Best Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Degrees

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One need only check the news once in awhile to know that computer network security failures, system breaches, cyberattacks, and hacking have become serious problems for companies large and small, government agencies, public institutions, and individuals.

The increasing dependence on technology to power critical infrastructures across the globe exposes information vulnerabilities. The consequences of a successful cyberattack can be far reaching.

In fact, it is estimated that by 2019 cyber crimes will cost companies, agencies, institutions, and individuals over $2 trillion globally.

There’s no better time to invest in a high-tech college degree. If you’re interested in the range of online degree options, we have the list for you. It’s a ranking of the Top Online Universities, put together by College Choice.

Top 10 Information Systems Security Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Penn State World Campus University Park, PA
2 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
3 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
4 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
5 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
6 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
7 Regis University Denver, CO
8 Columbia University New York, NY
9 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach, FL
10 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark, NJ

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President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address noted cyber attacks as one of the top issues faced by Americans today. The World Economic Forum placed cybersecurity as one of the top five global risks in 2012.

Information sharing, the way we buy and sell goods, and the sheer amount of data shared and exchanged via technology, points to an increasing need for a skilled workforce—individuals who can recognize and anticipate failures and intrusions and those who can ensure network and system security.

Information Assurance and Cyber Security includes both information technology (IT) and physical security for companies, government organizations, and institutions.

While the responsibilities vary between industries, all IT security managers oversee the protection of information by implementing security measures on networks and computers. IT security managers are responsible for IT infrastructure, intrusion detection, and customer service.

The severity of cyber attacks, the rapid growth of technology, and the growing availability of IT-related jobs make it essential for potential employees to be well-prepared to face the ever-changing landscape.

Information Assurance and Cyber Security specialists are in high demand. Indeed, in 2013 the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium reported that existing IT security professionals were feeling overwhelmed due to staffing shortages. Such demand is reflected in the attractive mean annual wage for Information Security Analysts as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These analysts average over $96,000 per year. Analysts in some industries can expect to make six figures. The better educated and trained one can be in this industry, the more opportunities they will have.

Those cybersecurity specialists who have successfully completed a graduate degree program and graduate-level certification can expect to be well-positioned for a career with high salaries, good perks, and flexible schedules.

While it is true that the technical aspects of the career are rigorous, prospects need to recognize that problem-solving skills, teamwork, and creativity are also important skills in order for one to be successful in a cyber career.

This complex discipline requires more than just a detailed knowledge of computers, networks, and security technology. It also draws on an understanding of essential principles from psychology, criminology, law, and business.

What are the Best Online Master’s in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Programs?

Best Online Master's in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Programs Badge

We at College Choice have compared data from U.S. News & World Report and other publicly available outlets to determine the quality and reputation of online masters programs in information assurance, cyber security, and related fields.

We have also used information available from Payscale.org, the Equality of Opportunity Project, and individual school sites to approximate a return on investment for students. With these data points we have derived a College Choice Score for the thirty best online Master’s in Information Assurance and Cyber Security.

The information here, we hope, will prove helpful for those looking to further or begin their careers in an extremely important and rapidly growing job market. Most of the schools listed below are recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Penn State World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1862 as a land-grant institution of higher education for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It remains the only land-grant university in the state. Its main campus is in University Park, PA, but it’s largest campus is the world. Penn State World Campus is an award-winning online environment. Penn State was one of the first universities to offer online degrees and certificates. Today the university has over 100,000 students, 17,000 faculty members, and 24 campuses, including its award-winning online Penn State World Campus.

    Program Features

    Penn State World Campus offers a Master of Professional Studies in Information Sciences (MPS IS) online. A student interested in cybersecurity can pursue an MPS IS with a focus on Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. The online MPS IS provides flexibility with a highly relevant course curriculum that incorporates real-world issues. The 33-credit online degree with a focus in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance focuses on information analysis, cybersecurity, and information science training. The program is recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense.

    Online Environment

    Penn State World Campus is the country’s foremost online destination for higher education and is nationally recognized as one of the Best Online Programs by U.S. News and World Report. It is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Partnering with Penn State’s academic units and colleges allows Penn State World Campus to offer more than 125 degree and certificate programs developed and taught by Penn State faculty.

