Updated: August 1, 2017
As more sensitive information is stored digitally (whether in the cloud or in private systems) and as the need to protect that information grows, the demand for IT professionals who can design, sustain, and implement secure systems expands exponentially in relation. The demand for information security administrators, which is projected to rise another 18 percent in the next few years, is also evidenced by the notable early salaries of those analysts: they make, on average, over 92k annually.
IT security is not only lucrative, it’s stable too, because every industry—from government to small business—needs someone who can create and manage secure networks that hold sensitive information. Every industry needs a leader who can not only prevent cyber invasions but can do damage control at the event of a digital intrusion. Whether you envision yourself working with a large or small team, protecting large or small systems, these programs below will help you find vocational fulfillment.
Though online degrees were once considered subpar to the traditional degree, that is no longer the case. In fact, many consider distance education equal to (if not in some ways superior to) those degrees earned in the classroom. If you’ve thought about starting your bachelor’s, or going back to school to finish your degree, now is an ideal time to consider distance education. Online learning is inherently flexible—you can design your own course schedule and complete course work at your own pace and when it works best for you—and oftentimes it is the most affordable option, as online degrees often come with a smaller price tag than “traditional” programs. And these are just some of the many reasons to consider an online bachelor’s degree.
What are the Best Online BS in Information Systems Security Degrees 2017
While some of these programs below concentrate on the preventive, prohibitive measures of information and cyber security and others on forensics, analysis, and persecution of cyber invasions, each of these programs share on thing in common: they are the best online undergraduate degrees in information systems security in the country. In fact, a number of the schools on our list are recognized as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, a highly prestigious designation that is awarded by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
To bring together such a definitive ranking we at College Choice examined exhaustive data sets in order to hone in on those programs that are the absolute best at training and educating future IT security officials. First we gathered all online BS in Information Systems Security degrees in the nation and looked at those with the best academic reputations. From there we examined student retention (a reflection of student satisfaction) affordability, and the early salaries of graduates (to see the return on investment). The result is a ranking marked by thorough research and reflecting the fifteen best online BS in Information Systems Security degrees in the nation. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
American Public University
College Choice Score: 100
Credit Hour Cost: $270
American Public University kicks off our list of the top online bachelor’s degrees in Information Systems Security for a number of reasons: its affordability (it has one of the cheapest tuitions at $270 per credit), its respectable return on investment (graduates report early career earnings as high as $59,000 annually), and its respected status as a military-affiliated school. American Public University is an online educational system that encompasses two separate schools: American Military University and American Public University.
Offered through American Military University, the online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Security is a 4-year program that draws together the elements of network engineering, educational theory, and information security to give you exposure to the field on all levels—from networks to open source systems to security policy. Because of AMU’s strong roots in military, you can be assured that this 122-credit-hour curriculum is designed by the leaders in the industry. You can go a number of different directions with this degree—it offers eight different concentrations—but the core courses in information systems security include:
- Information Security
- IT Security: Planning and Policy
- Open Source System Security
- Application Security
Out of the over 88,000 students at American Public University, over 50 percent of them are either active military personnel or past military. Fittingly, then, APU goes the extra mile to welcome them in; many enable GI benefits and military financial aid for their schooling. Its understood to be the top provider of higher education to US military.
College Choice Score: 98.75
Credit Hour Cost: $489
Drexel University, a private research university based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known for housing one of the oldest and most extensive cooperative education programs (co-op) in the country, which combines real-world work with academic instruction. Drexel is also one of the first universities to offer online degree programs since launching the program initially in 1996. Now, over ten years later, Drexel University Online has broadened its curriculum to offer over 100 fully accredited master’s, bachelor’s and certificate programs.
At Drexel University, you’ll get the chance to earn an online Bachelor’s degree in Computing and Security Technology, which will equip you to jump into a role in government, non-profit, or corporate business and technology. The curriculum branches into two concentrations: Computing Security or Computing Technology. The 188-credit-hour curriculum weaves together a foundation of Information Science courses and then specializes in other systems. The security concentration includes some of the following classes:
- Information Technology Security Risk Assessment
- Information Technology Security Policies
- Incident Response Best Practices
- Security Defense Countermeasures
Ranked among the top 100 national universities this year by US News & World Report (it’s listed at number 96), Drexel University enjoys a strong research base throughout its number of academic schools and colleges. In fact, this kind of high research activity earned Drexel University a number 14 spot in a list of “Most Innovative Schools.”
University of Illinois Springfield
College Choice Score: 97.5
Credit Hour Cost: $599
The University of Illinois Springfield, one of three schools in the larger University of Illinois system, is a public institution that enrolls around 5,400 students each year. Its online program, one of the oldest in the country, got off the ground in 1999. The online program has won numerous awards (it ranks 11th according to the US Guide to Online Schools) and delivers over 40 different degrees entirely online.
