The cybersecurity sector is exploding, which means that professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience will have plenty of opportunities. This guide addresses all of the important factors to consider when deciding on a cybersecurity major or evaluating a cybersecurity degree programme. We’ll look at the various paths that can lead to a cybersecurity degree in this guide. We’ll also look at some of the most common qualifications for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, as well as some commonly asked questions about cybersecurity majors. Finally, we go through some of the career options available to graduates with a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree.
Top five biggest reasons to get a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree
It’s a huge decision to invest years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars in a college or university degree. It’s a good idea to be sure that pursuing a cybersecurity degree is a good match for you before diving in.
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to pursue a cybersecurity degree:
- Professionals in the field of cybersecurity are in high demand. This ensures that getting a successful job in cybersecurity is easier than in most other fields, and cybersecurity professionals are well compensated (see our complete profile of cybersecurity careers for more information).
- Professionals in the field of cybersecurity make a difference. It’s not as if cybersecurity experts work in a factory producing the same widget over and over again. Cybersecurity experts, on the other hand, use their education and experience to safeguard sensitive digital infrastructure and services.
- Cybersecurity is a high-paying career in the software industry. Information security analyst was recently named one of the top five positions to have in tech by US News and World Report. The rating is based on work demand and earning potential. Other positions in cybersecurity follow a similar pattern.
- The demand for cybersecurity jobs will continue to rise in the future. According to a variety of work pages, the average annual growth in cybersecurity job demand is around 7% per year. As the world becomes more digitally linked, the growth is expected to continue in the future.
- Cybersecurity is a complex field with few dull moments. Cybersecurity is always evolving, thanks to new threats and technical advancements, so there are no dull days at the office.
To help students interested in pursuing a cybersecurity degree learn more about their choices, we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions.
Frequently asked questions about the process of getting a cybersecurity degree
Q. What kind of degree do you need for a career in cybersecurity?
A. Computer science, information technology, criminal justice, business management, and law are only a few of the paths and degrees that can help you start a good cybersecurity career. Students with non-cybersecurity degrees can take classes in computer coding, networking, cryptography, and cyber vulnerability testing (also known as penetration testing or ethical hacking). Many colleges and universities are increasingly providing cybersecurity-specific degrees at all levels, from associate’s to Ph.D., in part to meet workforce demand. These degree programmes are available both on and off campus.
Q. Is a degree in cybersecurity worth it?
A. Indeed, a cybersecurity degree is worthwhile. Let’s go into more detail. There are usually two requirements for deciding something’s worth or value. There are two types of values: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values mean that something has meaning in and of itself, or for the sake of it. This is valid in many respects when it comes to cybersecurity. The profession’s aim is summed up in its name: to keep safe. When you take out cybersecurity experts who work for the good guys, you’re left with only cybersecurity experts who work for the bad guys. As a result, indeed. Cybersecurity is valuable in and of itself. When it comes to extrinsic meaning, it generally refers to how people perceive and value the profession. Salary is a very simple metric for extrinsic valuation. Extrinsically, cybersecurity practitioners are highly valued since many individuals with a cybersecurity degree and work experience earn six figures.
Q. What is a cybersecurity major?
A. While there are many different forms of cybersecurity majors, they all concentrate on a core technical curriculum that includes elements of computer science, networking, cryptography, and hacking. As previously mentioned, there are a variety of ways to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Some students are interested in the networking or computer technology dimensions of cybersecurity, as well as information assurance. Others are more concerned with cyber security and ethical hacking. Some students are more interested in criminal justice and digital forensics. Prospective cybersecurity students will be able to follow a career path that attracts them with the right cybersecurity degree programmes.
Q. How long does it take to get a degree in cybersecurity?
A. A typical campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programme takes 120 credits to complete, or around four years of full-time study. Competitive cybersecurity master’s degree programmes typically require 60 credit hours or two years of full-time study to complete. However, today’s educational opportunities and options are more versatile, particularly for students pursuing online cybersecurity degrees. It’s also worth noting that some master of cybersecurity programmes are tailored for students who already have cybersecurity-related job experience and want to improve management, communications, and strategy skills. Some of these online master’s programmes can be completed in a year, depending on the student’s history.
Q. Is cybersecurity hard?
A. Of course. Getting a cybersecurity degree is difficult. Engineering, computer science, mathematics, and other scientific fields are often used in cybersecurity degrees. It’s not easy to demonstrate mastery in these areas, which are known for their complexity and rigour. That isn’t to suggest that obtaining a cybersecurity degree is difficult. Hands-on learning exercises, such as cyber-ranges and project-based capstone projects, are increasingly being used by universities to ensure that the cyber curriculum is a good mix between the academic, theoretical, and practical.
Q. What skills do you need for cybersecurity?
A. Cybersecurity specialists have traditionally had a strong background in computer science, computer coding, information technology, and networking. University cybersecurity curriculum creators are increasingly incorporating courses on domestic and foreign policy, criminal justice, business management, and strategy in the mix to represent the challenges faced by the cybersecurity profession. The aim is to prepare tomorrow’s cybersecurity leaders so that they can learn about and solve large problems.
