Einstein lived much of his adult life in the early 20th-century when computers and the internet were just becoming a thing in people’s everyday lives. Even back then, in a generation that did not grow up with social media or smartphones, Einstein could see how much society had changed due to technology. In the present day, many companies profit from the idea of the “internet of things,” or products that are embedded in computing technology that allows them to communicate with a computer. While it may seem convenient to be able to use your at-home entertainment speaker by merely speaking to it, all technology that interacts with a computer is vulnerable to data security breaches.
Cyber Security is a field that deals with protecting individuals and corporations from cybercrime. According to Consumer Affairs, 1.4 million fraud reports were processed by the Federal Trade Commission in 2018. Identity theft is just one form of cybercrime that is on the rise. Merely having one’s personal information leaked can cause massive damage to one’s personal life. Consumer Affairs also reports that IoT devices are attacked about 5,233 times per month on average. A simple device such as a router that provides a household with the internet is so vulnerable to everyday attacks. Based on these statistics, a career in Cyber Security is one that is part of a growing field and highly valued.
What kind of Cyber Security degree should you get?
At the undergraduate level, Cyber Security will be offered either as a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. In this ranking, only one of the degrees is a BAS. What is the difference between a BS and a BAS? A BS is usually a four-year degree that focuses on both the technical and theoretical sides of the discipline. Some schools offer BS programs that are designated as “completion degrees,” meaning that they enroll only students who have completed their general education courses. Because BS students are exposed to theory and research, this degree is a great precursor for those who wish to move on to the graduate level. In contrast, a BAS degree is more focused on the technical side of the industry, specifically in preparing students to obtain advanced hard skills so that they can enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
BS and BAS degrees are offered both on-campus and online. An online degree may be more favorable for working adults or non-traditional students who do not have time for traditional classes. Online classes meet at designated times a few sessions per week but are mostly self-paced when it comes to completing coursework. Coursework can be accessed 24/7 via the school’s distance learning platform. Technical support is also offered just in case students encounter any problems with the technology.
Check out our ranking of the best online Cyber Security degrees.
How much money does an online Cyber Security degree make?
Even with just a bachelor’s, an online degree in Cyber Security has a very strong starting salary. According to PayScale, the average salary of BS holders is $68,000. In this field, hard skills and experience are valued more than just a fancy degree title. Therefore, although Master’s degree holders in this field typically earn slightly more than those with only an undergraduate education, most people may find it wiser to work right after graduation before deciding to pursue further education.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, regardless of degree, the median wage of those employed in Computer and Information Technology occupations is $86,320, as of May 2018. Below is a sample of jobs that only require a bachelor’s degree and their median pay:
- Computer programmer – $84,280
- Computer system analyst – $88,740
- Information security analyst – $98,350
- Software developer – $105,590
What can you do with an online Cyber Security degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that Information Security Analyst jobs will increase by 32% from 2018 until 2028. This statistic is not surprising as industries are becoming more technologically dependent. Cyber Security degree holders can find work in both the public and private sector: government agencies, health providers, and IT companies all need professionals to protect their institutions from everyday data breaches. Cybersecurity professionals work to maintain cybersecurity networks, develop new software, and find potential system vulnerabilities.
After receiving one’s bachelor’s degree, most graduates will be prepared to sit for major industry certification exams. The Certified Ethical Hacker, CompTIA Security+, and the Cisco Certified Network Associate Security certifications are just a few main certifications available. Several of the degrees listed here explicitly state that their curriculum prepares students for these exams. Having extra certifications can boost one’s potential salary and job outlook.
What are the requirements for an online Cyber Security degree?
Applicants interested in an undergraduate Cyber Security program must have a high school diploma from an accredited school. Taking advanced math and science courses, while not mandatory, is advised. For instance, schools like to see applicants who have taken advanced Calculus, Computer Science, and Physics exams and courses. Schools will also look more closely at one’s math and science sections on the SAT/ACT. Taking additional SATs such as the Math II exam may also be helpful.
While colleges are aware that not every high school provides ample exposure to STEM fields, any other outside related extracurricular activities are highly favored. For instance, joining a computer science or engineering club gives students basic knowledge and experience in the field. Many undergraduate students enter college with already some exposure to computer science fundamentals. Taking advantage of high school resources is a plus to ensure a smooth transition into college.
We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer not only fair prices but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in-depth description of our data.
Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These represent not only the best degrees you can get but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!
American Public University System
Average Net Price: $10,658
A former Marine Corps officer founded the American Public University System for adults who both wished to continue their education but did not have time to enroll in a traditional program. APUS is a private, online university that is made up of the American Military University and the American Public University. Over 200 distance learning degrees are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. More than 87% of APUS’s students are working adults. Since 1995, more than 98,000 degrees have been awarded to students around the world.
