Cybersecurity plays an integral role in many industries. From protecting proprietary data to stopping cyberattacks, cybersecurity professionals help organizations run smoothly. And an online cybersecurity degree offers a flexible route to high-paying, high-demand careers.
While earning an online cybersecurity degree, learners gain the knowledge and skills required for information security jobs as analysts, testers, consultants, and engineers. Professionals can advance with experience or a graduate degree.
Our list ranks the best online cybersecurity programs to help you find the right fit for your interests and professional goals.
The best online cybersecurity degrees
To identify the best accredited online bachelor’s programs in information technology, we gathered statistics and insights from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), as conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
We assessed and ranked schools based on the following criteria: programmatic excellence, faculty excellence, accreditation, affordability, online enrollment, and rates of admission, retention, and graduation.
1. University of Charleston
Charleston, West Virginia
Established as a seminary in 1888, UC took its current name in 1978. UC houses four academic schools and serves more than 2,600 students.
UC’s online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is a 125-credit-hour degree-completion program. Two years of coursework aligns with the seven main categories of cyber operations as defined by the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework.
Applicants must have an associate degree in cybersecurity or related field or a minimum of 60 credit hours of degree-related coursework. Individuals with previous technology-related coursework may earn credit hours through passing prerequisite exams.
The University of Charleston is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. University of Arizona
Founded in 1885, UArizona was Arizona’s first university. UArizona enrolls nearly 47,000 students annually.
UArizona’s online bachelor of applied science in cyber operations includes 120 credit hours. Coursework integrates hands-on learning activities and interactive assessments with foundational concepts and theories of cybersecurity. Learners can specialize in engineering, defense and forensics, or cyber law and policy.
Designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the U.S. National Security Agency, UArizon’s online cyber operations degree is designed for students transferring approximately 60 credit hours into the degree.
Applicants submit a resume, a goal statement, and documentation of a minimum 2.5 GPA for consideration.
The University of Arizona is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Maryville University of Saint Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri
Established in 1872, Maryville provides over 90 degrees to roughly 11,000 students each year. More than 7,000 members of Maryville’s student body are enrolled in one of the institution’s online programs.
Learners complete Maryville’s online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity in under three years. Alongside core courses in business and cybersecurity principles and applications, students can choose to specialize in defensive or offensive cybersecurity.
Maryville also offers an online cybersecurity bachelor’s certificate.
Applicants must provide transcripts demonstrating a minimum 2.5 GPA. Maryville requires no standardized test scores for admission.
Maryville University of Saint Louis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Robert Morris University
Moon Township, Pennsylvania
RMU opened its doors in 1921. RMU offers more than 80 degrees and certificate programs through four academic schools.
RMU’s online bachelor of science in cybersecurity includes 123 credit hours of coursework. Students can specialize in cybersecurity or digital forensics. Learners also choose 15 credits related to an area of interest.
Core classes emphasize the fundamentals of computer, network, and database applications, security, and management.
The cybersecurity program at RMU is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
Robert Morris University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
5. Champlain College
Providing career-focused education programs since 1878, Champlain hosts learners at campuses in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and online.
Designed for working professionals, Champlain’s online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity includes core classes in mobile, network, operating system, and cloud computing security. Learners also study ethical hacking, intrusion analysis, and cybersecurity policy in anticipation of a senior seminar project.
Students can transfer up to 90 credit hours into Champlain’s 120-credit-hour cybersecurity program.
The U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated Champlain as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education in 2006.
Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Why get an online degree in cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity professionals protect networks and private data — making cybersecurity a critical field for nearly every industry. But should you enroll in a cybersecurity program? Here are four reasons to pursue an online cybersecurity degree.
1. Online cybersecurity courses can fit into a busy lifestyle.
An online learning format appeals to busy adults balancing school with work or personal responsibilities. With asynchronous delivery, you can arrange coursework around your other obligations. The flexibility and accessibility of an online cybersecurity degree make it easier to meet this growing field’s educational requirements.
2. Demand for cybersecurity experts is booming.
Diverse industries rely on cybersecurity specialists to protect their data. As a result, cybersecurity professionals are in demand. BLS projections estimate a 33% growth in information security analyst roles from 2020-2030. Candidates with a bachelor’s in cybersecurity qualify for many of these roles.
3. Cybersecurity roles offer high earning potential.
Cybersecurity careers offer above-average salaries. According to the BLS, information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 in 2020.
Even the lowest-paid cybersecurity jobs may offer annual wages of around $60,000 per year, with top roles paying over $163,000. At the management level, cybersecurity professionals earn even higher salaries.
4. Most cybersecurity roles can be done remotely.
A growing number of tech employers offer remote working opportunities, including in cybersecurity and information assurance. Many major tech companies, including Microsoft and Google, have flexible work policies that let more employees work from home.
