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Best Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

By Michael McCarthy | Updated 9/2/2022
2020 Most Affordable Cybersecurity Masters Degrees Badge

Students seeking an online master's program in cyber security will find that these 13 colleges offer the best value based on affordability and alumni salaries. At #1, New Jersey Institute of Technology charges $19,605 per year for their Master of Science in Computer Science - Cybersecurity. In the #2 spot, University of Maryland Global Campus offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Policy for only $12,492 per year, making it an affordable choice for distance learners who are looking for a high quality and affordable education.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 New Jersey Institute of Technology $19,605 $147,700
# 2 #2 University of Maryland Global Campus $12,492 $121,900
# 3 #3 DePaul University $17,030 $121,100
# 4 #4 Webster University $15,600 $117,300
# 5 #5 Florida Tech - Online $16,128 $115,600
# 6 #6 Nova Southeastern University $10,692 $110,300
# 7 #7 Missouri State University $5,100 $100,100
# 8 #8 Bellevue University $10,530 $100,200
# 9 #9 University of Detroit Mercy $25,530 $105,400
# 10 #10 Northeastern University $11,616 $96,500
# 11 #11 National University $13,260 $73,100
# 12 #12 Saint Leo University Online $13,860 $57,600
# 13 #13 Tiffin University $7,875 $52,700
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Cybersecurity Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 New Jersey Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $19,605
  • Median Salary: $147,700
  • Locations: Newark (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) offers an online Master of Science in Computer Science through the Ying Wu College of Computing Sciences. This program is designed for working professionals who want to pursue advanced studies in the field. One of the specializations offered is in cybersecurity. The degree requires 30 credits and is a combination of core classes, cybersecurity coursework, and electives. Interested applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a computer science-related field, though some individuals may complete bridge classes to compensate if they do not have a STEM-based background.

#2 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Annual Tuition: $12,492
  • Median Salary: $121,900
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) aims to provide affordable higher education, with interest-free monthly payment plans, free digital resources in lieu of textbooks, and tuition support for veterans. UMGC offers several online master's degrees in the field of cybersecurity. The Master of Science in Cybersecurity Technology trains students in the skills needed to minimize risk in digital strategy. The curriculum for the Master of Cybersecurity Management and Policy was created with help from experts in the field. Students in this program will learn how to apply risk analysis theories and work to create cyber security framework and incident response plans. In the Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation program, students learn how to identify cyber attacks and collect evidence for use in investigations.

#3 DePaul University

  • Annual Tuition: $17,030
  • Median Salary: $121,100
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

DePaul University, in Chicago, Illinois, hosts a Master of Science in Cybersecurity through its College of Computing and Digital Media. With the fully online option, students utilize audio and visual technology to complete the same coursework as on-campus students. Students can choose from three concentrations: computer security, networking and infrastructure, or governance, risk management, and compliance. The curriculum includes a 10-week, hands-on capstone project. Graduates may find career opportunities in areas such as computer forensics, web development, risk assessment, and network security administration.

#4 Webster University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,600
  • Median Salary: $117,300
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

A private institution in Webster Groves, Missouri, Webster University hosts an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity. Applicants should have previous computer skills. Graduates will be qualified for positions in counterintelligence, information protection, digital forensics, and many more opportunities in public and private technology sectors. The degree requires 36 credit hours, 15 of which come from electives. All graduates must complete a practical research capstone project or research paper. Interested candidates may consider the dual degree option in national security studies. The dual degree option requires 57 total credit hours. Students interested in pursuing an online master's in business also have the option to study cybersecurity. Both the MBA and the Master of Arts in Management and Leadership offer an emphasis on cybersecurity.

#5 Florida Tech - Online

  • Annual Tuition: $16,128
  • Median Salary: $115,600
  • Locations: Melbourne (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students interested in developing high-level skills to minimize digital security risks may consider an MBA in Cybersecurity through Florida Tech. As most students are currently working in the industry, the program is designed to be relevant and flexible. Due to the institution's proximity to NASA and similar space technology companies, students have the opportunity to engage with respected names in the field. Graduates can apply for positions such as chief information security officer, security consultant, security systems administrator, and vulnerability assessor.