  2. Florida Institute of Technology
    Location

    Melbourne, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Florida Institute of Technology was founded nearly sixty years ago in Melbourne, Florida to educate professionals working in the region. Today, the regionally accredited university offers degree and certificate programs on campus, at off-site locations, and online. Florida Tech is an innovative leader in a variety of disciplines, and continues to be the only independent, technological university in the Southeast. Florida Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (MS-IAC) is offered 100% online through Florida Tech’s Harris Institute for Assured Information, an institute created through a partnership with global security leader Harris Corp. to meet the growing demand for cybersecurity experts. In the 33-credit degree program, students learn how to recognize threats, vulnerabilities, and security structures, as well as how to analyze attack models, forensics, operation processes, and biometric technology. During their time at Florida Tech, students explore communications encryption, and apply data mining and machine learning methods to cybersecurity scenarios. Florida Tech also offers an online Master of Business Administration in Cybersecurity for those interested in a more business-centered avenue to a degree in information technology security. Florida tech is designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    Online Environment

    Online classes at Florida Tech are as rigorous as the on-campus courses. The faculty at Florida Tech collaborates with instructional designers to develop each course as an interactive, media-rich experience for all students. Assignments and discussions are presented in an easy-to-follow format. Students interact with their peers through discussion boards and live chat. Classes may include group projects where students collaborate. Faculty members provide individualized attention to students through discussion boards, email, and chat. They also provide feedback on assignments via the learning platform.

  3. Sam Houston State University
    Location

    Huntsville, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Named after one of Texas’s greatest heroes, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) has been preparing students for meaningful lives for nearly 140 years. SHSU is located in Huntsville and enrolls over 20,000 students. The Chronicle of Higher Education named SHSU one of the fastest growing colleges from 2003-2013. The school consistently ranks highly for first-generation and minority graduation rates. While embracing its legacy, SHSU also strives to meet the needs of contemporary students, both traditional and online. In fact SHSU was recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best schools in the country for online graduate programs, and especially significant for cybersecurity, SHSU was recognized as one of the country’s best for Computer Information Technology.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security degree at SHSU prepares students for a professional career in commercial, industrial, and governmental information assurance. Graduates of the program will know how to utilize knowledge and methods to ensure the protection of corporate information resources, be able to effectively harden and secure network systems, prevent network damage, perform risk assessment, and plan for disaster recovery. This degree requires 30-36 credit hours and is open to anyone who has completed an undergraduate Computer Science or Management Information Systems major or minor, or if they have a baccalaureate degree in a related technical field and appropriate professional experience.

    Online Environment

    SHSU offers over forty degree programs entirely online. Online courses are taught by on-campus professors, so the credits earned online are identical to the ones earned in a face-to-face course on campus. SHSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, whether earned on campus or online. SHSU degree and certificate programs combine the best in online education: flexibility, affordability and quality.

  4. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    The University of Southern California (USC) is a leading research institute in Los Angeles. Founded in 1880 when LA was a burgeoning city, USC is now home to more than 41,000 students and has developed a reputation as one of the leading universities in the country. Less than two decades after its founding, USC awarded its first degree in engineering. Just two decade after that a separate College of Engineering was established. Today the Viterbi School of Engineering is one of the top school of engineering in the world.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering at USC focuses on the fundamentals of developing, engineering, and operating secure information systems. The curriculum requires a minimum of 28 units and fosters an understanding on how to develop a security policy and how policy drives technology decisions. Graduates of the program will be well versed in the challenges and problems of secure operating systems, secure applications, secure networking, use of cryptography, and key management. The program is available online to professional engineers through the Distance Education Network at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.

    Online Environment

    The Distance Education Network at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering (DEN@Viterbi) enables students to advance their education with an innovative online delivery method. In addition to over forty graduate programs, professional (non-credit) courses are also available. DEN@Viterbi provides academic, administrative, and technical support for professional engineers to gain the same high quality degree from USC, completely online. DEN@Viterbi operates unique studio classrooms to support on-campus and online students in a blended learning environment. Course lectures are delivered both synchronously and asynchronously through DEN’s custom e-learning environment and provide real time interactivity.

