Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US and it looks like this trend is set to continue for some time. With more organizations moving operations online, it’s more important than ever for employers to prioritize their IT security systems. The frequency and severity of cyber attacks are increasing too, which adds to the need for a robust and ever-developing cyber security system. This is where cyber security legal experts come in. Individuals in these roles understand new and changing laws and regulations that help to protect sensitive data.
If you are interested in both cyber security and law, then studying for a degree in cybersecurity law could be the ideal option for you. A cyber law degree will give you the best chances of securing a career that specializes in the legal aspects of IT security.
In this guide, we reveal the different routes you can take in your studies (several types of cyber law degree exist). We also highlight some of the best cybersecurity law degrees, including the crucial aspects of these degrees, such as tuition costs, cyber law degree benefits, career opportunities, and salary expectations.
Different types of cyber law degrees
We can identify four types of degrees that will prepare you to work on the legal aspect of cyber security. There are varying amounts of training needed for each of these cyber law degrees. Let’s explore degree options for cybersecurity law, beginning with the least time-intensive program and ending with the most advanced one:
MLS (Master of Legal Studies)
This is a Master’s degree that provides a fundamental understanding of the law, focusing on:
- Legal research and analysis
- Risk management
- Professional standards
If you gain an MLS cybersecurity degree, this will not allow you to practice law. However, it will provide you with relevant knowledge that can help you attain certain cybersecurity roles in private firms. For example, you can work as a legal assistant or paralegal in a company’s risk and compliance department.
J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence)
This is a program that provides you with a broad understanding of the law. With a J.D. under your belt, you can practice law in the US after passing a state law exam and obtaining a law license. A J.D. does not usually require that you study cybersecurity law, but many degrees include this area of study. Sometimes, you can combine a J.D. degree with a cyber security program, which will prepare you well for a job in cyber law.
LL.M. (Master of Laws)
This is an internationally recognized J.D. law degree. If you’re a US student, you must already hold a J.D. degree to be awarded an LL.M., while international students need to have a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B). LL.M. degrees focus on a specific area of law, which trains students to be an expert in that area. This means an LL.M. gives you the opportunity to concentrate on cybersecurity law.
S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science)
This is the highest degree in the field of law, requiring the most training. It is equivalent to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Most schools will ask that you have an LL.M. before enrolling in an S.J.D program. Like a PhD, an S.J.D. will involve a dissertation, which you will have to orally defend and which may be published as a book. During your S.J.D. studies, you can specialize in cyber security.
Best cybersecurity law degrees
Below we’ve listed some of the best cyber law degrees available, featuring a mixture of the degree options listed above:
1. Seton Hall Law School
- Program: Master of Science in Jurisprudence (MJS) with a Concentration in Privacy Law and Cyber Security (online)
- Tuition cost: $39,866 or $1,286 per credit
2. University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law
- Program: Master of Laws (LLM) in Privacy Law and Cybersecurity (onsite)
- Tuition cost: $68,628
3. Loyola Law School
- Tuition cost: $59,990
4. Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
- Program: LLM in Cyber Law and Data Privacy (onsite or online)
- Tuition cost: $37,500 or $1,250 per credit
5. Albany Law School
- Tuition cost: $40,800 or $1,700 per credit
6. St. Thomas University
- Tuition cost: $29,252
7. Cleveland State University
- Program: Master of Legal Studies in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy (online)
- Tuition cost: in-state: $17,776.50 (or $592.55 per credit) and out-of-state: $30,511.50 (or $1,017.05 per credit)
8. American University Washington College of Law
- Program: Master of Legal Studies (MLS) with a Specialization in Cybersecurity (online)
- Tuition cost: $64,230 or $2,141 per credit
9. Indiana University Bloomington Maurer School of Law
- Program: Doctor of Juridical Science (onsite)
- Tuition cost: $57,622
How to choose the right cyber law degree
There are plenty of cybersecurity law degrees to choose from. This is a result of the pace at which the field of cyber law is growing and the demand for related skills. The cyber law degrees listed above should give you a sense of what one of these programs will involve. But you need to consider your priorities if you want to opt for the most suitable one.
