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Attending college full-time can be very difficult, and aspiring cybersecurity professionals are often concerned if employers look at cybersecurity degrees from online schools differently than from campus-based schools. While this may have been the case years ago, that’s not the case anymore because more students are choosing online degree programs every year. Learn a little more about online cybersecurity programs, including what they entail and what type of career opportunities they offer.

What Does an Online Cybersecurity Degree Entail?

Although cybersecurity is a popular field today, it’s seldom offered as its own major. There are some cybersecurity programs, but usually, students can pick from a computer-related major and choose cybersecurity as the emphasis or area of concentration. Examples of online cybersecurity programs might include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with Cybersecurity Emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a Concentration in Data Networking and Security
  • Master of Science in Computer Science with a Concentration in Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Master of Science in Information Systems Engineering with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity

Students complete their courses through distance learning. They log onto the school’s website to retrieve their assignments. Learning tools include streaming videos, online lectures, email, message boards and simulated classrooms. Despite the program being offered online, students can log in at the same time and participate in classroom assignments.

Students in the cybersecurity online programs also have 24-hour access to student support and instructors. The courses will depend on the degree level, but typical courses in a cybersecurity program include the following.

  • Application Security
  • Network Security
  • Incident Response and Investigation
  • Pen Testing
  • Cryptology
  • Forensic Analysis and Examination
  • Mobile Device Hacking and Forensics
  • Designing and Implementing Cloud Security
  • Legal Ramifications

Online Cybersecurity Programs vs. Campus-Based Programs

The number of students choosing online courses or online programs is increasing every year.U.S. News & World Report indicates that more than six million students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2016, and this number continues to grow every year. Cybersecurity programs prepare students for careers in this industry. Cybersecurity degree programs may be offered as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.

The structure of the program depends on the degree level. While many of the courses are similar to online and on-campus programs, there are certain differences. For instance, bachelor’s degree programs typically include an internship towards the end of the program. In an on-campus program, the school often assists the students in finding internships, whereas online students are usually required to find them on their own. Here are some major differences between the two.

  • Travel – Online students can study from home, reducing travel time.
  • Flexibility – Unlike on-campus students who have to attend classes every day, online students can study at their own pace from their home.
  • Completion time – Online students can complete the programs in less or more time than on-campus programs.

Despite the differences in online and on-campus cybersecurity programs, most employers regard online degrees the same as on-campus programs. Where the degree is earned is not near as important to potential employers than if the school is accredited. A recent survey indicated that more than 80 percent of employers viewed online cybersecurity degrees just as highly as on-campus degrees.

Career Outlook for Cybersecurity Professionals

Graduates of cybersecurity programs are generally in the position to seek positions that offer positive job growth and good wages, although these vary from job to job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that information security analysts could see employment growth of 32 percent from 2018 to 2018. Computer network architects should experience five percent growth, while computer systems analysts should experience a nine percent growth. A growth of five percent is expected for network and computer systems analysts. These numbers should result in the creation of thousands of new jobs for aspiring cybersecurity professionals.

Related Resource: What Can I Do With a Computer Science Degree?

Employment Options for Graduates of Online Cybersecurity Programs

One of the best things about online cybersecurity degrees, besides the ease and convenience, is that graduates have the same career opportunities available to them upon graduation. Here are some of the many positions available to students who complete online cybersecurity programs.

  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Network and Computer Systems Analysts
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Information Security Manager
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Architect
  • Computer Network Architects

As computers and the internet continue to play a vital role in the business world, the need for qualified cybersecurity professionals will continue to grow. Whether the student studies cybersecurity through an online program or at a brick-and-mortar college, the career options are going to be just as good. Since most employers look just as positively at an online degree as an on-campus program, aspiring cybersecurity professionals can become part of this industry through any number of available programs.