What Degree is Best for Cybersecurity?
Attending college is a big decision. It’s important to know exactly what you want, so you can get the most out of the experience. This means not only choosing a major, but also determining the level of education that is appropriate for you and your life. When it comes to technical fields like cybersecurity (cybersecurity is the practice of protecting and securing data, systems, and networks from hackers) each level varies greatly. It is critical to do your research before enrolling, to be sure that your chosen degree program matches your future goals.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity may address the protection of computer data, but it is a niche industry contained within a larger field: Cyber & Information Security. Cyber and Information Security is the implementation, maintenance, and monitoring of network security—typically for an organization or business.
Professionals in this field implement and support operating systems, networks, software programs, and cybersecurity strategies. Technical support (for clients or colleagues) is often a part of the day-to-day duties of these specialists.
What Degree is Best for Cybersecurity?
There are three common levels of higher education: Associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. There are plenty of gray areas surrounding these three main types of degree program including certifications, micro-credentials, PhDs, and more—but for now let’s examine the three common types of cybersecurity degree.
Associate of Science in Cybersecurity
An associate degree is a great first step into the field of cybersecurity.
What Does a Cybersecurity Associate Degree Cover?
A Cybersecurity associate degree program should introduce operating systems, networks, software, and promote best practices in security for all the above. A cybersecurity concentration could round off your education with network supervision and defense, data protection, and maintenance/troubleshooting of hardware, software, or services.
How Long Does a Cybersecurity Associate Degree Take?
Typically an associate degree could take more than two years to earn, but at some accelerated universities, you could earn an associate degree in cybersecurity in as little as 1.5 years.
Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
A bachelor’s degree is a solid step into cybersecurity expertise.
What Does a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Cover?
A Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program delves into protection of computer systems from hacking, social engineering, malware, spyware, viruses, and more. These attempts are often thwarted by implementing security policies, conducting penetration testing, and initiating vulnerability analyses. A cybersecurity concentration could drive home your education with network and security infrastructure administration, and security controls, which can help protect against threats.
How Long Does a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Take?
Generally a bachelor’s degree could take more than four years to earn, but accelerated degree programs could help you earn a bachelor’s in cybersecurity in as little as 2.5 years.
Master of Science in Cybersecurity
A master’s degree is the perfect choice for a serious cybersecurity professional.
What Does a Cybersecurity Master's Degree Cover?
A Cybersecurity master’s degree program should emphasize leadership in the field, strategy in business, and applications for management. That is because this level of education is assuming a more critical role—a leadership role. Master’s in cybersecurity candidates have the choice of two concentrations: Cyber Operations or Cybersecurity Policy.
- Cyber Operations:
- Analyze, design, deploy, and monitor cyber technologies to maintain security
- Manage information assurance and threat mitigation
- Cybersecurity Policy:
- Analyze, develop, and enforce policies and procedures to maintain security
- Develop security policies to ensure compliance and manage risk across domains
How Long Does a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Take?
Regardless of concentration, an accelerated master’s in cybersecurity can be completed in as little as 16 months.
Can I Work in Cybersecurity Without a Degree?
The answer to this question depends on your goals. There are plenty of non-degree-holding computer whizzes, but their road is a long and difficult one. Four years, or—even better, two and a half—is a reasonable length of time for subject mastery. Look into colleges and universities near you, to determine if any offer accelerated cybersecurity degrees.
Which Cybersecurity Degree Should I Get?
If you’re looking to the field as quickly as possible and work your way up, an associate degree could be the right choice for you. If, however, you’re trying to learn as much as you can as quickly as possible, a bachelor’s degree could be ideal. If or when you’re ready for a management role in cybersecurity, you can always return for your master’s degree.
No matter what degree level you choose, it is important to do your research on the college or university.
Who is #1 in Cybersecurity Education?
Not all universities are created equal. Do your homework before school even starts, so all you have to focus on is earning your degree.
Some questions to ask yourself while seeking your ideal cybersecurity education:
Is the school accredited by a respected institution?
If not, your degree won’t do you much good. Find a school which is institutionally accredited—and if the cybersecurity program boasts any official designations, even better. You can easily find this information on most any academic institution’s website, or call the admissions department and ask what accreditations the school (and cybersecurity degree program) holds.
Are the degree programs hands-on?
If not, you’ll likely be disappointed in the experience. Cybersecurity specialists are actively fighting off cyber attacks all the time, and it’s crucial to have some practice before entering the field. Search for a school that emphasizes learning by doing—you do not want your first time fighting off a hacker to be the real deal. Some schools even participate in cybersecurity competitions, or hackathons, to simulate the pressure of a real-life hack.
How long does it take to earn a cybersecurity degree?
This varies from school to school, and student to student. Unless you’re looking for the traditional college experience (dorms, frat parties, hangovers), an accelerated university for working adults may be a great fit.
In an accelerated cybersecurity degree program, you could graduate faster:
- Associate Degree in Cybersecurity: as little as 1.5 years
- Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity: as little as 2.5 years
- Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity: as little as 16 months
What’s important to remember is that no matter which degree you decide to pursue, you should also keep an eye out for cybersecurity certifications to earn.
What Certifications Do I Need for Cybersecurity?
You may think a degree is all you need—and it very well could be! But earning additional certifications in your chosen field can help you stand out. If you want better odds, consider pursuing some industry certifications.
At some universities, you can earn your cybersecurity degree and the cybersecurity certifications companies value—at the same time.
Some valuable cybersecurity certifications you may want to look into:
- Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner
- Cisco: Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions
- CASP Advanced Security Practitioner
- Cloud Essentials+
- CySA+ Cybersecurity Analyst
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- Kali Linux Certified Professional
- Certified Associate in Python Programming
- Certified Entry-Level in Python Programming
- VMware Certified Technical Associate - Data Center Virtualization 2021
- Oracle Database SQL
- Oracle Database 19c: Program with PL/SQL
- Java SE 8 Programmer I
- Java SE 8 Programmer II
- Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator
- Certified Information Specialist Systems Security Professional
Certifications are not required to earn your degree, nor are they essential for your education. Industry certifications can provide added layers of industry expertise and may help candidates stand out from their competition.
Certifications can also prove useful for industry veterans looking for a refresher on what’s new and trending.
Are You Ready to Earn a Degree in Cybersecurity?
At ECPI University you can earn a hands-on cybersecurity degree at an accelerated pace. Did we mention that at ECPI University, you can earn your cybersecurity degree and certifications at the same time?
The BEST Decision You Ever Make
At ECPI University you could earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science with a Major in Cyber Information Security Technology in the Cybersecurity Track in as little as 2.5 years—and the certifications employers are looking for—at the same time. Get in touch today to get started!
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated ECPI University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) for the Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science: Cyber and Information Security Technology major, Cybersecurity Track through academic year 2023. Designation Letter can be viewed here.
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