A master’s in cybersecurity imparts fundamental skills to students to assess security risks, prevent cyberattacks, and protect information systems. As cybercrimes continue to cripple government agencies, corporations, and defense systems, the demand for well-trained cybersecurity professionals has been high. This article discusses the key must-have curriculum courses for a master’s degree in cybersecurity, the top online programs, and the top 10 colleges and universities in the U.S. to study them.
Key Must-Have Course Curriculum for Success
A master’s degree in a cybersecurity and information security program equips students with the skills and expertise to assess security risks, protect information systems, and prevent and tackle cyberattacks. With the proliferation of cyberattacks in recent times, individuals with cybersecurity credentials are high in demand across industry verticals.
In a master’s degree program, students generally spend two years learning advanced cybersecurity concepts. Many cybersecurity master’s entail 30-36 credits or 10-12 classes. The coursework includes various subjects such as cryptography, digital forensics, cyberlaw and policy, and risk analysis. Some classes zero in on cybersecurity theory, while others focus on managing real-world problems that professionals encounter in their field of work. The programs end with capstone projects oriented toward research or even field experience.
A master’s in cybersecurity covers three classes: core courses, electives, and practicums. Some programs also offer interdisciplinary coursework. Here are the key must-have master’s curriculum courses for success in the cybersecurity field.
Must-Have Modules in a Cybersecurity Course
1. Foundations of information assurance
The introductory curriculum subjects offer basic skills, terminologies, and concepts related to network protection and data. Additionally, students can opt for planning, implementing, and managing security systems at the corporate level. Generally, topics like cryptography, network security, data mining, programming for malice, and operating system protection are covered.
2. Cyberlaw and ethics
Students pursuing this course have the liberty to take a multidisciplinary approach that covers legal and ethical issues related to privacy, U.S. cyberlaw, fraud, trust, and international business. Additionally, they can explore government approaches to better understand the public policy implications of content and intellectual property and cybersecurity governance.
3. Human factors in security
Students opting for this course undergo security awareness training and choose information technology learnings within organizational environments. They also study mitigation strategies that protect organizations from human behaviors that may compromise their security.
4. Network security
Learners can opt for subjects such as the design principles of secure network protocols and systems, in addition to authentication, integrity, confidentiality, and privacy courses. Students gain insights into digital watermarking, access control, intrusion detection, and information hiding by taking up real-world case studies.
5. Applied cryptography
Applied cryptography is a critical course in a master’s program in cybersecurity. The course covers various information security subjects such as cryptanalysis, cryptographic algorithms, digital signatures, public-key cryptography, hash, and MAC functions.
6. Digital forensics
Students in this course can apply the learnings from various disciplines such as technology, business, organizational behavior, and law. They learn several techniques to collect, process, preserve and analyze computer-related evidence. The curriculum trains students to detect, respond to, and prevent network intrusions.
Students are also taught about the responsible use of resources, the appropriate management of risks, and the need to align information technology with the organization. To achieve success and better understand the cybersecurity field, all the above courses are essential for any student looking to take up cybersecurity as a profession.
See More: Cyber Threat Analyst: Key Job Skills and Expected Salary
Top 5 Online Programs for Master’s in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity professionals employ advanced, complex systems to keep track of technological security threats. They are not only responsible for monitoring security variables on personal devices but also for handling the security of large, mission-critical networks. With the increasing demand for qualified cybersecurity professionals, acquiring a master’s degree has become even more important.
According to a 2020 research project by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), there is an ongoing shortage of cybersecurity skills, and the problem only seems to be worsening progressively. As a result, the corporate industry is currently in dire need of a pool of qualified and skilled cybersecurity professionals. So, now is a great time to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity.
Graduating with a master’s degree in cybersecurity enhances the prospects of students in developing advanced careers in a rapidly growing and in-demand industry. Today, in the post-pandemic world, more students are opting for online studies to earn their degrees. So, let’s understand how you can earn your master’s in cybersecurity from the top five online and accredited programs.
The top five online programs for master’s in cybersecurity are shortlisted based on various parameters such as affordability, flexibility, and overall program appeal. This list gives students an idea of the top online programs in the field and offers guidance to choose the right one. However, it is important to remember that the course content of a master’s program varies from school to school.
1. MS in Cybersecurity Operations and Leadership (University of San Diego)
This online master’s course allows students to complete their degree in 20 months. The program is a 31-credit curriculum and is suitable even for those with limited cybersecurity experience. Each class lasts for around seven weeks, with students allowed to take one asynchronous course at a time.
