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Cyber security degree programs equip students with the skills and knowledge needed for a variety of in-demand and lucrative careers by blending computer science and information technology with criminology, management, and ethics.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32% growth from 2022 to 2032 for information security analysts, who earn a median annual wage of $120,360. With a four-year bachelor’s degree or two-year master’s degree in cyber security, graduates can also explore a range of advanced managerial or other roles within the field and across many industries. Undergraduate and graduate programs cost an average of $14,688 and $20,513 per year, respectively.

How to Choose a Cyber Security Program

Choose your area of study

Institutions offer cyber security degrees and various concentrations at undergraduate and graduate levels. Consider your career goals as you navigate your research. Some cyber security degree programs offer different specializations, career outcomes, and other opportunities, and it’s important to choose a program that aligns with your educational needs.

A Bachelor of Science in cyber security provides students with the fundamental theories and tools for managing data and network security. Students often focus on coding, digital forensics, risk mitigation, cryptography, and other technical skills to prepare for careers as cyber security engineers, information security analysts, forensic analysts, and other vital roles within the information security field. Other majors, such as information technology or computer science, sometimes offer cyber security as a concentration to allow students to develop a niche within a broader field.

With a Master of Science in cyber security, students can narrow their focus and become subject-matter experts. This program helps students further develop knowledge and techniques in digital forensics, network security, risk management, and other areas. Students often progress to either academic research or to advanced or leadership positions in cyber security analysis, security consulting, incident response, and more. Like undergraduate programs, some engineering, science, or other graduate degree programs offer cyber security as a concentration.

Alternatively, students can pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in cyber security. In this program, students develop the theoretical and technology-specific skills needed for cyber security in the context of business fundamentals, leadership, and management.

These degree programs typically offer a variety of concentration options, such as:

  • Digital forensics
  • Cyber security management
  • Cyber security in supply chains
  • Secure software development
  • Cyber security policy and governance

Research schools and programs

Students should prioritize accreditation as they research program options. Accrediting agencies assess schools and programs according to the Department of Education’s academic quality standards. Schools typically must possess regional accreditation for students to qualify for federal financial aid, and many employers require students with accredited educational credentials. Verify accreditation status with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

Students can find further details, such as curriculum requirements and graduate outcomes, on school and program websites and social media. Admissions counselors can also provide information and recommendations and direct students to in-person and virtual information sessions, campus tours, and other events.

Prepare for tests and applications

Exact admission requirements vary between programs and schools, but most undergraduate and graduate programs require a combination of the following:

  • Application form and fees
  • Transcripts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Personal essay or statement
  • Resume or CV
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • TOEFL (for students educated in a non-English language)

Undergraduate degree programs sometimes require students to complete a year or specific survey-level courses before they can declare a cyber security major. Graduate programs typically require a related undergraduate degree, coursework, or background in mathematics, computer science, or other related fields. Contact an admissions counselor for insight on strengthening your application and to verify requirements, eligibility, and deadlines.

Select your program

Refer to your needs, wants, and goals as you select your program, especially if you’ve received acceptance to multiple schools. Consider the following:

  • Location
  • Tuition cost
  • Financial aid availability
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Campus amenities
  • Course logistics
  • Institutional prestige

Depending on individual circumstances, some factors may influence your selection more than others. For instance, many students must balance their education with careers or other obligations and may prefer hybrid, online, part-time, or other flexible programs. In contrast, some students may prefer in-person and full-time for an immersive experience with face-to-face instructor interaction.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Speak to a financial aid counselor at your school for detailed information on tuition, fees, and other expenses that can help inform your educational budget. Regardless of financial circumstances, eligible students should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to access need-based federal loans, grants, scholarships, and other assistance.

To further supplement your funding, research need or merit-based grant or scholarship opportunities from businesses, non-profit foundations, and your institution. Employed students may be able to take advantage of tuition assistance benefits from their employer. Undergraduate students may also access work-study or paid co-op positions, and graduate students can access stipends, salary, or tuition coverage with assistantships or fellowships.

