Cyber Security in Focus

Students considering a future in cyber security have numerous avenues to explore, including degree programs, learning modes, scholarships, internships and financial aid. Even before examining the educational landscape, aspiring professionals should analyze the job market and research potential career paths.The following guide represents a one-stop-shop for all things cyber security. Via targeted research, resources and customized tools, it dissects everything from recommended courses and academic planning to salary expectations across the fifty states. When mapping out a career,all future-defining decisions start with the right information.

Careers in Cyber Security

Cyber security specialists protect companies or organizations from cyber-attacks. They use customized software to ensure the safety of personal and business information, and elements of criminal psychology to better understand their attackers. Also, their expertise in the ethics of technology keeps companies and organizations safe from internal cyber crimes.

Cyber security specialists may also go beyond software to acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of hardware security, most notably how to prevent cyber attacks to memory units and network relays.

While certain commonalities exist across the cyber security landscape, some professionals take a more niche approach. Common specializations in the field include the following:

  • Computer System Design: This is the largest, most foundational, and most unseen segment of the field. These individuals design, create and innovate cyber security programs to ensure informational safety.
  • Finance/Insurance Security: The financial and insurance markets thrive on the use of technology, which draws significant attention from cyber criminals. Specialists here work directly with companies to protect their assets.
  • Informational Systems: For clientele in the digital age, peace of mind concerning personal data is at the forefront. Cyber Security specialists form a link between companies and software to keep safe any data or information.
  • Company/Enterprise Management: While most specialists are either employed by companies or working as contractors, there is a small yet integral portion of the field who open their own businesses, which offer informational security to companies.

The job market in cyber security is as ever-changing as the criminals who threaten it, and this list provides only a glimpse. Opportunities for trained professionals continue to grow, see if salaries are following suit:

Career Salary Tool

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Birmingham 2012 MEAN PAY $74,220 per year
Decatur 2012 MEAN PAY $68,160 per year

Internships

Slow economic recovery plus new college graduates equals increased competition for jobs. An internship with a solid company can be a great way to get on the hiring radar. Interns gain practical knowledge and experience vital to success in the real world. Those in cyber security may learn new skills such as developing security measures -- and documenting the results of those measures -- to working with the IT department to control the spread of information.

There are a number of internship opportunities that can augment the education and career prospects of a cyber security student. The following list is a great place to start:

Information Security Intern
Location:San Francisco, California
Specs: Paid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students, Local Applicants Only
Description:The information security intern works closely with the information security team to operate a comprehensive information security program. This includes measuring compliance with security policies, processes, and standards
Company Affiliation: Dolby Laboratories

Intern Governance Risk & Compliance
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Specs: Paid, Summer, Open to Students
Description: The Intern will possess the ability to correlate security events with current attack trends, well known attack patterns and system vulnerabilities to provide context and prioritize the response to security events. Research of vulnerabilities will also be done.
Company Affiliation: T-Mobile

Intern Incident Response
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Specs: Paid, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Security Incident Handler for monitoring, assessing, and responding to information security events in a large diverse enterprise environment.
Company Affiliation: T-Mobile

Intern Mobile & Product Security
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Specs: Paid, Immediate, Open to Students
Description: This intern plays a key role in providing a secure mobile experience for T-Mobile Customers and protecting critical assets from threats in the mobile ecosystem by applying expertise in mobile application and operating system security, mobile product security, and mobile threat detection and analysis.
Company Affiliation: T-Mobile

IT Intern - Summer Internship Program
Location: Chesterbrook, PA
Specs: Paid, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Areas of Focus: IT Security, Application Development, Business Intelligence, Project Management, and Mobility
Company Affiliation: AmerisourceBergen Corporation

ITS Diverse Student Summer Internship Program 2014
Location: Englewood, CO
Specs: Paid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students, Non-Profit
Description: Security – Compliance, Applications – Integration, Tech Services – End User Computing, Tech Services – Change, Business Operations – Workforce Strategy
Company Affiliation: Catholic Health Initiatives

IT Internship
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Specs: Open to Students, Immediate
Description: Monitor antivirus software and updates and repair computers infected with spyware, adware and/or viruses. Monitor backup systems and procedures to ensure data security.
Company Affiliation: Urban GIS, Inc.

