A master's degree program in cybersecurity provides students with the skills to protect networks, communication and data. Just like those enrolled in traditional campus-based programs, students in an online program in this field learn to plan, implement and manage enterprise level security and system integrity. While not always the case, many online graduate programs in cybersecurity are designed for experienced professionals looking to advance their skills and careers are are available in a fully online format.
Four-year institutions that offer these master's degrees require students to have a bachelor's degree, ideally with a relevant background in computer science or engineering. Those students without this academic background may have to take prerequisite courses. Relevant work experience, graduate test scores and recommendation letters are common admissions factors as well.
Distance learners enrolled in an online cybersecurity master's program typically take core courses devoted to network security, digital forensics, information assurance and cryptography. Programs often include a number of online elective options so that students can pursue specific areas of interest, such as cyber forensics, risk management, biometrics or security intelligence. Cybersecurity programs at this level typically culminate with some type of research project. Typical distance learning courses may include the following:
- Security planning and management
- Leadership and professionalism
- Information technology and system security
- Wireless security
- Cyber law, regulations and compliance
- Information security
- Network intrusion
Some coursework in online cybersecurity master's degree programs might also prepare students for various IT exams leading to professional certification. These may include certifications in the following:
- CompTIA Network+
- PW0-200 Wireless LAN Security
- EC-Council Disaster Recovery
- EC-Council Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures
- EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator
Cybersecurity programs are highly adaptable to an online format. Many distance-learning programs use a course management site, such as Blackboard, to post assignments, lectures and discussions for students to complete. These virtual classrooms can usually be accessed any time of day; students just need to be sure they adhere to course due dates when completing work. Discussion boards, Web conferencing and chat rooms are all common methods of interaction between classmates and instructors.
Graduates of an online master's degree program in cybersecurity have several career paths open to them, as their skills are valuable across multiple industries. Professionals with expertise in this field are needed in private business, the military and in governmental agencies. Examples of job titles include:
- Network security specialist
- Network administrator
- Information security technician
- Network or cybersecurity expert
- Cyber forensics investigator
In summary, online master's degree programs in cybersecurity combine broad coursework in advanced information technology topics with independent research in the student's area of interest. These programs offer considerable scheduling flexibility and are ideal for working professionals looking to advance to upper-level positions that require expertise in computer and network protection.