What to expect in an online cybersecurity degree program
An online cybersecurity degree builds career-ready skills through projects, experiential learning, and theoretical learning. You’ll learn how to craft information security plans, respond to cyberattacks, and allocate an organization’s information security resources.
Cybersecurity programs incorporate coursework in related fields, including computer programming, IT security, information technology, and business. Learners often customize their degree by selecting electives in risk management, digital forensics, and cryptography.
Successful cybersecurity degree-seekers bring several skills to their program. Students must channel drive and initiative in self-directed online programs. Collaboration and networking skills also help students prepare for the workforce.
Cybersecurity courses introduce learners to critical topics like information assurance, cyberattack recovery, and risk management. Each cybersecurity program sets its own curriculum, but many include these common courses.
Introduction to security technology
Introductory courses cover the key principles of information security and cybersecurity defense. Students learn about current issues in security technology, challenges facing professionals, and common cybersecurity technologies.
Cyberattack and defense
Hackers continue to develop new cyberattack methods. Cybersecurity students learn about common and emerging online threats and vulnerabilities. They also study defense techniques, including penetration testing and ethical hacking.
Disaster recovery and business continuation
After a cyberattack, information security professionals must implement recovery plans. This course trains students to develop and apply disaster recovery plans. They also learn about business continuity, impact analysis, and risk assessment.
Students learn different decision-making frameworks. The course emphasizes sustainable risk management, ethics in handling private information, and information security resources. Learners also examine individual and organizational decision-making, including risk assessment.
Cybersecurity degree levels
Learners earn cybersecurity degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each degree emphasizes different skills and prepares graduates for particular career paths. For example, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree for managerial roles.
This section introduces the length, cost, and career paths with different cybersecurity degrees.
Bachelor’s in cybersecurity
Length: 4 years
Cost: $300-$800 per credit
Post-grad careers: Information security analyst; cybersecurity analyst; IT security specialist
A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity meets the entry-level educational requirement for many cybersecurity careers. During a bachelor’s program, cybersecurity majors complete general education requirements, electives, and major courses. They study information security procedures, cyberattack prevention, and data breach investigation.
The degree builds strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Degree-seekers learn through projects, experiential learning, and internships. After earning a bachelor’s in cybersecurity, graduates move into roles like information security analyst or IT security specialist.
Master’s in cybersecurity
Length: 2 years
Cost: Up to $1,800 per credit
Post-grad careers: Information security manager; cybersecurity manager; director of information security
A master’s degree offers specialized graduate-level training. During a master’s in cybersecurity, graduate students build on their undergraduate training to learn about security policy, information security management, and ethical hacking. Students can also learn business administration with an MBA cybersecurity program.
Most master’s programs take two years. After earning a master’s degree, cybersecurity professionals move into supervisory and leadership roles.
Doctorate in cybersecurity
Length: 4-6 years
Cost: Up to $2,000 per credit
Post-grad careers: Cybersecurity researcher; cybersecurity professor; chief information security officer
A doctorate in cybersecurity builds advanced research and analytical skills. During a doctorate, graduate students complete coursework in their focus area, pass comprehensive exams, and conduct research to write a dissertation. Common specializations include information assurance, risk management, and compliance.
After completing a doctorate, professionals work at the top level of their field. A doctorate meets the requirements for academic and research positions. Graduates also work in leadership positions, including as chief information security officers.
Choosing which cybersecurity program is right for you
You must weigh several factors when choosing a cybersecurity program. For many students, cost, enrollment options, and program length rank near the top of their considerations.
However, applicants should also research program accreditation, specialization options, and placement records. For example, ABET accredits cybersecurity programs. Many licenses and professional certifications require an accredited degree.
Finally, you should consider which online cybersecurity program best meets their unique goals and needs. Working adults or student parents often prefer flexible enrollment options. Students with clear career goals need a program that offers specializations and internships in their focus area.
By researching programs, you can find the right fit for your needs.
How long does it take to earn a cybersecurity degree?
Earning a bachelor’s in cybersecurity takes around four years, while an associate or master’s degree generally takes two years. Completing a doctorate in cybersecurity typically takes 4-6 years.
How much does a cybersecurity degree cost?
Cybersecurity degree costs vary depending on the school, location, and degree level. In general, cybersecurity majors should plan to spend at least $20,000 on a bachelor’s or graduate degree.
What is a cybersecurity MBA?
A cybersecurity MBA blends business and technology coursework to prepare professionals for supervisory and leadership roles. Common job titles include cybersecurity manager, IT security director, and chief information security officer.
What can you do with a cybersecurity degree?
A cybersecurity degree prepares graduates for careers as information security analysts. Other common career paths include IT security engineer, IT security consultant, information assurance analyst, and chief information security officer.
An online cybersecurity degree helps professionals launch careers in a growing industry.
Increasingly, organizations in every industry rely on information security specialists. As a result, the field offers many opportunities to specialize and advance. And an accredited online cybersecurity program offers a flexible route to the career.