The Rising Tide of Cybersecurity Markets
The field of cybersecurity is one of the most explosively prosperous industries in the American job market with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting a jaw-dropping 31% of growth between 2019 to 2029. The BLS reports that the sector of the job market consisting of ‘information security analysts’ is made up of more than 131,000 jobs.
The median annual earnings of these professionals is $103,590, which is undoubtedly one of the most seductive metrics of the market. Not to mention that most positions require only a Bachelor’s degree or 5 years of industry experience, however with the industry being so new, there is always an influx of new skills and certifications that can make professionals extremely competitive in the cybersecurity job market.
Better than a Degree?
In many cases, earning a certification in a key skill set can be more efficient than earning a generalized degree–particularly in the case of second-time students and working IT professionals who have real-world experience. In other words, much like the IT industry as a whole, cybersecurity is a skills-based market and certification programs allow professionals to build high value skills in a short amount of time.
And most notably, the best cybersecurity certificate programs provide credits that can transfer into a future cybersecurity degree program. Meaning that an online certificate program is one of the best ways to either break into the cybersecurity industry or to quickly access professional advancement without the high level of investment (time and financial) associated with a degree.
Best Online For-Credit Certificates in Cyber Security
- California State University-Fullerton
California State University at Fullerton is perfectly positioned to cater to students in the IT field due to the University’s proximity to one of the world’s most lively hubs for technology, Silicon Valley. As such, California State University offers an impressive selection of degree programs and for-credit certificate tracks, many of which can be completed entirely online in an efficient span of time and at a cost that won’t break students’ budgets.
Fullerton’s certificate programs are some of the most affordable of their kind, and can be completed within a time frame of 3-24 months depending on the depth of the program and the complexity of the field. Specifically, the Computer Forensics certificate program is made up of 5 courses that are completed over 92 hours of lectures and hands-on experience.
The program is also designed to meet the lifelong learning requirements for established cybersecurity professionals established by theAICPA for the new Certified Financial Forensics (CFF) credential. Additionally, newer students are introduced to the industry’s most central technologies such as EnCase and Forensic Toolkit (FTK).
- University of South Florida
The University of South Florida (USF) has quickly become one of Florida’s premier providers of online education, offering degrees and professionals certificates at various levels in numerous fields. The USF Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate program offers a comprehensive graduate-level certificate program that delves into the interdisciplinary skills at the core of the field.
Specifically, the USF Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate program offers a number of specialized tracks: Cyber Intelligence, Digital Forensics, and Information Assurance. Depending on the specialization chosen, students can earn anywhere from 12 to 18 credits.
Students who enroll in the online Cyber Intelligence specialized certification take six courses that total at 18 credit hours. The program provides a unique perspective on intelligence issues, such as those presented in adversarial social engineering. Additionally, students can expect such courses as the following:
- Professional and Technical Communication for Analysts
- Information Strategy and Decision Making
- Advanced Intelligence Analytic Methods
- Core Concepts in Intelligence
- Cyber Intelligence
- Advanced Cyber Intelligence
- Sam Houston State University
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is one the best places to study cyber security, and is consistently recognized in trusted publications. The SHSU Computer Science department holds one of the most prestigious distinctions available for a school of cybersecurity. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have designated Sam Houston State University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE).
The SHSU Graduate Certificate of Cybersecurity consists of 15 credit hours of on-target studies that are meant to familiarize students with foundational topics. The certificate program is designed to accommodate students with an existing baccalaureate in computer science, cybersecurity, or a related field. The program can also be completed entirely online, making it accessible to students from around the country.
- Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University is the largest private university in New Jersey and it has recently sought to service even more students by expanding into online education. The University offers high end online programs at various levels–from associates, to doctorates, and to certification programs. Fairleigh Dickinson designs its online certificate programs to be highly accessible–allowing students to engage the program on days, evenings and even weekends.
Fairleigh Dickinson distinguishes itself by contextualizing its programs within a global perspective, which is particularly beneficial to students pursuing study in cybersecurity–which is an increasingly globally-minded field. Online students can earn a graduate certificate of Cybersecurity Administration, while on-campus students can earn a graduate certificate of Computer Security.