  5. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Kennesaw State University (KSU), with campuses in the greater Atlanta metro cities of Kennesaw and Marietta, is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third largest university in the state. KSU offers more than 150 degrees and enrolls more than 35,000 students, signs of a quick rise to prominence since its charter in 1963. In its 54 years of existence KSU has been consistently recognized for its excellence in higher education, including recognition by U.S. News & World Report as a leader in online graduate programs, especially in Computer Information Technology.

    Program Features

    In the Department of Information Technology at KSU’s College of Computing and Software Engineering, a student can earn an online Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT). MSIT students can then focus electives on Information Technology Security in line with KSU’s Graduate Certificate in IT Security. In this way, once the program is completed, the graduate has an MSIT degree and a graduate certificate, making them highly valuable on the job market. The MSIT coupled with the Graduate Certificate in IT Security requires 36 to 48 credit hours, depending on a student’s prior exposure to required foundation courses.

    Online Environment

    KSU offers over 70 fully online degree programs, certificate programs, hybrid online programs, and more than 400 courses in online and mixed-model versions. With courses designed and taught by KSU faculty, online learning at KSU offers high quality degree options with online learning convenience and flexibility. Online courses and degrees at KSU are fully accredited and held to the same learning standards, rigors, and expectations of quality that on-campus courses and programs require. KSU Online is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board.

  6. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    For over 140 years Johns Hopkins University has been a destination for excellent, ambitious scholars and a world leader in teaching and research. As America’s first research university, Johns Hopkins has revolutionized higher education in the U.S. In 1913 the first engineering class matriculated at the school of applied science and advanced technology, what later came to be the Whiting School of Engineering. Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals is the arm of the Whiting School of Engineering that provides part-time and online programs to give working adults a convenient way to advance their education. It is one of the largest continuing education schools in engineering in the United States.

    Program Features

    At Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals, students can become proficient in ensuring the confidentiality, availability and integrity of data, in preserving and restoring systems, and in developing risk management skills through the Master of Science in Cybersecurity (MSC) degree program. Or if a student wants a broader degree in information systems, Johns Hopkins also offers an online Master of Science in Information Systems with a focus in Cybersecurity. Johns Hopkins’ state-of-the-art computing tools are available on-site and online, and the instructors are working to fight cybersecurity threats on the front lines. Both degrees can be obtained by successfully completing ten graduate-level courses all available online. Students can choose to complete the MSC degree along one of three tracks: Analysis, Networks, or Systems.

    Online Environment

    Johns Hopkins Engineering offers seventeen degrees fully online. Online courses are highly interactive and utilize structured, guided learning that provides students a clear pathway for mastering course content. The online experience includes digital resources, academic advising, and support services from across the university. Courses are carefully constructed specifically for the online environment, but the rigor is no less than what one would encounter on campus. Johns Hopkins has been recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s best schools for online graduate engineering programs.

  7. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Regis University, a Jesuit institution of higher education located in Denver, Colorado,has been grounded in the tradition of the Society of Jesus and the society’s founder St. Ignatius of Loyola for 140 years. Award-winning faculty across Regis’s five colleges bring real-world experience and genuine dedication into the course, putting students at the center of their work. In addition to the main Denver campus, Regis has campuses in Lowell, Colorado Springs, and Thornton, as well as a Tech Center in downtown Denver. Regis’s online campus has expanded its goal to nurture the life of the mind and the pursuit of truth within an environment conducive to effective teaching, learning, and personal development.

    Program Features

    Regis’s College of Computer and Information Sciences grants a 36-credit Master of Science in Information Assurance (MSIA) degree available entirely online. Students can choose to specialize in Cybersecurity or Information Assurance Policy Management (IAPM). With a specialization in cybersecurity students study the fundamentals for securing entire data networks with specific courses on database security, risk analysis and policy, and computer and network forensics. The IAPM specialization helps students learn how to plan for physical security breaches, disaster recovery, implementation of enterprise and architecture security systems, risk management, and auditing best practices. Through this specialization students study the governance side of information assurance.

