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A master’s in information systems security degree prepares students for IT security or cybersecurity careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the job outlook for information security analysts will grow 32% (much faster than average) from 2022 to 2032, with a median annual salary of $120,360. The BLS projects job growth for computer and information systems managers at 15%, with a median annual salary of $169,510.

Most online master’s in information systems security degrees take about 30 to 48 credits to complete over one to two years. The cost varies by program and school, typically ranging from $600 to $1,200 per credit. Some schools charge a fee per semester or per term (for example, Western Governors University charges $4,905 per six-month term for this degree).

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Program

Choose your area of study

This degree is usually offered as a Master of Science (MS), though it may also be available as a Master of Engineering (MEng). Some programs allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field, such as healthcare, finance, or government security. If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match these career goals.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in information systems security program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This programmatic accrediting organization has particularly high standards for engineering and technology education.

Also, look at the support services the school offers for online students, such as online mentorships or career coaching, and check whether there are any networking opportunities, such as an alumni association.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each school and program varies in its application requirements and process. Most master’s degree programs in information systems security require:

  • A bachelor’s degree and official college transcripts
  • A professional resume and records of any training or employment
  • A personal statement or essay about personal goals
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from professional and personal references

In addition, some programs may ask students to submit standardized test scores, such as those from the GRE. If you need to take the GRE, prepare and sit for the exam while researching schools.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

Some students apply to a single program that suits their interests and needs, while others submit multiple applications to heighten their chances of acceptance. Whatever you choose, most schools charge an application fee, which can add up if you apply to several schools. If you need financial assistance with these fees, talk with the school about a fee waiver.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Every school with an online master’s in information systems security program specifies the financial support students can receive, including scholarships, fellowships, grants, work-study, and assistantships. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines federal student loans and need-based institutional aid eligibility.

Employers may cover some costs through tuition assistance benefits, especially if a master’s in information systems security degree relates to the student’s current job. Talk with the school’s financial aid office for detailed answers about how to pay for your degree.

The Top 50 Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Programs

Best Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs Badge

University of Southern California

Brandeis University

NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Iowa State University

George Washington University

University of Denver

University of Dallas

Northeastern University

DePaul University

Penn State World Campus

UAB Collat School of Business

Western Governors University

Florida Institute of Technology

University of Delaware

Boston University

Northwestern School of Professional Studies

Auburn University Harbert College of Business

Liberty University

University of Maryland Global Campus

Arizona State University

University of California at Berkeley

Wilmington University

Purdue University

Sam Houston State University

Robert Morris University

Bellevue University

University of Colorado Denver

Drexel University

Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University

James Madison University

Davenport University

Florida State University

George Mason University

National University

Southern Utah University

Missouri University of Science and Technology

NSU Florida College of Computing and Engineering

West Texas A&M University

Southern Arkansas University

Dakota State University

Tarleton State University

University of the Cumberlands

University of Detroit Mercy

Capitol Technology University

Jacksonville State University

Champlain College

California State University at Fullerton

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How We Rank Schools

Our list examines master’s programs in information systems, cybersecurity, and IT. The required credits range from 30 to 60, and all degrees are available online.

All of the schools included in this guide are regionally accredited institutions. Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Once we narrowed our list of programs, we reviewed each of them on the basis of outcomes, reputation, faculty, flexibility, and cost. We then calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Program?

Online master’s in information systems security programs vary based on the school, but students can expect a core curriculum focused on two areas. The first covers cybersecurity, or keeping information technology safe for institutions, companies, and government organizations. This facet goes beyond just computer skills, although it likely covers threats such as hacking, phishing, and malware. It also delves into psychology, law, business, and criminology.

The second key component of a master’s in information systems security involves ensuring that data is accessible, safe, uncompromised, and recoverable. Server malfunctions, power outages, computer glitches, and natural disasters can put a company or organization’s data at risk, so students must learn how to take precautions, such as creating off-site data backups.

Depending on the school, students also might have to demonstrate their practical skills during a capstone project involving an IT security issue. Talk with each school for more details if you’re concerned about whether this will interfere with your current employment schedule.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in information systems security degree program

  • Principles of Information Security. Students explore various computer security regulations and techniques for detecting and analyzing security issues. A course of this type tends to cover encryption, physical security controls, network security, and cloud security.
  • Identity and Access Management. Part of information systems security is creating and implementing procedures for controlling access to data on networked systems. A course of this type teaches how to secure the systems’ different layers and authentication methods.
  • Network Security. Securing computer networks is another vital part of information systems security. Students learn about the vulnerabilities in firewalls, wireless security, and more, such as password weaknesses, biometrics, viruses, and Trojan horses.
  • Applied Cryptography. This type of course provides a deeper understanding of cryptographic algorithms. Students explore digital certificates and signatures, among other authentication methods, and how to apply these measures to a computer network or different security architecture.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Information Systems Security?

Career outlook

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the need for skilled professionals in information systems security has never been more critical. As cyber threats continue to grow in complexity and frequency, organizations across industries are prioritizing the safeguarding of their digital assets. Pursuing an online master’s degree in information systems security not only equips individuals with advanced knowledge in the field but also opens up myriad opportunities for a rewarding and impactful career.

One of the key advantages of pursuing an online master’s in information systems security is the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of interest. Cybersecurity is a multifaceted field, and organizations require experts who can address their unique challenges.

Here are a few of the job options open to individuals with this academic credential:

  • Information security analyst — Monitor networks, identify vulnerabilities, train staff on how to prevent security breaches, and recommend security upgrades.
    • Median annual salary: $120,360
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 32%
    • New job openings projected: 16,800 annually
  • Computer network architect — Design, implement, and upgrade data communication networks.
    • Median annual salary: $129,840
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 4%
    • New job openings projected: 10,200 annually
  • Information systems manager — Assess an organization’s technology needs, plan IT projects, and hire and supervise IT staff.
    • Median annual salary: $169,510
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 15%
    • New job openings projected: 46,900 annually

Online Master’s in Information Systems Security Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in information systems security degree program?

Check the application process for each school. Some schools have an online application portal through their website, while others still might use traditional mail. Streamlined admissions systems, such as the Common Application (Common App), enable students to apply to multiple schools easily.

Regardless, if you’re applying online, have electronic versions (such as PDFs) of all the required information, such as test scores, work experience, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. Before you apply, verify you have everything the school needs by speaking with a school admissions counselor.

How much does an online master’s in information systems security degree program cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of graduate school tuition is $12,596 per year at public schools and $28,017 per year at private schools. In addition to tuition and fees, you should also expect other expenses such as textbooks and course-related software.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in information systems security degree?

While this depends on the school and the curriculum, most schools estimate their online master’s programs in information systems security take about one to two years to complete. The total number of credits affects the program’s length, as does whether you attend part-time or full-time. That said, some schools might offer accelerated learning options. Others have asynchronous learning, where students can study at their own pace while meeting assignment deadlines, which could be helpful for those juggling various responsibilities.

Is an online master's in information systems security worth it?

In the rapidly evolving field of cybersecurity, an online master’s in information systems security can open the door to lucrative salaries and challenging but satisfying positions.

An accredited online program at the master’s level provides in-depth knowledge and expertise in information systems security, making you a specialist in the field. Many positions in cybersecurity, especially leadership positions, require advanced degrees. Many master’s programs offer opportunities for research and collaboration that also enhance your learning experience.

Earning your degree online provides a higher level of flexibility than on-campus programs, making them particularly well-suited to adult learners who have other personal and professional commitments. Online programs offer numerous networking opportunities, both with peers and faculty members as well as with professionals in the field from around the globe.