Enterprise Risk Management Intern
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Specs: Paid, Summer, Open to Students
Description: For students who are currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business or Computer/Cyber Security.
Company Affiliation: T-Mobile

Summer 2014 Internship - Information Security
Location: Phoenix, AR
Specs: Paid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students, Non-Profit
Description: The Information Security Intern would participate in one or more Bank Information Security projects to further mature the Program.
Company Affiliation: Schwab Bank

State of Colorado Information Security Internship Program
Location: Denver, Colorado
Specs: Paid, Corporate, 1-2 years
Description: The Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology has partnered with McAfee to establish a paid, information security internship program within Colorado to assist in the training and development of the next generation’s cyber security workforce.
Company Affiliation: Please submit a cover letter and resume to David.Cundiff@state.co.us

Cybersecurity Internship Program
Location: Washington, D. C.
Specs: Paid, Government, Open to Students, 10-week Program
Description: The Cybersecurity Internship Program is designed to give current students an opportunity to work alongside cyber leaders with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Company Affiliation: Department of Homeland Security

CAE in Cyber Operations Summer Intern Program
Location: Ft. Meade, MD
Specs: Paid, Government, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Selectees will be invited to participate in a 10-week summer program to gain knowledge of specific cyber-related topics and apply educational knowledge to address various real world mission-related technical challenges.
Company Affiliation: National Security Administration

Cyber Summer Program (CSP)
Location: Ft. Meade, MD
Specs: Paid, Government, Summer, Open to Students
Description: The Cyber Summer Program (CSP) is the National Security Agency's (NSA) premier outreach effort to the very best undergraduate and graduate computer science, engineering, mathematics, network security and information assurance students in the country.
Company Affiliation: National Security Administration

Summer Intern Program for Information Assurance (SIP/IA)
Location: Ft. Meade, MD
Specs: Paid, Government, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Students will be involved in information operations that protect and defend the Nation's top-secret information and information systems, as well as providing for restoration of information systems by incorporating protection, detection, and reaction capabilities.
Company Affiliation: National Security Administration

Information Security Intern
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Specs: Paid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students, Non-Profit
Description: Work with SecureState manager to understand project plans and scope for assigned role on engagement. Communicate with project team and keep project information up to date.
Company Affiliation: SecureState (http://www.securestate.com/Careers/Pages/Information-Security-Intern.aspx)

Department of Homeland Security Internship
Location: Washington, D.C.
Specs: Paid, Government, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Designed to give current students an opportunity to work alongside cyber leaders with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Company Affiliation: Department of Homeland Security (http://www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity-internship-program)

Undergrad Intern IT Information Security Risk
Location: Woonsocket, RI
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Assist Information Security Risk Management (ISRM) personnel with the preparation of, continual risk assessments, risk metrics and integrated operational risk management. Work directly with ISRM staff and key business units to facilitate information risk analysis and risk management processes, identify acceptable levels of risk, and establish roles and responsibilities with regards to information risk management
Company Affiliation: CVS Caremark

ECHO Information Technology Internship
Location: Burlington, VT
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Spring/Fall Semesters, Open to Students
Description: Assist the IT Coordinator in providing support to Staff and Volunteers, maintaining servers, wired and wireless networking hardware, digital PBX phone system, and new technologies and network security developments.
Company Affiliation: website

Network Analyst Intern
Location: Phoenix, AR
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Financial Engines is seeking an Intern to support our Network and Security Services Team based in our Phoenix, AZ office. This is a dynamic opportunity for students pursuing a Computer Science, Engineering or Cyber Security degree.
Company Affiliation: Financial Engines

Security Engineering Internship
Location: Folsom, CA
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Internship for active students on their last 2 years of college with interest or knowledge in IT security, network security, certificate management, access management, or identity management.
Company Affiliation: Intel Corporation

Cyber Boot Camp Participant/Cyber Intel
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Year-round, Open to Students
Description: blurb
Company Affiliation: National Security Consulting & Investigations PLLC

Security Operations Intern
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: The Sony Network Entertainment Security team provides security for the SNE platform as well as other entities in the Sony Family. We are looking for an intern who can function independently in a fast-moving environment, is comfortable with a high degree of ambiguity and has exceptional judgment.
Company Affiliation: Sony Electronics

