The Best Online Master’s in Network Security

by TBS Staff

Updated September 1, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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.

Featured Network Security Programs

The Best Online Master’s in Network Security Degree Programs

  1. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA



    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.

  2. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, MD



    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.

  3. Stevens Institute of Technology

    Hoboken, NJ



    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.

  4. New York University

    New York, NY



    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.

  5. Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA



    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.

  6. Robert Morris University

    Moon Township, PA



    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.

  7. Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL



    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.

  8. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    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.

  9. University of Detroit Mercy

    Detroit, MI



    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.

  10. Sam Houston State University

    Huntsville, TX



    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.


We selected the following programs based on their quality and the range of courses they offer, as well as awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Why Get a Master's in Network Security?

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 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.

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.

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.

Network Security 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

Source: PayScale

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office