Cybersecurity degrees are specific computer network security courses of study that prepare students for careers as forensic network analysts, computer analysts for law enforcement agencies and other network security jobs. They are a relatively recent development, providing specific skills related to the investigation of intrusions and maintenance of security protocols on computer networks of various sizes. Cybersecurity graduates help organizations protect critical information, assess threats and vulnerabilities, and assist with forensic analysis of cyber incidents. Like other computer networking degrees, salaries are higher than average and job growth is higher than the national mean. While some cybersecurity employees hold a high school diploma or associate’s degree, a majority of the jobs in the growing cyber security field require a bachelor’s degree.1
Cybersecurity Degree Requirements And Coursework
An aptitude for mathematics and electronics is key to doing well in a cybersecurity degree program. Most schools offering these programs require strong standardized test scores and above average grades in math and science classes. Cybersecurity degree students learn how to design and administer computer networks. Unlike other degrees, advanced coursework focuses on cybercrime and cyberterrorism, as well as online forensics work to identify intruders of corporate and government computer systems. Other high level courses focus on threat assessment and planning for active network defense by degree graduates who generally attend bachelor’s degree programs or obtain post-baccalaureate cybersecurity certificates or master’s degrees.
Examples of courses in a cybersecurity degree curriculum include:
- Computer Science
- Discrete Mathematics
- Foundations of Cybersecurity
- Object-Oriented Programming
- Computer and Network Security
- Operating Systems Security
- Information Assurance
- Database and Distributed Systems Security
- System Vulnerability Assessments
- Cyber Crime Investigations and Forensics
- Managing Cybersecurity Operations
- Information System Threats, Attacks and Defenses
- National Cybersecurity Policy and Law
- Global Cyber Capabilities and Trends
- Cyber Warfare
- Applied Cryptography
- Ethical Hacking and Systems Defense
Source: Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus
Top Cyber Security Degree Programs
The Ponemon Institute conducted a survey of about 2,000 certified IT security professionals in 2014 to determine the top cyber security universities in the country. They ranked the following school at the top:
1. The University of Texas at San Antonio
2. Norwich University
3. Mississippi State University
4. Syracuse University and Carnegie Mellon University
5. Purdue University
6. University of Southern California
7. University of Pittsburgh and George Mason University
8. West Chester University
9. US Military Academy at West Point
10. University of Washington in Seattle
Cybersecurity Job Description
Network security analysts and cybersecurity investigators work with federal and state agencies to investigate allegations of computer crime and identify possible suspects. In addition, they use internet tools to gather online evidence of wrongdoing. Cybersecurity degree holders who decide to work for businesses may be tasked with providing security for large-scale private databases or e-commerce systems, creating active defenses against hackers and responding to intrusions.
Cybersecurity Salary And Job Outlook
According to the “Cybersecurity Jobs Report”, the rapid growth of computing and communication technologies around the globe has led to unprecedented growth in the cybersecurity industry and an urgent need for qualified individuals to address dramatic future growth.1 The federal government is placing significant resources into reducing the threat of cyber attacks and President Obama has declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”4 In April, 2013, James Clapper, the top US intelligence official, stated that the threat of cyber attacks has become a greater concern than terrorism.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 37% growth in employment for information security analysts from 2012-2022, much faster than the average of all occupations.3 24% of Chief Information Officers interviewed by Robert Half in 2012 said data security was their top professional concern.5
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual median wage of $86,170 for information security analysts as of 2012 and the top 10% earn a median wage of more than $135,600 per year.3 Median pay for information security analysts is $9,900 higher than the median pay for all computer occupations.3 The highest paying industry for information security analysts is finance and insurance with a median wage of $92,080.3 Compensation is also increasing for government employees who are tasked with protecting the nation’s infrastructure using cybersecurity skills. Advancement is possible by handling the protection of larger networks, or managing other network security analysts.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Degree in Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity field is relatively new and jobs descriptions and roles are still developing. Jobs include general network security as well as specialized positions on a team like an Ethical Hacker, who is tasked with exploiting networks to show evidence of vulnerabilities. According to The George Washington University, graduates are hired by IT and technology companies, government departments and agencies, security software companies, and others.
Examples of job titles for cybersecurity professionals:
- Security Analyst
- Security Engineer
- Security Architect
- Security Administrator
- Security Consultant
- Security Director
- Vulnerability Assessor
- Ethical Hacker (Penetration Tester)
- Source Code Auditor
- Computer Security Incident Responder
What is the Difference Between a Cybersecurity Degree and an Information Security Degree?
According to Florida Tech University Online, cybersecurity is a subset of the larger area of information security. Cybersecurity refers to the protection of networks, computers, programs, and data from attack or unauthorized access. Information security refers to the protection of data stored both electronically and physically.
What is the Difference Between a Cybersecurity Degree and an Information Assurance Degree?
According to University of Maryland University College, information assurance deals with “confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication and validation of data” while cybersecurity deals with the safety of computers and computer systems in a networked environment.
Additional Cybersecurity Resources
CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service is a program funded by the National Science Foundation and provides full scholarships to eligible individuals at participating colleges in exchange for service for the government after graduation. In addition to covering education costs, the program provides stipends of up to $20,000 per year for undergraduate students and up to $25,000 per year for master’s students.
FBI Cyber Crime – News and information including cases, threats, and Cyber’s Most Wanted.
United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team – CERT-US is managed by the National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security and works to improve the nation’s cybersecurity.
DOJ Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section – Responsible for combating computer and intellectual property crimes worldwide.
Online Cybersecurity Degree Info, Courses & Criminal Justice Programs
- Cyber Forensics/Information Security, BS
- MS - Cybersecurity
- MS in Cyber Security
- Undergraduate Certificate in Information Assurance
- BS: Busi Mgmt Info Sys - Information Assurance
American InterContinental University Online
- Master's (MIT) - Information Assurance and Security
- Bachelor's (BIT) - Internet Security
- Bachelor's (BIT) - Computer Forensics
- B.S. in Criminal Justice - Computer Information Systems and Security
- Masters of Information Systems Management - Enterprise Information Security
University of Phoenix
- B.S. in Information Technology - Information System Security
- Computer Science - Networking and Information Systems Security (BS) ++
1. Cyber Technology and Innovation Center: http://www.ctic-baltimore.com/reports/Cyber%20Security%20Jobs%20Report-010813.pdf
2. Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-16/cybersecurity-starts-in-high-school-with-tomorrow-s-hires.html
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
4. Whitehouse.gov: http://www.whitehouse.gov/cybersecurity
5. Information Week: http://www.informationweek.com/traffic-management/best-paying-it-security-jobs-in-2012/d/d-id/1101522?
6. Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2013/03/04/demand-for-cyber-security-jobs-is-soaring/
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.