Top online cyber security degrees

With the cybersecurity industry growing rapidly, now is an excellent time to pursue a career in the field. Most roles in cyber security will require at least a Bachelor’s degree. Online programs offer flexibility and convenience, but with so many reputable universities offering cyber security degrees, it can be difficult to choose the best one.

In this post, we reveal the best online cyber security degrees to help you get started in your search. We also discuss the main factors to consider when making your decision and provide helpful information about what to expect, including course costs and cyber security degree salary prospects.

Best online cyber security degrees

Looking to pursue a cyber security degree online? These degrees can offer far more flexibility than an in-person program. Here are our top picks for the best online cyber security degrees:

1. Bellevue University

2. Norwich University

3. University of Maryland

4. Saint Leo University

5. Kennesaw State University

6. Champlain College

7. Western Governors University

8. Excelsior College

9. Old Dominion University

  • Program: Cybersecurity Degree Online
  • Tuition cost: $43,200 or $360 per credit (Virginia resident); $48,840 or $407 per credit (Non-Virginia resident)

10. Wilmington University

11.George Mason University

12. University of Illinois at Springfield

13. University of Arizona

14. Robert Morris University

15. Dakota State University

16. Mercy College

17. Capitol Technology University

18. University of Maine

19. Liberty University

20. University of Texas

How to choose the right cyber security degree

Cyber security is such a fast-growing field that it’s no surprise there are a ton of programs available to prospective students. While the list above is an excellent place to start, you still need to whittle these down to decide which is the best fit for you. Here are the main factors to consider when selecting which cyber security Bachelor’s degree to apply for:

Delivery

One of the most important decisions is whether you will pursue an in-person program or an online degree. Some students fare much better in an in-person setting, but an online program offers flexibility and negates the need to travel. The overall time commitment is also important, as is the option to extend the length of the degree to accommodate a job or life events. Some degrees can be completed on a part-time basis and offer practical schedules such as the option to log into evening and weekend classes. Many online programs enable you to complete work whenever it’s convenient for you.

School ranking

Schools put a lot of effort into marketing their programs to make them seem attractive in terms of content, price, and prospects. However, when considering investing in a degree, you should look beyond the sales pitch and determine how credible the school is. One way to do this is to check the school’s ranking. Going with a highly-reputable institution will help ensure you’re setting yourself up with a quality education.

Price

For many prospective students, the price of a program will have a huge bearing on their decision to pursue it. Aside from tuition costs, you need to consider other expenses such as learning materials and administration fees. Note that many schools have grant and scholarship programs available so it’s worth looking into those to see if you qualify. Once you’ve determined the overall cost, you might also want to consider the potential return on investment by looking at how much graduates are earning. PayScale provides alumni salaries, and although figures don’t correlate to specific courses, they can serve as handy numbers for comparing different schools.

PayScale salary compare.

Course structure and content

Of course, not all online cyber security degrees are made the same. When considering a particular degree, take a close look at the course content to see if it aligns with your career goals. Are there specialties offered that apply to a field you’re particularly interested in? Also important is the structure of the course in terms of delivery and assessment methods. For example, a predominantly exam-based assessment system may not be a good fit for some students. And some may prefer a course that weighs more heavily on individual assignments than team projects. At this point, you know how you learn best, so choose a course that fits within your comfort zone.

Pre-requisites

Before spending money on an application fee, make sure you meet the prerequisites for the program. Many universities will offer leeway in some aspects of the entry requirements, so it’s always worth contacting the admissions office if you’re unsure.

Benefits of an online cyber security degree

Still not sure if a cyber security degree is right for you? Here are some of the top reasons to consider a degree in this field:

Strong demand

There is huge demand for qualified professionals in most areas of cyber security and it’s expected to keep growing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the job outlook for information security analysts between 2019-2029 is a growth rate of 31 percent, much faster than the average of four percent. This means that it shouldn’t be difficult to find a position initially and you can enjoy the prospect of job security for many years to come.