Security Operations Intern
Location: San Diego, CA
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: The Sony Network Entertainment Security team provides security for the SNE platform as well as other entities in the Sony Family. We are looking for an intern who can function independently in a fast-moving environment, is comfortable with a high degree of ambiguity and has exceptional judgment.
Company Affiliation: Sony Electronics

Security Operations Intern
Location: Houston, TX
Specs: Unpaid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students
Description: Interns will provide support to the Security Operations Center team members with responsibilities and tasks.
Company Affiliation: Waste Management

Information Assurance Specialist
Location: Fort Belvoir, VA
Specs: Paid, Corporate, Summer, Open to Students, Non-Profit
Description: Intern is given a range of developmental information technology (IT) assignments, with special emphasis in the areas of systems analysis, network administration, customer support, and cyber security.
Company Affiliation: Network Enterprise Center

Cyber Security in College

Cyber security programs allow students to learn and experience the ins and outs of information security, safety and assurance. The two-year associate’s degree ensures that students acquire foundational skills and content in subjects such as English and mathematics. The bachelor’s degree carries two years further (normally a four-year degree), strengthens the skill set and offers more experience in advanced fields like informational technology and network security. Beyond the traditional four-year degree, graduate students break past the fundamentals and into more profound and exhaustive areas of monitoring, auditing and cyber crime investigation. Graduate students are often fortunate enough to begin academic research, further developing the ever-growing arena of cyber security.

Paying for college is no picnic, with students often leaning on loans and/or part-time labor. Fortunately, a variety of financial options exist, many of which students don’t need to pay back after graduation.

Scholarships

Scholarships are a merit-based form of educational funding, which means they are given to students with strong GPAs, test scores or leadership skills. Some are one-time awards, but many others can be renewed year after year. Reading about student qualifications is important to obtaining and retaining these forms of endowment. The following cyber security scholarships not only offer a chance to fund an education, but also a glimpse into what’s out there for qualified students:

Get-IT Scholarships

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000 Open to high school seniors in the state of Michigan. Must have prior involvement with the GET-IT program and a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students must enroll in an information systems, computer science, computer engineering, or software-related program. http://www.mcwtf.org/

AISES Intel Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000 - $10,000 Open to AISES members who are also members of a Native American tribe. Must be full-time undergraduate or graduate student in computer science, computer engineering or a related discipline. http://www.aises.org/

Honeywell International, Society of Women Engineers

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000 Open to female U.S. citizens planning to major in an engineering discipline. http://www.swe.org/scholarships

ExCEL Computing Scholarships

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000-$7,000 Open to students at Loyola University who undertake B.S. or M.S. degree programs in communications networks and security, computer science, computer science and mathematics, or information technology. http://www.luc.edu/cs/financial/excel/

Executive Women's Forum INI Fellowship

Amount Eligibility More Info
Full Tuition Awardees, students from under-represented populations within the IT community, known as EWF Fellows, receive a full scholarship and are mentored by an EWF participant who is a woman at a senior level in the information security field. http://www.ini.cmu.edu/prospective_students/financial/assistance/

Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,500 Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship is offered to help further the education and career development of scholars, especially in the areas of International Affairs, Counterintelligence and National Security. http://www.lintcenter.org/Scholarships.htm

Microsoft Licensing Community Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$3,000-$5,000 Open to students who are in financial need, seek Informational Technology degrees, and are enrolling in Truckee Meadows Community College or University of Nevada, Reno. http://mslicense.com/press-room/microsoft-licensing-gp-announces-three-community-initiatives-in-/

Transfer Student Scholarships

Amount Eligibility More Info
$12,000 Open to students who transfer to Illinois Institute of Technology from other two-year and four-year institutions. http://www.iit.edu/undergrad_admission/apply/scholarships.shtml

Wayne Alexander Memorial Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$ 2,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/alexander.html

Joel Cartun Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$ 1,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/cartun.html

OutputLinks Communications Group Woman of Distinction

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/wod.html

OutputLinks Communications Group Jeanne Mowlds Distinguished Lifetime Service Award

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/mowlds.html

OutputLinks Communications Group John A. Lopiano Endowed Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$2,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/lopiano.html

Hoods Memorial Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$2,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/hoods.html

Franchise Services, Inc. PIP Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$2,000 Open to full-time students who seek careers in the Document Management and Graphic Communication field (including computer science, network administration, and network and cyber security). http://www.edsf.org/what_we_do/scholarships/pip.html