Here are the most important factors you should keep in mind before deciding on a particular school and cyber law program:
First, you need to decide whether you want to pursue your studies online or in-person. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. The benefits of an online cybersecurity law degree include:
- Convenience: You don’t have to travel for your studies, such as using public transport or a car. This will save you money, time, and hassle.
- Flexibility: There is often the option to study part-time, in the evenings, and on the weekends. Usually, you can extend the length of the program too. Flexibility can be useful if you already have a job or you plan to work while studying.
- Being able to study at home makes it easier to accommodate a busy home life
The benefits of an in-person cyber law degree (which highlight some downsides of online education) include:
- Access to the school’s facilities, including its libraries and other amenities.
- The ability to discuss topics with professors and students face-to-face, which many find makes studying easier and more enjoyable.
- Being able to separate your studies from your home life. This can be helpful if you find yourself getting easily distracted when studying at home.
2. School ranking
While it shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor, it’s a good idea to consider the ranking of any institution that you have in mind. This will indicate the credibility and reputation of the school, as well as the quality of education you will receive. You want to ensure that your teachers – and the knowledge they are imparting – will be of a high standard. A school’s ranking may be determined by the following factors:
- Graduation rates
- Retention rates
- Social mobility
- Faculty resources
- Financial resources per student
- Student satisfaction
- Teaching quality
- Research quality
- Staff to student ratio
- Average total debt upon graduation
By opting for a school that scores well in these features, you can feel confident that you will receive a high-quality education. A cyber law degree – especially an advanced one – is a serious investment of time, money, and effort. You want to make sure that everything you invest in your studies is worth it. This means having an enjoyable educational experience, being able to receive valuable support when you need it, and having job prospects when you graduate.
As you can see from the degrees mentioned above, pricing can vary considerably. The type of cybersecurity law degree you choose will greatly influence the overall cost of your education. This is partly because they differ in duration. For example, an MLS typically takes one academic year to complete, whereas an S.J.D. can take up to seven years to finish. Think about how long you can realistically imagine studying for.
If cost is a major factor affecting your decision, then you want to have a clear picture of your educational expenses, as well as your budget and financing options. You need to know that you can comfortably fund your studies until completion. You should also factor in costs besides tuition fees, including learning materials, living costs, and administration and application fees.
The next thing to consider is whether you can qualify for a school’s scholarship or bursary programs. These can often help to significantly reduce the cost of your education. If these aren’t an option and you need financial support, then loans may make financial sense. You might plan to fund your studies through work, which many students decide to do. This is doable, as long as you are realistic about your plan. This means being able to fit in your studies with your job, along with other areas of your life. Studying part-time, on the weekends, or in the evenings can make this option possible, as can extending the length of your degree.
At first glance, a cybersecurity law degree can seem expensive. You may be wondering if it’s worth it. However, it’s best to look at your cyber law degree as an investment. The return on your investment will be the job you can land thanks to your degree, and the salary that goes along with that. The type of cybersecurity law degree you choose will affect your career prospects, but each of them can help you secure a range of well-paid cyber law positions. According to PayScale, the average salary for those holding an LL.M. is $132,500.
4. Course structure and content
No two cybersecurity law degrees are exactly alike. When looking into cyber law programs, you should let your interests, preferences, and long-term goals guide your decision-making. After all, you want your cyber law degree to be as enjoyable, fulfilling, and useful as possible.
Ask yourself the following questions when researching degree programs:
- Do you want your cyber law degree to be broad or specific? This will matter depending on the job you want to get hired for since some roles cover many aspects of cyber security law, whereas others are highly specialized.
- What areas of cyber law are you most interested in studying?
