Why Looking For Appropriate Cyber Security Degrees Is So Hard?
If you are interested in getting a degree in Cyber Security, you are probably massively confused about where to start. This isn’t a common problem and you aren’t the first one facing it. This is because the whole process of finding the degrees is so unorganized that even experts sometimes have to struggle finding the things they are looking for.
Thanks for this page, all your worries are about to end. We are here to provide you a full listing of all the degrees available to you state by state or subject by subject. Here you can compare schools, find out the criteria needed to take admissions and information on whether cyber security focused degrees are better vs. computer sciences degree. This should help you in deciding what master’s degree should be pursued.
Searching for the right Degree Program
Below you will find many ways through which you can skim through different schools and find a program that best suits your needs. Your options begin from state by state search:
Cyber Degree Programs Offered State By State
Search By Top Schools (NSA CAE IA/CD)
Search By Associate Degree Programs
Search By Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Search By Masters Degree Programs
Search By PHD Degree Programs
Search By Certificate Programs
Everything You Need To Know About A Cyber Security Degree
A Cyber Security degree may appear as a theoretical degree at first, but it is actually a technical degree in nature. The purpose of the degree is to prepare and equip you with the right knowledge and modern techniques to help protect operating systems, computers and other devices from cyber threats.
Because cyber security job openings demand you have some sort of technical knowledge in computers, this is an ideal degree to go for. You will get exposure in many of the technical stuff like vulnerabilities, risk detection, penetration, hacking and more.
Cyber Security degrees are often also called by the following names:
- Information Assurance
- Information Systems Security
- Information Security
- Cyber Security
Note: Cyber Security degrees are considered as sub disciplines of the computer sciences degree.
Do You Require A Degree?
To be honest, no, not really. If you have plenty of experience dealing with security by developing interest in technical knowledge and its practical appliance, then you are good to find a job in Cyber Security. In fact if you research a bit, a lot of big names in cyber security don’t hold a specialized degree in this field. A lot of them hold degrees in subjects like chemistry, physics and even English.
But still this doesn’t mean you completely ignore the fact that a degree can greatly help you in pursuing a career in Cyber Security.
There are a number of organizations who demand candidates holding a degree in computer sciences or cyber security. To check if your favorite company requires you to have a degree, look at their job listings from past 2-3 years.
You can still easily get a job if you have the required technical skills, but should you wish to move on to higher management positions, you will have to invest in a degree at some point of your career.
Are There Enough Degree Programs From Universities?
Let’s be honest, cyber security only came as an important field after technological advancement skyrocketed. This means that the field is still very young so a lot of universities are still trying to figure out what to offer as undergraduate and graduate programs.
Because technology is quickly evolving, the syllabus also has to keep up. There are tons of new courses coming in which can leave people confused. General rule is to find a degree program that covers a wide array of IT security topics.
You’ll have to be extra careful when picking a school and the degree program they offer. Cyber Security degrees will offer you a variety of different things to explore which is based on the school and the program. For example, some university courses will take you to discrete probability and programming, while others will explore security policies and digital forensics. Schools are still trying to find the best approach when it comes to courses in cyber security. Again, the general rule should be finding a course that covers a wide array of topics.
How Do You Choose The Right Degree Program?
With so many different courses giving a different approach to cyber security, it will get very confusing for you to sign up on a course. Ideally, you should find a degree program that covers solid computing skills. You should be able to understand the basics and foundations of programming, system administration and statistics.
The NSA’s CAE IA/CD has a page that can help you match course syllabi with their academic criteria. Be sure to check it out.
What Other Important Things Should You Look For In Cyber Security Degree Program?
Depending on your needs and requirements, you are probably going to look for a degree course on the basis of time commitment, cost, location and other things.
But if you really want to get the best value out of a degree program, you should actually be evaluating the program by comparing it to how big institutions are evaluating the cyber degree programs. Below are some recommendations from institutions you should keep in mind when getting into a degree.
