Many schools offer fully online bachelor's degree programs in information systems security. The lengths of these programs vary and may take a little longer than the typical four years. General education courses in topics such as mathematics, social studies and English are required. Courses may cover topics including information technology, database management systems, computer security basics and network security. Students may be required to complete a final project.
Graduates of these programs may be eligible to sit for professional certification exams such as Network+ and CISSP. These certifications may also require experience and passing an examination.
In order to enroll in one of these programs, students will need access to a specific operating system and software programs. There may also be minimum hardware requirements.
Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems Security
These programs aim to teach students about the current and emerging threats against computer networks. In the program, students learn to protect a computer against hackers and fight off viruses. Some programs may also prepare students for industry certification exams, such as Network+ and CISSP. Students considering these programs may also want to look into programs like network systems administration and computer information systems.
Program Information and Requirements
The number of credit hours required for Information Systems Security (ISS) programs varies widely, with some listing only 125 units and others listing over 180. Structured like a traditional bachelor's program, the coursework is usually spread out over four semesters, with the bulk of the ISS-specific courses slated for the last two years.
Content is delivered through video and text, and textbooks may be required for classes as well. Many programs feature online chat and discussion board functions that allow you to communicate directly with professors and fellow students. Some programs may even have content you can access through your smartphone or tablet.
Programs will have minimum system or technical requirements to ensure that all students in the program are able to take full advantage of its features. This often means students will be required to use a particular operating system and have certain software programs.
Hardware requirements may be included, such as specifying a particular amount of memory for a computer. Because the bulk of the content will be delivered through the Internet, students are encouraged to have a reliable high-speed connection.
List of Common ISS Courses
Just as with on-campus programs, online ISS bachelor's programs require a certain number of general education courses, which are usually completed before moving on to classes related to the major. In the ISS program, these major-related classes focus on content that will give students a solid understanding of computers, networks, various operating systems, programming languages and different types of security threats and their countermeasures.
This type of course teaches students how to work within the 'crime scene' of a hacked computer. They are also taught how to analyze systems for inappropriate or illegal activity. Topics like analysis, forensic examination, report writing and the laws of forensics are covered.
This type of course discusses the use of databases in various types of information systems, secure database design and database vulnerabilities and how to protect them. Some courses may go into more depth regarding the structure, construction and use of databases.
This class teaches students various ways to calculate and use statistics. Topics like decision-making and hypothesis construction and statistical analysis may also be covered. This type of knowledge may come in handy later in the ISS field, as reports and risk analysis may require the use of statistics to convey information.
Career Information for Graduates
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that information security analysts job growth is projected to be 18% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also anticipated that network and computer systems administrator positions would grow 8% during that same time frame. BLS reports that information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $90,120 in 2015.
Because cyber crime is a growing threat, computer-savvy undergraduates may be interested in a bachelor's degree program in information systems security. In a virtual classroom environment, students in these programs can expect to watch video lectures and engage in class discussions about fundamental IT concepts, as well as general education topics.