Most Affordable Online Cyber Security Degrees 2021

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Online cybersecurity programs train enrollees for careers preventing, detecting, and prosecuting online crimes. Common cybercrimes include identity theft, fraud, money laundering, and hacking.

Like on-campus programs, online cybersecurity degree programs can lead to high-paying positions such as information security analyst. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these analysts earn a median annual salary of $99,730 per year. Top-ranking professionals such as chief information security officers boast an average salary of nearly $165,000, according to PayScale.

Companies and organizations increasingly rely on electronic records and online communication, contributing to the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals. The BLS projects a 32% growth rate in information security analyst positions from 2019-2029. Cybersecurity professionals can work for government agencies, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individual clients.

Applicants to cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs at regionally accredited schools often list minimum GPA and coursework requirements in computer science. The following sections detail program requirements, career options, and scholarship opportunities for students earning a cybersecurity degree.

FAQ

  • What kind of degree do you need for cybersecurity?

    Many cybersecurity jobs require an associate or bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science. Employers often prefer candidates with relevant professional experience and certifications.

  • Is cybersecurity well paid?

    According to PayScale, cybersecurity analysts and cybersecurity engineers earn average annual salaries of $76,520 and $96,640, respectively.

  • Is cybersecurity a good career?

    Many cybersecurity careers feature positive growth rates. The BLS projects information security analyst positions to increase 32% from 2019-2029, a rate significantly higher than the average for all occupations.

  • What does a career in cybersecurity look like?

    Cybersecurity professionals use technology to protect information and money from theft and tampering. Positions in the field include security systems administrator, security engineer, security architect, and security analyst.

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Top 10 Most Affordable Online Cyber Security Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
2 University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME
3 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
4 University of Charleston Charleston, WV
5 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
6 Dakota State University Madison, SD
7 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
8 Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Okmulgee, OK
9 Excelsior College Albany, NY
10 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY

Most Affordable Online Cybersecurity Degrees 2021



  1. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Maryville's bachelor of science in cybersecurity teaches how security breaches occur and how to prevent them. Graduates from the Saint Louis-based school qualify for careers in information technology, information security, and analysis.

    Taught through the university's Simon School of Business, studies consist of general business courses and database design, cybersecurity principles, and information technology classes. Students pursue one of three tracks: cybersecurity defense, cybersecurity offense, or cybersecurity general. Real-world case studies, taught by field-experienced faculty, support the curriculum's foundation.

    Maryville's Virtual Lab offers a safe environment where students develop technical, hacking, and analytical cybersecurity skills. Students may also access Maryville's Cyber Fusion Center, which provides real-time information security services for charities, schools, and nonprofit organizations.

    First-year applicants must submit an official high school transcript with a 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from previous colleges or universities, along with a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA.

    Maryville University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  2. University of Maine at Fort Kent
    Location

    Fort Kent, ME

    UMFK's bachelor of science in cybersecurity trains students to protect technical infrastructures and preserve cybersecurity and information assurance. Graduates may qualify for forensic computer analyst, vulnerability analyst, system engineer, or network architect.

    The curriculum focuses on network and operating systems security, cyber defense, and database protection. Students benefit from hands-on applications in information security analysis, prevention, deterrence, and global countermeasures.

    First-year applicants must submit official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students must submit transcripts from prior colleges/universities and official high school transcripts with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

    University of Maine at Fort Kent is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

  3. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Drexel's bachelor of science in computing and security technology educates professionals for roles in computer system administration and cybersecurity. Emphasizing hands-on education and fundamental concepts supplemented by work experience, the degree-completion program trains those currently working in information technology areas, as well as employed adults with an associate degree or college credits.

    Core studies focus on information technology security, network administration, computer informatics, and web systems. Students may pursue computing technology or computing security concentrations. Up to 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits) may transfer from any accredited institution of higher learning with a grade of C or higher. One semester credit equals 1.5 quarter credits.

    Applicants interested in this private, Philadelphia-based university must submit official transcripts from previously attended colleges, universities, and other postsecondary educational institutions attended.

    Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  4. University of Charleston
    Location

    Charleston, WV

    UC offers a bachelor of science in cybersecurity that supplies students with experiential knowledge and skills aligning with The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework. The two-year degree-completion program prepares working adults to provide the full spectrum of defense, from operations and maintenance to investigations, data management, and oversight.

    Through the West Virginia-based School of Business and Leadership, graduates qualify for careers such as information security analyst, computer crime investigator, cyber trainer, and intrusion detection system technician. Program studies include cybersecurity strategy, security analysis, incident handler, and advanced security trends, along with a cybersecurity capstone. Students may pair minor degrees in organizational leadership or business administration with the BSCS degree.

