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Online Computer Security Degree Program Information

Research online computer security courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

There are no online bachelor's degrees in computer security; students who major in computer science can take courses in computer security. There are several online programs in computer security at the master's and doctoral levels. All these programs offer courses online, although some call for on-campus work, especially at the doctoral level where the emphasis is on research and preparing a dissertation.

Computer security degree programs teach students how to encode and protect information. Students at the bachelor's degree level study basic programming and computer functions. At the graduate level, courses may include database security, algorithms and computer forensics. Students may learn how artificial intelligence works. Courses at this level may include management and business communication as well as computer security studies.

Computer Security Bachelor's Degree

Online computer science bachelor's degree programs are typically offered by the science or computer forensics and investigations department in a school. Degrees are designed to educate students in techniques, core skills, legal ramifications and investigation tools related to computer security.

A minimum grade point average (GPA) may be required, and a background in math, statistics, calculus, science and computer programming is usually suggested. Enrollment may be limited to reduce class size.

Program Information and Requirements

Computer security undergraduate degree credit hour requirements in an online program typically mirror traditional on-campus programs, usually around 120 hours or four years of total coursework. Normally, online programs can be accessed via a personal computer from any location. Schools generally provide the needed applications, study resources, virtual classrooms and testing via the Web.

Students will need access to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and may be required to purchase specific software. Proficiency in internet research and Microsoft Office products are usually suggested, or required, in computer security classes. In some programs, a project may be a significant portion of certain classes. All research, report writing and presentation is usually done via the computer and Internet.

Course Topics

Students in an online undergraduate degree program in computer science can typically expect coursework requirements in English, communications, science, math, humanities and other general education courses. Concentrated courses vary by school.

Introduction to Computer Science Theory

This course provides an overview of computer science including file and database structure, computers and society, architecture, software engineering, computation theory and computer-human interaction. Programming logic and related topics are also introduced.

Computer Programming and Web Design Concepts

Structured programming techniques with an emphasis on simple and structured data types, number and operating systems, procedures, control structures, hardware design, Web design and network types are taught. Fundamentals in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), graphics and organization of Web pages may also be a portion of this course.

Computer Literacy

This course is an introduction to computers and teaches concepts, technology, software, Internet information research and fundamentals related to personal and professional use. Learning reinforcement is stressed through extensive computer assignments and exercises.


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Computer Security Master's Degree

Online master's degree programs in computer security are generally designed for individuals wishing to advance their careers in the field. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree, and a background in computer science is helpful and sometimes required. Besides security-related courses, master-level programs may also provide training in employee and project management for those pursuing leadership roles.

Program Information and Requirements

Online programs normally consist of the same requirements of a traditional master's degree program in computer security. Students can expect coursework in security planning, control, organization, disaster recovery and networks. Usually the program will take under two years to complete, depending on the student's schedule. Coursework, testing and communication is usually completed online and via email.

Some schools have their own online learning environment where students interact with their professors and peers, and view recorded lectures and notes on a computer white board. These systems also can provide access to college announcements, discussion groups, missed classes and assignments.

Course Topics

Online computer security master's level coursework includes concentration in theory, authentication, auditing, assessment and cryptography of computer systems. Management may also be an elective focus of study. Most programs require a thesis towards the end of the program.

Enterprise Information Security and Management

Issues in security of computer networks, applications and systems are covered in this course. Considerations in analyzing and designing information systems, as well as topics of vulnerability, auditing, access control, firewalls and risk management are covered.

Computer and Database Security Foundations

Scenarios and step-by-step examples are used to cover profiles, passwords, roles, privileges, auditing and verification. The course also covers security tools of model and type checkers, theorem proving, encryption, digital signatures, routers, servers and gateways.

Digital Computer Forensics and Investigations

Forensic analysis of computer system data and the overall investigative process are covered in this class. Indexing documents, reporting, testimony, crime and incident scenes, image file recovery and expert witness requirements are also studied using hands-on assignments.


Computer Security Doctoral Degree

Online Ph.D. programs are also available for computer security students. Students learn advanced skills in information security, operating systems and networks. Common prerequisites include a master's degree in computer science or a related concentration, a graduate-level thesis, additional credit hours in the concentration of security and a minimum number of specific credit hours before consideration for entry.

Program Information and Requirements

Students can normally attend online computer security Ph.D. programs either full-time or part-time; however, a minimum amount of hours is usually required per academic year. There may also be a maximum amount of years allowed to complete the program. Courses may be completed entirely online, but some schools also offer independent study and on-campus classes to those who wish to attend. Dissertation and defense, written presentation and comprehensive examination requirements are common, and some schools do require students to complete these portions in-person.

Course Topics

A minimum number of credit hours beyond master's level studies are normally required in the concentration of computer security in online doctoral degree programs. Areas of study may include languages and systems, parallel processing and networks, computer architecture, computation, intelligence, robotics and globalization.

Artificial Intelligence Introduction

Foundations in artificial intelligence theory, principles and methods are taught in this course. Learning, robotics, solving problems, language processing, planning, reasoning and knowledge representation in building intelligence systems for different domains are also studied.

Computer Operating Systems

Operating system design, structure, theory and practice are covered in the class. Fundamental skills in file, device and central processing unit (CPU) management and process synchronization are also studied.

Algorithms Analysis

Students of this course examine techniques in designing and analyzing algorithms and their complexity. Other topics include sorting and selecting files, divide and conquer concepts, handling hashing and collision, data structure, recursion and dynamic programming.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), from 2014 to 2024 overall employment for network and computer systems administrators is expected to grow by 8%, which is about as fast as the occupational average. Growth will vary by specialty and may be hindered by companies outsourcing, which is transferring work to countries with lower wages. In May of 2015, median annual wages for network and computer systems administrators were $77,810.

Continuing Education Information

Computer security specialists can demonstrate their knowledge and perhaps become more employable by earning credentials from a professional organization, such as the Global Information Assurance Certification. There are many types of security certifications, and requirements vary, but usually include training and an intensive competency examination.

Individuals who wish to pursue an online program in computer security may do so as a concentration within a computer science bachelor's degree, a master's degree in computer security or a doctoral degree in computer security. These programs all focus on topics such as programming, web design, information security and digital forensics.

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