Evaluation Of Degrees By Ponemon Institute
Ponemon Institute did a report which lists down 10 of the most demanded characteristics of a degree that sets them apart from others. Here are the recommendations:
- Any program that explores different yet related fields such as engineering, mathematics, management and computer sciences
- Any courses that cover information security policy, management and related topics that are pinnacle for the governance of secure information systems
- Courses that offer hands on learning environment that enables students and faculty members to work on different projects that include real life cyber threats
- Courses that put professional and career advancement on top
- The school must have a diverse student body that gives out opportunities to both members of the military and as well as women
- The school must be designated by DHS and NSA as a CAE IA/CD institution
- The syllabus should cover both theory and practical issues in cyber security
- The faculty should have leading researchers and practitioners experienced in information assurance and cyber security
- The school must be offering both undergraduate and graduate programs
- Any school that puts the graduates of their programs into the public or private sector positions
Generally, a degree in cyber security must involve topics that deal with law, ethics and management because a lot of your daily working routine will include communicating with non technical folks such as lawyers etc.
Should You Go For Bachelors In Cyber Security Or Computer Science?
Cyber Security is fairly a new field, thus a lot of experts still recommend getting a degree in computer sciences. Cyber Security degrees were introduced when cyber threats started increasing and things got bad and there weren’t enough IT professionals to deal with the rising threats.
This caused the NSA to designate a variety of different 4 year programs called the CAE IA/CD. But are these specialized cyber security degrees really worth it?
According to some experts in the field, the cyber security degrees are not designed appropriately to help undergraduates the experience they need to deal with real life cyber threats. This is because most experts believe that Cyber Security degree programs cut out the technical aspects in favor of theory and security policy writing, thus not giving enough practical knowledge to prepare students for the job market when they are done.
This is evidenced by the fact that a lot of cyber security degree programs rarely teach people hardcore programming languages. And without an important technical skill like programming, a lot of students may have problem in finding the right job.
But it doesn’t really mean that you should completely wave off the idea of pursuing a cyber security degree program. Consider your options carefully using the below ideas:
Bachelors In Cyber Security
If you are absolutely sure about pursuing a career in cyber security for the rest of your life, your best option is to specialize in this field by acquiring a cyber security degree. But there are certain important points you must keep in your mind when picking an undergraduate program:
- Make sure you acquire practical knowledge as well as theoretical knowledge especially when it comes to how the operating systems work and how they are built and designed
- You must find a part time job to acquire real life experience in cyber security. You could also freelance or volunteer work in this regard
- Your undergraduate program should provide you solid knowledge on engineering, critical math and ofcourse, programming skills
- Join one of the many security groups like ISC2, B-Sides etc and regularly contribute and listen to the group discussions
Just remember that acquiring a degree doesn’t guarantee you a perfect position in IT Security. You must have real world experience and a host of technical skills to impress employers
Bachelors In Computer Science
The second best option is to stick to a traditional degree offered in Computer Science or one of the following degrees like IT, Math, Electrical Engineering. In order to get into cyber security, you can use the following to get the required specialized knowledge and technical skills:
- Complete Cyber Security MOOCs
- Take on cyber security internships
- Complete certifications. Start with the basics like the popular Security+ certification
- Complete a Minor in cyber security
Obtaining certifications and completing MOOCs will help your employers realize that you are really serious about your interest in Cyber Security.
Should You Acquire A Master’s Degree In Cyber Security?
It depends a lot on how you want to progress in a cyber security career. There really isn’t a fixed path of moving up the career ladder. Some big organizations will require you to have a degree while others are more interested in your technical skills, real world experience and whether your acquired certifications meet DoD 8570 Directive. Some may even demand a considerable amount of work experience in favor of a degree.
Generally, a lot of big organizations do emphasize on degrees. Their job listings from past few years have proven that they require candidates to have a technical degree in IT, Computer Science, Mathematics or Engineering before they even consider you as a suitable candidate. If however you have a non technical Bachelor’s degree, you can go for technical Masters Degree to fill the gaps.
Because obtaining a Master’s degree takes a lot of time and investment, it is better to consider it if your answer is ‘Yes’ to the following points:
- Will a master’s help in developing technical skills in you?
- Because technology is evolving quickly, will your MS benefit you in the next 10 years?
- Check job listings, do they require a MS? Does it increase your chances of getting a job?
- Will a MS help you move the career ladder and help you boost your earnings? Check the ROI before opting for a Masters.
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