Master of Computer Science: Computer Systems Security Degree Overview

Oct 21, 2019

Essential Information

For admission to a master's program in computer science with a concentration in computer systems security, candidates should have relevant knowledge and an undergraduate education. Prerequisites include a bachelor's degree in a related field and a background in computer programming, computer organization, information technology fundamentals or data structure. Students could gain the skills needed to examine databases, review communications networks and identify weak points that could be susceptible to hackers. They might also learn how to isolate and handle other security threats, such as computer viruses. Vendor-specific certification is available in this field, though usually optional. Some schools offer this degree completely online, and completion of a thesis could be necessary for degree completion.

Master's Degree in Computer Science with a Systems Security Concentration

Within the broad field of computer science, course topics often cover multiple technical fields, including networking, computer programming, software design and database management. Coursework within a systems security concentration can provide more focused training, and students can choose electives geared towards specific security career fields.

Students may learn about developing safety protocols, implementing security standards across computer networks and repairing unsecured systems. They may also receive training in security consulting, which would include inspecting computer systems and making security recommendations. Class topics may include:

  • Network security
  • Algorithms and applications
  • Database design
  • Information technology management
  • Computer forensics
  • Internet law and ethics

Popular Career Options

Individuals who earn master's degrees in computer science often go into upper administrative careers or other advanced positions within technical fields. Graduates from these degree programs may find systems security employment in such industries as healthcare, criminal justice, medical, financial and retail. Potential job titles include:

  • Chief technology officer
  • Network security administrator
  • Information technology director

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an employment growth rate of 11% for computer and information systems managers during the 2018-2028 decade. Included in this job category are chief information officers, information technology directors, chief technology officers and information security managers. The BLS reported that the median annual salary in May 2018 was $142,530 for these managers.

Continuing Education Information

Professionals can choose certification options related to computer programming languages, software programs, hardware components or technology career fields. Earning certification usually requires meeting eligibility requirements and passing either practical or written exams. Since technology changes frequently, workers may have to take refresher courses to recertify every few years. These certifications are typically available through specific product vendors.

Graduates of master's degree programs in computer science may choose to advance their education through doctoral programs in computer science. Ph.D. programs typically require the completion of coursework based on research, which can lead to the conception and completion of a dissertation.

A master's degree in computer science will provide students with a comprehensive education in essential aspects of computer programming, design and management. Many programs offer certification options in different areas of computer and information management.

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