The Computer Science department at the University of Illinois Springfield delivers an online Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Security. Recognized as a certified National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, this degree program is acknowledged by the NSA as well as the Department of Homeland Security. Throughout the 120 credit hours, you’ll get the chance to dip your toes in both securing systems and assessing systems for potential gaps. Some of the classes you can expect to take are:
- Network Security & Computer Ethics
- Systems Security and Information Assurance
- Windows Network Administration
- Systems Programming Languages
When it comes to notoriety in the region, the University of Illinois Springfield is in good standing. For example, it was recently named the 63rd “Best Regional University in the Midwest,” by US News & World Report, and it also earned a number 8 spot on a list of “Top Public Schools” in the Midwest. The Computer Science department brings in the highest number of undergraduate students at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Kennesaw State University
College Choice Score: 97
Credit Hour Cost: $462
Kennesaw State University is a public research university that is located just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Known as one of the top fifty largest universities in the United States, Kennesaw state enrolls close to 34,500 students each year in five branch campuses throughout Georgia. Kennesaw State offers over 70 online degrees to its students using Brightspace, a highly reputable learning management system.
The Coles College of Business houses Kennesaw University’s online Bachelor’s degree in Information Security Assurance. Kennesaw gives students the option to fit in the degree either as a major or a minor, but both tracks combine foundational business courses with basic information technology courses. If an online degree wasn’t flexible enough, Kennesaw also plots out a 2-year degree completion plan. Some of the highlight information security courses in this program include:
- Principles of Information Security
- Network Security
- Management of Information Security in a Global Environment
- Server Systems Security
The Computer Science and Information Systems department at Kennesaw State University has the unique distinction of overseeing the electronic voting machines in Georgia’s local and state elections. As a school, US News & World Report ranked it 31st in its list of “Best Universities in the South Region.” Kennesaw State also takes good care of its military personnel and veterans. In 2014, it was named 30th in the nation for “Best Colleges for Veterans.”
College Choice Score: 96.75
Credit Hour Cost: $390
Founded by Jerry Falwell as Lynchburg Baptist College, Liberty University is now the largest evangelical Christian university in the world. With its main campus located in Virginia, Liberty University Online delivers degree programs to students from all over the world. Established in 2009, LU Online enrolls close to 100,000 students annually.
At Liberty University, you’ll earn a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems with a focus in Information Assurance. In addition to quality instruction in networking systems, digital forsenics, and data management, you can bolster your hireability by earning further certifications in areas like JAVA and Cisco. Liberty requires that all students take classes in Christianity as a general education requirement. However, some of the information security courses included in the degree are:
- Studies in Information Security
- Network Security
- Information Security Planning
Along with Liberty University’s extensive online learning network, the school is known for its political conservatism. Young America’s Foundation regularly lists the school in the top 10 most conservative colleges in the nation. When it comes to online rankings, US News & World Report gave Liberty University a 79th ranking among other online bachelor’s programs in the nation.
Robert Morris University
College Choice Score: 96.5
Credit Hour Cost: $745
A small, private university located just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robert Morris University (RMU) found its inception in 1921. RMU typically caters to students from the larger Pittsburgh area, although its online platform broadens the scope of its demographics. RMU Online features degrees in nursing and health care, education, criminal justice, engineering, and information technology.
The Bachelor of Science in Cyber Forensics Info Security at Robert Morris University is a fully online program that uses a building blocks model to Information Security. The degree starts you off by laying a foundation in basic programming, giving you the option of learning Java, C++, Visual C#, and others. Then you branch into specialized networking classes, like Advanced Cobol Programming and Advanced M & Cache Programming. From there, you’ll top off your 123-credit-hour program by taking 18 credits in Information Security. Some of those include:
- IT Security, Control/Assurance
- Quality Analysis for Information Systems Programming
- IT Governance
Even though Robert Morris University’s enrollment is just around 5,000 students, its online capabilities have made a big impression in the world of rankings. In US News & World Report’s “Best Online Universities of 2017,” RMU ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation. Within the state of Pennsylvania, Educemic named it the 3rd Top Pennsylvania Online School.
University of Maine at Augusta
College Choice Score: 96
Credit Hour Cost: $285
The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) is a public university that is part of the seven-school University of Maine system. In total, the system is home to over 34,000 students, though UMA enrolls just 6,000 students throughout its three core campuses: Augusta, Bangor, and the online platform. UMA also offers online services to US National Guard troops in Afghanistan.
The Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems at University of Maine at Augusta is delivered 100 percent online, with concentration areas in data science, software development, web design, networking, and information systems security. The information systems security concentration features ten core classes with content that spans security management, law, and implementation. Some of the highlight courses you’ll get to take are:
- Database Security
- Security Analytics
- Information Security Architect
- Security Risk Management
The University of Maine at Augusta is maybe a small fish in a large pond, but it remains a strong contender among other online bachelor’s programs. For five years in a row, it has landed a spot in US News & World Report’s list of “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” including 2017, where it ranked 48th in the nation.
Colorado Technical University
College Choice Score: 94.25
Credit Hour Cost: $325
Established in 1965 as a way to educate former military personnel after their service, Colorado Technical University (CTU) is a for-profit university that serves close to 21,000 students at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level. The headquarters for the school is based in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, but the university is primarily an online educator, with over 90 percent of its students earn their degrees via distance learning.
Network security is the top priority in Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security degree, which focuses specifically on computer systems security. This program helps you find your niche in virtually any area of interest—healthcare, banking, government. All systems need to be secure! In addition to the core curriculum, CTU also offers certification in Security+ and Network+, both widely recognized credentials that will serve you well in the field. Beyond that, the 186-credit-hour program features a number of unique information security classes:
- Vulnerability Assessment and Management
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning
- Security Compliance
- Principles of Network Security
Since Colorado Technical University focuses so much of its energy toward online learning, it’s no surprise that it performs well in all of its online academic areas—business, engineering, health sciences, security studies, and information systems/technology. It landed in the top 100 online bachelor’s programs (81st in the nation) according to US News & World Report, and it consistently is recognized as a “Best for Vets” school by Military Times.
College Choice Score: 93.75
Credit Hour Cost: $399
A multi-campus university that is based in Parkville, Missouri, Park University is a private institution with a long history, dating back to 1875. Its 40 campuses are spread out across the United States, and enroll close to 23,000 students annually, many of whom are associated with the US military. Park University is widely known as a military-friendly school, and has been consistently lauded by Military Times.
Park University takes a breadth over depth approach to their Bachelor of Science in Information and Computer Science degree, which is oftentimes a wise way to design your undergraduate course load. You can choose to specialize in one of five concentration areas: Computer Science, Data Management, Information Technology, Software Development, and Networking and Security. Overall the degree requires 120 credit hours, though you can expect to take around 45 credits related to the major. Within the Networking and Security concentration, you’ll get the chance to immerse yourself in some of the following courses:
- Computer Network Security
- Modern Developments in Advanced Networking
- Technology in a Global Society
For its status as a private institution, Park University has stand-out tuition rates that rank both nationwide and in its region (the online bachelor’s degree costs $399 per credit). For example, Park University is the number 1 most affordable private university in the Midwest, and the 7th most affordable private school in the United States. Quality education for a good price!
Western Governors University
College Choice Score: 93.5
Credit Hour Cost: $240
Offered 100 percent online, with a headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit university that reaches over 78,000 students per year. Unique to WGU’s program, students take classes through a competency-based learning model—the first of its kind in higher education—which means the students move through their degree by mastering certain academic milestones. WGU offers degrees through in four areas: business, information technology, education, and the health professions.
Western Governors University features a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Security. The curriculum blends together a smattering of general education credits alongside the core major requirements. In addition to a degree that is specifically created for information systems security, you can receive training in eight different IT certifications (all included in your tuition). Among them are CompTIA Security+, CCNA Security+, and CompTIA Network+. A sampling of your core curriculum includes:
- Network and Security Applications
- Interconnecting Network Devices
- Operating Systems
- Business of IT
Western Governors University is innovative and unique in so many ways; for one, it stands out for its competency-based teaching model, but WGU is also known for its affordable tuition rates (the online bachelor’s program costs just $240 per credit). WGU shines the brightest through its secondary education programs, which have been ranked #1 in the country among both online and traditional schools.
College Choice Score: 92.75
Credit Hour Cost: $363
An academic hub of the Northeast region, Wilmington University is a private research institution that is based in New Castle, Delaware. It educates around 20,500 students across six campus locations in the state. The school’s College of Online and Experiential Learning accounts for almost half (41%) of the student population and delivers over 95 degrees in business, education, nursing, and technology.
Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security, the Bachelor of Science in Computer and Network Security at Wilmington University provides a well-rounded, rigorous program. The university knows what it takes to educate students in all aspects of security—not just the technology, but also the history, ethics, and legality of information systems security. Wilmington offers certifications in 7 areas of digital security. When it comes to the core classes, the program has a wide selection, among them:
- Principles and Practice of Information Security
- Operating System and Computer Systems Security
- Web and Data Security
- Protecting your Network: Firewall and Perimeter Security
All in all, Wilmington University performs quite well when it comes to its online bachelor’s programs. US News & World Report places it in the top 200 online programs in the nation. However, the Computer and Network Security program is where Wilmington really hits its stride; Best Colleges listed it as the #1 Cybersecurity program in the country this year.