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,000-$10,000 Open to minority students to seek degrees which reside in the field of informational technology. http://www.xerox.com/jobs/minority-scholarships/enus.html

West Virginia Engineering Science and Technology Scholarship Program

Amount Eligibility More Info
$3,000 Open to students who seek a degree in a science, engineering, and technology related field in the state of West Virginia. https://secure.cfwv.com/Financial_Aid_Planning/Scholarships/Scholarships_and_Grants/WV_Engineering_Science_and_Tech_Scholarship_Program.aspx

Twin Tiers Society of Women Engineers

Amount Eligibility More Info
$2,000 Open to female students enrolling in science, engineering, or computer technology degrees from accredited universities. http://www.swetwintiers.org/

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,000 Open to students from all groups who pursue degrees in all sciences or engineering. Membership to Sigma Xi is not required. http://www.sigmaxi.org/programs/giar/

Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,500 SWE scholarship given to female students, and preference is shown to those who seek computer science or engineering related fields. http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/index.php/scholarships#activePanels_

IBM Corporation Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$1,000 Open to US citizens from underrepresented groups within the technology and computer science fields. http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/index.php/scholarships#activePanels_29

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Center

Amount Eligibility More Info
$30,000-32,000 Directed toward those potential students who want to become crucial tools in the advancement of the nation’s technological infrastructure and national security. http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=6201

HSF/Procter & Gamble Company Scholarship

Amount Eligibility More Info
$2,500 The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) and Procter & Gamble Company have partnered to provide financial resources to assist outstanding Latino undergraduates pursuing degrees in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). http://hsf.net/en/scholarships/programs/hsf-procter-gamble-scholarship-program

Furman University Liberty Scholarships

Amount Eligibility More Info
$8,000 The Liberty Scholarships are renewable scholarships awarded to intended computer science and information technology majors in their freshman year. http://www2.furman.edu/admission/EngageFurman/FinancialInformation/Pages/Scholarships.aspx

Scholarship for Women Studying IT Security (SWSIS)

Amount Eligibility More Info
$5,000-10,000 Open to women who seek to follow a degree path in the Information and Cyber Security field. http://www.hp.com

Cyber Security Degree Programs

Once the financial information has been gathered and sifted, a student must decide on a type educational experience. There are three main options when it comes collegiate learning: campus-based, online and hybrid. The campus-based experience keeps the student in the classroom, working face-to-face with professors and peers. Online programs are more flexible, and while there are still deadlines, the student’s time is dependent on things other than the bell schedule. Online programs use message boards and chat rooms (text, voice, and occasionally video) to interact with fellow classmates, and projects or papers are often submitted electronically. Hybrid programs are exactly what they sound like: programs that combine electronic and in-person elements. Students may submit most work via the web, but still may be required to attend lectures or work in-person on group projects.

Online Degrees in Depth

Due to the nature of cyber security degrees, much of the time working with software, it lends itself to an online degree program. While the students will still be required to collaborate with other peers and individuals, the majority of coursework can be done remotely.

An online program in cyber security may not offer the warm and fuzzy feel of sitting and listening to a lecture, but a previous knowledge of interactive tools of electronic communication are a benefit to success in the virtual classroom. The higher the comfort level with programs like WebCT, Blackboard and Skype, the easier it is for the student to integrate into the atmosphere and interact with others.

Self-Paced vs. Real-Time

Cyber and information security courses offered via distance learning often come in two different forms: self-paced and real-time. A self-paced course offers the student information, reading, assignments, projects, etc. all to be completed at a student’s leisure. On the other hand, real-time classes function more like a traditional class, with students learning at the same pace, working together on the same assignments, and discussing the same principles on the same day.

Equipment Standards

Most online programs require that students have access to basic technology: a computer, word processing program, web browser and internet connection. However, a course in computer science, like cyber security, can require much more. A phone call or email to an admissions counselor may prove helpful, as they can relate a more extensive list of needed technology: a more powerful computer, for instance, or software development programs. Cyber security is a specialized field, and more than likely it requires specialized tools.

Student Profile #1 - William

William was inspired to enter into the field of cyber security but wasn’t sure if he had what it took. He tested the waters during a few introductory classes and thought it best to finish his two-year degree before moving on to complete his bachelor’s.