The program requires students to take courses such as applied cryptography, cyber intelligence, and a concluding capstone course. USD’s program focuses on imparting theoretical knowledge and giving hands-on experience on cybersecurity applications, along with lessons on ethical leadership skills. The coursework touches upon management principles, business services, and strategic decision-making.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity Operations and Leadership at the University of San Diego is $28,675.
2. MS in Cybersecurity (New York University)
NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering offers a 30-credit online master’s in cybersecurity, which can be completed in two years when studying full time or two to three years when done part-time.
Students are required to take up core computer science and security courses. Additionally, they have to select three elective subjects from the offered options, such as digital forensics, machine learning, and mobile security. They can conclude the program by completing a research project or a thesis.
NYU’s online program offers several benefits, such as a specialization in cyber ops, a virtual lab that is remotely accessible, and also an entry into the NYU Cyber Fellows program. The Fellows program provides a 75% tuition scholarship for part-time students pursuing the online course.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at New York University is $58,290.
3. MS in Cybersecurity (DePaul University)
An online master’s in cybersecurity can be pursued at DePaul University with a total of 52 credits. However, some students may need to complete additional prerequisite coursework. The program focuses on various topics such as computer security, governance, risk management, compliance, networking, and infrastructure.
DePaul’s online program gives ultimate flexibility to students as it offers enrollment in fall, winter, spring, and summer. Online learners can stream and download classroom lectures.
According to DePaul University’s recent survey, 91% of the graduates from DePaul’s School of Computing, running the cybersecurity master’s program, reported that they were either employed, considering continuing education, or not seeking employment.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at DePaul University is $44,980.
4. MS in Cybersecurity (Webster University)
Webster’s master’s in cybersecurity requires students to complete 36 credits. They can then build advanced careers in cyber intelligence, digital forensics, and fraud prevention.
The program offers courses such as cybersecurity infrastructures, encryption methods and techniques, and practical research in cybersecurity. Additionally, students can avail an optional internship to acquire real-world job experience before concluding the master’s program.
Webster provides substantial flexibility to students by offering discussion modules and weekly assignments.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at Webster University is $28,080.
5. MS in Cybersecurity (DeSales University)
DeSales University’s online master’s degree program is designed for working professionals. The program offers various learning mediums such as interactive lectures, hands-on experience, group projects, and research.
Students are expected to complete 36 credits to graduate with a master’s degree. The program concludes with a final capstone project that is expected to showcase the comprehensive work of the students in their areas of interest.
DeSales’s cybersecurity program gives students access to the school’s Center for Homeland Security. This unique association provides resources that enable students to connect with various industry verticals for networking and training purposes.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at DeSales University is $30,780.
See More: Top 15 Cybersecurity Interview Questions to Prepare for in 2022 (And How to Answer Them)
Top 10 Colleges and Universities in the U.S. For a Master’s Degree
A master’s degree in cybersecurity provides an educational platform for information technology (IT) professionals looking to enhance their skills and advance their employment prospects in the field. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and IT professions are expected to experience a quantifiable occupational growth of 11% between 2020 and 2030. Information security is a part of this growth slab.
Let’s dive into the list of top 10 colleges and universities in the U.S. that offer a quality master’s degree in cybersecurity.
1.Johns Hopkins University (MS in Cybersecurity)
Johns Hopkins University offers a master’s degree in cybersecurity where students are required to select a track amongst analysis, assured autonomy, networks, or systems. They are also allowed to choose the option of pursuing an independent study. All the tracks fulfill the foundational course requirements that include an intro to programming basics (Java language), discrete mathematics, and foundations of algorithms.
On the other hand, the independent study track consists of two mandatory projects and concludes with a capstone requirement. In addition to these requirements, applicants are expected to satisfy the requisite criteria in subjects such as calculus, advanced math, Java, data structures, and computer organization.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at Johns Hopkins University is $23,775.
2. University of Southern California (MS in Cybersecurity Engineering)
USC’s MS degree is inclined toward developing and operating information security systems. Students are expected to take up a series of primary and elective courses from computer systems assurance, foundations and policy for information security, and security and privacy. With these, students develop advanced skills in complex fields of cryptography, secure networking, and key management.
They can choose electives from computer forensics, cybersecurity for oil & gas operations, or an exclusive research project. Students are given the option of taking up courses synchronously or asynchronously via USC’s exclusive DEN@Viterbi learning management system. This learning management system assists at various levels, such as technical, exam coordination, and homework support.
Average tuition fee: Students at the University of Southern California pay an average annual fee of $30,786 for an MS in Cybersecurity Engineering.