#6 Nova Southeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,692
  • Median Salary: $110,300
  • Locations: Fort Lauderdale (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Nova Southeastern University provides prospective cybersecurity professionals with a variety of online graduate degrees. Two degrees are offered through the College of Computing and Engineering: a Master of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Management and a Master of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. Both of these programs require 30 credit hours to graduate. The Information Assurance & Cybersecurity program is designed for those interested in network security engineering. The Cybersecurity Management program is most appropriate for individuals pursuing a career in security policy development. A Law Master of Laws (LL.M.) with a concentration in Intellectual Property, Cybersecurity, and Technology Law, a Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management with a concentration in Cyber Security, and a Master of Science in National Security Affairs with a concentration in Cyber Security are also offered online. Virtual learning is hosted through Canvas learning management software and employs faculty and student discussion boards, real-time online classrooms, and electronic submission for all assignments. NSU online students have access to career development services, academic advising, veteran student services, and resources from the NSU Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center. Interested applicants must submit an online application (with fee), a resume, official transcripts, and demonstrate successful completion of a bachelor’s degree program with at least a 2.5 GPA. Students should have a background in Java programming, mathematics in computing, and data structure.

#7 Missouri State University

  • Annual Tuition: $5,100
  • Median Salary: $100,100
  • Locations: Springfield (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Missouri State Online, the virtual learning platform for Missouri State University, provides students with a fully online collection of undergraduate degrees taught by the same faculty as the on-campus versions. Those interested in the cybersecurity field may apply for Missouri State's Master of Science in Cybersecurity. The program curriculum teaches the foundations of cybersecurity, ethical hacking, and legal issues. Students have the opportunity to tailor their education by choosing to participate in an internship, or by pursuing independent study; both of these options require permission from the department head. A minimum of 30 credit hours is required to graduate from the MS in Cybersecurity program. Students can finish in two years if they take two classes per semester and one course in the summer. Graduate certificates are available in Computer Information Systems and Data Analytics. Distance education students have access to support resources, including career counseling and degree exploration, financial aid, tutoring, library resources, virtual research assistance, and help from the school's writing center. Admission is competitive; GRE or GMAT scores are required (unless applicants meet specific criteria), and applicants must submit an application, transcripts, and a resume.

#8 Bellevue University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,530
  • Median Salary: $100,200
  • Locations: Bellevue (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Prospective cybersecurity professionals can apply to Bellevue University’s online Master of Science in Cybersecurity. Students will take classes in subjects, including network security, computer forensics, and current trends, and will learn how to detect and stop cyberattacks. The online cybersecurity master’s degree is designed for working professionals; however, an accelerated cohort model is available for IT professionals with at least three-to-five years of experience. The curriculum combines theory with hands-on practice. The full degree requires 36 credit hours to complete. The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have reviewed the requirements for the cybersecurity curricula. Virtual learning is facilitated through Bellevue’s Cyber-Active online classrooms, which houses all materials, including discussion boards and assigned readings. Students complete work asynchronously at a time that works best for them. Bellevue’s online students have access to career services, military and veteran benefits, a graduate student coach, disability accommodations, and resources from the Freeman/Lozier Library. Applicants must meet master’s degree requirements, including a completed bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.5 GPA, and must submit official transcripts. Bellevue offers open enrollment and personalized support from an admissions counselor.

#9 University of Detroit Mercy

  • Annual Tuition: $25,530
  • Median Salary: $105,400
  • Locations: Detroit (MI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Detroit Mercy (UD Mercy) hosts a one-year Master of Science in Information Assurance with a major in Cybersecurity. This program has been recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Online cybersecurity degree courses require no residential components and employ both synchronous and asynchronous methods. Blackboard learning management software is used to house class materials. The curriculum includes 30 credits of coursework focused on providing a comprehensive foundation for cybersecurity professionals. Class topics include ethical hacking, digital forensics, and regulatory compliance. There are eight required courses and two electives. Classes run for four consecutive terms (fall, winter, summer I, and summer II). An online Certified Ethical Hacker certification program is also available at a discounted rate. Online learners can access disability support services, tutoring and mentoring, academic advising, a career center, and library resources. Interested candidates must submit a complete UD Mercy application form and official transcripts. Letters of recommendation and other supporting documentation may also be included.

#10 Northeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,616
  • Median Salary: $96,500
  • Locations: Burlington (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The online Master of Science in Cybersecurity from Northeastern University is provided through the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. This program has been recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Of the 32 credits required to graduate, only two courses are mandatory, allowing students to customize their degrees based on their professional plans. Northeastern University values hands-on experience. MS in Cybersecurity participants have opportunities to co-op with an industry partner and complete a capstone project. All MS programs from Khoury College take approximately two years to complete. Online courses rely on an asynchronous format, requiring students to access materials and complete assignments on their own time. Instant messenger and discussion boards serve as the primary forms of communication between students and faculty. Northeastern employs Blackboard learning management software to house class materials. Applicants can enroll for spring or fall terms. This program is designed for working adults with completed college credit. Graduate admissions requirements include a completed online application form (with fee), official transcripts for previous college classes, a personal statement, a professional resume, one-to-three letters of recommendation, and GRE scores.