Associate’s Degree in Cyber Security (2 years)

An associate’s degree in cyber security is a two-year program designed to give students a solid foundation in the field. Many institutions require core classes to be taken within the first year before moving deeper into the material in year two. The second year moves into a more cyber-specific content, including classes that cover the ethics of information technology or the fundamentals of networking. The following table provides an example of an introductory cyber security curriculum.

First Semester (Freshman) Credits Overview
Principles and Strategies of Successful Learning 3 An introduction to knowledge and strategies designed to promote success in the university environment.
Introduction to Research 1 An introduction to the research process and methods for retrieving information in a library or through online sources.
Introduction to Writing 3 Practice in effective writing and clear thinking at all levels, including the sentence and paragraph.
Finite Mathematics (or higher level of mathematics) 3 Basic and beginning mathematical concepts.
Concepts and Applications of Information Technology 3 Foundational information and skills, vital to continuing further with computers and networking.
Second Semester (Freshman) Credits Overview
Introduction to Problem Solving and Algorithm Design 3 The course is designed to give the student an overview and foundation which delves into math and thought problems
Introduction to Humanities 3 Another art may be substituted here, but a humanities course connects the technology student with the general public
Introduction to Biology 4 Required lab and lecture course. Another physical science may be substituted.
Introduction to Professional Writing 3 The goal is to analyze professional communication scenarios to develop effective workplace writing.
Economics in the Information Age 3 A survey of basic concepts and principles in micro- and macroeconomics and how the economy has been affected by technology.
Third Semester (Sophomore) Credits Overview
Technology in Contemporary Society 3 An interdisciplinary introduction to the study of society that addresses the issue of what it is to use technology in modern culture.
Foundations of Cybersecurity 3 A comprehensive introduction to the protection of business information and the systems that support business processes.
Ethics in Information Technology 3 A comprehensive study of ethics and of personal and organizational ethical decision making in the use of information systems in a global environment.
Introduction to Physical Science 3 An introduction to the basic principles of physics and chemistry, with applications to geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy.
Fourth Semester (Sophomore) Credits Overview
Technological Transformations 3 A historical view of technology as it has spanned the timeline and arrived in the present age.
Fundamentals of Networking 3 An introduction to networking technologies for local area networks, wide area networks, and wireless networks.
Media and Society 3 A study of business communication management in a modern societal context.
General Elective 3 An optional class for students.

Student Profile #2 - Charlene

Charlene knew early that she wanted to pursue a career in cyber security. She planned out her college schedule, checking her classes for prerequisites. Nearing the end of her four years, she began sending her resume, making contacts, even looking for an internship during her final year. When she graduated, she was ready to move into the workplace and out of the university setting.

Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security (4 years)

Typically four-years, a bachelor’s degree is required (or at least strongly encouraged) by most hiring companies and organizations. Coursework often shifts from general or baseline education to a focused view of the cyber security world. A third- or fourth-year student may find a class schedule similar to the following:

Fifth Semester (Junior) Credits Overview
Advanced Technical Writing 3 A comprehensive, project-based study of applied technical writing.
Digital Forensics in the Criminal Justice System 3 The course creates a connection between the digital age and how it integrates into the justice system
Introductory Programming 3 A study of structured and object-oriented programming using the Java language.
The Individual and Society 3 This psychology course gives the student a background in sociological research, connecting the individual to the group.
Foundations of Forensics Psychology 3 In order to catch cyber criminals, students must first understand how the criminals think.
Sixth Semester (Junior) Credits Overview
Foundations of Information System Security 3 A survey of various means of establishing and maintaining a practical cyber and information security program to protect key organizational assets.
Security Policy Analysis A study of various aspects of information assurance and cyber security policy planning in an organizational context.
Software Engineering Principles and Techniques 3 A study of software engineering from initial concept through design, development, testing, and maintenance of the product.
Psychology of Criminal Behavior 3 An overview of the biological, environmental, and psychological factors that underlie criminal behavior.
Homeland Security and Intelligence 3 An overview of how the U.S. government deals with cyber security.
Seventh Semester (Senior) Credits Overview
Security Policy Implementation 3 A study of information security (IS) performance standards and policy implementation for IS system administrators.
Network Security 3 A study of the fundamental concepts of computer security and its implementation.
Infrastructure in Homeland Security 3 A more in-depth look into how the U.S. government deals with cyber security on the home front.
Terrorism, Antiterrorism, and Homeland Security 3 A more in-depth look into how the U.S. government deals with cyber security on the foreign front.
Eighth Semester (Senior) Credits Overview
Cyber Crime and Security 3 An examination of crimes involving the use of computers.
Global Public Management 3 Relays fundamental knowledge and experience with the inward workings of all types of companies and organizations.
Advanced Information Systems Security 3 Delve more deeply into the software-based systems which come up in the real world.
Evaluating Emerging Technologies 3 The technology is in constant flux, this course offers the tools and skills necessary to keep up with it.
Practical Applications in Cybersecurity Management 3 For many universities, this is an internship during the fourth and final year of the degree program.