    Applicants with a 2.0 or higher cumulative college GPA may apply for UC general admission and gain entry into the program. Transcripts from each previously attended college or university are required. Those with workforce technology-related experience can opt to test out of three prerequisites.

    University of Charleston is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  5. Kennesaw State University
    Location

    Kennesaw, GA

    The bachelor of science in cybersecurity eMajor at KSU in Georgia trains students for careers in the fast-growing tech-protection sector. The degree-completion program taught through KSU's Institute for Cybersecurity Workforce Development focuses on the technical creation, operation, analysis, and testing of secure computer systems.

    The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designate KSU as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Classes include principles of cybersecurity, perimeter defense, incident response and contingency planning, and a capstone requirement. Students must also complete a systems security, network security, or cybercrime track. Students completing general education and lower-division major requirements with a C or better, either at KSU or an accredited college or university, may apply to the program.

    Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Dakota State University
    Location

    Madison, SD

    Located in Madison, South Dakota, DSU's bachelor of science in cyber leadership and intelligence degree teaches leadership concepts and practices built on a professional ethics foundation. One of only a few in the country, the program trains students to understand and investigate security breaches while learning about global geopolitical issues and different cultural values.

    The 120-credit curriculum focuses on cyber ethics, cyber leadership, and information security fundamentals. Participants select an internship or undergraduate research project plus a specialization in digital forensics or world affairs and human behavior. Students may also add a minor in cyber operations, foreign language, history, or sociology.

    First-year applicants must be high school graduates and meet at least one of three requirements: minimum 2.6 GPA, an 18 ACT composite score / 950 SAT minimum, or be in the top 60% of graduating high school class. Transfer students should have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 from a regionally accredited college or university.

    Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  7. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Part of The Pennsylvania State University system, Penn State's bachelor of science in cybersecurity analytics and operations trains participants to identify threats, articulate impacts to stakeholders, and ensure digital information safety. The 126-credit program, taught through the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), equips students with the necessary technical tools to eliminate risks related to multiple threats.

    Studies focus on cyber incident handling and response, malware analytics, network security, and information security management — as well as general education courses and a capstone. Students must also study application areas such as law and policy, economics, healthcare, and additional writing courses.

    Applicants must be high school graduates; higher math courses are required for College of IST admission. First-year applicants must submit self-reported academic records. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from previous colleges or universities attended.

    Penn State World Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  8. Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology
    Location

    Okmulgee, OK

    OSUIT offers a bachelor of technology in information technologies — cybersecurity and digital forensics. Taught by industry experts, graduates from the Okmulgee-based program develop the tools to protect technology from hackers, cyberterrorists, viruses, and worms.

    Besides lower-division program requirements, general education requirements, and an interdepartmental requirement, degree-specific courses focus on programming, digital forensics, network and computer security, and secure system administration.

    First-time applicants must be high school graduates and submit ACT or SAT scores, official transcripts, and immunization records. Undergraduate transfers must submit official transcripts from each college attended and ACT or SAT scores.

    Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  9. Excelsior College
    Location

    Albany, NY

    Located in Albany, New York, Excelsior's bachelor of science in cybersecurity prepares students for systems protection-related jobs in the U.S. Cyber Command, the FBI, law enforcement agencies, and corporate environments. Aligned with academic requirements for cybersecurity set by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, the 120-credit program prepares graduates to respond to cyber incidents. Excelsior is also a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

    The curriculum covers general education and cybersecurity plus a free elective component. Cybersecurity studies include computer security, computer forensics, introduction to microprocessors, and risk management. Students must also complete a capstone and a concentration in general cybersecurity or cyber operations.

    Transfer up to 117 credits from college, military training, IT certifications, and criminal justice training. Applicants must submit official transcripts and are encouraged to contact admission counselors for additional details.

    Excelsior College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  10. Mercy College
    Location

    Dobbs Ferry, NY

    Mercy, located in Dobbs Ferry, New York, offers a bachelor of science in cybersecurity that teaches students how to test, implement, and configure security software and/or technologies. Students also learn how to provide protection and disaster recovery to companies' business systems. Earned skills include security system monitoring, security policy implementation, compliance audits, and disaster plan recovery.

    Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, Mercy's program studies include disaster recovery, programming, computer security, and operating systems. The degree requires a capstone.

    First-time applicants must be high-school graduates and submit an official, final transcript. Standardized tests are optional. Transfer students must submit official high school and college transcripts from all colleges attended. Credits with a 2.0 grade or higher might be transferable.