Students of the cybersecurity Administration program have the choice of completing one, two, or all three of the program’s courses. Specifically, the program consists of the following course options:
- Introduction to Networking and Internet Traffic Flow
(June 1-June 19, 2020)
- Infrastructure Security and Administration
(June 22-July 10, 2020)
- Cyber Forensics and Threat Mitigation
(July 13-July 31, 2020)
- Stanford University
The Stanford School of Engineering is one of the country’s most established pioneers of distance education. A whopping 50 years ago, the School developed the Stanford Instructional Television Network to provide engineers with quality education over a distance. Today the Stanford School of Engineering has innovated its distance education programs, and now offers a number of fully online degree programs that maintain the high level quality and academic integrity that is associated with the name of Stanford.
The Stanford School of Engineering offers a graduate certificate of Cybersecurtiy that is designed to accommodate professionals in the field such as those in the following roles (applicants are also required to hold a Bachelor’s with a 3.0 GPA or higher):
- Information security managers
- Web developers
- Computer network architects
- Professionals working in computer occupations
The program is designed to be completed over 1 to 2 years, but students have a maximum time frame of 3 years to complete it. This allows working students with demanding schedules to progress through the program without sacrificing a health balance between work and life.
- Iowa State University
The Information Assurance Center at Iowa State University is one of the nation’s most respected authorities of the information securities industry. The Information Assurance Center offers a number of degree programs–associates, bachelors, masters, and even a doctoral program. Additionally, students can supplement an existing degree, or even replace one, with the Center’s graduate-level certificate program.
The graduate-level Cybersecurity Certificate program can be completed entirely online and is designed for students with an existing Bachelor’s degree, who want to advance their careers. The program is completed over just 12 credits, and is meant to offer the flexibility to accommodate busy professionals. Additionally, credits are transferable into a Master’s level program should a student wish to.
- Florida Tech
Florida Tech is one of the most successful technical universities in the southeast that earns national recognition for its program year after year. This is due in large part to the Florida Tech’s stellar faculty, 90% of whom hold the highest degree of their field. Florida Tech is also well-known for its student-centric policies which prioritize a level of care that empowers each student to make the most of their studies.
Florida Tech has also earned the designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research, one of the highest honors for a program of its kind. Florida Tech offers a number of degree programs and certificate tracks that can be completed entirely online, and have been designed to offer a high level of academic rigor so that graduates are prepared to compete in the job market.
Florida Tech’s Cybersecurity program is specifically designed for professionals aspiring to roles like the following:
- Computer forensics investigator
- Computer network defense engineer
- Threat intelligence analyst
- Chief information security officer
- East Carolina University
East Carolina University (ECU) is a large institution that specializes in enabling the dreams of its students, and has earned recognition by taking the top spots on countless rankings by trusted publications. ECU is consistently recognized for offering students curriculums that are designed to represent the real needs of the job market. This means that ECU graduates are prepared to meet the expectations of top-end employers.
ECU offers a Cyber Security Professional Certificate that can be completed entirely online. The program consists of twelve hours of advanced coursework which is designed to prime students for professional advancement in the field through honing high-value skills. Additionally, the program prepares students to earn the following certifications: COMPTIA Network+ certification or Cisco CCNA certification.
The certification program’s courses are as follows:
- Information Security Management
- Fundamental Network Security
- Network Intrusion Detection and Incident Response
- Research Methods in Technology
- Oklahoma State University
The Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business has built a reputation for building relationships between peers, faculty, and alumni. At the foundation of Spear’s education philosophy is the idea that interpersonal connection is the beating heart of any business. The School looks to carry this philosophy forward in online education by instilling programs with a sense of liveliness and collaboration that is more commonly associated with the classroom.
The Oklahoma State University Center for Telecommunications and Network Security (CTANS) offers a fully online graduate certificate program in Information Assurance. The program is completed through 15 credit hours of coursework that is meant to hone key skills and elevate students’ conceptual understanding of critical topics.