Students enrolled in APU’s online BS in Cybersecurity program do not have to worry about how they will pay for school. This degree offers a generous transfer allowance, an undergraduate book grant, and a tuition reimbursement program for those employed at partnered institutions. Other degree highlights include:
- Monthly course start dates
- Concentrations: General, Wireless and Mobile Security
- $270 per credit hour
Courses are either eight or 16 weeks long. Classes will be held live at designated meeting times. Coursework can be accessed via the online platform or on the mobile app.
Average Net Price: $11,359
At the time of its founding in 1966, Bellevue, NE, was a growing city that did not yet have an institute of higher education. Bellevue University was founded to provide the city and greater area with more accessible education. Currently, over 9,000 students are enrolled in its programs, both online and on-campus. Although Bellevue’s main campus is located in Nebraska, the school also allows students to complete half of their degree requirements at other locations in three additional states in community colleges and Air Force bases.
Take control of your learning pace through Bellevue’s online BS degree in Cybersecurity. The traditional learning program offers courses in the fall, winter, spring, and summer terms. Students enroll in courses at their own pace. In contrast, the accelerated cohort program follows a 54-week schedule, with all courses lasting only nine-weeks. Below are some available classes:
- Data/Database Security
- Assessments and Audits
- Ethics for IT Professionals
There are a total of 127 credit hours that must be completed. The accelerated cohort format allows students to earn credits faster, thus saving them time and money. On the other hand, the cohort program may be ideal for transfer students who have already completed their general education requirements.
Old Dominion University
Average Net Price: $15,213
Learn from nationally-recognized faculty by enrolling at Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, VA. ODU identifies as an “entrepreneurial-minded doctoral university” that is passionate about seeing students succeed. Although ODU has a total enrollment of over 24,000 students, it offers individualized learning experiences with a student-to-faculty ratio of only 17:1. Both on-campus and online students have an impressive job-placement rate after graduation. It is reported that 94% of the school’s graduates are employed or pursuing further education just six months after graduating.
ODU Online’s BS in Cybersecurity is a completion degree for those who have already taken all of their general education requirements. At least 30 credit hours must be completed within the program. All courses are three credit hours. The following is a sample of the current curriculum:
- Enterprise Cyber Defense
- Information Assurance
- Management of Information Security
- Implementing Internet Applications
While some courses are completely self-paced and do not require set meeting times, others do meet regularly like traditional on-campus classes. All assignments are turned in via the Blackboard online learning system. Some tests may require students to go in-person to a test center with a proctor.
University of Maryland-University College
Average Net Price: $15,256
Just because you are a working adult does not mean you should not receive a quality college education. The University of Maryland University College is a public online university that was founded more than 70 years ago. Over 90 degrees are offered through its massive online platform as well as at several physical locations throughout Maryland. For service members, UMUC also has divisions in Europe and Asia to accommodate overseas students. In 2018, Military Times ranked UMUC’s Cybersecurity program the No. 4 best in the nation.
Not only will UMUC’s online BS degree in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity build one’s IT skills, but it will also help students to gain various industry certifications. Beginning foundational courses will cover a variety of topics such as how to troubleshoot systems. Advanced courses go over specific Microsoft and Cisco technologies. Below are some of the industry certifications that students may be eligible to gain:
- CompTIA Network+
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Computer Security Incident Handler (CSIH)
Even online students have the opportunity to join industry-related student organizations. For this field, UMUC has the Computing Club and the Cyber Competition Team. The competition team travels to various events around the nation – in 2019, the team took third place in the Magic, Inc. competition.
Colorado Technical University
Average Net Price: $15,888
Colorado Technical University has its roots working closely with active military members. It was founded under the goal of helping veterans transition back into society after deployment. Curricula are technology-centered and aimed at getting graduates a stable job directly in the industry for which they studied. Although CTU’s home campuses are in Denver and Colorado Springs respectively, it also offers several flexible online degrees. These degrees offer multiple start dates, a generous transfer credit policy, and financial aid options.
Get your undergraduate degree in Cybersecurity from this nationally-recognized program. For the past five years, the U.S. News & World Report has ranked CTU’s online BS in Cyber Security among the nation’s best online bachelor’s programs. This degree’s curriculum follows the CompTIA standards, which allow students to sit for industry-related certifications upon graduation. Other key highlights of the BS include:
- Concentrations: Computer Systems Security and Information Assurance
- Three start dates: October, November, and January
- 186 credit hours
At CTU, there are multiple ways to save money on your degree. Grants/scholarships, military tuition discounts, and transfer credits are all ways to lessen your total tuition. There is also the CTU Fast Track option available for certain courses, which may allow students to complete their degrees up to 30% faster.
Average Net Price: $16,246
Mercy College’s mission is to provide higher education to those who have been historically unable to do so. It meets this goal in part by offering distance-learning degrees through its online learning platform. Mercy is located in Dobbs Ferry, NY. In 1950, it was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious institute for Catholic women. Today the college is co-educational and open to all students, regardless of religious background. As a leader of higher education, Mercy has received several accolades for its affordability and quality programs. In 2014, the U.S. News & World Report recognized the college for its outstanding undergraduate online degrees.