#11 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,260
  • Median Salary: $73,100
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Online degrees from National University are designed for working adults and military students. Classes are delivered asynchronously, so students can log on when most convenient for them. Coursework includes participation in discussion boards, readings, lectures, and exams. Live chat features allow students and faculty to engage with one another in real-time. An orientation course is available online to introduce students to the technological requirements and delivery of National’s virtual classes. National University is recognized as a Yellow Ribbon school. Hosted by the College of Professional Studies, The Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance offers a curriculum that combines core classes with a required specialization. Students will engage in research and assessment of national security. Classes run in four-week terms. The total MS degree requires 58.5 graduate units, which includes nine core classes and four specialization classes. Two tracks are available: Ethical Hacking and Pen Testing or Information Assurance and Security Policy. This program has been recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. National University’s graduate programs use rolling admissions, so students can apply year-round. Interested candidates must submit a completed application and interview with a faculty member. Online students have access to tutoring, veterans' services, career services, and academic advisement. The library provides online resources and a 24/7 online reference assistant.

#12 Saint Leo University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $13,860
  • Median Salary: $57,600
  • Locations: St. Leo (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Saint Leo University Online offers prospective cybersecurity professionals a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and a Master of Business Administration in Cybersecurity Management. Both degrees can be completed in one full calendar year and require a total of 36 credits. MS in Cybersecurity students take between two-to-four classes each term, with six terms throughout the year. Subjects covered in cybersecurity classes emphasize research and technical aspects of information security. The National Security Agency (NSA) has reviewed the learning outcomes for the MS. The cybersecurity management concentration within the MBA contains a curriculum that provides business and technical skills to prepare graduates for careers in managing IT professionals. This program includes an optional internship to practice real-world skills. Online students have access to career services, peer advisors, and e-resources through the Daniel A. Cannon Memorial Library. Online faculty have real career experience. Individuals can apply for any semester. Requirements include an online application, a bachelor’s degree, letters of recommendation, and a current resume. Some prerequisite undergraduate computer science courses are necessary for admission.

#13 Tiffin University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,875
  • Median Salary: $52,700
  • Locations: Tiffin (OH)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Science in Cybersecurity from Tiffin University is designed to be flexible. Students can continue working full-time while completing their graduate degrees. Class is facilitated through an asynchronous format using methods such as chat rooms, discussion boards, and email. Tiffin University Online employs the Moodle learning management system. Tiffin University students have access to the Pfeiffer library, career service, and 24/7 technical support. Special discounts are available for military students. The MS in Cybersecurity’s curriculum teaches both technical aspects and legal and policy issues. The program aims to deliver a comprehensive view of the cybersecurity industry. Students can complete work on a part-time or full-time basis. Full-time students can complete the required ten courses in less than a year. Applicants to online degrees are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Online programs operate on a rolling admissions basis, with start dates in January, March, May, July, August, and October. A completed application form, official transcripts, a personal essay, and a resume are required for admission.

What Is an Online Master's in Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity master's degrees aim to create a new generation of leaders who can manage security teams that defend employer data from cyber threats. To this end, enrollees study a curriculum that covers information assurance and security in computer networks, databases, cloud computing, software, and operating systems, as well as security management. Administrators often seek program accreditation through the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

Most programs are 30-36 credit hours long and take about two years to complete with a full-time schedule. Many programs, whether on campus or online, also offer part-time options for working graduate students. The only major difference between in-person and distance programs is in learning format.

Most online cybersecurity degree programs are asynchronous, without live course meetings. Instead, you sign in to a learning management system to interact in forums, read and submit assignments, and watch recorded lectures and demonstrations. You'll complete any required internships in person, though field experiences are relatively rare for online master's degrees in cybersecurity. More common are capstone courses that culminate in a comprehensive capstone project that integrates everything you've learned.

For more information about studying online, explore our Guide to Starting Your Online Education, where we cover the online learning format.

Admission Requirements for a Cybersecurity Master's Program

Admission is usually competitive for master's degree programs. Although requirements differ by school, the following criteria are fairly typical:

  • A bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA; the major doesn't need to be in cybersecurity, though you may need to take some prerequisites if you didn't study computer science or a technology-related field
  • An application and application fee
  • Official GRE or GMAT scores
  • A resume detailing your education and work experience
  • Letters of recommendation from professors familiar with your undergraduate work
  • A personal essay on your educational and career goals

Common Courses in an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Program

Most cybersecurity master's programs have broadly similar curricula, because they're relatively short and focused. Most students take a common core of classes, plus a few electives that grant a small degree of possible specialization to their graduate degree.