The program is more flexible than most others on this list, and allows students to pursue custom routes of study depending on individual interests and career goals. Additionally, the certificate can be earned as an ‘emphasis’ through any of the following Master’s programs:
- MS in Computer Science
- MS in Electrical Engineering
- MS in Management and Information Systems
- MS in Telecommunications Management
- Bellevue University
Founded in 1966, Bellevue University is a non profit, open access institution that has grown tremendously in a relatively short amount of time. Today, Bellevue University boasts more than 50,000 students from around the world, which is evidence of the increasingly global reach of the university. Bellevue continues to expand and to lower barriers to access as its online programs become more numerous and more accessible.
Bellevue University offers online degrees accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, as well as fully online for-credit certificate tracks. Among these are a number of certificates designed for the cyber security industry at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The graduate-level Cybersecurity Certificate of Completion is conferred through completing the following courses:
- Information Security Management (3 Credits)
- Computer Forensics (3 Credits)
- Information Warfare (3 Credits)
- Cloud Computing (3 Credits)
- Security Architecture and Design (3 Credits)
- Ethical Hacking and Response (3 Credits)
- University of Louisville
The University of Louisville (UL) is one of Kentucky’s largest and most recognized research universities with dozens of degree programs available. In recent years the University of Louisville has moved to make more of its programs available online through a collaborative effort between the following UL Colleges:
- College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Business
- College of Education and Human Development
- Kent School of Social Work
- J.B. Speed School of Engineering, School of Nursing
- School of Public Health and Information Sciences
The J.B. Speed School of Engineering offers a fully online for-credit Certificate of Cybersecurity that is completed through four courses and twelve credit hours. The program is noticeably inviting to students of all experience-levels and does not have an GRE requirement.
Students complete two core courses of these three: Introduction to Cryptography, CSE 568 Computer Forensics, CSE 566 Information Security. Additionally students choose two courses from a robust list of 12 electives, which allow students to pursue areas of personal and professional interest.
- Champlain College
Champlain College is an established name in online education and has been serving online students for more than three decades. During these 30 years, Champlain has innovated and iterated on its approach, and today offers polished career-centric programs meant to elevate students’ careers. Champlain’s faculty are successful scholars who have been specially trained to lead engaging online classroom experiences. And more poignantly, Champlain is a national leader in cybersecurity education and is home to the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation & Cybersecurity.
Champlain offers a Online Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Forensic Science, which grants 24/7 access to online coursework. The program is completed through 12 credit hours of coursework which is formatted through two 8-week terms per semester. The program requires a commitment of students for 12-20 hours per course per week.
The program’s curriculum is built around the following courses:
- The Practice of Digital Investigations
- Operating System Analysis
- Scripting for Digital Forensic
- Incident Response and Network Forensics
- Malware Analysis
- Mobile Device Analysis
- Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University is one of Virginia’s most innovative and entrepreneurial institutions, offering academic programs from the undergraduate level to the doctoral level. Old Dominion University (ODU) programs and initiatives contribute $2.6 billion annually to Virginia’s economy.
ODU offers a Graduate Certificate Program in Cybersecurity that can be completed entirely online. The program is made up of twelve credits and four courses. Students of the program enjoy the Virginia Space Grant Consortium’s video series, “Breaking the Code on a Career in Cybersecurity.” The program’s curriculum is built around these four courses:
- Cybersecurity Fundamentals (3 credits)
- Cryptography for Cybersecurity (3 credits)
- Networked Systems Security (3 credits)
- Information Assurance (3 credits)
- Mississippi College
The Mississippi College Department of Computer Science looks to strike a balance between the practical and the theoretical. The Department’s programs look to prepare students for the ebbs and flows of the industry, but more importantly how to leverage industry-trends to create career opportunities. The Department also hosts “Cyber South,” one of the largest summits for cybersecurity in the region where industry leaders present their research and findings.
Mississippi College offers an online certificate in Cybersecurity & Information Assurance. The program teaches students who to handle cyber security threats such as cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, and cyber espionage. The program is completed through 6 courses over just twelve months with each course lasting 16 weeks.
- Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University (CMU) ranks as one of the most successful institutions of higher education in the region with 235,000 alumni around the world. CMU Global Campus combines the quality of its traditional on-campus programs with the convenience and affordability of online education. CMU demonstrates its student-centric philosophies by providing students with a host of services and policies that are meant to facilitate the highest level of education during their time in CMU’s programs.