Saint Louis University
College Choice Score: 91
Credit Hour Cost: $640
Known as one of the oldest Jesuit universities in the United States, with a school history that starts way back in 1818, Saint Louis University (SLU) is a private research institution that has deep roots in the Roman Catholic tradition. Presently, SLU maintains campuses in St. Louis, Missouri as well as a branch campus in Madrid, Spain. The online degree program at SLU delivers around 25 fully online degrees.
The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems at Saint Louis University branches into three core categories of focus: Data Analytics, Health Care Information Systems, and Information Security and Assurance. Though you’ll end up having some crossover classes along the way, the Information Security and Assurance track lines you up with four quality courses that will send you on your way to potentially working as an information security analyst, a network architect. Some of these classes include:
- Information Assurance and Security
- Enterprise Application Development
- Fundamentals of Computer Forensics
- Enterprise Architecture
Other than its fascinating history and unique international campus set-up in Madrid, Saint Louis University prides itself in incorporating service into nearly all of its academic degrees. The university is widely respected across the nation; US News & World Report ranks SLU in the top 100 research universities, and over 20 of the specific degree programs have been ranked among the top programs in the country.
College Choice Score: 89.25
Credit Hour Cost: $600
A private university that is based in the Midwest, Lewis University is affiliated with the Roman Catholic church and found its early start in 1932 primarily as an aviation school. It has since blossomed into a thriving, academically diverse university for close to 6,800 students. Its main campus in Romeoville, Illinois offers undergraduate, graduate degrees, as well as online programs that are specifically designed for working professionals.
The Bachelors of Science in Information Security and Risk Management at Lewis University has the potential to jumpstart your career in information security by offering students an accelerated program that is completely online and paced as you go (though you can also choose the traditional program). The online program at Lewis University features the CloudLab, which is an interactive tool that allows for hands-on research and troubleshooting in areas like computer hacking, programming, and cybersecurity. The 128-credit-hour program gets you started on your degree program through courses like:
- Introduction to Information Security
- Security Assessment and Risk Management
- Computer Forensics
- Cybercrime, Law and Ethics
If the tuition of an online bachelor’s degree feels a little daunting to you, the program at Lewis University might be a great fit. To start, it’s one of the more affordable schools on our list (at $600 per credit hour), but even more, since the program at Lewis University is considered a Center for Academic Excellence, you have access to a number of Information Security and Risk Management scholarships to offset your tuition!
College Choice Score: 82.5
Credit Hour Cost: $265
An online university that is based in Lenexa, Kansas, Grantham University has been in operation since 1951, originally founded as a radio licensing school post-WWII. The school delivers online degrees out of its four academic colleges in business, arts and sciences, engineering and computer science, and nursing.
A 127-credit-hour program that is designed to be completed in just over three years, the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security program at Grantham University provides online training in a variety of programming languages at the front-end of the degree, believing that a strong programming base is an asset for all information system security setups. Through this curriculum, can become fluent in Java, C, C++, and more. From there, the curriculum focuses in on the specifics of network security through classes like:
- Security Operations
- Network Security
- Introduction to Information Systems Security
- Database Security
Most of Grantham University’s notables come in the form of praise for its military support and involvement. For the past nine years, the university has been named a top “Military Friendly School” by Military Advanced Education and Transition and Military Times has included it on their “Best for Vets” list numerous times.
Charter Oak State College
College Choice Score: 82.25
Credit Hour Cost: $392
Part of the 17-school Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, Charter Oak State College is a small, liberal arts school that is located in New Britain, Connecticut. It enrolls around 2,200 students per year through its online program, as well as its undergraduate and graduate degree programs. At this point, Charter Oak State College only offers one master’s degree program, but undergraduates can choose from close to 20 different degrees.
In Charter Oak State College’s Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security, the curriculum prepares you to fight more than just cyber crimes. You’ll get a full tutorial in the field of information technology as a whole, covering information assurance, IT security, information systems security, and more. The 120-credit-hour degree is offered online, and it culminates in a capstone project in security systems. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to take upper-level courses in some of the following classes:
- Fundamentals of Information Systems Security
- Legal Issues in Information Security
- Managing Risk in Information Systems
- Security Strategies in Linux OS/Applications
Charter Oak State College is unique in its generous accommodations for transfer students. By only requiring 6 official credits through its institution—the Cornerstone course and a senior capstone course—students who have a partially-completed degree can easily jump into an online program at Charter Oak State College and finish it in a short amount of time. If that sounds like your situation, then Charter Oak State College might be the place for you!