Learn about career options in cybersecurity, or peruse the 7 best schools, ranked based on tuition costs and salaries of alumni reported by PayScale. Students interested in pursuing cybersecurity degrees should ensure their degrees are accredited.
Online Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity with the Highest Return on Investment
These are the top online bachelor's degrees in cybersecurity according to their return on investment (ROI). To calculate ROI, we took the median alumni salaries and debt one year after graduation and factored in salary growth and loan interest over the course of 10 years. Because ROI evaluates income and debt over time, it indicates whether the upfront expense of an online program might be worth it in the long run. The top four schools on this list have ROIs higher than $367,756, which is the average for all cybersecurity bachelor's degrees in the U.S. (both online and on campus). The top-ranked school, Champlain College, has relatively low tuition and the highest average starting salary at $58,673.
ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.
Best Bachelor's Degrees in Cybersecurity Rankings Details
Median Salary: $58,673
Annual Tuition: $9,540
Median Debt: $28,250
The online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from Champlain College focuses on hands-on problem solving to give students a fundamental understanding of data theft, piracy, hacking, and information technology security. The 120-credit hour degree emphasises both technical skills — including 31 platforms and programming languages — and critical-thinking skills needed for real-world... applications. Coursework covers networking fundamentals, introduction to languages, cybersecurity foundations, and digital forensic techniques.
Champlain uses the Canvas learning management platform to deliver asynchronous course content, including class lectures and assignments. All students who enroll at Champlain are automatically considered for scholarships and financial aid, which are renewed automatically depending on criteria. Endowed scholarships are available for students who demonstrate particular financial need.
Application to Champlain College is free, requiring students to fill out admissions forms on the university website. With rolling admissions for transfer and online students, admission is flexible and has no set deadlines. Online students have access to university resources like academic support, counseling, and digital library collections.
Cost per Credit: $318
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 64%
Acceptance Rate: 75%
Federal Loan Recipients: 100%
Average SAT Scores: 1090 - 1280
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,666
George Mason University
Median Salary: $43,798
Annual Tuition: $34,020
Median Debt: $26,000
George Mason University (GMU) offers an online Bachelor of Applied Science in Cybersecurity degree-completion program. This degree is only available for students who hold an associate degree in a computer science discipline from select community colleges in northern Virginia. Students in this 120-credit program take courses in architecture fundamentals, information security, project... management, computer forensics, and security accreditation.
Online GMU students access asynchronous course content through the university's Blackboard Learn platform and the MyMason university portal. Incoming first-year students can apply for financial aid, including a number of scholarships such as the Mason Foundation Scholarships that cover some or all of the cost of tuition each year to qualified students. GMU also provides five Alumni Association scholarships based on need and aptitude. Each department at George Mason awards further individual scholarships to incoming students.
Interested students can the university application page to submit their materials. Resources for online students include Strategies for Online Learning Success advising, access to the digital library collections, and access to the Mason Writing Center.
Graduation Rate: 70%
Acceptance Rate: 81%
Federal Loan Recipients: 76%
Average SAT Scores: 1120 - 1320
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 665
University of Maryland Global Campus
Median Salary: $41,689
Annual Tuition: $14,970
Median Debt: $21,460
The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) gives students the operational knowledge for jobs in digital security design, implementation, administration, and threat analysis. The 120-credit degree includes classes in fundamentals of troubleshooting, network security, ethical hacking, cloud technologies,... system administration, and trends in cybersecurity.
UMGC students use a university-specific learning management platform called the Learning Experience Online, or LEO, where they can access a course calendar, online classes, progress tools, and communication with instructors. Students can pursue many scholarships, including the full-tuition DoD Cyber Scholarship Program, provided they meet certain GPA requirements. Veterans have access to many scholarships and grants, including the Pillars of Strength Scholarship program and the Veterans Assistance Fund.
With three different online sessions per academic semester, applicants who use the University of Maryland's website application are able to start on a schedule that best fits their needs. Online students have access to resources such as career planning, the digital library, and professional technology talent development.
Cost per Credit: $499
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 15%
Federal Loan Recipients: 53%
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 36,550
American Public University System
Charles Town (WV)
Median Salary: $43,000
Annual Tuition: $8,550
Median Debt: $33,632
The online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degree from the American Public University System (APUS) provides students with the fundamental knowledge needed to develop strategic plans for implementing and maintaining a digital defense against cyber criminals, hackers, and data thieves. The 120-credit degree includes classes in critical infrastructure, digital forensics, privacy... and surveillance, and mobile security. Graduates of this program are equipped with the skills to pursue careers as security analysts, ethical hackers, platform administrators, system architects, and information technology managers.
Online students will use a D2L Brightspace learning management platform to access asynchronous and course content. APUS does not offer direct scholarships from the university itself, but their financial aid department provides a list of available private scholarships that can help students to pay tuition.
The online application is free, and an admissions representative helps incoming students with course planning and financial aid. Resources available to online students include digital collections from the Trefry Library, writing group organizations, and professional development.
Cost per Credit: $285
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 42%
Federal Loan Recipients: 97%
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 37,746
Bay Path University
Longmeadow (MA) (and 1 other)
Median Salary: $34,847
Annual Tuition: $12,000
Median Debt: $27,000
The online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity - Digital Forensics and Incident Response from Bay Path University (BPU) provides students with the practical and professional tools needed to prevent cybercrime, hacking, and data theft. Students will learn processes of computer science forensics, cyber law, incident management, policy compliance, and handling identity theft. Classes... in the 120-credit program cover data management, digital privacy law, operations management, and ethics.
BPU delivers asynchronous assignments and class activities through its own learning management platform, Social Online Universal Learning (SOUL). BPU provides a variety of financial aid opportunities for incoming students: the Presidential Achievement Scholarship, awarding up to $17,000 per academic year, is awarded to the highest achieving students with the best academic records. First-generation college students who transferred from another institution can apply for the $1,500 Transfer Achievement Award.
Prospective students must apply to BPU using the university website application or through a Common Application; applicants will have the fee waived if they apply through the university site. Online resources for students include the Hatch Learning Commons educational support office, Bashevkin Center tutoring, and student financial services.
Cost per Credit: $400
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 59%
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Federal Loan Recipients: 100%
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 886
Median Salary: $33,138
Annual Tuition: $20,850
Median Debt: $27,000
The online Bachelor of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Administration from Syracuse University provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for work in data protection for business, government, and international organizations. This 120-credit hour degree includes courses in the foundations of project management, interpersonal communications, computer networking,... risk management, and information security policy. Graduates may pursue careers as system administrators, data privacy experts, or information security officers.
Syracuse online students use the Blackboard learning management platform to access asynchronous materials such as lecture videos, PowerPoint slides, class assignments, and grades. Syracuse provides a variety of scholarships to its students based on experience, need, and aptitude. The Academic Merit Scholarship, awarded to incoming students who meet a GPA minimum of 2.75, is given automatically and requires no application. The ACE Mentoring Scholarship is awarded to computer science and STEM students and requires an application.
Undergraduates entering Syracuse may use the Common Application to apply on the university website, and can apply to have the admissions fee waived based on financial need. Online students gain access to university resources such as the financial aid office, information technology and services, and the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS).
Cost per Credit: $695
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 82%
Acceptance Rate: 47%
Federal Loan Recipients: 79%
Average SAT Scores: 1180 - 1370
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 103
Keiser University eCampus
Daytona Beach (FL) (and 3 others)
Median Salary: $31,690
Annual Tuition: $19,808
Median Debt: $40,609
The online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Forensics and Information Security from Keiser University eCampus is a degree-completion program for students who have an associate degree in a computer-related field. The program focuses on the technical, practical, and protective strategies needed to prevent a cyberattack. Students take classes on system weaknesses, solutions analysis, data... management, statistics, and information technologies. Graduates may be qualified to work in security analysis, operational management, and information security.
Keiser eCampus students complete coursework through the Blackboard Learn platform, where they access asynchronous content such as lectures, assignments, and examinations. Online students looking for scholarships to ease the cost of tuition will have to turn to external opportunities: the university itself does not offer institutional scholarships, although a full-time Director of Financial Aid helps students with applications, deadlines, and paperwork for scholarships.
