Computer Security Specialist Degree and School Information

Computer security specialists are responsible for maintaining the information security for an organization. They might install security software and educate employees about data safety. Computer security students in certificate, associate's and bachelor's degree programs learn about network risks, incident response, countermeasures and computer forensics.

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Programs for aspiring computer security specialists can be found at community colleges, technical schools and 4-year colleges and universities. Computer security specialist programs might be called network security, information technology security or information security programs.

Computer Science Schools

The following 4-year schools offer degree programs in the field of computer security:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016, In-state)*
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $41,371 (Graduate)
Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 4-year, Public Certificate, Master's $15,644 (Graduate)
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Certificate, Master's $46,320 (Graduate)
University of California- Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Master's $13,431 (Graduate)
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's $15,054 (Undergraduate) $18,041 (Graduate)
University of Texas-Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Certificate $10,934 (Graduate)
University of Washington-Bothell Bothell, WA 4-year, Public Master's $16,197 (Graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Considerations when selecting a computer specialist program may include the following:

  • Schools offer computer security programs with a variety of areas of focus, so students should seek a program that closely matches their interests.
  • Potential students should look for programs with up-to-date equipment and laboratories that are available when students need them.
  • Internships, security network configuration projects and job search preparation courses are also some of the features that make a program useful to students.
  • Students may want to consider the student-to-faculty ratio to receive more direct contact with professors for expertise.

Computer Security Certificate

Certificate programs in computer security are generally designed to prepare students for the basic certification they need for an entry-level job as a computer security specialist. After earning a certificate, students might take the examination for vendor-specific certification, such as CompTIA+, Linux+ and Microsoft Certified Professional. Some certificate programs also offer credits that can be transferred to an associate's degree program if the student desires further education.

Computer Security Associate's Degree

Vocational, technical and community colleges typically offer an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Security degree. Core courses might include technical report writing, information systems, database management and more. Students also learn to use Linux, Unix and Windows operating systems.

Computer Security Bachelor's Degree

Students in a bachelor's degree program need strong skills in computing basics, science and mathematics. These programs prepare students for leadership roles as experts in assessing security threats. Programs include study-abroad options, capstone courses and special projects.

Several 4-year institutions throughout the country offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs for aspiring computer security specialists. As they are selecting these programs students should consider internship opportunities, available lab equipment and program concentrations.

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