Enroll in either the traditional, four-year BS in Cybersecurity or the five-year BS/MS in Cybersecurity online at Mercy. Upon graduation, students will be able to identify different security risks and design methods to counteract those issues. The following are some currently offered courses:
- Computer Architecture
- Linux Administration
- Forensic/Electronic Discovery
- Artificial Intelligence
Those interested in moving on to the Master’s degree can apply for the five-year program before their senior year. It is advised that students take as many graduate classes as possible during their undergraduate years. Master’s degree holders can apply to higher administrative positions within the field.
Kennesaw State University
Average Net Price: $17,929
With an enrollment of over 35,000 students, Kennesaw State University is proud to serve the Atlanta area from its two campuses. It is the third-largest university within the state of Georgia, with a total economic impact of more than $1.4 billion. Research and teaching are at KSU’s core – in the past five years, the university has increased its research funding by more than $35 million. Based on factors such as quality degrees, student success, and bang for the buck, the U.S. News & World Report ranked KSU among top universities within the nation.
In partnership with the University System of Georgia, students can earn their BS in Cybersecurity online. This program is designated as an “eMajor,” meaning it is for those who have already completed their general education requirements. This is an affordable way for students to receive their bachelor’s degree, as the tuition is only $199 per credit hour for major courses. Other features of the program include:
- Interdisciplinary curriculum
- Automatic completion of a minor in Information Technology
- Hybrid courses available
While research opportunities are primarily available to those at the master’s level and beyond, undergraduate students can get involved early. For instance, students are allowed to attend presentations at the annual Conference on Cybersecurity Education, Research, and Practice. This event is held on campus in the fall.
George Mason University
Average Net Price: $18,629
George Mason University is the largest public research university within the state of Virginia, with an enrollment of over 37,000 students. Mason is passionate about setting up students for a positive future. It is reported that 80% of its students are employed within six months of graduating. Mason also supports students financially by offering about 60% of its students some form of financial assistance. For 2020, the U.S. News & World Report ranks Mason among the top 100 schools in the nation for the best undergraduate teaching.
Already have your associate’s degree? Mason’s online Bachelor of Applied Science in Cybersecurity is designed specifically for transfer students – this degree concentration is only for those who are transferring from specific local community colleges. Here are some program highlights:
- $558.50 per credit hour for Virginia residents
- Ability to transfer up to 60 credit hours
- 100% online
About 60 to 63 major credits will be taken at Mason. A total of 120 to 126 credit hours need to be completed to earn the BAS. Some courses from the AAS may fulfill major course credit.
Saint Leo University
Average Net Price: $20,552
As the state of Florida’s first Catholic university, Saint Leo provides affordable education on-campus and online to groups who need it. Specifically, the school has always been passionate about helping the nation’s armed forces, having served thousands of active and veteran members. Saint Leo’s online experience provides learners with the same quality teaching as if they were to get their degree on-campus. Its Catholic-rooted, liberal arts curriculum produces well-rounded graduates who are prepared to enter into fast-paced careers. The U.S. News & World Report has ranked Saint Leo a 2020 best-value school in the South.
Get the chance to work with real industry technology before entering the field through this distance-learning program. Saint Leo’s online BS in Cybersecurity allows students the opportunity to experience mock IT infrastructures and scenarios through their virtual lab. Other opportunities include:
- Internship programs with reputable companies
- Access to the Computing Club and Computer Security Club
- Requires only two on-campus courses
Students will be required to complete two on-campus courses about the first-year college experience and wellness. All general education and major requirements can be completed online. General education courses make up 42 credit hours.
American National University
Average Net Price: $20,558
For more than 100 years, American National University has been providing career-based, accessible education to adults around the nation. ANU offers online and hybrid degrees throughout its 30 campuses across six different states. Canvas Learn is the school’s online learning platform that provides students with small, individualized classes. Every component of the learning experience, from receiving admissions counseling to choosing courses can be completed virtually anywhere. ANU is also proud to be a military-friendly school that has helped thousands of men and women get their degrees at an affordable rate.
ANU’s online BS in Cybersecurity is a great way to get your foot in the door of this exciting, growing career field. This degree is also good for individuals who may have some experience within the field but want to gain more industry credentials. Key features of the BS are:
- Ability to sit for industry certification exams offered through Microsoft and CompTIA
- 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio
- Career guidance (i.e. resume assistance and job hunting)
There are several scholarships and grants that students can qualify for that could significantly decrease their tuition. For instance, ANU offers a Workforce Development grant for up to $7,500 a year for those participating in worker-retraining programs. There are also business partnership grants, military tuition discounts, and outside donor-funded scholarships.