Our lives have never been more connected to the digital world, and much like the real world, it’s not always safe. In 2020, the FBI has seen reports of cybercrimes increase by 300%. Businesses and governments need dedicated cybersecurity professionals who understand modern data infrastructures and how to keep private information secure.
Thankfully, there are already cybersecurity professionals outsmarting the criminals. But a master’s degree helps to put you ahead of any hacker or security threat. With the in-depth knowledge and skills gained from a master’s program, you can qualify for a lucrative career path in the private or public sector. With five years of experience, you could be earning over $134,189 annually.
No secret code here: The benefit of a cyber and information security degree
A cyber and information security degree program will help you to develop a better understanding of how computer software, networks, and data operate. You’ll learn how to protect businesses and individuals from cyberattacks, handle threats as they happen, and respond post-attack. These programs have a strong focus on compliance regulation, data privacy, and security.
Why a master’s degree?
Master’s programs are designed for experienced cybersecurity professionals who want to enhance their knowledge and learn new skills to advance their careers by studying specialized topics like risk management and digital forensics.
Cyber threats equal job security
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity jobs are expected to increase by 31% between 2019 and 2029, adding 35,500 positions over that period. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity earned a median salary of $99,730 in 2019.
Cyber and information security skills are in high demand and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. With more aspects of daily life moving to digital environments, there is a greater need for more experienced, highly educated professionals.
Plus, earning your master’s degree can significantly increase your lifetime earnings:
Cybersecurity Manager / Administrator
Cybersecurity Specialist / Technician
Master of Cyber and Information Security programs require students to complete core courses on theoretical and practical knowledge surrounding information systems. Examples include:
Data security in the public sector
Data security in the enterprise
Cybersecurity systems engineering
Building trustworthy information systems
Managing information security systems
Cyber threat intelligence and analysis
A master’s in cyber and information security can help you develop advanced skills that are in high demand. Coursework will help you gain knowledge from these important areas:
Master’s degree programs give you the opportunity to focus on a specific aspect of the cybersecurity field that interests you. Whether you’re looking to advance your current career or make the switch to a different type of position, you can find a concentration or elective course that will help you succeed. Common paths include:
IT audits — Learning how to implement controls on desktops, mobile devices, and networks is a valuable skill that will help you to qualify for senior positions in a corporate environment.
Project management — If you’re looking to become a manager in cybersecurity, project management electives will increase your value as a team member. The ability to manage complex projects across departments is key for leadership roles.
Theories of cybersecurity — Having a deep understanding of how cyberattacks exploit system vulnerabilities will help you tackle difficult tasks, especially when you’re under pressure to deliver fast results.
Machine learning and analytics — To deliver results at scale, such as across departments within a large organization, you will likely need to deploy automated technology. Understanding machine learning algorithms is necessary for making decisions that affect infrastructure security.
Cloud security — Cloud networks use shared resources. Understanding cloud architecture will enable you to design security protocols and model threats within this unique environment.
Communications systems — Many cyberattacks use social engineering to trick unsuspecting users into giving up private information. It’s essential for you to understand how fraudsters use psychology and digital communication channels to infiltrate organizations.
Systems analysis — When you come to a new organization, you need to be able to assess and understand the systems in place so you can maintain and optimize them. Developing a methodology for systems analysis will allow you to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
Writing cybersecurity policies — As a cybersecurity leader, you will work with executives to draft policies and internal guidelines. Strong writing and rhetoric skills are useful for crafting documentation that is effective and easy to understand.
Online vs. on-campus: What to expect
As online learning continues to grow, here are some questions to ask when researching your master’s in cyber and information security:
Generally, course content and the quality of teaching will be of equal caliber whether you take your classes online or in person. The delivery method will be the biggest difference. You may experience a variety of e-learning activities, video lectures, and video conferencing discussions.
The course materials would be accessed online. Lectures may be delivered through real-time video calls or as prerecorded videos. However, during live lectures, you may have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions with other students. You’ll also have the opportunity to work in virtual labs and sandbox environments to put your cybersecurity skills to the test.
A full-time student can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two years. Choosing an accelerated program can help you finish more quickly. However, if you want to work a full-time job while completing your degree, an online program may allow you the flexibility to determine your pace.
Types of cybersecurity certifications to advance your path
Employers in the public and private sectors commonly look for professionals who hold certifications from established organizations. A master’s program will help you prepare for intense certification exams. These certifications can boost your career by helping you stand out from the competition. While there are many IT certifications to choose from, the following will accelerate your career in cybersecurity:
This certification establishes the core knowledge needed for most cybersecurity roles. It shows that you can detect various types of attacks and know how to perform penetration tests and scan for vulnerabilities. From a practical standpoint, it certifies that you can install, configure, and deploy network devices that support organizational security policies. Ultimately, this certification can help entry-level information security professionals to reach an intermediate level of domain expertise.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
This certification shows employers that you have the expertise to build information security governance as well as develop and manage security protocols. Once you have a strong foundation of technical knowledge, this certificate can help you gain the confidence you need to move your career upward. If you’re thinking about moving from a junior role into a manager position, this certification can help add credibility to your resume.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
This certificate provides training to become a ‘white hat’ hacker, or someone who uses systems thinking to inspect networks, spot vulnerabilities, and determine how cybercriminals could exploit them. The certificate covers five main phases of ethical hacking: reconnaissance, gaining access, enumeration, maintaining access, and covering your tracks. It also includes topics such as:
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP program is perfect for professionals who want to advance to a senior position. It validates your understanding of basic skills and will help you to unlock more knowledge pertaining to the design and implementation of security programs. It is a good choice if you’re looking to become a cybersecurity leader, manager, or auditor.
Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)
This certification validates your expertise in cybersecurity auditing best practices. It is highly sought after by employers looking for professionals who can audit, control, monitor, and assess technology and systems at the organizational level. A CISA certification proves that you can utilize a risk-based approach to planning and implementing audit engagements.
You have goals. We have a path.
Cybersecurity is essential to almost every aspect of personal and professional life. From buying groceries with a digital credit card to processing the data of millions of consumers, information security specialists are always at work to protect our data from cyberattacks.
As the world’s learning company, we proudly partner with universities to offer a suite of online graduate degrees in cyber and information security. Whatever your career goals, we have a path for you.