Best 50 Accredited Cyber Security Degree Programs

Best Cyber Security Degree Programs_2024 badge
Intelligent Pick
Stanford University
Best Online Degree
Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals
Best Undergraduate Program
Purdue Polytechnic Institute
Most Affordable
Georgia Institute of Technology
Best Business-Focused Program
Rutgers University at New Brunswick
Best Public Institution
University of Maryland at Baltimore County
Most Research Opportunities
George Mason University
Most Interdisciplinary Programs
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Best for International Students
DePaul University
Best for Working Professionals
Northeastern University

Boston University

Arizona State University

Stevens Institute of Technology

University of Maryland Global Campus

The University of Texas at Dallas

Binghamton University

Villanova University

NYU Center for Cyber Security

University of Wisconsin Extended Campus

Oregon State University

University of Central Florida

Florida State University

Drexel University

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Missouri S&T

University of Houston

Indiana University Bloomington

Washington University in St. Louis

George Washington University

Clemson University

Old Dominion University

Western Washington University

Brown University

Wright State University

University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Washington Tacoma

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

Florida International University

Yeshiva University

Virginia Tech

Texas A&M Cybersecurity Center

University of Maryland

West Virginia University

Iowa State University

University of California Davis

Towson University

Mississippi State University

Mercy College

Thomas Edison State University

University of Texas at San Antonio

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best cybersecurity degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education. The programs on our list are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a nongovernmental agency that evaluates computer, engineering, and applied sciences programs for educational excellence.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as  tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the resources provided for on-campus students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.
Next, we compared this comprehensive list of cybersecurity degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From a Cyber Security Program?

Undergraduate cyber security programs offer a comprehensive education in information and network security, data analytics, cryptography, risk management, and other information technology areas. Depending on the type of program, coursework typically includes a blend of theoretical and hands-on training in lectures and labs. Students may also complete internships, work co-ops, and capstone projects. Most programs require around 120 credits for graduation and span about four years.

Graduate cyber security programs include research and practical applications that deepen students’ understanding of the field and prepare them for advanced or leadership positions. Students often complete research projects with the guidance of faculty mentors, and they may build practical experience in labs, engineering or design projects, internships, or co-ops. Graduate programs typically culminate in either a capstone project or a thesis. Most programs require between 30 and 45 credits for graduation and span about two years.

Potential courses you’ll take in a cyber security program

  • Cryptography Fundamentals: Students learn about cryptographic algorithms, protocols, and techniques by studying cryptographic primitives and their correct use. Course content covers popular cryptographic modules and may include public key cryptosystems, digital signature schemes, and fault attacks.
  • Computer Crime and Forensics: This course explores the fundamentals of cyber forensics and computer crime-scene analysis. Students learn about formal computer forensic investigation methodologies and international cyber forensic analysis standards to help detect, resolve, and prevent cyberattacks.
  • Network Security: Network security covers business, technological, and conceptual foundations for data networks. Students learn to analyze, design, implement, and manage network security with concepts and technology such as virus protection, encryption, security protocols, and network security architecture and policy.
  • Cyber Criminology: This course examines various forms of cyber crime, such as hacking, cyberterrorism, insider threat, and hacktivism, and the types of laws, regulations, and values to which they are subject. By examining sociological, psychological, and criminological theories, students learn how and why cyber crime occurs.

Cyber Security Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a cyber security degree program?

Most institutions feature an admissions portal on their website that guides applicants through providing the correct information, uploading materials, and paying application fees. Most admissions require materials such as test scores, transcripts, and personal essays, but an admissions counselor can verify requirements, eligibility, and deadlines before you submit your application.

How much does a cyber security degree cost?

Undergraduate cyber security degrees average $14,688 annually for tuition and fees. That doesn’t include housing, which can increase costs to $27,673 but translates to lower off-campus living expenses. Graduate programs average $20,513 per year.

Keep in mind that out-of-state student status, private institutions, and high cost-of-living areas often result in higher expenses. Grants, scholarships, loans, and other funding assistance can reduce your upfront costs.

How long does it take to earn a cyber security degree?

Depending on credit requirements and the program’s pace or delivery method, most undergraduate programs require 120 credits over four years of full-time study. Graduate programs require about 30 credits and usually take about two years to complete, although some can take as little as one year.

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