The need for people who can protect our sensitive data from criminals is greater than ever before. With more than 80 percent of U.S. companies reporting that they have been successfully hacked, demand for professionals skilled in cybersecurity is at an all-time high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of information security analysts will grow by 18 percent through 2024 — nearly three times faster than the average for all occupations. A cybersecurity master’s degree is one of the best ways to enter the field, ensuring a rewarding, meaningful career for those passionate about technology and justice.
M.S. in Cybersecurity
Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a 30-credit Master of Science in Cybersecurity program delivered online. The program provides a strong foundation for students to design and develop secure, assured systems. Students learn to effectively predict, prevent, and respond to cyber crime.
Program Start Dates:
January, April, July, and October
The M.S. in Cybersecurity can be completed in as little as 15 months.
Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Programs
A cybersecurity master’s degree program trains students to identify, prevent and counteract cyber attacks. Programs use cutting-edge research, curricular innovations and multidisciplinary collaboration to instill the expertise necessary to design and develop secure, assured computer systems. Graduates emerge fully prepared to predict and respond to a variety of cyber crime, including malware, denial of service attacks, brute-force hacks and more.
Necessary qualifications vary by program, but common requirements of a cybersecurity master’s degree program include:
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related field from an accredited institution of higher education;
- Letters of recommendation from former instructors and/or supervisors;
- Transcripts from all attended educational institutions;
- Official GRE test scores (may be waived for students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher);
- Current business resume listing any relevant professional experience, including titles, dates and full-time or part-time status.
The curriculum for a cybersecurity master’s degree program typically begins with core courses on the foundations of design and development of secure computer systems. It then branches out into electives where students can choose to specialize in machine intelligence, computer forensics, cyber operations and information assurance.
Particular courses in the curriculum of a cybersecurity master’s degree program likely include:
- Computer Networking: Analysis of the communication process among devices or systems linked together to exchange information and share resources;
- Network Security: Study of the policies and procedures implemented by administrators to avoid and track unauthorized access, exploitation, modification or denial of the network and network resources;
- Cryptography: Generation of code converting data into a format unreadable to unauthorized users, allowing it to be transmitted without risk of compromise;
- Digital Forensics: Collection, identification and validation of electronic data to reconstruct past events for investigative purposes;
- Cyber Law: Review of the laws that regulate the Internet’s relationship to computers, software, hardware and information systems.
Cybersecurity vs. Computer Science
While cybersecurity and computer science are intimately related, they remain distinct fields of inquiry. Whereas cybersecurity is the exploration of how cyber crimes can be predicted, preempted and counteracted, computer science is a much broader subject, examining everything from programming to computer architecture to data mining. Computer science programs may include classes in computer and internet security as electives, but those make up the core courses of a cybersecurity program. It may be helpful to think of computer science as a “generalist” program and cybersecurity as a “specialist” program.
2U-Powered Cybersecurity Programs
2U partners with top universities to offer their degree programs online, including master’s programs in cybersecurity. Students in 2U partner programs benefit from the highest-quality online learning platform available, with access to an online campus from anywhere they have an Internet connection. University faculty lead all academic issues related to programs, including instruction and curriculum development. 2U-powered programs feature:
created by faculty and available 24/7.
in a collaborative online classroom.
between students and universities.
at field placements or immersions.
from application through graduation.
What to Look for in an Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree
As with any educational program, it is critically important that the institution has high-quality instructors and faculty. When considering cybersecurity master’s degree programs it’s imperative to look for faculty who are actively performing research. Not only is this a testament to their expertise in the field, it ensures that, as a student, you are at the forefront of new developments — a necessity in a subject evolving as rapidly as cybersecurity. It is also significant to pay attention to the faculty’s role in leading courses both on-campus and online, an indication that the online program is held in the same regard as its on-campus counterpart.
A large and well-connected alumni network may not be an immediate concern that comes to mind for online students, but it is a key factor to career success. An alumni network is an invaluable resource for graduates throughout their careers because an extensive network provides an opportunity to learn from mentors and professionals in the industry. A network also opens the door to jobs that may not otherwise be known. It is also critical to note if online students are treated as equal members of that network because it signals a parity between online and on-campus programs.
While the most immediate application of a master’s degree in cybersecurity would be as an information security analyst, the education, skills and experience that accompany the degree can be applied to other roles as well. These include positions as a computer network architect, computer systems analyst, database administrator, network and computer systems administrator, and software developer, each of which present unique opportunities and rewards. The multiplicity of professional applications ensures that a master’s degree in cybersecurity is the key to a lifelong career.
Is a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity Worth It?
There are a number of reasons why a master’s degree in cybersecurity is worth the investment. The positions open to graduates have some of the most competitive salaries in the country, at more than two to three times the average for all occupations. (See the chart below for more information on cybersecurity salaries.) Not only are these opportunities rewarding, but they also exist across almost every industry, offering graduates the kind of flexibility seldom seen in other fields. The payoff isn’t just monetary; cybersecurity can make a real difference protecting citizens from a new generation of criminals.
As previously mentioned, the demand for cybersecurity skills is at an all-time high. Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts significantly better than average growth across the following fields related to cybersecurity: computer systems analysts (21 percent), information security analysts (18 percent), software developers (17 percent), database administrators (11 percent). Demand is likely to maintain as technology, as well as the threats to cybersecurity, continue to evolve.
Online cybersecurity master’s degree programs present their own particular advantages. Making use of the latest digital educational tools to earn your degree is important for a subject that is as technologically sophisticated as cybersecurity, and online programs offer students the freedom to pursue their degrees without upending their professional or personal lives. Without the need to relocate to campus or physically attend lectures, students can keep up with their families and careers, nearly eliminating the opportunity cost traditionally associated with higher education.