- Would you prefer to be graded based on exams, individual assignments, or team projects? Courses differ in how much weight they attach to each form of assessment. The degree structure should match your personality and comfort levels. Ask yourself, do you prefer studying alone or when collaborating with others? Do you get particularly stressed out by exams?
- How long would you like to study for? As underscored earlier, the length of various types of cybersecurity law programs can vary, lasting between one to seven years.
- How advanced do you want your degree to be? Some law degrees will be more complex than others. When studying for an MLS, you will gain an essential understanding of many aspects of the law. On the other hand, an S.J.D. will require you to focus on a highly specific area of law, and you will cover complex topics and concepts in much more depth.
5. Course requirements
Cybersecurity law degrees can differ in their entry requirements. Often, you’ll need to have already attained a certain degree in order to gain acceptance into a more advanced program. A minimum grade may be necessary as well. Here are the usual course requirements for each type of cyber law degree:
- For an MLS, you will need an undergraduate degree, typically a related degree, such as a Bachelor of Laws (LLB).
- For a J.D., you will also need at least an undergraduate degree under your belt.
- For an LL.M., many schools will ask that you have a very good undergraduate degree in law, LLB, or equivalent.
- For an S.J.D., you tend to need a J.D. or an LL.M. before you can get accepted onto the program.
Nevertheless, if you don’t meet the exact entry criteria, it’s worth getting in touch with the admissions department. They might be able to provide you with some leeway. For example, you might have attained some professional experience – or some other relevant qualifications – that could act in your favor.
Benefits of a cybersecurity law degree
Obtaining a cyber law degree will offer you wide-ranging benefits, including:
Improved job opportunities
If you gain a cybersecurity law degree that is more advanced than an undergraduate program, you will open yourself up to many more job opportunities. Entry-level cyber law positions may only require an undergraduate degree. However, to get hired for more senior roles, an employer may ask for a minimum of a J.D. or an LL.M., or they might at least see these qualifications as preferable or desirable.
A J.S.D., meanwhile, is recommended if you want to apply for academic positions, such as teaching or research roles. Outside of academia, a J.S.D. can still benefit you when applying and being interviewed for senior cyber law roles. It indicates to employers that you have a high level of expertise and specialization, as well as a refined knowledge base and skill set.
This advanced qualification will make you stand out from the crowd, increasing your employability and making it easier to achieve your long-term career goals. Being a leading authority on cyber law or a specific area of the field will also put you in a position to deliver sponsored talks, write articles for leading industry and news sites, and publish books.
To reiterate, cyber security is one of the quickest-growing industries in the US, as is the field of law. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), paralegal and legal assistant jobs are predicted to grow 10 percent through 2029. This growth is much faster than the national average job growth of four percent. The BLS also highlights that computer and IT occupations are expected to grow 11 percent through 2029.
These trends mean that you should find it relatively easy to secure a job in cyber security law. Moreover, by pursuing more advanced cybersecurity law degrees, you will increase your chances of attaining a well-paid role.
Possessing a cybersecurity law degree will put you in a position to earn an attractive salary. With a cyber law degree and a sufficient amount of experience in the fields of cyber security and law, you can end up in an organization or role that pays extremely well. And of course, the more advanced your degree, the more you are likely to earn. Refer to the salary section below to see what cyber law experts earn, as well as how their salaries typically increase over the years.
These high salaries make sense. After all, organizations depend on cyber law experts to ensure that they comply with all policies and regulatory and legislative frameworks. A company needs to commit to every detail of IT law to maintain its credibility, reputation, and smooth functioning. Cyber security law experts are, therefore, compensated for the critical role they play in an organization and the value they provide.
After completing your cybersecurity law degree, you will have gained an array of transferable skills. You will be able to apply your technical skills, knowledge, insights, and soft skills to other fields. For instance, a background in cyber law can prepare you for several roles within cyber security or law, should you decide to eventually focus on one of these fields. Transferable skills include:
- Technical IT knowledge
- Broad and in-depth knowledge of cyber security law
- An understanding of a range of policy, legal, and regulatory concepts
- Attention to detail
- Management skills
- Analytical and research skills
- A willingness to learn the latest developments in cyber security and IT technology
What jobs can you get with a cyber law degree?
