Computers systems and the communications networks they support have become an essential part of our economic and social infrastructures. This layered and expanding cyber world of physical and digital assets, databases and programming, applications and algorithms, offers clear benefits. It has also created critical vulnerabilities, opening potential avenues for attack and infiltration by hackers and cyber criminals. Protecting this interconnected web of cyber technologies has become a top priority in IT, throughout government, and in every sector of the economy. This responsibility, which includes testing, strengthening, and defending the integrity of systems and data on the digital frontier, rests in the hands of professionals in the growing field of cybersecurity.
To accommodate demand in the workforce for cybersecurity skills and training, colleges and universities have developed a range of master’s degree programs that target three primary areas within cybersecurity: information assurance, information governance, and digital forensics. Degrees in these disciplines may be offered by computer science and engineering departments, by schools of technology, or through interdisciplinary programs that combine aspects of information security, computer programming, criminal justice, and/or business technologies. Currently, there is not a specific accrediting body that sets curricular guidelines for master’s in cybersecurity programs. There is also no standardized naming convention for these degrees. Consequently, it can be difficult to identify and compare programs offered by different universities. For these reasons, OnlineEducation.com developed its own classification system for online master’s degree programs in cybersecurity.
Through methodical, in-depth research of master’s programs in cybersecurity, OnlineEducation.com has classified these programs and placed them into three specialized subject areas based on the following criteria:
Through independent research, OnlineEducation.com has created a comprehensive and proprietary database of online cybersecurity master’s degree programs. Students can compare, contrast, and evaluate these programs, despite different naming conventions and/or department affiliations. For each program, we have provided detailed information about admissions and graduation requirements, program and curricular options, tuition costs, and more.
In addition, OnlineEducation.com classifies programs based on how many campus visits they may require. To meet the criteria for an online master’s degree in cybersecurity, a program may not require more than two campus visits per year. Programs that do require more than two visits are considered hybrid-online programs and are not included on the site.
To complement our database of online cybersecurity master’s degree programs, we interviewed experts across the field of cybersecurity, including information security researchers and consultants, and professionals who handle the day-to-day operations of cybersecurity. Combining our research with key insights from these experts, we created a Guide to Careers in Cybersecurity, which includes sections on the key skills employers look for in information assurance, information governance, and digital forensics hires. It also explores the value of certifications in cybersecurity; the role cybersecurity has in various sectors of the economy; and how the experts recommend preparing for a successful career in cybersecurity. The guide is intended to provide anyone interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity with detailed information about the current state of the field. We will also be adding an FAQ section and featured content that explores other aspects of cybersecurity, information assurance, information governance, and digital forensics in the future.
Overall IT systems defense is the focus of information assurance and cybersecurity training. Skills include testing for system weaknesses, patching vulnerabilities, installing firewalls and anti-virus programs, and otherwise mitigating system risks. This page details the coursework central to cybersecurity, and typical formatting differences between programs.
Digital forensics programs cover the tools and techniques used in cyber incident response and investigations. This involves training in computer programming, operating systems, and malware design, as well learning about data privacy statutes and other laws pertaining to digital information. This page details the courses and core concepts associated with online digital forensics master’s degree programs.
Managing risk and data at an organizational level are two key concerns in information policy and governance. Courses that address the strategic nature of information governance, and policy considerations in cybersecurity are central to master’s training in this area. This page highlights curricular objectives and other program considerations students often weigh in an online master’s program.