    Online Environment

    Regis offers 78 online programs and numerous courses, all of which are run through the WorldClass learning management system, a system used for on-campus courses as well. Regis’s Learning Commons offers several online resources for students enrolled in online degree programs. Tutoring services and a writing center assist online students in their progress toward successful completion of their degrees. Online courses start six times per year, so one never has to wait long to begin the next phase of their education.

  8. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    Columbia University in New York City has been a world leader in higher education for more than 250 years. Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. Established as a mining school in 1864, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Columbia University today offers broad-based instruction within a major research university and is ideally suited to educate tomorrow’s engineering leaders and encourage technical literacy. The engineering and applied science programs, which are among the nation’s oldest and most influential, embrace new technologies and interdisciplinary possibilities.

    Program Features

    Columbia Engineering offers a Master of Science in Computer Science with a Computer Security track. This track is intended for students who wish to develop state-of-the-art knowledge of computer and network security technologies. With security considerations pervading personal, corporate, military, governmental, and national infrastructure systems and networks, this track helps students develop leading-edge knowledge in security and positions them well for a career in many environments. The fully online degree program can be completed with thirty credits and offers the flexibility necessary for busy professionals.

    Online Environment

    The Columbia Video Network (CVN) has been a leading online learning platform for over thirty years. It enables working professionals and remotely located students to benefit from distance learning and pursue degrees without residency. CVN students take the same classes, have the same homework assignments and the same exams as their on-campus counterparts. The only difference is in location. CVN students earn the same degrees as on-campus students from Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  9. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    In 1925 barnstomer John Paul Riddle met entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry and founded the Embry-Riddle Company to teach people how to fly. From that beginning Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grew. Today, with campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona, as well as a robust Worldwide and Online Campus, Embry-Riddle continues to produce alumni who drive innovation and keep the aerospace and related industries sunning safely and productively. The university has more than 80 programs conferring associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, enrolls over 31,000 students annually.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance (MSISA) is available at Embry-Riddle as a fully online degree program in the business school. This program prepares its graduates to develop, coordinate, and protect information and knowledge resources. The MSISA degree program at Embry-Riddle is unique in its focus on business and organizational life in the Information Age. It is taught from three key perspectives—enterprise, knowledge management, and quality management—to provide a well-rounded foundation in business and security assurance. While the majority of information security degrees focus solely on technical aspects, the MSISA balances technical knowledge with business management principles. The curriculum requires thirty credits for program completion.

    Online Environment

    For over twenty years Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has been home to one of the best online colleges in the country. Its online presence has been around since 1993. Currently, the online student body of over 13,000 students are working towards 31 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Embry-Riddle provides a world-class curriculum that is taught by industry professionals with an average of five years work experience in the field. These instructors are able to lead online courses and projects through the perspective of potential employers, ensuring that students understand the industry inside and out before graduation.

  10. New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Location

    Newark, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    School Overview

    New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has proudly served its region and the country as a beacon of higher education for over 130 years. The school has especially devoted resources to growth in enrollment, research, and facilities in the last decade in order to meet the needs of today’s demanding high-tech marketplace. NJIT offers nearly 130 degree programs in six specialized schools. Its main campus is located in the vibrant University Heights district of downtown Newark, just twenty minutes from Manhattan. Its growing online programs option is helping it reach a larger constituency while maintaining its reputation as one of the nation’s leading polytechnic universities.

    Program Features

    In the Ying Wu College of Computing, NJIT offers the Master of Science in Business and Information Systems (MS BIS) as an online degree option. Students interested in security can specialize in Security and Network Management. The program provides a broad technical and managerial understanding of information systems, including database, systems design, and IS strategy. The degree can be obtained with the successful completion of thirty credits. Graduates are well positioned to serve a variety of positions including business and application systems analysts, and to advance into technical management.

    Online Environment

    Completing a degree or certificate purely on an online basis at NJIT requires some additional planning since some online courses may not be offered every semester. Degree requirements are the same regardless of format, although course activities may be adjusted to best fit the online format. Most online courses are offered anywhere and anytime (asynchronous). A few, however, are anywhere and same time (synchronous). The synchronous courses use an internet connection for video and audio communication among the instructor and all class members. It is highly recommended that students consult with an adviser to plan an optimal schedule if they plan to complete a degree fully online.

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