Best Online Cyber Security Degrees: Guide to Online Programs for 2021

in Research   Posted on May 31, 2021  Author: Imed Bouchrika,

Cyber attacks are increasing—there are 2,244 attacks on average per day in the United States alone. Forty-three percent of these targets are small businesses and 60% shutter their doors within six months as a result of an attack (axionadmin, 2021). Without professional cybersecurity specialists, organizations would be hard-pressed to guard their data and networks from illegal incursions.

Moreover, 84% of respondents said that cyberattacks have become more sophisticated. And in the face of a pandemic, such attacks only went up in volume. Thus, organizations are prompted to boost their cyber defense. This is where cybersecurity professionals come in, with their specialized knowledge in building cyber defenses and attack prevention.

This post explores the merits of an online cybersecurity degree, an important part of the greater online education trends. Here, one can also find information regarding requirements to study, and how much prospective students need to prepare for tuition.

top online bachelor's in cybersecurity

Online Cybersecurity Degree Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree in cybersecurity online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree in cybersecurity seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs traditional degree in cybersecurity
  5. How much does an online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online degree in cybersecurity?
  7. Courses to Expect in online degree in cybersecurity
  8. Things to Look for in an online degree in cybersecurity

 

Can you get a degree in cybersecurity online?

The answer is yes. There are universities and colleges that offer online degree programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Students are not even required to show up on campus to register their interest or to enroll. Those are procedures they can complete via the Internet as well.

And because of the pandemic, taking a degree program online is the only way for most students to obtain their degrees. This is why educational institutions have set up the same high-quality instruction online as on campus. But even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, higher learning institutions have already been providing top-notch online-only programs (Western Governors University of Missouri, 2021). More students are taking advantage of distance education, too. Indeed, three million students enrolled in distance education courses exclusively (NCES, 2021).

postsecondary students in distance learning courses

Will employers take my online degree in cybersecurity seriously?

A serious concern for many students who want to take their degrees online is whether it would be acceptable to employers in the future. But learners need not fret.

One study shows that 61% of hiring managers do not distinguish between traditional and online credentials—degrees or certifications (Gallagher, 2019). Therefore, students who wish to take their bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity online can be secure in this knowledge.

Source: Gallagher, 2019

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

The answer depends on which institution you get your degree from. According to Franklin University (2021), there are diploma mills that are not accredited at any level. This is why the best course still is to enroll at an established and credible educational institution.

Online vs Traditional Degree in Cybersecurity

An Online Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity is similar to a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity, albeit taken wholly online. This undergraduate program provides foundational knowledge and skills in the field of cybersecurity. Some of the skills students will gain throughout the course include data analysis, computer programming, and risk management (Maryville Online, 2021).

Flexibility

With a traditional degree, students have to attend classes on-campus. They are required to stick to a schedule that could include having classes on weekends. Learning is collaborative in traditional education, too. That is why there would be plenty of instances of face-to-face interaction. On top of that, students can get support from their peers as well as their instructors directly.

On the other hand, enrolling in an online cybersecurity bachelor’s program means that there is more flexibility when it comes to the learning schedule. This is beneficial to students who may need to work to support themselves and their studies. In this way, they can study on their own time. But, of course, they still have to submit their coursework on time.

Communication

Being an online learner means having different avenues of communication. Students and instructors have to use emails, message boards, and communication channels provided by the school’s learning management system. It may be challenging because of communication barriers but there are workarounds for those.

Cost

A great difference between a traditional and an online degree is cost. With a traditional education setting, students have to live on or near the campus. This means expenses for room and board. Plus, they have to shell out money for food, clothing, and school supplies.

Meanwhile, with an online program, students can wear whatever they are comfortable with. They need not worry about additional expenses for apartment or room rentals if they live with their families.

Key Differences Between Online and Traditional Degrees

 TraditionalOnline
Learning ScheduleFixedFlexible
Mode of LearningOn-campusLearning Management System
CommunicationFace-to-face collaborationsOnline channels
ExpensesTuition
Food and lodging
Transportation
Miscellaneous fees
Tuition
Tech expenses
House bills

Is an online degree cheaper?

The short answer is yes. On average, the total cost of a traditional degree would be $85,000. On the other hand, the average total cost of an online degree would be $30,000. (University of the Potomac, 2020)!

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

An online program in cybersecurity helps students recognize and apply best practices in the area. With an online bachelor’s in cybersecurity, students learn to identify threats and take the necessary and most preferred actions against them. Afterward, they can apply their knowledge to protect the organizations they work for against cyber threats.

Getting an online education in cybersecurity also readies the learner for certifications they may need later. While not all employers require certifications, they still provide a boost to a job applicant’s resume (Kenyon, 2020). This is because those credentials show they have industry-level skills and capabilities.

How much does an online Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity cost?

Studying for an Online Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity Degree can cost anywhere from $6,836 to $11,460 annually (OnlineU, 2020). However, though the degree is offered online, the tuition can still vary between state residents and non-state residents. It can also be higher for US non-residents and international students. This depends on the school, as there are institutions that have the same tuition cost for all kinds of students.

Kennesaw State University (Cyber Institute, 2021), for example, offers a flat tuition rate of $199 per credit hour. Lindenwood University (2021) is the same—it has a cost per credit hour of $475 that does not vary whether a student is in-state, out-of-state, or international.

These tuition costs do not yet include any additional fees that a school may have. Thus, students also have to budget for those as well as textbooks and other supplementary materials.

Fortunately, colleges and universities offer financial aid and scholarships to students. To take advantage of those, interested individuals can check requirements if they are eligible.

What are the requirements of an online degree in cybersecurity?