Students must use Keiser University's online application to submit an admissions form for consideration. Online students gain access to a variety of resources, including an online library and bookstore, student workshops and job fairs, and the online career center.
Graduation Rate: 59%
Federal Loan Recipients: 88%
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 7,246
Online Cybersecurity Degree Overview & Career Information
Online cybersecurity degrees may open the doors to a plethora of career options for those interested in the field. A two-year associate degree in cybersecurity will prepare graduates for entry-level positions such as security specialist and applications security specialist. Holding an associate degree is also a base for pursuing industry certifications.
Those who wish to continue in their cybersecurity studies have many options above an associate degree, including bachelor’s, master's, and doctoral options. Bachelor's degrees typically require four years and 120-credits to complete. Students will gain skills in computer forensics, vulnerability assessment, software assurance, and security compliance. These skills are necessary to obtain a career working as a security software engineer, computer forensics analyst, information security analyst, or an information systems security administrator.
A master's degree will allow graduates to apply for senior-level positions such as security application programmers, penetration testers, security architects, and vulnerability analysts. Studies take two years on average and include a focus on biometrics, cryptology, and digital forensics. Completing a three-year doctoral program will advance graduates' knowledge in reverse engineering, data collection, malicious code analysis, and wireless security. This type of degree will prepare industry professionals for roles in the military, government agencies, intelligence, and law enforcement.
Lastly, undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are available and take between two and three years to complete. These programs are specifically designed for working industry professionals who would like to further their education on a part-time basis in order to receive promotions or higher pay.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Cybersecurity
Students enrolled in cybersecurity bachelor's degree programs will gain industry relevant knowledge and skills in computer forensics, security compliance, software assurance, and vulnerability assessment. Graduates may go on to jobs as security software engineers, information security analysts, information systems security administrators, and security policy analysts.
Bachelor's programs take four years to complete and are comprised of 120 credit hours. Core courses include Introduction to Computer Security, Computer Forensics I & II, Security Compliance, Security Risk Management, Security Capstone, Software Assurance, and Scripting with Perl. Within the program, students also have the option to learn about specific topics such as ethical hacking, cryptology, and artificial intelligence. Students will also prepare to sit for CompTIA and Network+ certification exams.
The Importance of Accreditation
Accreditation is the process used to evaluate higher education institutions on their quality, standards, and efforts towards continuous improvement. These evaluations are conducted by private, non-profit organizations centered on conducting external quality reviews. There are six different regional accrediting organizations operating in the U.S. where they evaluate two-year and four-year schools within their regions. Accreditation comes into play when students are interested in transferring their credits to another institution or apply for graduate programs later on. It is also important to keep in mind that federal financial aid programs are only available to institutions that have been accredited by federally recognized agencies.
The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CA) program. By promoting higher education in cyber defense and producing professional experts in cyber defense, the program aims to reduce vulnerability in the US national information infrastructure. CA is the major accrediting source for cybersecurity programs and centers on demonstration of outreach and collaboration, student development, cyber defense faculty, and cyber defense multidisciplinary efforts. Accreditation is important within the cybersecurity industry because, for many employers, having a degree from an accredited school can be a hiring criterion.
Careers in Cybersecurity
For aspiring industry professionals, a cybersecurity degree will present opportunities for a variety of careers. Two key job titles include cybersecurity specialist and cybersecurity architect. Cybersecurity specialists work with both public and private organizations to build and maintain a high level of security for their computer information systems. They identify complex issues that may arise with sensitive data and work to keep business running as usual. They will build firewalls, monitor data files, and regulate access to safeguard information to mitigate the risk of cyber crime.
Cybersecurity architects build and oversee the implementation of network security for an organization. Responsibilities include designing and maintaining corporate security procedures, performing vulnerability testing and security assessments, preparing cost estimates, and upgrading system security as needed. Security architects will also be in charge of a programing team and will oversee their work and progression. Employers of cybersecurity architects tend to look for applicants with advanced certifications gained from accredited programs. Some key certifications include CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional, CISM: Certified Information Security Manager, CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker, and CSSA: Certified SCADA Security Architect.
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