High salaries

A degree in cyber security is considered a solid investment. Graduates can earn decent salaries in entry-level positions and have the potential to earn much higher salaries as they progress in their careers (see the salary section below for examples). This industry has a wealth of growth opportunities, and by pursuing continuing education (for example a Master’s degree or certifications), you can find yourself in a very well-paid position.

Transferable skills

A cyber security degree will provide you with a broad range of technical skills that may be applied to other fields. For example, a background in cyber security is hugely beneficial to anyone working in areas such as software or web development. In addition, education in areas such as industry standards and protections can be applied to virtually any field.

Types of jobs that require a cyber security degree

The cyber security field includes a wide variety of different roles. Some of the most common cybersecurity jobs you’ll find requiring a degree in cyber security or similar field include:

  • Certified ethical hacker
  • Computer forensics analyst
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Cryptographer
  • Data protection officer
  • Information security analyst
  • Information security officer
  • Malware analyst
  • IT auditor
  • Penetration tester
  • Security architect
  • Security consultant
  • Security director
  • Security engineer
  • Security manager
  • Security software engineer
  • Security specialist
  • System administrator

Note that even with a degree, many employers require additional certifications and experience in the respective field. Sometimes employers will pay for certifications and training so it’s worth checking before pursuing these on your own dime.

Cyber security degree salary

So what will you be able to earn once you’re armed with a cyber security degree? Looking at some of the positions above, information from PayScale tells us you can expect some of the following salaries:

RoleAverageEntry level (<1 year)Early career (1–4 years)Mid-career (5–9 years)Experienced (10–19 years)Late career (20+ years)
Certified ethical hacker$83,591$77,000$82,000$91,000$95,000Not provided
Information security analyst$72,576$60,000$68,000$82,000$95,000$101,000
Penetration tester

$85,167$68,000$79,000$106,000$119,000$126,000
Security engineer

$91,970$71,000$83,000$101,000$110,000$116,000

Note that salaries will vary depending on company, location, level of experience, and other factors.

Other types of degrees to consider

Not convinced a cyber security degree is the route you want to take? There are other related Bachelor’s degrees that you may want to consider instead. Many of the cyber security degrees listed above are actually computer science degrees with a specialization in cyber security. You may want to stick with a mainstream computer science degree while you decide which path to take. Or perhaps you’d like to sharpen your focus and undertake a degree in computer forensics or cyber security law.

Already have an undergraduate degree in a related field? You might qualify for a Master’s degree in cyber security and you may even consider a PhD in the field. Or perhaps the idea of a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD sounds overwhelming? Another option is an Associate’s degree. These can typically be earned in two years when studying on a full-time basis.

FAQs

How much does a cyber security degree cost?

The cost of a cyber security degree will vary greatly depending on multiple factors, including whether you choose online or on-campus, which school you attend, and the length of the program. For tuition fees, you can expect to pay between $20,000–$120,000, though most programs fall in the $35,000–$70,000 range.

Bear in mind there may be other costs associated with earning the degree. If there is any on-campus or travel component, you’ll need to pay the associated expenses, including accommodation and travel expenses. Other costs include books and other learning materials, along with application and other administration fees.

Is a degree in cyber security worth it?

The field of cyber security promises an abundance of positions and good job security in the coming years. What’s more, starting salaries are generous, even when compared with those in other tech sectors. Most students would agree that a cyber security degree is worth the investment of time and money.

That said, obtaining a cyber security degree isn’t easy, and requires a combination of hard and soft skills, as well as dedication. The most successful candidates have a special interest in the field of computer science and the willingness to work hard.

Is cyber security a good career?

The cyber security industry is expected to continue to grow rapidly for the next decade and beyond. With solid starting salaries reported and lots of room for growth, a career in cyber security is a good option for financially motivated individuals.

A cyber security career can have its downsides as certain roles can be taxing and stressful. Advances in technology mean that cyber security professionals usually continue their education throughout their career to keep up with the latest advances. As such, cyber security staff must be dedicated to their field.