The Best Online Associate in Network Security Programs
| TBS Staff
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Online cybersecurity associate degrees give graduates the skills and knowledge they need to compete for entry-level roles focused on addressing computer network security issues.
These two-year programs also prepare students to pursue a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity or a related subject.
Graduates with a cybersecurity degree enjoy strong job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that network and computer systems administrators made a median annual salary of $82,050 in 2018. The BLS also projects jobs for these professionals to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028.
|#1||Dakota State University Madison, SD|
|#2||Minnesota West Community and Technical College Granite Falls, MN|
|#3||University of Maine at Fort Kent Fort Kent, ME|
|#4||Minnesota State College Southeast Winona, MN|
|#5||Northern Wyoming Community College District Sheridan, WY|
|#6||Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY|
|#7||Hinds Community College Raymond, MS|
|#8||Lake Superior College Duluth, MN|
|#9||MidAmerica Nazarene University Olathe, KS|
|#10||Palo Alto College San Antonio, TX|
The Best Online Associate in Network Security Degree Programs
Established in 1881, Dakota State University offers many of its career-focused programs online, including an associate of science in network and security administration. The 61-credit cybersecurity degree combines general education, computer networking, and security administration courses.
Classes include information security management, routing and switching, operating environments, and networking. Some courses include labs for practical learning. Students may complete labs on campus or online. Learners can also take advantage of network defense competitions, research opportunities, and technology-focused student groups.
Graduates can pursue a bachelor's degree or enter the workforce. Potential jobs for graduates include systems administrator, penetration tester, and data communications analyst.
The fully online program uses an asynchronous format with both part- and full-time enrollment options. The university offers rolling admissions. Candidates must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. If applicable, they should also submit college transcripts and AP or CLEP scores.
Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers diploma, certificate, and degree programs in about 60 academic disciplines. The public college focuses on experiential learning and career preparation. Prospective cybersecurity professionals at MWCTC can pursue an online associate of applied science in information security and assurance.
The 60-credit, fully online program includes technology and general education courses. Classes cover topics like computer forensics, ethical hacking, data security awareness, and information technology customer service. MWCTC maintains transfer agreements with several major universities that allow graduates to seamlessly transfer into bachelor's programs.
Online degree candidates receive asynchronous instruction from the same faculty who teach on campus. Prospective students may enroll in a free introduction to online learning course to learn more about distance education at the college. MWCTC also offers an online orientation to help new learners get started. Candidates need a high school diploma or GED. New students take an assessment exam to determine appropriate course placements.
University of Maine at Fort Kent offers a unique, multicultural campus at the intersection of Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec. The school offers students one-on-one support from faculty and some of the most affordable tuition rates in the United States. Students can choose from several fully online programs, including an associate of science in information security.
The cybersecurity associate degree includes 29 general education credits and 31 information security credits. The information security portion of the curriculum includes courses in network security, cyberdefense, and operations systems security. Learners also take 7-8 credits of information security electives. Graduates can pursue cybersecurity jobs or transfer into a bachelor's program, including UMFK's bachelor's in cybersecurity and information security.
Online learners have access to the Blake Library, e-books, and video tutorials. UMFK offers rolling admissions and free applications. Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Minnesota State College Southeast offers a 15-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and boasts a 94% job placement rate for graduates. Students can choose from more than 20 online associate degrees, including a cybersecurity associate degree.
The associate of applied science in information and cybersecurity examines topics like information security, computer forensics, and criminal justice. The curriculum includes 15 general education credits and 45 major credits. Major courses include criminal law and procedures, security threats and countermeasures, electronic device forensics, and website and applications security.
The fully online program administers courses through D2L Brightspace. Online learners enjoy access to helpful resources and services, such as online tutoring, academic advising, and technology support. MSC Southeast holds transfer agreements with Concordia University St. Paul that allow graduates to seamlessly transfer into bachelor's programs in areas like computer science, criminal justice, and information technology. Applicants must submit ACCUPLACER scores and transcripts.
Northern Wyoming Community College District offers online programs in eight academic disciplines, including a fully online cybersecurity associate degree. The associate of applied science in cybersecurity includes practical learning opportunities working with industry-standard software.
Students take courses like secure user endpoint and server systems, network defense and countermeasures, computer forensics, and hardening network infrastructure. Learners can also earn optional cybersecurity credentials, like CompTIA Security+, Cisco CCNA Security, and Microsoft Technology Associate Security Fundamentals. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone course or internship.
