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Prepare for various diverse roles in the security field by obtaining a master’s in security degree. Attain the skills you need to aid in keeping people and property safe. Whether a security manager, security engineer, cybersecurity analyst, geopolitical analyst, homeland security consultant, or intelligence specialist.

As a security manager, you can expect to earn, on average, $101,701 to $111,085 per year. By 2031, cybersecurity jobs are anticipated to increase by 35%. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is among the primary employers of security professionals, with more than 240,000 employees. Typically, an online master’s degree costs approximately $40,000. Although normally a two-year program, some accelerated programs can be completed in 12 to 18 months.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Security Program

Choose your area of study

You have a lot of latitude in this versatile master’s in security degree that allows you to choose from a wide range of jobs. Concentrate on an area of study you are passionate about that will help you navigate a career in multiple industries and job types. Narrow your choices to the programs that cater to your specific path after answering these questions:

  • Is your primary interest in physical security, cybersecurity, policy, intelligence, counterterrorism, risk management, information assurance, or something else?
  • Are the courses in the program interesting and aligned with your career goals?
  • After graduation, do you want to work in the private sector, public industry, or academia?

Research schools and programs

Create a list of schools you are interested in. Meet with an admissions counselor or attend a school’s program information session to ask questions about programs. You can get a better feel about the school, its reputation, and if it suits you by talking to enrolled students, alumni, and faculty. Define what you want to achieve with your master’s degree — do you want to change careers, advance your present career, or just learn more about security? Consider the following criteria:

  • Find out if the program is accredited and its graduation placement rates
  • Discover how much the program will cost and if you can afford it.
  • Take into account the program’s curriculum
  • View the school website, read online reviews, and request marketing information
  • Research the means of interaction between online students and teachers
  • Find out if offline workshops are part of the experience

Prepare for tests and applications

Following the review of application requirements and deadlines, begin early because the program might be competitive. Maintaining a to-do list will keep you organized. Fill out all application materials, take required tests, and send official transcripts from previous colleges.

To apply, you will need letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose must explain why you want to pursue a master’s in security degree and your achievement aspirations. Make sure your resume highlights security experience and any pertinent security certifications.

Most master’s in security degree programs require applicants to take the GRE. Some demand the GMAT instead. You might consider other tests that are security-specific, like CISSP or those designed for your breadth of study. Practice interview skills to make a good impression, as some admissions programs require an interview with an admissions committee or faculty member.

Select your program

When selecting a program, consider how fast you want to get your degree as well as other personal preferences. Be cognizant of degrees that require a thesis, practicum, or another classification of a capstone project. Discover if a program offers internships or more opportunities for hands-on experience. If you apply to several schools, be aware that application fees can be costly.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Always complete the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid to determine if you’re eligible for need-based aid like institutional scholarships, federal work-study, state and federal grants, and federal loans. If you are working while attaining a degree, employer tuition assistance benefits may be another option. You might be entitled to receive merit-based and need-based aid to fund your post-secondary studies. Contact the financial aid departments of the programs you’re researching to ask if there are any other assistance opportunities, including assistantships, grants, scholarships, fellowships, and work-study.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Security Programs

Best Master's in Security Programs 2023

Northeastern University

St. Joseph’s University

University of Houston Downtown

American University

Arizona State University

Towson University

University of Arizona

National University

UMass Lowell

Tulane University

Salve Regina University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Endicott College

Nova Southeastern University

Liberty University

Pace University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Texas at Austin

Park University

University of Denver

East Carolina University

Angelo State University

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Citadel

Regent University

Webster University

Bellevue University

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online Master’s in Security 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 post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list have been accredited by reputable organizations, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education and Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that assess the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of colleges and universities.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online 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 online Master’s in Security programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, including U.S. News & World Report, 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 Master’s in Security Program?

No two online master’s in security degree programs are the same. But you can expect a typical program to require 30 to 60 credit hours and about two years of full-time study. Common training involves principles, history, research, practical security applications, and theoretical tests. Besides preparation for specific security roles, students will gain skills and knowledge to think critically regarding security issues and expand innovative solutions.

Specialized training may be required in cybercrime, profiling, and justice. Keep in mind that Master of Science degrees develop more of an analytical and technical approach, whereas Master of Arts programs concentrate on interdisciplinary leadership training. The degree prepares you for many protective services positions in management and leadership careers like law enforcement and security institutions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase of more than 285,000 security service jobs between 2020 and 2030.

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

  • Criminology. The focus is on why people commit crimes. Exploration involves modern theories, the history of criminology, and procedures. Within a security role, students learn how to implement these tools for prevention and response to criminal activities.
  • Urban Resilience. Cities are a focal point for security problem development. The study encompasses how cities have responded and recovered from assorted events like natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
  • Cyber Conflict. Computers are always a primary target for crimes such as cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. Courses explain today’s different types of security systems and all threats these systems are prepared to protect against.
  • International Security. Problems facing world concerns and individual nations remain the focus of discussions. This course pinpoints methods these establishments can use to respond to serious issues and threats. Nuclear proliferation, climate change, and human trafficking are relevant topics.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Management. The class examines the governmental and organizational role of emergency management, including the process of preparing and mitigating threats. Responding to and recovering from emergency disasters are emphasized. Training and forming a comprehensive plan with support agencies are stressed. The significance of continuity to sustain activity and businesses during natural and man-made disasters is a primary lesson.

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

Career outlook

The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats have elevated the demand for skilled security professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 32 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. This surge in demand is a testament to the vital role security experts play in protecting sensitive data and systems. Professionals in this position earn a median salary of $112,000 a year.

