Online degree programs in network systems security may result in associate's, bachelor's or master's degrees. Many associate's and bachelor's degree programs are offered in information technology with coursework or a specialization in network security. Master's degree programs are often offered in network security with concentrations in specific areas, such as information systems security or compliance. Graduate certificates are also available in specific disciplines, such as network system security design, and may also be earned online. Online programs are available in both fully online and blended formats.
Online associate degree programs may take up to two years to complete. Coursework generally includes computer networking fundamentals and digital forensics. Upon completion of an associate degree program, students may be qualified to take certification exams, such as CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ offered by the Computer Technology Industry Association (www.comptia.org).
Online bachelor's degree programs in fields related to network security, such as information technology, may take between three to four years to complete. Core classes generally cover operating systems, computer networking and network security fundamentals, as well as humanities, communications and social sciences.
Online master's degree programs cover advanced design for network security systems and applications, as well as management aspects of cyber security, such as regulatory compliance.
- Cyber law
- Data forensics
- System architecture
- Intrusion detection
- Regulatory compliance
- Algorithm design
Online network security degree programs at all levels generally offer 24-hour instruction via virtual classrooms, live chat, e-mail and discussion boards. Courses typically last for several weeks, with each week covering a different topic. Homework assignments, quizzes and exams are usually completed online; however, periodic in-person meetings with instructors may also be required by some programs. Some schools also have virtual labs where students may work through security-related issues in simulated situations.
Employment opportunities vary with degree level, but some positions available to graduates of programs in network systems security include:
- Network systems security technician
- Network systems security manager
- Cyber security analyst
- Disaster recovery specialist
- Systems architect
Network systems security professionals assess, identify and resolve threats to networked information systems used by government agencies, academic institutions and corporations. They design, manage and maintain security measures used to protect sensitive information from risks, such as viruses and malicious activities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted 8% job growth from 2014-2024 for computer and network systems administrators, which includes the field of cyber security.
Online degree programs in network security are available to students who hope to land jobs as cyber security analysts, network systems security, managers and systems architects to name a few. Depending on the degree level, students take a variety of network security and computer systems courses and may become qualified to take professional exams.