Graduates can assess network vulnerabilities, implement cybersecurity plans, and use cryptology to increase information security. The 61-credit curriculum takes about two years of full-time study to complete. Applicants must submit transcripts.
Laramie County Community College awards about 780 certificates, degrees, and diplomas each year. The school offers comprehensive services and state-of-the-art classrooms on its 271-acre main campus. LCCC also offers 21 online programs, including an associate of applied science in cybersecurity.
This 63-credit cybersecurity associate degree includes classes on malware analysis, network attack principles, incident response, and network defense principles. The program takes two years of full-time study to complete. Before enrolling, students can optionally earn LCCC's cybersecurity professional credit diploma, which seamlessly transfers into the associate degree.
The fully online program uses asynchronous courses, helping students balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates typically learn of their admission status within three days of submitting the application.
Hinds Community College educates more than 32,000 students annually and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 17-to-1. Hinds offers over 70 career-focused programs, including an associate of applied science in information systems technology with a cybersecurity concentration. The fully online curriculum includes career certificate, technical certificate, and general education sections.
Career certificate courses include fundamentals of data communication, web and programming concepts, database and SQL concepts, and principles of information security. The technical certificate portion includes courses in network security fundamentals, wireless security and privacy, and network defense and countermeasures.
Hinds designed the program for learners who want to enter the workforce immediately after graduation rather than transfer to a bachelor's program. Hinds offers an open admissions policy, admitting all students with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants do not need to pay an application fee.
Lake Superior College offers more than 90 diploma, certificate, and degree programs. Learners can choose between career-focused programs and programs that transfer to four-year universities. LSC is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
The school's online associate of applied science in network administration and cybersecurity comprises 72 credits. Students take courses in security fundamentals, intrusion detection and prevention systems fundamentals, forensic and incident response, and ethical hacking and systems defense.
This fully online program prepares graduates to earn the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker credential. Graduates can work as network engineers, network managers, and systems administrators. Students can access career services, an online library, transfer services, and the LearningExpress Library™. Career services help students craft compelling cover letters, prepare for interviews, and discover job opportunities.
Candidates can apply to LSC up to one year before their desired start date. Applicants must submit academic transcripts.
MidAmerican Nazarene University is a private, Christian institution that offers small class sizes and several online programs. The school offers a fully online associate of applied science in cybersecurity that comprises four parts: core I curriculum, core II curriculum, business and quantitative courses, and cybersecurity concentration courses.
The core I curriculum comprises 18 credits of information systems management courses, while the core II curriculum expands on core I knowledge with courses in web interface design, introduction to computer programming, and networking fundamentals.
The business and quantitative section covers business and accounting fundamentals. Finally, the cybersecurity section covers cyberforensics; hacker techniques, protections, and incident responses; and telecommunications and network security.
Because MNU is in the heart of Silicon Prairie, graduates often find jobs at top companies like Garmin, Sprint, and Nokia. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent. Candidates with fewer than 24 transfer credits also need a minimum score of 17 on the English section of the ACT and 19 on the math portion.
Established in 1985, Palo Alto College offers nine fully online degrees, including an associate of applied science in information security and assurance. The cybersecurity degree requires 60 credits and includes courses in incident response and handling, computer system forensics, implementing and supporting servers, and Linux installation and configuration.
Students culminate the degree with an internship, gaining practical experience in the field. The National Security Agency approves several of the program's courses. The Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campuses allow PAC to deliver online programs to students in 16 participating states.
Prospective students submit applications through ApplyTexas. PAC typically takes five business days to process applications. Once admitted, learners must submit transcripts, financial aid applications, and placement test scores. Students must enroll in the school's online management system and complete two college readiness modules before enrolling in classes.
Founded in 1957, Harford Community College hosts 9,500 degree-seeking students and 11,000 noncredit learners per year. The school offers more than 80 programs, including a fully online associate of applied science in information assurance and cybersecurity.
The 60-credit program includes general education, business, and technology courses. Students take classes in network defense and countermeasures, strategic infrastructure security, computer operating systems, and computer forensics. Graduates qualify to sit for the Cisco certified network administrator certification exam.
Degree candidates take courses asynchronously through Blackboard. The program takes two years of full-time study to complete. Graduates can work as computer security specialists or pursue further study through a bachelor's program. HCC maintains transfer agreements with many universities throughout the region to facilitate seamless transfers.
Westmoreland County Community College partners with businesses to create programs that prepare students for in-demand careers. The 61-credit, online associate degree in cybersecurity includes courses in digital forensic fundamentals, programming with Python, ethical hacking and software defense, and PC hardware.
