The field of cyber security is continuing to grow rapidly. There is a strong demand – from all types of organizations – for cyber security skills. If you’re thinking of enrolling in higher education to learn the fundamentals of IT security, you will be wondering what type of program will provide the most benefits. Perhaps you already have a Bachelor’s degree under your belt and want to supplement your studies.
In either case, you might want to consider studying for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in cyber security. It is possible to gain acceptance into an MBA program without a Bachelor’s degree, but usually having one is a requirement.
For many cyber security positions, a Bachelor’s degree will be the minimum you need to get your foot in the door. Some employers and jobs, however, will require at least an MBA. A lot of other organizations, meanwhile, consider a cyber security MBA preferable or desirable. Obtaining one is likely to enhance your career prospects.
You can study for a cyber security MBA either in-person or online. Each option has its pros and cons. But with so many business schools to choose from, you may be struggling to make the right choice.
In this guide, we reveal the top-rated cyber security MBA degrees, as well as important factors to bear in mind when choosing a business school, such as delivery methods, tuition fees, and career prospects.
Best cyber security MBA degrees
An online MBA can offer you much more flexibility and convenience than an in-person MBA. However, you might want to study in-person to enjoy the benefits of learning alongside others, speaking to students and professors face-to-face, and enjoying the various amenities of the business school. To give you a mix of options, here are our top picks of the best in-person and online MBA degrees in cyber security:
1. Fayetteville State University College of Business and Economics
- Tuition cost: In-state: $7,813.08 and out-of-state: $18,401.40
2. Texas A&M University – Commerce College of Business
- Tuition cost: In-state: $22,154.40–$35,447.04 and out-of-state: $34,424.40–$55,079.04
3. Maryville University John E. Simon School of Business
- Tuition cost: $27,846 or $714 per credit
4. University of Lynchburg, College of Business
- Program: Online Cybersecurity MBA Program
- Tuition cost: $19,980 or $555 per credit
5. Cedarville University, School of Business Administration
- Tuition cost: $22,428 or $623 per credit
6. Rutgers University
- Program: Master of Business and Science (MBS) degree in Cybersecurity (onsite)
- Tuition cost: In-state: $10,800 per semester and out-of-state: $15,072 per semester
7. Bellevue University
- Program: Master of Business Administration – Information Security Concentration (online or onsite)
- Tuition cost: $21,420 or $595 per credit
8. John Brown University
- Program: Cybersecurity MBA (online or a combination of online and onsite)
- Tuition cost: $21,600 or $600 per credit
9. Southern Utah University
- Program: Master of Business Administration – Cybersecurity Emphasis (M.B.A.) (online or onsite)
- Tuition cost: In-state: $15,604 and out-of-state: $44,568
10. St. Thomas University
- Program: MBA in Cyber Security (onsite)
- Tuition cost: In-state: $28,800 or $800 per credit
How to choose the right cyber security MBA degree
Because cyber security is such a fast-growing industry, leading to high demand for related skills, it’s no wonder so many MBA cyber security programs exist. The above list of top degrees should give you an idea of what an MBA is like, in terms of what you will study and how much it will cost. But you still need to think about your priorities if you want to pick the most ideal option from the list.
Here are some key points to keep in mind when choosing a school and MBA for your continuing education:
The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to study in-person or online. There are, undoubtedly, several benefits to studying on campus, such as:
- Finding it easier to collaborate on team projects
- More opportunities to speak to other students on the course
- Getting in-person support from teachers
- Being able to use the school’s libraries and other useful amenities
- Having a place dedicated to your studies, so you can separate your education from your home life
On the other hand, many prospective graduate students opt for an online degree due to its flexible and convenient nature. The advantages of an online cyber security MBA may include:
- Not having to travel to school, which saves you both time and money. This is a plus if you are already working or you have a busy home life.
- The option to extend your degree.
- The options of studying part-time, in the evenings, or on weekends.
