graduate

Many students interested in the exciting field of cybersecurity often wonder if a Ph.D. will help them should they choose this field as their career choice. While doctoral degrees are not generally required to work in cybersecurity, having a Ph.D. will only enhance a resume and put the candidate in the position for jobs unavailable with lesser degrees. Cybercrime has become a real issue in recent years, and professionals with degrees in cybersecurity are constantly in demand. Here is an overview of what a Ph.D. in Cybersecurity entails as well as what types of jobs are available.

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is a term we’ve seen a lot in recent years, yet many people are still unfamiliar with what it means and what it all entails. Cybersecurity is the process of protecting internet-connected computer systems, including software, hardware and data from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity works simultaneously with physical security to protect systems from unauthorized access to computerized systems and data centers. Information security, which is aimed at keeping the integrity, confidentiality and availability of data, is a subset of cybersecurity.

For the best possible protection, small and large organizations, as well as individuals and employees, should use cybersecurity. With the continued and advanced cyber threats, cybersecurity needs to updated and current with all technological advances.

Will a Ph.D. Help in the Field of Cybersecurity?

Although a Ph.D. is not required for most cybersecurity careers, it can be of benefit. The more education the student has, the more career opportunities for the student upon graduation. However, the Ph.D. in Cybersecurity program is generally tailored for students interested in research-based jobs such as college professors, corporate researchers or policy advisors. The doctoral degree program can be a difficult and expensive process.

Students may spend more years in college but the rewards tend to be worth it in the end. Students learn skills that are valuable in the industry, including doing presentations, writing papers, thinking “outside the box” and learn how to solve challenging problems. Cyber and computer security are fields that utilize a lot of research, and doctoral students learn how to perform effective research. Overall, graduates of the doctoral degree program get a better job and earn higher wages. There seems to be an almost constant shortage of highly educated cybersecurity professionals.

Career Outlook in the Field of Cybersecurity

Graduates of cybersecurity doctoral degree programs are qualified for jobs that offer not only excellent wages but also good job growth. Information security analysts are expected to see job growth of 32 percent during the 2018-2028 decade according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer science professors are also experiencing good job growth.

Individuals working in the field of research and development earn an average annual salary of $113,190, while information security analysts earn about $98,000, and computer science professors may earn more than $160,000. There continues to be a shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals, especially at the doctorate level. The decision to earn a Ph.D. in Cybersecurity can be a very lucrative decision.

Potential Jobs with a Ph.D. in Cybersecurity

In addition to the positions of researcher, university professors and advisors, graduates of cybersecurity doctoral degree programs may also be qualified for the following positions:

  • Information Security Analyst
  • Computer Defense Consultant
  • Information Assurance Professor
  • Computer Security Researcher and Developer
  • Computer Security System Architect
  • Software Architect
  • Director of Information Security
  • Pen Tester
  • Cloud Engineer
  • Senior Security Consultant

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

What Does a Ph.D. in Cybersecurity Entail?

A graduate program with an actual title of Ph.D. in Cybersecurity is rare. While there are many programs focusing on cybersecurity, it’s rare to find a program with a major in cybersecurity. Most programs that focus on cybersecurity and internet security are part of another major, such as a Master’s in Computer Science with a concentration in cybersecurity. Ph.D. in Information Assurance, Ph.D. in Cybersecurity, and Ph.D. in Computer Science with an emphasis in Security.

The cybersecurity Ph.D. is a research-based graduate program that allows students to focus on a specific area of study, such as cyberinfrastructure, human-centered computing and embedded systems to name a few. The Ph.D. program takes five to seven years to complete. Of this time, two of the years are spent completing graduate classes and qualifying examinations, while the other three to five years are spent doing independent research for a required dissertation, which is a scientific, detailed account of the student’s work. The Ph.D. in Cybersecurity program includes some of the following courses:

  • Applied Cryptology
  • Theory of Computation
  • Machine Learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cyber Law
  • Network Security
  • Homeland Security
  • Neural Networks
  • Information Theory

Cybersecurity is an exciting field for computer-minded individuals who like a challenge. It’s also an exciting field because it offers so many career possibilities and room for growth. Earning a Ph.D. in Cybersecurity offers candidates lucrative and rewarding careers at the highest level.