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For busy students looking for a fast-track entry into the lucrative and in-demand field of cybersecurity, an online accelerated cybersecurity degree is the key to achieving your goals. These programs aim to cultivate critical skills like network security, ethical hacking, cryptography, and digital forensics. Graduates are prepared for high-demand careers like information security analyst, which offers a median salary of $120,360 and an expected job growth of 32% over the next decade, adding 16,800 new jobs annually.

Accelerated undergraduate programs can often be completed in two to three years, while graduate programs can be finished in 12 to 18 months, allowing you to advance your career quickly and efficiently.

How to Choose an Online Accelerated Cybersecurity Program

Choose your area of study

While cybersecurity is already a relatively niche field, you can further align your education with your career goals by choosing an area of study, often called a specialization. Options may vary depending on the institution, but common specializations include network security, ethical hacking, digital forensics, and cybersecurity management.

For example, those interested in protecting networks might choose network security, preparing for roles as network security engineers. Meanwhile, students fascinated with investigating cybercrimes may opt for digital forensics, making them competitive for careers as digital forensic investigators.

Research schools and programs

Once you have an idea of your intended specialization, you can begin researching the schools and programs that will propel you to meet your career goals. Consider asking the following questions to help guide your research:

  • Is the program accredited and recognized in the cybersecurity industry?
  • Does the curriculum offer courses that align with my intended specialization?
  • How flexible is the program in terms of online course availability and scheduling?
  • What is the program’s graduation and job placement rate?

Most of this information will be readily available on program websites, but you’ll also benefit from attending an open house and speaking with an admissions counselor.

Prepare for tests and applications

Now that you have a shortlist of schools, you can prepare for tests and applications by gathering required documents and studying for standardized tests. Requirements may vary by program, but many share similar criteria, including the following:

  • High school or college transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • SAT/ACT scores for undergraduates
  • GRE scores for graduates

Test prep programs are invaluable for improving SAT, ACT, or GRE scores, offering practice tests, study guides, and expert strategies to boost performance.

Select your program

When acceptance letters arrive, take a moment to revisit your initial research criteria, focusing on each program’s fit, faculty, and specialization options. This is also an excellent time to reassess the total cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, and compare it with available financial aid. Prioritizing what matters most to your career goals and personal circumstances will help you make an informed decision.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

You can finance your degree without accruing significant debt by strategically utilizing a few different financial aid resources.

First, prioritize scholarships and grants, as these do not need to be repaid. Next, consider work-study programs for part-time employment opportunities. Occasionally, these opportunities may be relevant to your program, but they offer resume-boosting work experience either way. For those currently employed, tuition reimbursement programs offered by your employer can help offset costs, especially if you plan on staying with the company post-graduation.

While federal loans are available for many students, using these sparingly is important. It’s essential to remember that every dollar taken out on a loan will eventually need to be repaid with interest — potentially making this an expensive way to finance your education.

Best 50 Accredited Online Accelerated Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Accelerated Cybersecurity Degree Programs_2024 badge

Norwich University

Liberty University

Old Dominion University

Southern New Hampshire University

Franklin University

Mercy University

Maryville University

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How we rank schools

This list features some of the best online accelerated cybersecurity programs in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education.

We evaluated each degree program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and student resources. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared our picks 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 an Online Accelerated Cybersecurity Program?

An online accelerated cybersecurity degree program offers a comprehensive and intensive curriculum to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to protect digital information and infrastructure. As a student, you can expect to delve into network security, ethical hacking, cryptography, and digital forensics. The most innovative curriculums will include coursework on the latest relevant tech, threat mitigation strategies, and compliance with current legal and regulatory standards.

A key component of these degrees is the capstone course, often required for graduation. This project allows students to apply their knowledge to a real-world cybersecurity problem, demonstrating their ability to design and implement effective security solutions. Like the rest of the coursework, this course can usually be completed entirely online.

Accelerated undergraduate programs can be completed in two to three years, while graduate programs typically take 12 to 18 months.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online accelerated cybersecurity  program

  • Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing: This course focuses on the methods and techniques used by ethical hackers to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks. Students will learn about penetration testing tools and strategies, vulnerability assessment, and reporting. By simulating real-world cyber-attacks, students will develop the skills to think like hackers and effectively defend against malicious activities.
  • Cryptography: In this course, students explore the principles and practices of encoding information to secure communications and data storage. This course covers symmetric and asymmetric encryption, hashing algorithms, digital signatures, and key management. Students will learn how cryptographic techniques protect sensitive information and ensure data integrity through practical exercises.
  • Digital Forensics: This course teaches students how to investigate cyber crimes by collecting, analyzing, and preserving digital evidence. Topics may include forensic techniques, data recovery, and legal considerations in digital investigations. Participants will learn to conduct forensic examinations of computers, networks, and mobile devices, preparing them to work in law enforcement or corporate security roles.

What Can I Do With a Cybersecurity Degree?

Career outlook

  • Information Security Analyst — Individuals in this role are responsible for planning and implementing security measures to protect an organization’s computer systems and networks. They monitor for security breaches, investigate violations, and recommend strategies to improve security.
    • Median annual salary: $120,360
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 32%
    • New jobs projected: 16,800
  • Cybersecurity Manager — Often requiring a master’s degree or extensive on-the-job training, cybersecurity managers oversee an organization’s information security efforts, ensuring that data, systems, and networks are protected from cyber threats. They develop and implement security policies, manage security teams, and coordinate responses to security incidents to minimize risks.
    • Median annual salary: $169,510
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 15%
    • New jobs projected: 46,900
  • Security Software Developer — Graduates in this sector design and implement software solutions to protect systems and data from cyber threats, creating applications with built-in security features to prevent vulnerabilities.
    • Median annual salary: $132,270
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 25%
    • New jobs projected: 153,900

Online Accelerated Cybersecurity Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do accelerated degree programs work?

Accelerated degree programs condense the standard curriculum into a shorter time, allowing students to complete their studies faster by taking more intensive, shorter courses year-round. You’ll still encounter topics like network security, ethical hacking, and cryptography, but courses will move quickly.

This approach is often ideal for highly motivated learners ready to immerse themselves fully in their education. For more insight into how accelerated programs can fit into your career goals, visit our comprehensive guide here.

How long does it take to earn an online accelerated cybersecurity degree?

Earning this degree takes two to three years for undergraduates and 12 to 18 months for graduate students, compared to the traditional four years for a bachelor’s and two years for a master’s. However, checking total credit requirements is crucial, as these can vary and impact your graduation timeline.

How much does an online accelerated cybersecurity degree cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a bachelor’s degree is $26,903, while the average for a master’s is $19,749. However, many factors can cause this number to fluctuate — including whether the program you attend is public or private or if you qualify for in-state residency.

You’ll also want to budget for extra expenses like technology fees, course materials, textbooks, and software subscriptions, as these can add up over time and significantly affect the overall cost of attendance.

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