Students interested in doctoral programs in computer security can enroll in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Information Technology with a specialization in information security and assurance. These programs involve advanced studies in network and operating system security, cryptography, and computer security auditing. Most programs last at least two years, during which time students complete core course requirements and conduct independent research that leads to a dissertation. Prior to graduation, students must present a dissertation defense and pass a comprehensive exam.
In order to apply, students must hold a master's degree in a field related to information technology, preferably with graduate-level coursework in mathematics, statistics, computer hardware, and programming. Students must also pass an entrance exam and submit GRE scores, official college transcripts, at least three reference letters, a personal essay, and a resume.
Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology
Possible topics of study in these programs include the following:
- Computer security testing and experimentation
- Security programming language
- Assurance in applications development
- Security breach detection
- Security issues in online purchasing forums
Popular Career Options
Graduates of these programs are prepared to work in research-intensive environments in the public and private sectors. Job titles may include:
- Information security analyst
- Computer security researcher and developer
- Information assurance professor
- Computer defense consultant
- Computer security system architect
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts earned a median annual wage of $90,120 as of May 2015. From 2014-2024, these workers are projected to see an employment growth of 18%, which is much faster than average.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Various certification exams are open to computer security professionals. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential, with specializations in computer security administration, engineering, and architecture, is offered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (www.isc2.org). Graduates of these programs can also earn professional certifications through the Global Information Assurance Certification organization (www.giac.org).
A Ph.D. in a field related to computer security provides students with the advanced educational background, technological skills, and research experience they need for high-level research positions in the IT field.