Rather than prepare students to transfer to a bachelor's degree, the program focuses on preparing students to immediately enter the workforce after graduation. Graduates can pursue jobs such as cybersecurity consultants, corporate security managers, and security technicians.
The mostly online program includes some courses on campus in Pennsylvania. Online classes primarily use an asynchronous format, though some courses may require proctored exams. Full-time students can graduate in two years.
Prospective students can apply to WCCC free of charge. After they earn acceptance, learners apply for financial aid and submit placement test scores and transcripts.
St. Petersburg College offers career-focused educational programs. Ninety percent of SPC graduates find jobs in their field of study, transfer to higher education programs, or go on to serve in the military. SPC students also enjoy the highest entry-level wages among community college graduates in Florida. The school offers dozens of fully online programs, including an associate of science in cybersecurity.
The online cybersecurity degree includes 18 general credits, 21 support credits, and 18 major credits. The program also includes an internship. Major classes include network security foundations, ethical hacking, and operating system security.
This program prepares graduates to sit for the following certification exams:
- Cisco CCENT
- CompTIA A+
- Cisco CCNA CyberOps
- CompTIA Security+
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
The fully online program gives students 24/7 access to course material. Students also have access to free tutoring and career counseling. Prospective students first apply online, then submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.
Thanks to its cybersecurity associate program, SPC is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.
Community College of Allegheny County hosts more than 43,000 learners each year through its on-campus and online programs, including its online associate of science in cybersecurity.
This cybersecurity degree requires 60-67 credits and includes general education and cybersecurity courses. Major classes include cyberspace vulnerabilities and risks, intrusion detection and prevention, and network security. Students can also choose from electives in areas like criminal justice and business.
The fully online program delivers courses through Blackboard and follows guidelines from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, preparing graduates to pursue entry-level cybersecurity jobs. Graduates can also transfer to four-year universities.
CCAC offers open admissions, accepting all applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. CCAC maintains transfer agreements through the Pennsylvania Statewide College Credit Transfer System.
Central Texas College offers a fully online associate of applied science in cyberdefense and information assurance that comprises 60 credits and includes foundational technology and advanced cybersecurity classes.
Students take courses in Linux installation and configuration, network administration, network defense and countermeasures, and firewalls and network security. Learners culminate the degree with an internship or a capstone course in computer and information security.
Degree candidates can take courses entirely online or opt to complete some courses on campus. Graduates can pursue cybersecurity jobs like information security analyst or computer and information systems manager. Prospective learners can apply through the school's website or through ApplyTexas.
Online Associate in Network Security Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following associate degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cybersecurity focuses on ensuring the safety and security of internal and external computer networks and systems.
A cybersecurity associate degree is a foundational postsecondary program that prepares learners to pursue entry-level cybersecurity jobs or enroll in a bachelor's degree program.
Full-time learners typically complete a cybersecurity associate degree in two years.
Where Will a Cybersecurity Associate Degree Take Me?
A cybersecurity associate degree prepares students to pursue entry-level jobs or further study through a bachelor's degree. Many graduates with an associate degree can complete a four-year bachelor's degree in only two years of additional study. The following list outlines several common bachelor's degree majors for graduates with an associate degree in cybersecurity.
Bachelor's in Cybersecurity
Bachelor's in cybersecurity programs build on the foundational skills and knowledge students gain in an associate degree program by covering more advanced concepts in the field. Classes typically explore cybertechnologies for criminal justice, cybercrime law and investigations, software foundations for cybersecurity, and computer hardware and peripherals. Many programs also require degree-seekers to participate in an internship to apply their skills to professional settings.
Bachelor's in Cybercrime
Bachelor's in cybercrime programs focus on how to protect individuals, families, and groups from security compromises that affect the safety of themselves and their information. Common classes include cybercrime investigations and forensics, payment systems and fraud, information assurance risk and compliance, and fraud prevention and detection technologies. Graduates can pursue careers in healthcare security and privacy, computer forensics investigation, vulnerability assessments, and law enforcement.
Bachelor's in Information Technology
An online bachelor's in information technology can lead to diverse careers in industries like cybersecurity, computer programming, software development, and mobile app development. Many of these degrees offer concentrations that allow students to tailor the program to their interests and goals. Common concentrations include business management, data analytics, project management, and cybersecurity.
Students typically take courses in the fundamentals of information technology, information technology operations and systems planning, introduction to computer networks, and computing as a service. Most programs also require an internship.