    Mercy College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

What Are the Goals of a Cybersecurity Degree?

Schools may offer cybersecurity as a concentration within another major, such as computer science, information technology, information systems, or criminal justice. However, some schools offer BA or BS degrees in information assurance, cybersecurity, computer forensics, and information security.

Cybersecurity bachelor’s programs include general education requirements and major-specific coursework. Curricula vary based on specialization, such as network security, computer-forensic engineering technology, or cyberoperations.

Enrollees typically complete core coursework in information systems, information technology, and data communications and networking. Core coursework explores topics such as cyberdefense, digital forensics, and security systems. Learners also complete elective courses aligned with their career interests and goals.

Why Get a Cybersecurity Degree?

Earning a cybersecurity degree can lead to many professional and personal benefits. Degree-seekers obtain valuable skills, and graduates often qualify for career advancement and increased salaries. The list below highlights a few common benefits of completing a cybersecurity program.

Salary Advancement
Advanced education often leads to increased earning potential. According to PayScale data, individuals with a BS in information security earn an average salary of $76,190 per year.
Promotion
Entry-level professionals, such as technical support staff, often pursue a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree to qualify for more advanced positions. Many computer and information technology jobs require a bachelor’s degree.
In-Demand Skills
Cybersecurity programs help learners cultivate specialized skills. Companies, governments, and organizations need employees with these abilities to protect information.
Diverse Career Options
Graduates of cybersecurity degree programs can work in most industries and sectors. Nearly every organization needs to protect electronic and online data.
Networking
Many cybersecurity programs feature internships and project-based courses that encourage collaboration. Learners can use these opportunities to form lasting professional connections. Students can also network with professors and guest speakers.

What Are the Requirements for a Cybersecurity Degree?

Applicants to bachelor’s programs must typically submit official transcripts. Candidates usually need a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA and a high school diploma. Many schools also require minimum ACT or SAT scores, recommendation letters, and an essay. To enter the cybersecurity major, students often need to demonstrate successful academic performance in relevant prerequisites.

Most cybersecurity bachelor’s programs require roughly 120 credits, including about 60 credits of general education coursework. Most online cybersecurity programs also require a capstone project or internship during which students gain practical experience working with cybersecurity professionals. Online learners usually complete internships at an approved local site, often their current place of employment. The focus of a learner’s capstone project depends on their specialization area.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Cybersecurity Students

Many professional organizations support students and professionals by providing networking opportunities, continuing education, advocacy, and publications. Student members often benefit from access to student chapters, exclusive scholarships, mentorship programs, and discounted membership rates. The following professional organizations serve cybersecurity students and professionals.


  • Information Systems Security Association International This international nonprofit organization supports information security professionals. ISSA helps members network and share information. The association maintains a job board, runs web conferences and online forums, and publishes the ISSA Journal. ISSA also provides various awards and fellowships.

  • Global Information Assurance Certification GIAC offers vendor-neutral computer security examinations and certifications. Candidates for GIAC certifications must have completed information security training through the Escal Institute of Advanced Technologies. GIAC also maintains a blog, podcasts, and a directory of certified professionals.

Scholarships for Cybersecurity Students

Undergraduate and graduate students can qualify for a variety of scholarships from institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Scholarship programs often require applicants to boast a strong academic record, demonstrate financial need, or belong to an underrepresented group. Many scholarships support learners in a certain field, such as cybersecurity.

(ISC)² Women’s Cybersecurity Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Center for Cyber Safety and Education administers these scholarships for women applying to or enrolled in a program related to cybersecurity or information assurance. Full-time and part-time high school seniors and college students from any country can apply. Applicants submit one recommendation letter, a resume, essays, and unofficial transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.3 GPA.
Amount: $1,000-$6,000

Central Intelligence Agency Undergraduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This need-based scholarship supports learners at accredited universities. Recipients work for the CIA for 90 days during at least one summer while enrolled in school. Upon graduation, recipients work at the CIA for 1.5 years per year of scholarship funding. Applicants need a strong academic record.
Amount: Up to $25,000 tuition remission annually

Stokes Educational Scholarship

Who Can Apply: High school seniors who plan to major in computer science or electrical engineering can apply for this award. Applicants must demonstrate leadership ability and must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and SAT or ACT scores of at least 1200 or 25, respectively. Recipients work for the NSA for 1.5 times the length of the scholarship period.
Amount: Up to $30,000 tuition remission per year, a salary, local housing for summer jobs at NSA, and benefits

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