The courses below are typical for Master of Science in Cybersecurity programs.

Cybersecurity Foundations

This course introduces the fundamentals of cyberdefense and common methodologies for finding solutions. Faculty typically discuss a broad range of topics, including formal models, authentication, cryptography, security policy, and the interaction between physical and digital network security.

Digital Forensic Technology

Sometimes attacks will succeed, and this class describes how to gather and exploit evidence of criminality in the aftermath. Topics may include evidence preservation, data recovery, forensic imaging, and court testimony.

Incident Response

This is another course acknowledging the reality that hackers sometimes succeed. Learners study intrusion detection protocols, machine learning algorithms, and real-world case studies of successful countermeasures.

Preventing Cyber Attacks

Professors discuss defensive methods for securing software and networks. They usually lecture on security architecture, secure systems development, malware awareness, firewalls, and access control.

Cybersecurity Management

This class covers the day-to-day concerns of running a cybersecurity strategy. You might learn about vulnerability testing and auditing, perimeter protection, intrusion detection, risk management, and monitoring. Depending on the program, you might also study management of people on security teams.

What Can I Do With a Master's Degree in Cybersecurity?

A cybersecurity master's degree may instill advanced knowledge if you already studied cybersecurity as an undergraduate. But it might also help you qualify for a cybersecurity career if you have no previous cybersecurity education.

In either case, the most natural career fit is a position as an information security analyst, which is the title the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses for cybersecurity experts. But you might also find work in a related role, such as a computer and information systems manager or network and computer systems administrator. Security has become such a concern to many enterprises that might appreciate someone with a cybersecurity and information assurance background.

You can work in a variety of industries as a cybersecurity graduate, from software and web development to health care and national security.

You can work in a variety of industries as a cybersecurity graduate, from software and web development to health care and national security. You can also start your own business. Eric Florence, a cybersecurity consultant and entrepreneur, believes that a master's credential can help develop the leadership qualities needed for such a venture: "Getting a master’s is for someone looking to start a consulting firm or lead security at a large company."

Is an Online Master's in Cybersecurity Worth It?

You might not be able to answer this question until you've earned your diploma and worked as a security professional for a few years. But a master's in cybersecurity may be worth the time, money, and effort if you want a leadership role in the field.

Possible Benefits

On the plus side are stories like those of Eric Florence or Mike Pedrick, a vice president of cybersecurity consulting at the security provider, Nuspire. Pedrick says of his master's degree, "The knowledge gained via the subject matter made me a better leader in the information technology/information security space."

Possible Drawbacks

On the other hand, earning an advanced degree always comes with a price. Even if you receive some financial aid, a graduate program is an expensive undertaking. Pedrick also notes the opportunity costs he incurred, such as "finding and maintaining the motivation to complete the coursework while working as an IT/IS leader in a manufacturing firm with multiple locations and spending time with family."

In addition, a master's degree might be unnecessary if you want to practice computer security in a non-leadership or non-entrepreneurial role. Florence says, "Anyone who just wants to enter the field can take an online course for certification and get to work, or teach themselves, and showcase their skills to potential employers." For this reason, it may not be worthwhile to get a master's degree if you already have certification or a bachelor's in cybersecurity and you don't want to pursue leadership roles.

FAQs About Online Master's in Cybersecurity Programs

Is a Master's in Cybersecurity Hard?

Most students find this degree challenging. You might have an affinity for the technical skills needed — such as programming languages, network architecture, and vulnerability assessment — but your classes will also emphasize leadership, creativity, and flexibility in fast-moving situations. Possessing one set of skills doesn't necessarily mean you have the other.

Do Master's in Cybersecurity Programs Require Coding?

These programs don't necessarily require coding mastery, though it can't hurt. At the master's level, program administrators aim to create big-picture strategists and managers rather than in-the-trenches practitioners. But as with any field, it can benefit leaders to understand the nuances of their employees' work, which can include coding.

What Is the Typical Master’s in Cybersecurity Salary?

The median yearly salary for information security analysts is $102,600. According to the BLS, they tend to earn the most in the information sector, followed by finance and insurance.

Are Cybersecurity Graduates in Demand?

Yes, employers are eager to hire cybersecurity graduates. This is due to a combination of rapidly evolving cybercrime methods and the relative difficulty of educating, training, and certifying effective cybersecurity professionals.

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