Having a cybersecurity law degree, even with limited experience in the field, can make you a great candidate for many cyber law positions. With an MLS or more advanced degree, you can also apply for both mid-level and senior-level roles. Having relevant experience will, of course, give you a better chance of securing more advanced and well-paid jobs. Depending on which degree you complete, you may be able to apply for the following positions:
- Security consultant
- Cyber law consultant
- Chief security officer
- Security architect
- Cyber lawyer
- Cyber attorney
- Cyber security analyst
- Corporate legal officer
- Paralegal and legal assistant
It’s important to keep in mind that some employers might also require, prefer, or desire specific certificates related to the field. Sometimes, an employer may be willing to fund the training for these qualifications since they will improve your career performance and the value you can add to the company. Check whether this is a possibility before signing up for any additional courses.
Cybersecurity law degree salary
Now, let’s turn to the topic of salary. What can you expect to earn once you have completed a cyber law degree? Based on a few of the occupations mentioned above, PayScale has found the following average salaries:
|Role||Average||Entry level (<1 year)||Early career (1–4 years)||Mid-career (5–9 years)||Experienced (10–19 years)||Late career (20+ years)|
|Chief information security officer||$165,450||$106,000||$123,000||$128,000||$167,000||$178,000|
|Cyber security analyst||$76,469||$63,000||$71,000||$88,000||$101,000||$112,000|
|Attorney/lawyer with cyber security skills||$164,155||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
We should emphasize, however, that these salaries will vary, based on factors such as:
- Type of organization (for example, private, governmental, or non-governmental)
- Level of experience
- Level of educational attainment
- Additional qualifications
Other qualifications to consider
You might be unsure about committing to one of the cyber law degrees described in this guide. That’s completely understandable. While degrees beyond an undergraduate level can be rewarding and useful, some may find them long, stressful, and taxing. You also don’t need the most advanced degrees (for example, an S.J.D.) to be considered for the top cyber law professions. So, if a highly complex and time-intensive program doesn’t appeal to you, gaining one or more relevant certificates is always an alternative. These qualifications can enhance your career path while being less time-consuming, costly, and challenging compared to an LL.M. or S.J.D. Certificates worth keeping on your radar include:
- NICCS – Certified Expert Cyber Law (CECL)
- GIAC’s (Global Information Assurance Certification) GPEN certification
- ESCA – EC Council Certified Security Analyst
- CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
- EC-Council’s Certified Chief Information Security Officer
Cyber law degree FAQs
How much does a cybersecurity law degree cost?
The exact cost of your cyber law degree will depend on a variety of factors, such as the school, whether the course is onsite or online, and how long it takes you to finish the program. You can expect the cost of an S.J.D. to be significantly higher than an MLS, for instance. The cost range for a cybersecurity law degree is around $15,000–$70,000.
Is a cybersecurity law degree worth it?
A cyber law degree will allow you to progress further in your cyber law career compared to if you just had an undergraduate degree. Moreover, the more advanced your cybersecurity law degree, the more likely it is you can gain the top jobs in the industry. Nevertheless, if you want to enroll in an LL.M. or S.J.D. program, you should be ready for several years of structured education. You will also have to study topics at a more complex level than in undergraduate studies.
Is cyber law a good career?
The field of cyber security is expected to grow rapidly over the next 10 years. We’re seeing comparatively high starting salaries for cyber law occupations at every level, along with ample room for career development. Having said that, you should be aware that a cyber law position – especially a very senior one – can entail a certain amount of stress. This is because you carry a lot of responsibility for an organization’s overall IT system. Your employer is trusting you to keep their cyber security system in line with all the associated laws and regulations. On the other hand, this kind of responsibility means you can make a significant, positive, and lasting impact on an organization. This feels deeply rewarding for many working in the field.