Career paths

Earning a master’s degree in security is a strategic investment that allows you to navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity and risk management. This advanced qualification equips professionals with the expertise to protect information, infrastructure, and organizations from evolving threats. Following are some of the diverse range of career opportunities available to individuals with a master’s degree in security, showcasing the versatility of this qualification in safeguarding digital landscapes.

  • Digital forensics analyst — investigates cybercrime by analyzing digital evidence, aiding in legal proceedings and strengthening security measures.
  • Incident responder — investigates and responds to security incidents, coordinating efforts to mitigate and recover from cyber threats.
  • Risk management analyst — assesses vulnerabilities for companies and other entities and develops strategies to mitigate organizational risks.
  • Cybersecurity architect — designs and implements comprehensive security solutions for organizations.
  • Penetration tester (ethical hacker) — evaluates the security of systems by simulating cyberattacks, identifying weaknesses, and recommending improvements.

Cybersecurity Analyst

Earning Potential: $64,455-$77,663 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in security or a related field

Cybersecurity analysts play a pivotal role in safeguarding digital assets by proactively identifying and mitigating security risks. They analyze complex systems and assess vulnerabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats. This role involves implementing security measures, conducting risk assessments, and staying abreast of emerging threats. Cybersecurity analysts also collaborate with stakeholders to develop and enforce security policies, ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of sensitive information. Their expertise is crucial in maintaining robust security postures and protecting organizations from evolving cyber risks in an increasingly digitized world.

Security Consultant

Earning Potential: $106,525-$149,615 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in security or a related field

A security consultant specializes in advising organizations on comprehensive security strategies. They conduct thorough risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities in physical and digital environments. Security consultants develop tailored solutions, recommending technologies and protocols to enhance overall security postures. Their expertise extends to areas such as access control, surveillance, and cybersecurity. They assist in implementing and optimizing security measures, ensuring alignment with industry regulations. Security consultants play a vital role in safeguarding assets, mitigating risks, and preparing organizations to respond effectively to security challenges.

Chief Information Security Officer

Earning Potential: $214,746-$273,089 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in security or a related field

A chief information security officer (CISO) is a senior executive responsible for the overarching security posture of an organization. They lead strategic initiatives, developing and implementing comprehensive security policies and frameworks. CISOs assess and mitigate risks, ensuring compliance with industry regulations. They oversee incident response, manage security teams, and communicate with stakeholders. CISOs are crucial in aligning security strategies with business goals, protecting sensitive data, and staying abreast of evolving cyber threats. Their leadership ensures that organizations navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity effectively, fostering resilience and trust in the digital realm.

Online Master’s in Security Degree Program Frequently Asked Questions

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

The application process could vary among schools, but generally, after researching different programs and speaking to an admissions counselor, request an application. The process typically demands submitting your resume, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a statement of purpose. Many degree programs require taking the GRE or GMAT and achieving an acceptable score for college admission.

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

Tuition costs differ among schools. Some universities charge a higher tuition rate to online students enrolled in another state. A private school might be twice as expensive as a public in-state school. Generally, an online master’s degree costs roughly $40,000, depending on the school and area of concentration. Various factors might increase the cost of an online degree:

  • Technology, lab, resource, and library fees are sometimes added to the tuition
  • Students might need to buy tablets or software
  • Take into account the cost of room and board — housing on and near campus is usually more expensive
  • Lost wages during a student’s studies might be considered

If an internship or a practicum is involved in the graduate program, online students will pay more in travel fees. The physical availability of books for online students doesn’t exist, unlike on-campus students. Not all universities offer books and other study materials in downloadable form for online students. This inconvenience forces them to buy academic resources from pricier bookstores. A student option is to rent books from an online bookseller like Amazon. But it’s a costly charge because book rental is only temporarily available.

If you are currently active as a U.S. military officer or employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, or territory agency, you could be eligible to earn a master’s in homeland security degree by attending the Naval Postgraduate School. You may be able to enroll in the program for free, conditional on the agency you work for.

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

If you are a full-time student, you can expect to complete an online program in one to two years. Online part-time students typically take two to three years or more to get a degree. In general, master’s in security degree programs tend to require between 30 and 60 credits. A program with more credit requirements may take longer to complete.

Is an online master's in security worth it?

Earning an online master’s in security is worth it, considering the dynamic and evolving landscape of cybersecurity. This advanced degree equips professionals with the specialized knowledge, technical skills, and strategic insights that are essential for combating sophisticated cyber threats. According to industry demand and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for cybersecurity experts is rapidly increasing, highlighting the value of specialized education in security. The online format provides flexibility, allowing working professionals to enhance their expertise without disrupting their careers.

The median salaries for roles such as cybersecurity analysts, security consultants, and chief information security officers (CISOs) are notably higher for individuals with advanced degrees. A master’s-trained penetration tester, for example, can make a median salary of $88,105, according to

The interdisciplinary curriculum of security programs covers areas like risk management, compliance, and emerging technologies, ensuring graduates are well-rounded security practitioners. Networking opportunities, real-world projects, and access to industry-expert faculty further enhance the program’s value.

In an era where cyber threats are pervasive, an online master’s in security enhances career prospects and contributes to the broader mission of protecting critical information assets. The skills acquired—ranging from threat analysis to security architecture—position graduates as leaders in securing digital landscapes, making the investment in an online master’s in security a strategic and impactful decision.

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