Student Profile #3 -- Justine

Justine’s bachelor’s degree in computer programming put her in a prime position to land a solid job within the industry. Yet as time moved on, she became more and more intrigued by the informational technologies and the varying aspects of their growth over the few years since leaving college. Her decision to undertake a master’s degree in cyber security helped her land a job with a Fortune 500 firm.

Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security

A master’s degree in cyber security often involves another two years of coursework. Because many students are already invested in the workforce, colleges and universities routinely offer different program styles and academic specializations. Some require a thesis (a lengthy, publishable paper) for graduation from the program, while others give students non-thesis options in the form of comprehensive exams or special projects.

Before applying to a graduate program, students should research requirements and consult with admissions and academic counselors. Academic counselors or advisors are often professors within the computer science or cyber security department. These professors have the expertise to guide students through the options and requirements, both theoretical and practical, within the program. Below is a sample of courses a master’s degree student in cyber security might encounter:

Master’s Program Core Courses Overview
Cyberspace and Cyber Security – 6hrs A study of the fundamentals of cyberspace and cybersecurity, including tools and mechanisms of the trade.
Human Aspects in Cyber Security: Ethics, Legal Issues and Psychology - 6hrs An examination of the human aspects in cybersecurity. Topics include ethics, relevant laws, regulations, policies, standards, psychology, and hacker culture.
Prevention and Protection Strategies in Cyber Security - 6hrs An in-depth study of the theories and practices for prevention of cyber-attacks.
Monitoring, Auditing, Intrusion Detection, Intrusion Prevention, and Penetration Testing - 6hrs An in-depth study of the theory and practice of intrusion detection and prevention in cyberspace.
Cyber Crime Investigation and Digital Forensics – 6hrs An in-depth study of the theory and practice of digital forensics. Topics include computer forensics, network forensics, cell phone forensics, and other types of digital forensics.
Cyber Security Capstone – 6hrs A study of and an exercise in developing, leading, and implementing effective enterprise- and national-level cyber security programs.
* Academic Writing for Graduate Students – 3hrs Recommended for graduate students who want to succeed with the many and diverse papers and projects required by the program.

PhD in Cyber Security

In general, doctorate degrees are the culmination of another four years of coursework and a final, written dissertation. Most PhD candidates are involved in study that takes theoretical education into the real world through research or an experiential practicum. That research and experience is then compiled into the dissertation, which goes before a review board to be defended by the candidate.

PhD programs in cyber security can be similar to master’s degree programs, at least in the classroom. Many colleges and universities encourage master’s students to stay after graduation to begin their doctorate degrees, as they have already completed much of the coursework. The true variances are in the amount of research and writing involved before defending the final dissertation.

Schools with Cyber Security Programs

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SCHOOL NAME CITY, STATE STUDENT POPULATION SCHOOL TYPE TUITION PROGRAM TYPE PROGRAMS
University of Phoenix-Online CampusPhoenix, AZ307,871Private, 4-year$9,216Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
American Public University SystemCharles Town, WV50,838Private, 4-year$6,000Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN42,731Public, 4-year$8,750Campus
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
University of Maryland-University CollegeAdelphi, MD42,713Public, 4-year$6,024Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL41,087Public, 4-year$4,587Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism
University of HoustonHouston, TX39,820Public, 4-year$7,176Campus
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA38,010Private, 4-year$43,722Campus
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
College of Southern NevadaLas Vegas, NV37,717Public, 4-year$2,265Campus
Associate
  • Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism
Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN36,375Private, 4-year$11,952Campus
Bachelor’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Master’s
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
Doctorate
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
City College of San FranciscoSan Francisco, CA34,558Public, 2-yearNRCampus
Associate
  • Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance