With cyber attacks and security breaches on the rise, the fields of cybersecurity and computer science offer ample opportunities for graduates with online network security degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects (BLS) projects information security analyst positions to grow by 28% from 2016 through 2026, while computer and information research scientists are projected to grow by 19%, with a median annual salary of $118,370. Graduates with online network security degrees can also land jobs as cybersecurity analysts, systems administrators, and cybersecurity consultants. Many of the highest–paying jobs in cybersecurity, networking, and computer science require master’s degrees in a computer–related field.
Earning an online master’s degree in network security suits working professionals who want to advance their skills in computer science and network security. In this program, students learn to protect an organization’s computer information system and data, digital forensics, and local network architecture design. At the end of the program, students often take a capstone course to integrate their skills and knowledge into a final project, or they complete an internship to gain on–the–job experience. Some questions you may have about an online master’s in network security are answered below.
Master’s in Network Security Degree Online Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following programs based on their quality and the range of courses they offer, as well as awards, rankings, and reputation.
The Best Online Master’s in Network Security Degree Programs
1. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California opened its doors for the first time in 1880. Today, the private research university welcomes a diverse student body of over 44,000 students, more than half of whom participate in graduate and professional programs. Thousands of graduate students at USC take advantage of the school’s extensive offerings in online programs, including a master of science in cyber security engineering. This program is ideal for students hoping to begin or advance careers in fields like homeland security, computer engineering, information security, and software development. It is available entirely online with hybrid options.
USC’s master’s in network security consists of 28 credit hours beyond a bachelor’s degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or information security. This versatile program helps students advance in their existing careers, enter a new job in network security, or set a foundation to pursue a doctoral degree. Ideally, students entering the program already possess some programming capability and an understanding of computer networking from their bachelor’s degree studies. The coursework in the master’s program expands upon these foundations by exploring topics like policies for information security, computer forensics, security systems, and system design and analysis.
Students can choose to pursue an internship in engineering or a directed research study with a faculty member as part of the curriculum.
University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
2. Johns Hopkins University
Beyond its well–known name, Johns Hopkins University also holds the title of the first research university in the U.S. In the 140 years since it opened, its faculty and alumni have been honored with many awards, including 27 Nobel Prizes. With its main campus set in north Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is undoubtedly rich with history, academic achievement, and scientific advancement. The university’s Whiting School of Engineering also offers a master of science in cybersecurity students can complete entirely online, while still accessing the same services and support as on–campus students.
The online master’s degree in network security at Johns Hopkins consists of ten required courses that students must complete within five years of beginning the program. Students select one of three available degree tracks—analysis, networks, or systems. In addition to foundational courses in algorithms, cryptology, and information assurance, students take three courses within their chosen track. Selections may consist of digital forensics within the analysis track, network programming within the networks track, and cryptography and coding within the systems track.
Applicants must have completed at least one year of calculus and one mathematics class beyond calculus, a programming course in Java or C++, a class in computer organizations, and a class in data structures. Applicants must also have earned a GPA of at least a 3.0 on the last half of their undergraduate coursework.
Johns Hopkins University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
3. Stevens Institute of Technology
Hoboken, New Jersey
Students interested in a more hands–on online network security degree may find the master’s in systems security engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology a great fit. Many faculty members at Stevens utilize web conferencing to incorporate real–time interactions into their online curriculum, having live sessions for lectures, team presentations, and question and answer sessions about course material. The amount that faculty members use this interactive feature can vary from course to course, but students in online programs at Stevens can access their course materials or email their instructors at anytime.
With a campus located in Hoboken, New Jersey, local students can take advantage of the proximity to leading employers in computer and tech fields based across the river in New York City. Stevens also helps students find internships with major companies, such as AT&T, Cisco, and IBM. Distance learners may be paired with Steven’s partner corporations at locations more convenient to them.
The master’s in systems security engineering is just one of more than 40 master’s programs offered at Stevens. Also offered are over 100 graduate certificates in a range of fields and disciplines and 21 doctoral programs.
Online students at Stevens have access to valuable resources, including the Continuing and Professional Care Center which helps connect distance learners with on–campus offerings.
Students can also take advantage of deferred payment options for tuition.
Stevens Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. New York University
New York, New York
While New York University’s most well–known campus might be its Manhattan location, NYU also has global campuses in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Across these campuses, more than 50,000 students participate in earning both undergraduate and graduate–level degrees and certificates. Many of these degrees take place fully online, blended online and on–campus, and low–residency programs. Students interested in earning a master’s degree in network security can pursue NYU’s fully online master of science in cybersecurity, while also taking advantage of NYU’s impressive technological tools available to both online and on–campus students.
The required 30 credits in NYU’s MS in cybersecurity includes core courses in computer science and security, an optional research project, and an optional master’s thesis that can be done in place of two required electives. However, students can choose electives outside of the engineering curriculum, allowing them to explore interests and career goals in varying fields. Students can also elect to pursue a specialization in cyber ops, which consists of courses approved by the National Security Agency’s Cyber Operation Program. Courses in this specialization cover topics like design and analysis of algorithms, mobile security, and applied cryptography.
New York University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
5. Drexel University
In the nearly twenty years since launching its online education courses, Drexel University has grown its online offerings to include over 140 different degree and certificate programs. These online degrees take place alongside those offered at Drexel’s physical campuses, including their main campus in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Drexel’s more than 24,000 students, including over 15,000 graduate and professional students, make it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. Drexel’s online platform gives distance learners the ability to have more intimate class interactions through web conferences and online office hours with the university’s acclaimed faculty.
Drexel’s unique master’s in cybersecurity online program breaks down into four, ten–week quarters each academic year. This system, in contrast with the traditional two–semester format, allows students to take more courses throughout their education. The program requires 45 quarter credits, equal to 30 semester credits. Students in the program take foundational and core courses in information ethics and policy, including the principles of cybersecurity. The cybersecurity program at Drexel also emphasizes mathematics, with required courses in data structures, algorithms, probability, and random variables. Students can fulfill the required 18 quarter credits of elective courses by choosing options that help them form a stronger understanding of a field or specialization.
Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
6. Robert Morris University – RMU Online
Moon Township, home of Robert Morris University’s main campus, has a population of around 24,000 people—a stark contrast to the nearby metropolis of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Students local to Robert Morris University have the unique opportunity to enjoy small–town life on campus, with big–city amenities awaiting just a twenty minute drive away in Pittsburgh.
Thanks to RMU’s extensive online offerings, distance learners can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of majors and fields. RMU offers an online network security degree as a master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance which provides strong foundations in designing and developing secure computer and network systems.
Online classes at RMU occur in eight–week sessions that start six times each year: two in the fall, two in the spring, and two in the summer. Students entering RMU can begin at any of these start dates.
While most online courses at RMU do not require any synchronous online work or class periods. However, some teachers may require a few of these sessions, depending on the course and instructor. As part of the online requirements, online students at RMU must engage with and work on class activities five out of seven days each week. Online students at RMU never have to come to campus but still receive access to the same services as on–campus students.
Robert Morris University – RMU Online is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
7. Saint Leo University Online
Saint Leo, Florida
Saint Leo University’s home campus just outside Tampa, Florida is just one of many locations serving Saint Leo students around the U.S. With over 13,000 students enrolled in programs at Saint Leo, the student population represents all 50 states and 92 countries. Saint Leo’s diverse student body is an integral part of one of the school’s core values: community. Saint Leo has roots in the Catholic faith, and Christianity plays an important role in the school’s mission. Saint Leo’s diverse community of online learners continues to grow, as the university adds to its online degree offerings. Students can earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree entirely online at Saint Leo, including a master of science in cybersecurity. Students within this program explore all aspects of the growing field and gain valuable skills to begin and advance careers.
The MS in cybersecurity program at Saint Leo consists of 36 required credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Courses take place in eight–week terms, a format that allows students to complete coursework at a potentially quicker pace than traditional semesters. The program doesn’t offer specific specializations or degree tracks, so each student in the program completes the same coursework that covers topics like software security, ethical hacking, cloud computing security, and cybersecurity compliance and legal issues.
Saint Leo University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
Western Governors University provides a student–focused, accessible education that is affordable, flexible, and inclusive. Since its founding, the private, nonprofit online college has grown exponentially, serving students from all 50 states. One factor that sets WGU apart from many higher–learning institutions is their effort to keep tuition costs low by charging flat rates every six months, rather than per credit hour. One such degree is the master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance, an ideal option for students looking to earn an online master’s degree in network security. This program consists of ten required courses that students can complete at their convenience.
Students work through each course at their convenience, pass the assessment, and continue. This format allows students to take as many courses per term as they wish without additional cost. Some of the courses students in the MS in cybersecurity take include risk management, forensics and network intrusion, disaster recovery, and cyberlaw. The program’s required capstone course asks students to examine an issue in cybersecurity and come up with a potential solution to it. In general, many students complete about two to three courses per six–month term. At this pace, it’s possible to earn your degree in as little as two years.
Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
9. University of Detroit Mercy
In 1990, the University of Detroit and Mercy College of Detroit consolidated and became the University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan’s largest Catholic university. UDM offers over 100 degrees and programs at all levels. Students seeking a master’s in network security enriched with religious values find exactly this through UDM’s master of science in information assurance. The 30–credit hour program can be completed in as little as one year. It is an NSA Center of Academic Excellence. It was designated as such because the curriculum meets the US Government’s Criteria for Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education. There are only 250 of these Centers in the Country and UDMs is one of a very few that offers a complete, end–to–end online degree. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in the federal government, the Department of Defense in the United Kingdom, and even as coding textbook authors for major publishers.
Core coursework in the program explores subjects like cyberlaw, incident response, cyber defense operations, and risk management processes. Students choose supporting electives, allowing them to further specialize their degree in areas like ethical hacking and system forensics. While the online program is flexible as to where and when students can complete coursework, there may be some requirements for synchronous activities in certain courses. The information assurance master’s program at UDM is a designated Center of Excellence in IA education and a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
Students from certain states may not be eligible to enroll in online programs at UDM, so it’s important to speak with an advisor to make sure this program is right for you.
University of Detroit Mercy is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Sam Houston State University
Based in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State University is one of the largest public universities in the state. With a long, rich history as one of the oldest universities in Texas, SHSU upholds a tradition of excellence in academics and student success. The university serves over 20,000 students, both on–campus and online.
SHSU’s online offerings continue to grow. Currently, students can pursue one doctoral program, 25 graduate programs, and five undergraduate programs completely online through the university’s Blackboard learning system. SHSU even offers new fully online students $1,000 scholarships on a first–come, first–serve basis.
Students interested in earning a master’s degree in network security can pursue the master of science in information assurance and security at SHSU. The program requires 36 credit hours past the bachelor’s degree, and all these requirements are available online.
The coursework in this program includes six required courses for all students, including database security, operating system security, and principles and policies of information assurance. All students in the program also complete a directed study project in management and development. The 18 credit hours beyond these requirements can be filled with electives, allowing students to choose courses in the field that best fit their interests and career goals. Students may also have to take comprehensive exams in certain subjects prior to graduation.
Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. DePaul University
DePaul University calls Chicago home, with its main campuses situated throughout the city and its suburbs. It serves over 22,000 students, making it the largest Catholic university in the United States. However, students at DePaul still benefit from small class sizes, with a student–to–faculty ratio of 15:1.
DePaul offers over 300 undergraduate and graduate programs, many available entirely online. Students can earn their graduate network security degree online through DePaul’s master of science in cybersecurity program. All requirements are available online, making it ideal for distance learners. Students local to Chicago who need the flexibility of online classes can still take advantage of on–campus resources. The program provides student with the skills necessary to work in the IT field and build, implement, and manage security systems.
Students in the program can pursue one of three available concentration areas: network infrastructure, computer security, and compliance. Each concentration requires a minimum of 52 credit hours to complete, along with any extra elective requirements, depending on the specialization. The required coursework includes introductory, foundational, and advanced courses in areas like cryptology, software security engineering, and data structures. All students, regardless of concentration, take a 10–week capstone seminar in the final semester of study. The Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency designated DePaul as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity.
DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Excelsior College
Albany, New York
Originally founded in 1971 by the New York State Board of Regents, Excelsior College has become one of the foremost providers of online education for distance learners. Their mission emphasizes providing higher education for working adults, particularly for demographics often underrepresented in postsecondary programs. Excelsior’s enrollment stands at over 32,000 students, with the average student age of 36 and 74% of students working full time. Many working adults have found Excelsior to be a supportive and flexible place to earn a higher education degree.
Over 5,000 students at Excelsior participate in technology programs. One of these programs is a master’s of science in cybersecurity, which consists of 30 required graduate credit hours. The program obtained recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security.
The network security master’s degree at Excelsior allows students to select a concentration for their degree path, enabling them to tailor their coursework to their specific career goals. The available concentrations are information assurance, medical data security, and policy administration. While each concentration has different course requirements, all students in the MS in cybersecurity program take certain core courses, including foundations of cybersecurity, project management, and ethics issues in cybersecurity. Students at Excelsior may be able to earn credit towards their degree if they have certain experience, such as information technology certifications, past courses and exams, military training, and criminal justice training.
Excelsior College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
13. Lewis University
Based just outside Chicago in Romeoville, Illinois, Lewis University serves 6,500 undergraduate students across its four campuses. Three of these campuses are within the Chicago area, while the fourth opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2009 to serve students in the Southwest.
The master of science in information security offered at Lewis is a great option for students interested in earning an online network security degree, as the entire program can be completed online. Lewis has roots in the Lasallian, or Christian Brothers, religious tradition, which emphasizes quality education, inclusive communities, respect, and social justice. While students are not required to be members of this faith community to attend Lewis, these values are present in the coursework and programs offered at the university. Within the MSIS program at Lewis, students strengthen and develop their skills in computing and ethics.
Offered courses at Lewis take place in eight–week terms. During these terms, students can take one or two courses and may even opt to participate in courses during the summer months to accelerate their degree. Students typically complete the required six core courses, four electives, seminar, and capstone project within 16 months to two years.
Lewis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Tech University Online
Founded in Melbourne, Florida in 1958, the Florida Institute of Technology has since expanded to multiple campuses, with a long list of online offerings for distance learners. FIT’s degree and certificate offerings are particularly ideal for students seeking education and credentials in fields like business, cybersecurity, aviation management, and information technology. Specifically, FIT offers a fully–online master of science in information assurance and cybersecurity. This program partners with Harris Corporation, a global leader in security, to help meet the ever–growing demand for skilled professionals in cybersecurity.
Students in this online network security program not only learn how to recognize security threats and vulnerabilities, but also how to understand these threats, their design, and how to protect against them. Some of the other skills emphasized include communications encryption, data mining, computer forensics, and biometric technology. The entire program includes 33 required credit hours, including a capstone project in information assurance. Required courses in the program include computer and information security, secure operating systems, cryptography and information hiding, and biometric authentication technologies.
Graduates of the program enter careers in lucrative and exciting fields, including computer forensics investigation, computer network defense engineering, threat intelligence analysis, and information security. The program is also a designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research, a title awarded by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Tech University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. Walsh College
Since 1922, Walsh College has been a leader in business education, emphasizing skills and programs that employ practical experience with business theory. Walsh has four physical campuses around Michigan that include Troy, Novi, Clinton Township, and Port Huron, in addition to offering programs online. The private, not–for–profit college offers 16 programs in total, all in the fields of business and technology, at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Some of these master’s programs include a master of science in finance, a master of business administration, and a master of science in information technology (MSIT), ideal for students seeking an online master’s degree in network security.
Students in the MSIT program at Walsh can tailor degrees to their interests through four different concentration options. In addition to the seven required core courses in the MSIT program, the cybersecurity concentration consists of seven more courses, with 40 credit hours required throughout the degree course. Some of the core courses available include an ethics seminar, a course on network architecture, and a capstone course. Within the concentration, students explore facets of cybersecurity, including intelligence analysis tools and techniques, current issues in cybersecurity, and data and decision making. Students entering the program as current IT professionals who possess certain IT certifications may be able to earn advanced standing in corresponding MSIT courses at Walsh.
Walsh College is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. National University
La Jolla, California
National University is the largest private, nonprofit institution in San Diego, California. Originally, founded in 1971, NU now offers over 100 different degree and certificate programs at its campuses in California and Nevada and online. National is military–friendly, as its founder, David Chigos, was a retired Navy lieutenant. To support its service members, NU offers military discounts and scholarships that include the opportunity for service members to study at military bases.
National is also a pioneer when it comes to online learning, as the university has offered online classes for over two decades. Included in the online degree offerings at NU is a master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance, a professional program designed for students entering the professional world of information technology.
National University offers courses in accelerated, four–week sessions. Generally, students take one class every four weeks, which allows them to complete more units at a faster pace. The master’s in network security at National requires a total of 58.5 quarter credit hours, broken down into nine core courses and four courses within the student’s chosen specialization. Students can choose to specialize in ethical hacking and pen testing or information assurance and security policy. These specializations allow students to design a degree path best suited to their personal career goals. Some of the core courses students in the program can expect to take include threat modeling and intel, cybersecurity ethical issues, and wireless and mobile security.
National University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
17. University of Dallas
Originally founded in 1956 by the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur and the Diocese of Dallas, the University of Dallas is a Catholic institution of higher learning. UD’s campus sits about 15 minutes outside downtown Dallas in Irving, Texas. The private university emphasizes a liberal arts approach to education. UD boasts of small class sizes, with an average of 16 students per class in undergraduate programs, and 17 per class in the graduate programs of Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business. The Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business at UD enrolls over 1,500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs both online and at the two physical campuses in Texas and abroad in Rome, Italy. One of these graduate programs is the master of science in cybersecurity.
The master of science in cybersecurity at UD is a 30–credit hour online program for students looking to earn a master’s in network security. Designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the program emphasizes leadership and ethics in cybersecurity. The required 30–credit hours consist of ten courses. These courses cover topics, such as business analytics, data protection, digital forensics, and effective leadership. Students also take a master of science practicum course in strategic cybersecurity.
University of Dallas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
18. University of Maryland – University College
As a branch of the University of Maryland, University of Maryland University College provides flexible, affordable higher education to working adults. UMUC offers classes entirely online and through hybrid online/on–campus formats for students who may want to supplement their online learning with in–class experiences. Students in these hybrid formats can attend courses at over twenty locations around Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. Students can choose from over 90 degrees, certificates, and specializations.Those interested in a master’s degree in network security can pursue a master of science in cybersecurity technology.
The 36–credit hour MS in cybersecurity program can be completed entirely online. Online coursework at UMUC is asynchronous, allowing for optimal flexibility. Hybrid courses are also available. The program prepares students to be leaders in cybersecurity technology, emphasizing coursework in areas like communication, problem solving, and leadership. Students also take courses in digital forensics, methodologies for preventing cyber attacks, and cyber exploitation and mitigation. A required capstone completes the degree.
UMUC recommends students have work experience in IT, computer networks, or databases but also offers supplemental courses for students who may not have this experience. Students can take a course in graduate writing to bolster their marketable skills prior to graduation. UMUC allows students to transfer up to six previously earned credit hours towards the degree requirements.
University of Maryland – University College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
19. City University of Seattle
The core values of City University of Seattle emphasize four main themes: high quality, relevant education, student success, strong global connections, and fostering lifelong learning. These core values are in place to meet the school’s goal of serving primarily working adults and transfer students by offering exceptionally accessible and flexible programs. CityU offers degrees up to the doctoral level. Students can attend classes at one of 20 locations in the northwest and globally or take classes exclusively online. The master of science in information security offered at CityU can be completed at each student’s own pace, set with the help of a student advisor.
The network security master’s degree at CityU consists of 16 required courses that total 39 credit hours. This multi–disciplinary program provides a well–rounded, comprehensive education in various business, management, and technical aspects of cyber and information security. Students in the program can choose from two different specializations—cyber security environment and information security audit—based on their own individual career goals and academic interests. Apart from these specializations, all students take courses in basic information security standards and practices, like system administration, privacy and open systems, and ethical obligations of information security. Graduates of the MS in information security at CityU have gone on to careers like Senior Cyber Security Engineer, Information Security Consultant, and Chief Information Officer. Time to completion varies from student to student, depending on their level of enrollment.
City University of Seattle is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
20. Bellevue University
The city of Bellevue, Nebraska is right along the Missouri River, in the heart of the Great Plains. Students at Bellevue University enjoy the city’s low cost of living and utility rates, hundreds of acres of parks, and, for the information technology professional, a growing tech field. At Bellevue University, students can earn their degrees at a location in one of four states or entirely online. Bellevue’s Center for Cybersecurity Education is home to a unique graduate program ideal for students interested in earning an online network security degree.
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated Bellevue’s master of science in cybersecurity degree as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. This program consists of 36 required credit hours accessible in a traditional online format or in an accelerated cohort format. The traditional format allows students to work at their own pace, while the accelerated format occurs at a much faster pace with a set curriculum. Students in either format take courses in subjects like information security management, ethical hacking, computer forensics, and risk management studies. There is also an option to earn professional licensure or certification, meant for working professionals with a good amount of experience and prior education in the field.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
21. Mercy College
Dobbs Ferry, New York
Located in the New York City metro area, Mercy College is a private, nonsectarian institution that offers over 90 different degrees and serves over 9,500 students. Mercy has four New York area campuses in Dobbs Ferry, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Yorktown Heights, including over 40 programs offered entirely online. Despite its location in the big city, more than half of Mercy’s undergraduate classes have fewer than 20 students, and 95% have fewer than 30, allowing faculty to give students the individual attention they deserve. Of the more than 40 programs Mercy offers online, many are at the graduate level, including a master of science in cybersecurity.
Students seeking a network security degree online may find the 30–credit hour program at Mercy more than adequately fits their unique needs and goals. The 30 required credits consist of 29 credits within the core cybersecurity curriculum and one credit hour of a capstone course. While students can choose to complete all the coursework entirely online, even in–class students make use of Mercy’s online platform as a means of interacting with their instructors and classmates between class meetings. All students take courses in areas like forensic computing, applied cryptography, firewall and intrusion detection, and mobile technologies. The capstone project can be either a project or a thesis, depending on the individual student’s academic interests and goals. Students can discuss these options with their advisor upon admission and progression through the program.
Mercy College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
22. Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Founded as a teacher education institution in 1881, Dakota State University has since become a large, thriving public university. DSU’s home campus is in Madison, South Dakota, a city that offers both a vibrant and diverse community with a small–town feel. Just over 3,000 students attend DSU, with a student to faculty ratio of 17:1 for both on–campus and online classes. DSU students can choose from over 35 undergraduate majors and a lengthy list of graduate programs. Many of these programs are in line with DSU’s commitment to technology–based learning, as the university emphasizes programs in computer management and computer information systems. DSU offers a fully–online master of science in information assurance and computer security that aligns with Dakota State’s emphasis on innovative education.
Any student interested in applying for the master’s degree in network security at DSU must have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering. However, some opportunities exist for students without this qualification to earn prerequisite credits before being admitted. The program requires 30–credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, including 10 core courses in areas like data privacy, cryptography, computer forensics, and principles of information assurance. Students must also complete a comprehensive exam during their final semester of study before graduation. Students enrolled on a full–time basis can generally complete the program in two years, while students working at the part–time level may take longer, depending on enrollment.
Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. Coastal Carolina University
Conway, South Carolina
Coastal Carolina University lives up to its name, with a home campus located just minutes from the popular resort beach town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Students enjoy an average of 215 days of sunshine every year on the CCU campus.
Coastal Carolina University is home to 74 different programs at the bachelor’s level, and 18 different master’s programs. Included in those graduate offerings is the master of science in information systems technology, which prepares students to become leaders in information security and data analytics.
Students who possess a bachelor’s degree in a closely related area generally complete the MS in information systems technology degree in as little as 24 months. The program requires 33–credit hours, including 15 credits of core courses and 12 credits of electives. Core courses in the program include security policy and risk assessment, data management and analytics, and data mining. Students must choose between a research thesis, special topics electives, or other project work to complete prior to graduation. Graduates of the program have gone on to become information security architects, cybersecurity engineers, and chief data officers.
Coastal Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
24. Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, Texas
Our Lady of the Lake University holds core values of community, integrity, trust, and service in high esteem. OLLU bases its values within the Catholic faith, with roots going back to its original founding by the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence in 1895. Now, OLLU serves over 3,100 students at its campuses around Texas, and online. OLLU offers over 30 undergraduate programs and 14 master’s programs, emphasizing accessibility for nontraditional students, with courses offered on weekdays, weeknights, weekends, and online. Prospective graduate students looking to earn an online master’s degree in network security may find OLLU’s master of science in information systems and security program to be a great option.
The master of science in information systems and security program at OLLU can potentially be completed in just one year, depending on enrollment. This degree consists of 30 semester hours split between core courses and information assurance courses. Core courses in the program emphasize skills in database management, information systems development, telecommunications, and networking. The information assurance concentration area allows students to dive deeper into subjects like information assurance planning and management, assessment, and other special topics in the area. Unique to OLLU is the opportunity for students without a strong background in IT to earn prerequisite credits through a Cyber Security Boot Camp, which is a fully–online, six–credit hour program that covers the necessary foundations for students entering the MS program.
Our Lady of the Lake University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The Advantages of a Master’s in Network Security Education
Employers in computer science and security typically determine candidates’ pay rates based on their education level. The field offers lucrative employment opportunities to bachelor’s graduates with online network security degrees; graduates can land jobs as computer programmers and network and computer systems administrators. These professionals earn median salaries of $82,050 and $84,280, respectively, according to the BLS.
Advanced degrees benefit working professionals who want to land higher–paying managerial jobs as computer and information systems managers. Computer and information systems managers must hold master’s degrees, and they earn a median annual salary of $142,530, according to the BLS. A master’s degree gives these graduates the platform to publish their research in journals or speak at conferences.
Individuals who want to work as professors at universities need a Ph.D. To learn more about potential salaries and careers for graduates with online network security degrees, read below.
Network Security Degree Salary Information
Graduates with online master’s degrees in network security find employment in several different industries. They may provide services for schools, large corporations, or nonprofit agencies. Duties include installing and maintaining local and wide area networks, forcifying network impenetrability, and helping users navigate computer software.
- Information Security Analyst
- Information security analysts work daily to protect their company’s computer systems and networks. Their duties include implementing security enhancements and documenting security breaches. Employers accept candidates with bachelor’s degrees, but they may prefer applicants with master’s degrees.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $59,000
- Mid-Career: $66,000
- Experienced: $81,000
- Late Career: $92,000
- Senior Systems Administrator
- Senior systems administrators oversee the IT department and systems administrators. They manage a company’s computer systems and servers. Their duties include fixing computer system problems and installing hardware. Typically, they begin their careers in system administration, computer engineering, or programming.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $69,000
- Mid-Career: $72,000
- Experienced: $80,000
- Late Career: $86,000
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer network architects, sometimes called network engineers, design communication networks. They also recommend hardware and software upgrades. A bachelor’s degree suffices for most employers, but some prefer a master’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $88,000
- Mid-Career: $84,000
- Experienced: $105,000
- Late Career: $122,000
- Software Developer
- Software developers design and create applications and software. They oversee the process from beginning to end and solve problems that arise with the software. Most begin their careers writing code. These professionals work for software companies and finance and engineering companies.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $61,000
- Mid-Career: $67,000
- Experienced: $80,000
- Late Career: $90,000
Choosing an Online Network Security Degree Program
Every online network security degree differs in cost, time commitment, required credits, and length. Students almost always pay lower tuition rates when they go to school within their state, rather than out–of–state. To ensure you consider all the factors that differentiate each program, look at the information listed below.
- Program Cost
- What a student pays for college depends on several factors. Going to college in–state typically costs less than going to school out–of–state, unless the college maintains partnership agreements with other states. Students usually pay more in tuition when they take classes part–time rather than full–time. Remember: In addition to tuition, students must pay for books, housing, and transportation fees.
- Transfer Policies
- Colleges often maintain articulation agreements with other schools in the same geographic region. These agreements allow students to transfer credits from one accredited school to another. Out–of–state students can also receive discounted tuition at articulation agreement partner schools.
- School Size and Type
- Class sizes vary depending on whether a student picks a private or public school. Public schools tend to feature higher student–to–teacher ratios than private schools. This means that at private schools, students receive more one–on–one attention. However, public schools may offer more degree options.
- Program Length
- The average master’s degree takes full–time students two years to complete. Part–time students usually take longer, although, every online network security degree varies. Accelerated programs, for example, allow students to finish in less than two years.
- On–campus Requirements
- Online network security programs may require students to meet on–campus once a week. However, most students enrolled in an online master’s degree in network security programs do not meet on–campus and can attend classes remotely. They may need to complete internships in–person.
Accreditation for Online Network Security Degrees
The process of accreditation provides a stamp of approval for a college. Accreditation means an independent accrediting body approved an institution’s quality of education. Colleges receive either national or regional accreditation. Generally, two– and four–year colleges hold regional accreditation, while for–profit vocational and technical schools receive national accreditation. Regional accreditation remains the more popular, prominent distinction. Accreditation may affect whether a student qualifies for federal financial aid.
A student must attend a regionally accredited university to qualify for federal aid. Regionally, accredited schools may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited colleges. Six regionally accrediting agencies provide regional accreditation to schools and colleges.
Programmatic accreditation also exists, in addition to regional and national accreditation; however, online network security degrees do not receive programmatic accreditation. Schools and departments undergo the accreditation process on a voluntary basis. Accrediting bodies also conduct follow–up reassessments.
While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) do not accredit schools or programs, they do provide oversight. The ED makes sure accrediting agencies adhere to accreditation standards. CHEA, an association of more than 3,000 schools, recognizes 60 institutional and programmatic accrediting agencies. You can find the ED’s list of accredited institutions and programs here and CHEA’s database of accrediting agencies and schools here.
Network Security Concentrations
Students can hone specific career skills by concentrating in a specific area of study, such as homeland security, emergency management, or information assurance. Read on to learn more about common concentration options for an online network security degree.
- Homeland Security
- A homeland security concentration teaches students to apply computer systems security practices to a career in homeland security. Students take classes in terrorism response, weapons of mass destruction, and homeland security.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: This concentration prepares students for careers in computer systems security at the Department of Homeland Security.
- Digital Forensics
- A digital forensics concentration gives students the knowledge and skills to detect security breaches and prevent cyber attacks. The coursework also teaches students to recover data.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: The tools students develop in a digital forensics concentration prepare them for jobs as information security analysts and computer and information research scientists.
- Information Assurance
- The information assurance concentration focuses on how to safely manage computer systems and store data. Students take classes to learn programming in Python, UNIX, and C++.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: The programming skills students learn in an information assurance concentration help them in positions as computer network architects and software developers.
- Secure Programming
- The classes offered in a secure programming concentration focus on cybersecurity protocols. Students learn to assess networks and systems and conduct audits and assessments. They also gain an understanding of common security breaches.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: A secure programming concentration gives students the skills to work as information security analysts.
- Students enrolled in an analysis concentration take classes in hacking and digital forensics. These classes introduce students to data–driven analysis and computation.
- Careers this concentration prepares for: After taking this concentration, students can work in government and corporations as intelligence analysts and computer systems analysts.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Network Security?
Full–time students can expect to graduate from an online master’s degree in network security program within two years. A full–time course load consists of at least nine credits, or three classes each semester. Students who take additional classes each term or semester may graduate more quickly.
Many students can only take classes on a part–time basis, meaning they may take longer than two years to earn their online master’s degree in network security. Enrollment status also impacts the total cost of college. Tuition typically costs more for part–time students because they take longer to complete their degrees, and some schools charge higher per–credit tuition rates to part–time learners. The average online network security degree requires students to complete 30 to 36 credits. Programs with more credits may take longer to complete.
Students may graduate sooner if they transfer graduate–level credits from an accredited college. Accelerated programs also allow students to graduate in less than two years.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Network Security Program
Online master’s degrees in network security prepare students for integral positions ensuring the safety of an organization’s networks and electronic data. A typical master’s in network security includes advanced training in computer engineering, principles of information security, and disaster recovery. Coursework in computer communication networking familiarizes students with network design, routing, and transmission.
A solid foundation in network and computer systems operations allows students to pursue careers in IT security, systems management, and network administration. Many programs feature coursework in digital forensics, which prepares graduates for careers in law enforcement and intelligence operations.
Computer engineering and business programs often offer network security as a concentration, as well. Students who take courses in network security through an MBA program gain skills in business strategies and finance, plus knowledge of corporate IT security management. A network security emphasis as part of an engineering degree often features coursework in operating system design and systems theories.
Most programs offer electives that cater to specific career interests such as electronic commerce or telemarketing. Students usually complete a thesis or final project in addition to core coursework.
- Advanced Computer Networking
- In an advanced computer networking course, students build on their knowledge of computer networking, algorithms, and statistical probability theory. Through hands–on experiments, students learn to design network and security simulations and conduct network research. This class covers topics such as cryptography, DDoS defense, wireless and cloud security risks, and mobile communications.
- A course in forensics teaches students the advanced investigative techniques used in computer forensics. Students get hands–on experience setting up a forensics lab. They learn how to use forensics hardware and software. Coursework also covers email investigations, data acquisition, and data recovery. As a prerequisite, students must understand how to install and remove software.
- Ethical Hacking and Network Defense
- Companies hire ethical hackers to hack into their systems so they can better understand their computer network systems’ vulnerabilities. This class teaches students how to assess network risks and conduct penetration tests to help uncover operating system weaknesses. Students also learn techniques for hacking wireless networks and web servers.
- Network Administration
- A class in network administration gives students the tools to work as networking administrators, who operate networking connections. Students learn to configure and install network operating systems through hands–on assignments. They learn to back up storage, access files, and conduct server management.
- Information Systems Security
- An information systems security course teaches students how to implement security solutions to protect networks. Students learn to spot potential security threats and conduct risk analysis. In the course, learners conduct experiments to better understand security architecture.
Network Security Membership Associations
- Women In Cybersecurity
- WiCyS, an organization established in 2012, offers a community for women working in cybersecurity. Joining the organization gives members the opportunity to access an online forum, attend webinars, and post their resumes on the organization’s job board. Students receive membership discounts.
- Founded in 1969, ISACA boasts more than 140,000 members across the globe. The organization offers certifications in CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, and CSXP. Members also access training, conferences, online events, and on–demand learning courses.
- International Information Systems Security
- (ISC)² offers its members the chance to grow in the field of information security. It also provides certifications in CISSP, SSCP, CAP, CSSLP, and CCSP. Applicants must pass one of six exams to gain membership.
- The SANS Institute
- Founded in 1989, SANS Institute offers a community for network administrators, auditors, and other professionals working in information security. SANS also offers professional development opportunities, such as online and live trainings and security certifications. Members can access the reading room, which features more than 2,890 papers and webcasts.