An onsite MBA will be the sensible option if you learn best when being able to interact with others face-to-face. However, work and other life commitments may make an online degree the preferable option.
2. School ranking
Another important factor you want to keep in mind when choosing a degree is school ranking. This will indicate the reputability, credibility, and overall quality of the institution in question. Ranking criteria will differ between schools. However, you can expect the following factors to be taken into account:
- 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
Opting for a highly reputable school – one that scores well in these factors – will ensure that your learning experience feels worthwhile. You want to enjoy your studies, be able to get support when you need it, and graduate with a high degree of employability.
The cost of a degree can, understandably, largely determine the program you sign up for. And as you will notice from the degrees listed above, prices can vary quite widely. You should have a somewhat accurate idea of both your overall educational expenses and your financing options. This will help you decide which degree makes the most financial sense for you.
To arrive at a sensible estimate of the costs, you should consider:
- Application fees
- Administration fees
- Travel (if studying onsite)
- Rent (if you need to move for your studies)
- Learning materials
It’s worth bearing in mind that schools often have scholarship and grant opportunities. If you are able to access one of these options, this can help to greatly reduce the costs of your studies.
It can be useful to think of your degree as a return on investment. When looking up MBAs in cyber security, pay attention to the career outcomes of graduates, including statistics on gaining employment after graduation, as well as the types of jobs that graduates obtain. Many people with a cyber security MBA enter mid- and senior-level jobs in the field, which carry attractive pay packages and a high level of job security. You can then refer to a site like PayScale to see the average salary of those who hold an MBA degree in cyber security, along with the average salaries of various jobs within the cyber security profession.
4. Course structure and content
Every cyber security MBA will have a slightly different course structure and topics of study. Sometimes, these differences can be significant. When choosing a degree, you want to make sure that the course content aligns with your career goals. For example, if the cyber security role you want to aim for is highly specialized, then your MBA should ideally provide you with a specific skill set. If, on the other hand, you want to attain a fairly broad IT security position, it makes sense to select a program that covers a wide range of topics.
The course structure is also important, especially in terms of how it is assessed. Ask yourself the following questions before deciding on a particular degree:
- Would you be happy with a predominantly exam-based system?
- Would you prefer more weight being placed on projects completed throughout the year?
- Do you work better on individual projects or team-based assignments?
These kinds of elements can vary between courses. You want to take them into account so that you choose a degree that closely matches your personality type, preferences, interests, and comfort levels.
5. Course requirements
To reiterate, it’s possible to get accepted onto a cyber security MBA program without a Bachelor’s degree, but many schools require that you have one, and they will also want it to be in a related subject, such as computer science, computer programming, computer engineering, software development, or IT. Check the entry requirements before making a decision. Having said that, even if you don’t meet the requirements, it’s possible you could still be accepted onto the course. Some schools will provide some leeway. It’s always worth contacting the admissions department in case other factors, such as your job experience or certain skills, could get you onto the program.
Benefits of an MBA cyber security degree
There are several benefits to pursuing an MBA in cyber security, including:
Improved job opportunities
One of the major benefits of an MBA cyber security degree is improved job prospects. Indeed, this kind of MBA will open you up to many more career opportunities than a Bachelor’s degree alone. This additional qualification will supplement your existing technical knowledge and skills, putting you in a position to apply for more senior cyber security roles.
Since this is an MBA, you will gain business, management, and leadership skills that will prepare you for top managerial IT positions, more so than if you studied a Master’s degree in cyber security. An MBA cyber security degree could, therefore, give you a significant advantage over other candidates.
Cyber security is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information systems manager jobs (well-suited to those with a cyber security MBA) are expected to grow 10 percent through 2029. This is much faster than the national average job growth of four percent.
What this trend means is that you will find it relatively easy to find top positions in the cyber security field. This will provide you with a high salary, job security, and the potential to make a significant and positive impact on an IT team and an organization at large.