CMU Global Campus offers an online graduate certificate in Cybersecurity that is completed from 15 to 18 credits of coursework. Courses are designed from the ground up to emphasize flexibility and accessibility, so each course is delivered in 8, 12 and 16-week formats–whatever works best for each student.
The curriculum is delivered through the following courses:
- Cybersecurity Analysis
- Governance, Risk, and Compliance in Cybersecurity
- Cybercrime Forensics
- Managing Security and Privacy in the Cloud
- Cybersecurity, Systems, and Network Certification
- Georgetown University
Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) offers a deep catalogue of graduate-level programs in liberal and professional studies. Students holding a degree from Georgetown have a leg up in the job market where their alma mater’s name carries weight. This is because Georgetown brings a level of academic integrity and rigorousness that many schools look to imitate but few succeed in replicating.
Georgetown’s online Certificate in Cybersecurity Strategy introduces students to the cybersecurity industry with a deep investigation of central concepts. The program accepts students from all over the world with more than 500 nationalities represented. The Cybersecurity Strategy program differentiates itself by providing more attention to the questions and topics surrounding security strategy which can prepare students to work in a variety of roles.
Specifically, students of the program will delve into topics such as the following:
- Security models
- Risk assessment
- Secure systems development
- Crisis management
- Legal, regulatory
- Compliance issues
- Access control
- Network security
- Social engineering
- Missouri State University
Missouri State University offers globally-minded programs that position students to become valuable members of the world economy. Missouri State University builds its programs around three central tenets: ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement. Today Missouri State boasts an alumni network made up of more than 122,000 students around the world, which is a major selling point for online students who want to become part of a close-knit professional network.
In Missouri State’s online graduate certificate of Cybersecurity, students will develop the skills and knowledge needed to stand out in the job market. The program introduces students to core concepts while also delivering advanced topics. The program offers some flexibility in allowing students to choose from a selection of electives, which empowers students to customize their chosen path of study.
- Norwich University
Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies offers programs specially designed for adult-learners and working professionals who wish to take their careers to the next level. As such, Norwich’s programs are built to reflect the ever-changing demands of the job market, so that graduates are prepared to capitalize on industry trends and market opportunities.
Specifically, Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies offers an online Cyber Crime and Cyber Law graduate certificate program. As implied by the name, the program differentiates itself by emphasizing the meaningful laws associated with the cybersecurity industry, both domestic and abroad. Students can choose between one of two track options:
- Critical Infrastructure Protection & Cyber Crime
- Cyber Law & International Perspectives on Cyberspace
The programs consist of two 11-week courses which totals at 12 graduate-level credits, which can of course count towards a future degree program.
- University of Maryland, Global Campus
The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) specializes in serving adult learners and nontraditional students, and has been an innovator in online education for decades. Today, UMGC is the largest online public university in the nation, and offers one of the most extensive catalogues of online programs in the world.
Among these is a number of degrees and certifications relating to the field of cybersecurity. UMGC has earned one of the most prestigious designations available, and has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security
Specifically students can earn an online graduate certificate of Cybersecurity Technology. As the name suggests, the program differentiates itself by focusing on the technology of the industry, and how to most effectively leverage it to actualize results.
- Metropolitan State University
Metropolitan State University is an innovative institution that looks to cultivate students’ careers and facilitate successful professional advancement. The University prioritizes providing students with the tools and resources needed to improve financial mobility, so that students can elevate their lives into financial abundance. The University also differentiates itself by allowing students to build their own degrees, so that students are empowered to pursue a route of study that is most conducive with interests and career goals.
The Metropolitan State University College of Management offers an online graduate certificate of Information Assurance and Information Technology Security GCERT. The Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) and The National Security Agency (NSA) certify that Metropolitan State University offers a curriculum that has been determined to meet National Training Standards.
The program’s curriculum is built around the following course load:
- Management Information Systems (4 credits)
- Process Analysis and Design (2 credits)
- Risk Analysis in Information Technology (2 credits)
- Introduction to Information Assurance (4 credits)
- Enterprise Security Management (4 credits)
- Analysis of Strategic and Tactical Security IT Planning (4 credits)