Bachelor's in Computer Science
Bachelor's in computer science programs prepare students for a variety of jobs, such as computer information systems manager, data scientist, or computer systems analyst. These programs often offer concentrations in data science, software engineering, high-performance systems, or artificial intelligence.
Common courses include computer organization and systems, introduction to probability for computer scientists, data structures and algorithms, and principles of computer systems. Students may complete an internship or a thesis to culminate the degree.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a rapidly expanding field dedicated to ensuring computer information and internal/external networks remain safe from security compromises. The field heavily intersects with criminal justice, forensics, computer science, and information technology, allowing cybersecurity professionals to pursue careers in those areas as well.
Cybersecurity professionals need a keen attention to detail, the ability to work independently and collaboratively, and a commitment to ongoing learning. They often develop strategies to keep data, hardware, and software secure; implement security measures to respond to developing threats; create firewalls; and educate staff on safety protocols. They may also hire ethical hackers to look for security weaknesses.
What Is a Cybersecurity Associate Degree?
Online associate in cybersecurity programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete. Admission requirements vary by institution, but they typically include an application fee, a high school diploma or GED, and transcripts from any schools previously attended. More competitive programs may also require letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.
Courses vary by program, but they often cover industrial applications and software, information security fundamentals, computer security ethical and legal foundations, and computer forensics and incident response. Some programs may also include a practicum or capstone, though these requirements are more common at the bachelor's level. Aside from classes focused on cybersecurity, degree seekers also take general education courses.
Graduates can pursue entry-level employment or further study through a bachelor's program.
Graduates with a cybersecurity associate degree can pursue entry-level jobs in diverse fields. We cover several common jobs for graduates below.
These professionals ensure a company's computer and network systems run smoothly and efficiently. They identify the software and hardware needs of companies, provide necessary maintenance and repairs, identify ways to optimize network performance, and teach employees how to use computer systems. They also ensure all internal and external networks remain safe and secure from breaches.
Some network and computer systems administrator roles require only an associate degree, but most require a bachelor's degree. The position does not require a license, but many employers prefer candidates to hold certification in the products they use.
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Information security analysts keep an organization's networks and systems safe from security compromises. They continually monitor the network to identify any breaches, making adjustments as needed. They also install firewalls and data encryption programs to help detect suspicious activity. Most of these professionals hold a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, computer science, programming, or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates with certification.
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These professionals build an organization's networks and intranets. They typically work in house for a single company, but they may also work as consultants for a variety of organizations. Network architects must develop data communication plans, keep up with hardware and software upgrades, and stay abreast of changes in networking technologies. Most network architects need a bachelor's degree, though some employers may accept associate degree-holders who have substantial experience.
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Cybersecurity Membership Associations
Cybersecurity students and professionals can take advantage of membership associations, which offer benefits such as networking opportunities, awards and funding, and certification programs.
Information Systems Security Association International
ISSA provides local chapters, learning opportunities, awards, and a fellows program. The group also offers cyberexecutive forums, chapter events, and web conferences.
Women in Cyber Security
WiCyS brings together female cybersecurity experts in academia and industry to support them with meaningful member benefits. Benefits include an annual conference, a career support portal, and industry news.
Members of ISACA can access career support and credentialing opportunities. They can also access in-person and online training, an annual conference, and in-house publications.
This professional association offers industry-recognized certifications in security administration, cloud security, authorization, and software security. The group also provides continuing education opportunities, online and in-person communities, and exam preparation materials.
The SANS Institute serves more than 165,000 cybersecurity professionals worldwide. Members can access more than 45 online and in-person courses in addition to several continuing education programs. The institute also hosts webcasts, a blog, several newsletters, and a reading room.
Cybersecurity certifications help professionals demonstrate specialized expertise to employers. While not industry mandated, many employers look for candidates with at least one type of certification. The following list outlines several common certifications for cybersecurity professionals.
This foundational certification demonstrates basic cybersecurity skills. The exam helps individuals advance from entry- to mid-level jobs, assessing knowledge and skills in areas such as technologies and tools, architecture and design, and risk management.
This cybersecurity certification demonstrates advanced knowledge and skills in areas like cryptography concepts, security policy and contingency plans, web communication security and virtualization, and active defense.
Designed for professionals who want to help individuals and businesses identify weaknesses in their networks, the ethical hacker certification demonstrates expertise in footprinting and reconnaissance, social engineering, evading firewalls and honeypots, and hacking web servers.
This ISACA-backed certification demonstrates proficiency in risk management, information security governance, and incident management. The organization provides exam prep materials and continuing education for certification maintenance.
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