3.Florida State University (MS in Cybersecurity)
Florida State University provides a master’s degree in computer science with an elective or optional major in cybersecurity. Students are expected to clear the core requirements through coursework consisting of computer software, computer systems, and computer theory. The cybersecurity major covers several subjects such as cryptography, network security, and computer and network administration.
FSU’s online master’s program exclusively offers an embedded information security specialist certificate on completing the course. Also, students who do not possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science need to satisfy prerequisites related to operating systems, theory of computation, computer organization, generic programming, data structures, and algorithms.
Average tuition fee: Students at Florida State University pay an average annual fee of $19,041 for MS in Cybersecurity.
4.University of San Diego (MS in Cybersecurity Engineering)
USD’s master’s program enables graduates to explore careers in the public and private sectors. The degree focuses on imparting practical and professional experience to learners willing to pursue a specialization in cybersecurity. The courses covered under the program include secure systems engineering, cybersecurity foundations, digital forensics, and incident response.
Applicants can enroll in the program in the fall or spring semesters. The course lasts up to seven weeks and offers subjects like academic advising and graduate placement support services. USD is open to accepting applications throughout the year as it offers several start dates during an academic year.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity Engineering at the University of San Diego is $22,445.
5.Indiana University-Bloomington (MS in Cybersecurity Risk Management)
Indiana University collaborates with the Kelley School of Business, the Maurer School of Law, and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, to offer a master’s degree program in cybersecurity for prospective learners. The degree is named ‘MS in Cybersecurity Risk Management’ and blends the combination of technology, business, and law.
Applicants need to fulfill requisite course requirements in core areas such as technical cybersecurity, IT risk management, and cybersecurity law and policy. The degree is specialized and known for providing good hands-on experience to students and concludes with a capstone course. Additionally, students can independently prepare for the certified information systems security professional exam.
Average tuition fee: Students at Indiana University-Bloomington pay an average annual fee of $26,069 for MS in Cybersecurity Risk Management.
6.University of Delaware (MS in Cybersecurity)
The University of Delaware offers an online MS in cybersecurity. It covers several disciplines such as applied cryptography, digital forensics, and secure software design. Students are free to choose topics spanning security analytics, security management to secure systems or software. The degree also offers multiple entry dates throughout the year and includes seven-week courses. UD also provides a 4+1 accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s degree in cybersecurity to prospective cybersecurity aspirants.
UD collaborates with federal and state agencies and private sector companies to give wider cybersecurity exposure to students. It is important to note that the University of Delaware has been designated as a ‘National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE)’ by the National Security Agency (NSA).
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at the University of Delaware is $14,250.
7.New Jersey Institute of Technology (MS in Cybersecurity and Privacy)
NJIT offers a master’s program in cybersecurity and privacy. The program dives into the technical, legal, ethical, and policy-based features revolving around cybersecurity. Enrolled students have the option of concentrating on cyber defense or customizing their degree curriculum with a master’s project or thesis. Students can also go for degree completion with a capstone project.
The master’s program targets core cybersecurity courses such as network protocol security, counter hacking techniques, and cryptography. The institute leverages the Moodle learning management system and offers academic advising and technical support through it. The school has designed the coursework in a way that it can be completed online synchronously or through occasional converged classes, wherein some learners attend the class physically while others attend remotely.
Average tuition fee: Students at the New Jersey Institute of Technology pay an average annual fee of $31,556 for MS in Cybersecurity and Privacy.
8.Fordham University (MS in Cybersecurity)
According to the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, Fordham University provides the best master’s in cybersecurity in the nation. Their master’s degree program is entitled to receive a STEM designation. The program allows students to take up optional practical training after completing the coursework.
The coursework emphasizes cybersecurity essentials, cybersecurity intelligence, and cybersecurity in business. The master’s degree expects students to take up cybersecurity practicum and makes it mandatory to end the program with a capstone or thesis. The program pattern combines both online and hybrid courses.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at Fordham University is $41,400.
9.Drexel University (MS in Cybersecurity)
Drexel’s MS program enrolls students with an academic background in computer science, electrical or telecommunications engineering. It offers an interdisciplinary course curriculum covering subjects from streams such as electrical & computer engineering and information science. The university also provides on-campus cooperative education opportunities that enable students to gain hands-on experience in cybersecurity.
Although it is not mandatory, Drexel motivates students to complete a master’s thesis. Drexel takes a leaf out of clinical rotation policies observed in the medical stream and, in turn, offers students research rotations to allow them to venture into several cybersecurity areas. The core coursework focuses on cybersecurity principles, information policy, and information ethics.
Average tuition fee: Students at Drexel University pay an average annual fee of $60,390 for MS in Cybersecurity.
