Protecting the security of computer networks, digital communication systems, and networked devices is a pressing concern for business managers and administrators. The information contained in databases and other business data technologies, on email servers, and in other parts of a company’s IT infrastructure is often crucial to business operations, which makes this data a potential target for hacking and other types of cyber attacks. Managing and reducing the risks posed by these threats, coordinating protocols for responding to intrusions, and engineering networks that resist unwanted penetrations are some of the key aspects of cybersecurity, a field that combines technical knowledge with leadership skills and business acumen. Many MBA programs provide students with introductory coursework in IT administration and business intelligence systems as part of a core curriculum. There are also a growing number of MBA programs that provide a designated track or specialization in cybersecurity or cybersecurity management, which typically include two or more courses in areas like risk analysis, information assurance, and cybersecurity law and compliance.
An MBA in cybersecurity is a Master of Business Administration degree conferred by a program that provides a clearly defined concentration of courses in intermediate and advanced IT administration and security topics. Students in these programs receive core training and instruction in general MBA subjects areas, including accounting, finance, human resource management, marketing, operations management, strategic planning, and leadership. In addition, they complete several courses that cover knowledge and skills related to managing and coordinating cybersecurity policies for companies and other business organizations. Students who opt for a cybersecurity specialization often complete an applied MBA capstone project in the field of cybersecurity policy and management.
Online MBA programs allow students to complete an MBA degree without having to relocate or commute to a college or university campus. These programs utilize distance-learning technologies to provide a more flexible and convenient alternative to campus-based MBA programs. This may be a particularly appealing alternative for students who do not live near a school that offers a cybersecurity specialization. Online MBA programs provide all or most of their coursework through a learning management system (LMS) that allows students to access lectures and other course materials through a secure Internet connection. Class discussion groups and interactions between students and instructors are also typically supported by the LMS, as are exam and assignment submissions.
There are several key elements of MBA programs that OnlineEducation.com researches and weighs when identifying and classifying online programs with a cybersecurity concentration. To be included on the site, an MBA program must be offered by a regionally accredited, non-profit college or university with a business school that has additional accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). To meet OnlineEducation.com’s criteria for online programs, the school must offer all or most of the program’s coursework online. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are not currently listed on the site. Finally, an online MBA program with a specialization in cybersecurity or cybersecurity management must offer at least two courses in information assurance, cybersecurity policy, and/or risk analysis and reduction as part of a specialized track or concentration.
Most of the coursework in an MBA program with a cybersecurity concentration is in general areas of business administration, including sales and marketing, organizational leadership and communications, accounting and finance, and personnel and operations management. This comprises the core MBA curriculum. What distinguishes an MBA program with a cybersecurity track from a general MBA program is the specialized coursework in cybersecurity knowledge and skills. While some of this cybersecurity training may include technical skills in areas of IT systems operations, much of the specialized coursework covers management and administration aspects of cybersecurity, including data protection protocols, information security planning, and compliance with cybersecurity laws and regulations. A student who enrolls in and MBA in cybersecurity program will also typically complete a capstone project in which they apply what they have learned to a real-world business problem in the realm of cybersecurity.
Coursework within an MBA specialization usually comprises between two and five classes in topics related to that specialization. The table below provides an overview of courses that are commonly found in an MBA in cybersecurity curriculum.
|Information Assurance||An introduction to the field of information assurance, its history, and recent developments in cybersecurity strategies.|
|Information Systems Management||An overview of information systems management challenges and solutions in the field of business, including human resource issues, IT policy and governance, and strategic planning.|
|Enterprise IT Security||The legal and logistical framework for managing cybersecurity operations, digital forensics investigations, and other aspects of data and systems defense in companies and other organizations.|
|Cybersecurity Risk Analysis||A survey of assessment methods, evaluation metrics, compliance issues, and other topics relevant to determining cybersecurity vulnerability and quantifying and mitigating the risks associated with cyber attacks.|
|Secure Networks & Communications||An overview of wired and wireless communications and Internet systems, routing protocols, digital certificates, and other aspects of securing networked computers and other devices.|
Admissions requirements and criteria for online MBA programs vary by school. Some programs require the submission of GMAT test scores, while others do not. It is not uncommon for programs to ask students to submit two or three letters of recommendation and a short personal goals statement as part of the application process, and some admissions departments interview applicants and/or have essay questions that applicants are required to answer in writing. The basic requirement for all MBA programs is an undergraduate degree from an accredited bachelor’s degree program. Some schools have a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement, while others may simply factor an applicant’s GPA into the admissions process. There are MBA programs that prefer applicants who have a year or two of experience in a business field, but many do not. Finally, there may be certain undergraduate courses – usually a statistics, mathematics, and/or an economics/business course – that MBA programs require applicants to complete before admission or enrollment.
There are three functional aspects of online MBA programs that prospective applicants should consider when researching programs that offer a cybersecurity specialization: instructional methods, enrollment options, and campus visit requirements. These variations impact the relative convenience and flexibility of a program. The two basic online teaching methods are synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction indicates that classes have scheduled online meeting times; asynchronous instruction allows students to log on and view lectures and other course materials according to their own schedule. Some online MBA programs are offered full-time, which may allow students to complete the program in two years or less, but many programs provide part-time enrollments options for students who would prefer to take fewer courses per semester or term. While there are many online MBA programs that do not require students to attend campus visits, some programs hold on-campus immersion sessions or intensives that are an integral and required part of the curriculum. For more detailed information on these variations, refer to our general page on Online MBA Degree Programs.