Q. What requirements are needed for a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree?
A. GPA, training, and test scores are the three key criteria for admission to a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree. Admission criteria vary by university and degree programme, but they typically include a combination of previous GPA, previous work experience or academic experience, and requisite test scores. A 3.0 GPA is commonly considered suitable for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, but more competitive programmes will require higher GPAs, whereas less competitive programmes will require lower GPAs. Master’s degree programmes often have a GPA portion, but it can be higher or lower than a 3.0 depending on a number of factors, much like bachelor’s degree programmes. It is often a good idea to demonstrate an interest and proficiency in computer science or programming while applying for bachelor’s degree programmes. This can be illustrated with a project portfolio, previous coursework or certifications, tournaments, or club membership. Competitive master’s applicants may be able to demonstrate any cybersecurity-related job experience or another way of demonstrating the expertise and knowledge required to succeed in the academic programme and beyond.
Q.What can I do with a bachelor’s of cybersecurity?
A. Graduates of cybersecurity degree programmes have a plethora of future career choices. This website has an entire section devoted to in-depth profiles of cybersecurity careers, ranging from entry-level to C-suite roles. As previously mentioned, completing a bachelor’s degree programme will provide you with a well-rounded experience and preparation to take on a variety of roles. Furthermore, most cybersecurity programmes (both bachelor’s and master’s degrees) allow students to specialise. Since there is such a high demand for cybersecurity expertise, anyone with a bachelor’s degree will usually find a successful job early on in their careers.
Five key considerations when choosing the right bachelor’s degree programme
1. Research: The first step in determining if a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is right for you is to look at all of your choices (which is probably what lead you here in the first place). As the cybersecurity sector matures, so do the opportunities available to students interested in gaining the skills and experience needed to launch a career in a high-demand field. There are a range of cybersecurity bachelor degree programmes available online that are worth looking into in addition to conventional campus-based academic programmes.
2. Visit or contact colleges and universities for more information: Course offerings, degree requirements, student and career resources, available financial assistance, and other important factors vary by academic programme. Visiting or contacting individual schools and speaking with professors, students, and support staff is a perfect way to learn about a program’s true costs and benefits. Furthermore, speaking with real people can disclose important knowledge not included in the college or university’s publicity materials, which is a positive thing.
3. Admission prep: After developing a list of target schools and programmes, dive into admissions requirements and understand what kind of preparation can be done in advance. Examine the necessary test scores, prerequisites, required experience, and other considerations that can be planned ahead of time. Establish positive relationships with teachers and those who can serve as references. In the next section, we’ll go through the admission criteria in greater detail.
4. Apply: Applying to a college or university programme can be intimidating, but knowing precise timelines and deadlines ahead of time can help make the process feel more manageable. Keep a list of scholarship opportunities and deadlines, as well as schools and services that use standard applications (where one application can be used by several schools).
5. Budget: Making (and sticking to) a balanced budget is one of the most difficult aspects of earning a bachelor’s degree. One important move is to understand the total degree costs (credit costs per year + cost of living + other factors). It’s also important to know what kinds of student funding options are available when creating a budget.
Cybersecurity degree admission requirements
Many undergraduate cybersecurity colleges, like other undergraduate degree programmes, require a high school diploma or a GED.
Since cybersecurity is a computer-intensive field, understanding the fundamentals of computing infrastructure and programming can aid in demonstrating the skills and aptitude required to be a good cybersecurity student and professional.
Learning to write computer code or designing computer software and hardware are both excellent ways to prepare for a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity.
Not all cybersecurity professionals begin their careers with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or information protection. Some students major in math, computer science, or engineering, but focus on security through coursework, internships, or certification preparation.
Common courses for cybersecurity majors
The coursework and curriculum for undergraduate cybersecurity programmes are diverse and comprehensive, reflecting the variety of positions available in the workforce for qualified cybersecurity professionals.
“What we teach at undergraduate level is offensive security as well as defensive security. The first thing we teach the students is how to hack. But we also teach them ethics.”
— Hossein Sarrafzadeh, professor and chair of St. Bonaventure University’s cybersecurity department.
Individual learning can differ depending on the requirements of each cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programme, but there are some common curriculum patterns. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity should expect to take courses in:
- Computer science: The foundation of cybersecurity work is computer science theory and practise.
- Network security architecture and hardening: Knowing how different data networks work (and how different networks can be hacked) is also important in this field.
- These courses may outline the rights and responsibilities expected of a cybersecurity professional, especially when dealing with or accessing sensitive data or intelligence. Ethical hacking and when it’s okay to go from a defensive to an offensive security stance are examples of topics that could be discussed.
- Forensics: These courses focus on identifying the source of a security breach or intrusion and determining how to track down the individual or group responsible.