Admission Requirements

Students who wish to take Online Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity have to be high school graduates. They must possess a General Education Development certificate. Foreign individuals who wish to study abroad must present an equivalent of such certificate (Utica College, 2021).

  • High School diploma
  • Minimum GPA 3.0 for High School transcripts
  • General Education Development Certificate

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

Apart from that, learners must meet the minimum computer requirements specified by their universities or colleges. For example, the Indiana Wesleyan University (2021) outlines their expected minimum computer requirements. Those include an Internet connection that is fast enough for streaming videos, live meetings, software installations, and audio lectures.

Military Credit

Service members and veterans who wish to participate in an online cybersecurity degree program can use their military credit towards earning a degree. There are educational institutions, such as Purdue Global (2021) that provide a fast track to a degree.

Courses to Expect in Online Degree in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a demanding field that requires professionals to be quick-witted to counter threats. This is why it is essential to find the best universities or colleges that offer rigorous training. For example, one university focuses learning and training towards skill sets that will have a 32% to 164% increase in demand until 2025 (Eastern Oregon University, 2021).

Fundamentals of Networking

A core course that students would encounter in an online bachelor’s in cybersecurity is the fundamentals of networking. This would allow students to understand the devices and technologies that make up networks. There will be particular discussions on topology, protocols, and security as well as activities that have the students creating diagrams of basic networks.

Programming

Cybersecurity deals with codes, too, and it is necessary for students to learn a bit of programming. In that case, there will be introductory online degree courses in various programming languages. Students can expect to encounter Python, C++, and other relevant languages.

Threats & Defenses

There will be courses that will tackle common and specialized cyber threats. Others will discuss defenses that would work against those. These courses will also touch on measures to take in case cybercriminals launch an attack against networks.

Computer Forensics

Another core course that students of online bachelor’s in cybersecurity would encounter is computer forensics. This would arm students with the knowledge and techniques to track and identify cybercriminals. Through this course, they can also learn how to process a computer forensic investigation.

Cyber Laws

Students would learn about laws governing cyberspaces. These could vary from state to state, country to country, or region to region. Thus, it is essential to know the laws that apply to a place for ethical operations. Additionally, this could be helpful in prosecuting cybercriminals.

training students in skill sets with high demand

Things to Look for in an Online Degree in Cybersecurity

Availability and Accessibility

One of the things that students must take note of in selecting an online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity provider is accessibility. While classes would be online and coursework easily available, there is still the matter of time difference. If a student opts to enroll with an institution that is in a different time zone, they have to adjust to ensure that they could join the discussions on time.

Teaching Methods

A degree with the label online sometimes would not be wholly online. In that case, students must consider whether they would be able to comply with face-to-face requirements. If not, then it is best to look at another university that has a purely online program.

Reputation

As mentioned earlier, there are diploma mills that entice students to enroll with them. Degrees achieved with these organizations may not be recognized by employers anywhere in the world. And students hoping to have further education would have difficulties in convincing universities to accept them because of that.

To avoid such scenarios, prospective students are better off enrolling with a known and established educational institution. They need to check whether it is accredited and recognized by a country’s governing body in education.

Faculty Reputation

Apart from a school’s overall reputation, it can also work in a student’s favor to consider the faculty’s reputation. It would be great for a learner to gain instruction from someone who is well-versed in the industry and has experience in it. Another plus would be if the faculty teaching cybersecurity conduct research in the area.

Accreditation

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). This non-government organization accredits or certifies post-secondary programs in applied and natural sciences, engineering, engineering technology, and computing. When selecting a school, check if one is accredited by ABET and cross-check on ABET’s website as well (ABET, 2018).

Additionally, while it is not a requirement, students can confirm whether a Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity program is recognized by the NSA and DHS. Designated institutions hold the recognition of being a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NSA, 2021).

Hidden Costs

A survey of academic institutions revealed that 74% charged the same tuition for their online and traditional programs. On the other hand, 23% said their online programs cost more. Meanwhile, 18% said that they charged less for their online offerings (Newton, 2018). Thus, a student should weigh well the costs between traditional and online schooling. Plus, there could be hidden costs that they are unaware of that would make their degree more expensive.

  1. Technology Fee – This could be a fee exacted by the school for the use of their learning management platform. It could also be a fee related to the use of software or programs for a course.
  2. Tiered Tuition – Yes, tuition is transparent. But what some may not be aware of is that there are institutions with tiered tuition. This means that the per credit hour fee for students taking 11 or fewer credits could be higher compared to students who are enrolled in 12 or more.
  3.  Support Services – This sounds vague but there could be fees that fall under this category. It could be related to tech support or additional instruction online. The school could also be charging for online course and program development.

Source: Newton, 2018

Cybersecurity Specializations and Certifications

Cybersecurity as a field of study has become more complex because of the increased number of technologies to be dealt with. In that case, students need to decide in which areas to specialize. This makes them more marketable, with cybersecurity teams continuing to develop and specialize. Because of this, they need individuals with unique skills to fill the gap.

Learners do not need to worry about finding a place in the professional world of cybersecurity. This field has a 0% unemployment rate and there are more roles that need the right persons.

But for job applicants who wish to augment their learnings and credentials, there are certifications they can apply for. Some educational institutions include those in their curriculum. However, those that cannot get certifications during their years in school, still have the option of applying for those with the organizations offering them. These credentials can show that a candidate has gained the knowledge required to handle various cybersecurity scenarios.

If a cybersecurity degree is not attainable or available to you as of the moment, you can still consider a computer science degree. This gives students foundational knowledge about computing, which they can apply in a wide array of related fields.

If you want to gain a bigger picture of the online education landscape, you can check out this compilation of online education statistics.

 

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