Graduates with a cyber security MBA can earn high salaries, even in entry-level positions. Also, over time, you can expect to see your salary increase. Of course, the rate of increase will depend on your career development, including the extra knowledge, experience, skills, and insights you gain in your role. Check out the salary section below to get a sense of what you can earn with an MBA degree in cyber security, as well as how your salary will progress over time.
An MBA cyber security degree will give you an array of technical IT skills and insights that you can easily apply to other fields. For instance, a background in business, management, and cyber security can make you an excellent candidate for senior positions in software, web development, and data science. Transferable skills include:
- Computer forensic skills
- Technical know-how
- Management skills
- Business skills
- Leadership skills
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills (both oral and written)
What jobs can you get with an MBA degree in cyber security?
Cyber security is a diverse field, encompassing many different kinds of jobs. An MBA degree in cyber security allows you to apply for the more senior positions, where such a degree is either required, preferred, or viewed as a bonus. Some of these high-level jobs include:
- Computer and information systems manager
- Security architect
- A top executive in cyber security
- IT director
- Chief information security officer
- Cyber security analyst
- Business analyst, IT
- Systems administrator
- Project manager
It’s important to remember that even with a cyber security MBA under your belt, employers may require or prefer additional qualifications related to the role you’re applying for. In some instances, an employer may fund the training for your qualifications, so check whether that’s a possibility before paying for them yourself. Also, you might need a certain level of experience in the field before being considered for some senior positions. You should take this into account when narrowing your job search.
Cyber security MBA degree salary
So, once you have obtained your MBA in cyber security, what kind of salary can you expect to earn? Looking at a few of the positions above, information from PayScale reveals that you should earn the following 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|
It’s worth pointing out that these salaries can change based on location, company, years of experience, types of experience, industry, the size of the organization and IT team, and other criteria.
Other types of degrees to consider
You might decide that a cyber security MBA is not the right qualification for you. If you are still interested in pursuing a degree in cyber security, however, there are other degree options that will be suitable for your needs. Other areas and specializations you can explore include computer forensics, computer science, and cyber security law. We recommend that you choose a course best aligned with your individual interests, passions, and goals, as this will guarantee that you find your studies fulfilling and useful.
Another avenue you can take is to study for a Master’s degree in cyber security, rather than an MBA. This could make sense if you want to attain a senior-level cyber security role that isn’t managerial or business-oriented. If you would prefer to enter a highly specialized career area, or you want to find a more research-based or academic position, pursuing a PhD is recommended. You can join a cyber security PhD program after undergraduate or graduate studies. For this option, you should be prepared to engage in several years of in-depth and challenging study, focusing on a very specific aspect of cyber security.
Cyber security MBA FAQs
How much does an MBA cyber security degree cost?
As you will notice from the examples of degrees listed above, costs can vary, sometimes significantly. Price differences often depend on factors such as:
- Studying in-person versus on campus
- Whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident
- The length of the program
- Whether the degree is part-time or extended
- The number of credit hours
- The school itself
However, for an MBA cyber security degree, you can generally expect to pay $15,000–$50,000.
There are other costs you should consider too, including learning materials and application and administration fees.
Is an MBA degree in cyber security worth it?
An MBA degree in cyber security will improve your chances of obtaining a senior, well-paid, and secure job, making the degree well worth the investment of time, effort, and money. But you should be aware that an MBA will involve a higher level of difficulty compared to a Bachelor’s degree. You will need to study more complex concepts and topics, as well as develop your business acumen. The nature of the degree also requires you to follow a daily structure, which needs to be accommodated within other areas of your life.
Is cyber security a good career?
You are likely to see the cyber security industry grow rapidly over the next 10 years and beyond. In this field, we see high starting salaries and a wealth of cybersecurity job opportunities. For some people, a career in cyber security can be stressful as it involves dealing with security situations that affect the lives of many people. The flipside of this is that a job in cyber security enables you to make a positive impact on an organization and the customers it serves. You will help protect the privacy and interests of hundreds, thousands, or potentially millions of people. All of these aspects of a cyber security role make the field a rewarding one to work in.