10. Florida International University (MS in Cybersecurity)
FIU’s master’s program pivots around the social, policy, and economic facets of cybersecurity. The degree focuses on developing core skills related to secure application programming. Additionally, the program offers diverse electives imparted through FIU’s schools of IT, engineering, international/public affairs, and business.
Prospective students can opt for full- or part-time study by starting the master’s program in the fall or spring. In addition, students can complete some part of the coursework online through a partnership with the University of South Florida. However, this requires approval from the advisor. Students can choose electives from options such as national security essentials, homeland security risk assessment, and information security.
Average tuition fee: The average annual cost of acquiring an MS in Cybersecurity at Florida International University is $15,415.
Comparison of Top 10 Cybersecurity Courses in 2022
Let’s look at the comparison of the above courses.
|University||Location||Modules offered||Duration||Annual fees|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, Maryland||Network Systems, Programming, Discrete Mathematics, Foundation of Algorithms, Advanced Math, Data Structures, and Computer Organization||3 to 4 years||$23,775|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, California||Computer Systems Assurance, Foundations and Policy for Information Security, Security and Privacy, Cryptography, Secure Networking, and Key Management||2 years||$30,786|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, Florida||Computer Theory, Cryptography, Network Security, Computer and Network Administration, Theory of Computation, Generic Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms||3 to 4 years||$19,041|
|University of San Diego||San Diego, California||Secure Systems Engineering, Cybersecurity Foundations, Digital Forensics, and Incident Response||1.5 to years||$22,445|
|Indiana University-Bloomington||Bloomington, Indiana||Technical Cybersecurity, IT Risk Management, Cybersecurity Law and Policy||1 to 5 years||$26,069|
|University of Delaware||Newark, Delaware||Cryptography, Digital Forensics, Secure Software Design, Security Analytics, Security Management and Secure Software Systems||3 to 4 years||$14,250|
|New Jersey Institute of Technology||Newark, New Jersey||Network Protocol Security, Counter Hacking Techniques, Cryptography, Legal, Ethical, and Policy-Based Cybersecurity||3 to 4 years||$31,556|
|Fordham University||New York City, New York||Cybersecurity Essentials, Cybersecurity Intelligence, and Cybersecurity in Business||2 years||$41,400|
|Drexel University||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Cybersecurity Principles, Information Policy, Information Ethics, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Information Science||3 to 4 years||$60,390|
|Florida International University||Miami, Florida||Social and Economic Cybersecurity, Secure Application Programming, National Security Essentials, Homeland Security Risk Assessment, and Information Security||3 to 4 years||$15,415|
See More: Network Security Engineer: Job Role and Key Skills for 2021
Benefits of a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity
A master’s in cybersecurity provides several benefits to individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree and have relevant experience of one to five years in the security field. These post-graduate programs are launching pads for cybersecurity enthusiasts as they allow them to take up top information security leadership roles at esteemed companies or even public agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 33% growth in the employment of information security analysts from 2020 to 2030, thereby showcasing a faster job growth rate for cybersecurity professionals than the average for all other occupations.
Some of the benefits of a master’s degree in cybersecurity are:
- Job security: Individuals with a master’s degree can expect faster job growth in the security sector. The overwhelming demand for cybersecurity professionals across industries can act as a potential factor that ensures continued job security.
- Critical for policymakers: Public policymakers have been gravely concerned about cybersecurity in recent times. This is because vulnerable digital security is not just impacting large enterprises or corporations but also putting national security and families at risk. Hence, it has become a critical modern issue for a battery of policymakers.
- High salary packages: As cybersecurity jobs require hard technical skills and expertise, the salary packages in this field generally exceed the median wage in the U.S. for all jobs.
- Career opportunities: Cybersecurity jobs offer opportunities in security engineering, penetration testing, and information security analysis, among others. Graduates pursuing Ph.D. degrees in the field can also take up roles in security leadership, academia, and research.
With the growing demand for computer science graduates, pursuing a master’s in cybersecurity can give students the oppotrtunity to become a part of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Moreover, getting a degree from top schools in the U.S. can ensure excellent education quality along with exciting work opportunities.
With a master’s in cybersecurity, candidates can open doors to several career paths such as security engineering, penetration testing, wireless security, forensic computing, cloud computing, blockchain technology, cybersecurity policy, and ethics and information security analysis. Students also have the choice to pursue further studies instead of joining a workplace immediately. They can enroll in Ph.D. programs that will allow them to enter the teaching profession at the university level and conduct independent research in the field. The prospects seem endless for cybersecurity enthusiasts.
Are you planning to pursue a master’s degree in cybersecurity in 2022? Comment below or let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!
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