- Security issues surrounding mobile and wireless networks are becoming their own specialty within the cybersecurity world as the world becomes increasingly mobile and wireless.
Not only are there various technological aspects of cybersecurity (for example, learning about network protection versus preventing social engineering attacks), but there are also different ways to specialise.
For students interested in management and cybersecurity, Colorado Technical University, for example, offers a bachelor’s degree programme. This type of curriculum will be perfect for anyone who wants to learn the technological aspects of cybersecurity while also training to lead teams and operate within a company’s or organization’s leadership framework.
Online cybersecurity bachelor’s programmes
The good news is that there are more opportunities for students to complete their cybersecurity bachelor’s degree with each passing year.
More and more colleges and universities are offering cybersecurity students coursework and degree programmes, as well as certificates and other technical programmes.
They also offer online degree programmes that are ideal for working professionals or those who are unable to attend on-campus classes due to other obligations.
Students in campus-based classes will have more opportunities to participate in student associations and professional organisations, as well as internships and mentoring.
Universities are offering hybrid degrees, which allow students to attend some in-person, campus-based instruction while still taking online classes, as online education becomes more popular. These programmes seem to deliver the best of both worlds, giving students access to campus resources while also allowing them to complete coursework online.
How much is tuition for a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree?
The cost of a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity can differ greatly depending on a number of factors.
A cybersecurity bachelor’s degree, like most undergraduate degrees, would include 120 to 126 hours of coursework, which will include academic courses and electives.
According to studies released by the U.S. Department of Education, tuition dependent on credit hour can vary between $300 and $500 per credit, implying that overall tuition for a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree can range between $23,000 and $61,000. News and World Report is a news organisation based in the United States.
Here are five things to consider when evaluating tuition costs.
- Cost per credit: This is probably the simplest metric to use when comparing cybersecurity degree programmes to one another. Lab fees and other charges are also included in overall tuition costs. However, compare credit costs for each curriculum to get a true understanding of the cost versus benefit of a cybersecurity degree.
- Location: The cost of a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree might vary depending on geographic location. One factor to consider is whether the school has established relationships with cybersecurity employers in the region. Internships and job preparation would be a little simpler as a result of this.
- Size: Overall school and programme size seem to correlate to cost. Since they are part of a larger university, larger programmes have a greater variety of course offerings. However, bigger isn’t necessarily better, so it’s always a good idea to do some research into how individual services can best fulfil specific student needs and goals.
- Online vs. campus-based: It’s important to look at the cost per credit when comparing online degrees versus campus-based degrees. It’s also crucial to compare the number of necessary course hours for each degree and determine which is a better match.
- Full-time vs. part-time: While the choice of full-time vs. part-time attendance in a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programme may not have a significant impact on the cost-per-credit, it may make the degree more affordable, or at least financially attainable, because students can work while in school. Although not all programmes offer a part-time alternative, there are enough that it’s worth considering.
When weighing bachelor degree options, community college cybersecurity programmes should be considered. Community colleges are increasingly offering bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in cybersecurity, with both on-campus and online course options.
Since qualified professionals with a history and understanding in computer and network security are in such high demand, a variety of cybersecurity-specific undergraduate scholarships are accessible. Many cybersecurity scholarship opportunities are funded by businesses seeking to increase their cybersecurity workforce or by government agencies and organisations looking to fill important cybersecurity positions.
Here are a few examples of scholarships available to students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity:
Scholarship for Service in Science, Mathematics, and Research Transformation (SMART): This scholarship covers the entire cost of tuition, as well as a stipend and other benefits. It is intended for students who choose to work for the Department of Defense (DOD) during the summer while enrolled in an undergraduate programme and then work full-time for the DOD after graduation for a specified period of time.
The International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, Inc.’s Center for Cyber Safety and Education provides a variety of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Any of the scholarships are tailored to help women pursue careers in cybersecurity. Students pursuing both conventional on-campus and online cybersecurity degrees are eligible for the scholarships.
The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is open to high school students who are planning to participate in a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programme. The scholarship, which is run by the National Security Agency (NSA), offers up to $30,000 per year in addition to other benefits and stipend opportunities. Students participating in this programme must work for the NSA for 1.5 times the amount of years the scholarship covers after graduation.
Cybersecurity career outlook
Cybersecurity bachelor degree holders will find rewarding and high-paying positions in a variety of industries and sectors, whether in top-secret government, military, or intelligence work, a buttoned-down office job with a Fortune 500 business, or as early start-ups developing the latest technology.
Obtaining a cybersecurity degree can provide a decent return on investment in terms of both money and job. The median pay for an entry-level information security worker with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is $95,510, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Many cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programmes combine computer science, information technology, and network security. An undergraduate cybersecurity degree provides excellent training for the cybersecurity certification process, which is a critical component of the sector.
Listings of schools
Now it’s time to take the next step to look into cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees that would be a good match academically and personally. The following is a detailed list of the most recent cybersecurity degree options, which is revised on a regular basis.