose the online path, the on-campus path, or a mixture of both.
Regis University is a vibrant school with faith-based roots. This Jesuit Catholic university accepts students of all faiths, though classes reflect the school’s Christian values. Faculty at Regis University help students harness their passions to make a difference in the world. The US News and World Report consistently ranks Regis University as one of the top-tier western universities in America. Regis is also especially affordable among Catholic institutions of its stature, giving it a reputation as a best value.
St. Bonaventure University
St. Bonaventure’s online MS in Cyber Security degree program helps students develop all of the critical skills that they’ll need for real-world security scenarios. In fact, students learn from real cyber security professionals, so they get first-hand knowledge of how to best advance their careers. Students also get to practice with real-world scenarios in real time, building their skills in machine learning, data mining, forensics, and penetration testing. This affordable online cyber security master’s degree, with a Catholic emphasis on ethics and service, is perfect for white-hat professionals.
This Catholic-Franciscan university values lifelong learning and faith-focused education. It fosters a passion for education in its students and faculty. As a military-friendly school, St. Bonaventure helps even the busiest adults get the flexibility they need from their university experience. Having won all sorts of awards, St. Bonaventure provides the quality education that you’ll need to compete in today’s workforce with confidence.
Lewis University’s online MS in Computer Science-Cyber Security concentrations teaches students how to identify potential threats before they happen. From there, students learn how to keep track of those threats and keep them from invading vulnerable systems. Lewis University teaches a broad range of security topics so that graduates can take on all sorts of roles throughout their careers. Lewis’ affordable online Cyber Security Master’s degree will open doors for your career.
Lewis is a nationally recognized university that offers small class sizes, personalization, and lots of flexibility. As a Catholic school, it does have faith-based classes, though Lewis welcomes people from all faiths. Just like Lewis’s on-campus students, online students get assigned an advisor to help them from registration to graduation. US News and World Report ranked Lewis as one of the top 25 regional universities in the Midwest, and Lewis has long been named a best value because of its combination of affordability and quality.
Roger Williams University
The Roger Williams University MS in Cybersecurity program recognizes the need for highly trained workers. That’s why they have in-depth classes that cover all sorts of scenarios. Classes cover not only situational skills, but build students’s critical thinking skill so that students become prepared for all of the unexpected events of a real-world career. Classes take place in virtual environments that simulate on-the-job situations. If you expect realism from your MS Cyber Security online degree, Roger Williams will provide.
RWU values experience just as much as it values classroom learning. The emphasis on practicality means that students acclimate to the “real world” soon after graduating. Founded in honor of Roger Williams, this school pursues social justice, inclusiveness, and lifelong learning. Roger Williams also keeps tuition low for a school of its standing, making for one of the most affordable cyber security master’s online.
Mercy College’s online Cyber Security master’s degree program lets students earn a combined BS and MS in five years. Alternatively, students who already have a BS can earn their MS in just 18 months. Offering both online and combination options, Mercy College provides flexibility. The program prepares students to become leaders, developing security programs, preventing cyber threats, and more. Mercy’s cyber security program has been recognized by the National Security Agency and the US Department of Homeland Security.
Mercy College attracts goal-focused students who want to make the most of their educations and careers. With a diverse student body bringing lots of different worldviews, this school takes education far beyond the classroom. Mercy’s highly challenging programs mean that students graduate prepared for anything. Reasonable tuition rates and one of the most affordable online cyber security master’s degree programs also means students graduate to a solid ROI.
How are Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Related?
Students considering their career paths may wonder: what is the difference between information assurance and cybersecurity? Although there are similarities between these two computer and network security paths, information assurance and cybersecurity are each unique and can lead students on different career paths. That may include their workplaces, their responsibilities, and even their potential for advancement.
Information assurance is a broad category. There’s not so much a difference between information assurance vs cyber security; rather, cybersecurity is one aspect of information assurance. Information assurance and cybersecurity are both related to the prevention and defense against hacking computers and their network systems and program. However, cybersecurity is more technically focused on prevention of attacks on a system – the tools, skills, and engineering of security. Information security, on the other hand, includes cyber security, but takes the longer view of preventing and managing risk.
Students interested in cyber security need more technical skills and should pursue a degree in computer science or information technology. Students interested in information assurance take the same courses as those in cyber security, but also should add data analysis and courses focused on digital information. Information assurance will also include more managerial and leadership emphasis, making it the better choice for students interested in higher-level administrative roles in government or corporate sectors.
What Kinds of Classes are Required for a Cyber Security Degree?
To apply to a master’s in cyber security, requirements include, at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in computer programming, information science, or computer engineering. Students need a strong grounding in statistics and math. Students also should be familiar with the basics computer forensics, network security, encryption, as well as the fundamentals of information security. Students should be familiar with programming language and have certification in Tia Security+.
To earn your Master’s in Cyber Security, requirements include classes in areas such as operating systems, networks and network defense, advanced security, and data analysis. In a master’s program, students will take a deeper look at data integrity, risk management, business planning and recovery from disasters. Students will take advanced classes in cryptography and cryptoanalysis. Cyber security degree requirements force students to improve their technical skills as well as practice functioning effectively in an organization – very little cybersecurity work will be done independently, so teamwork and collaboration are crucial.
Should I Get a Degree in Computer Science or Cyber Security?
The choice of of computer science vs cyber security degree is a choice between a broader and a more specialized program. Computer science and information technology, of course, is the foundation of all things computers and computing – including cyber security. Those in the computer science field deal with the theory, design, and development of software and their systems.
Cyber security, in turn, is one specialized area of computer science. Cyber security is a part of the bigger whole of computer science. The best universities for master’s in cyber security will ground their cyber security programs in strong computer science expertise. Cyber security focuses on the protection of computers, computer networks, and the data they contain. Those in the cyber security field focus on the protection from attacks and cyber crime, such as spam, viruses, and phishing, just to name a few.
Recommended Online Cybersecurity Programs