Where to get a Master’s Degree in cybersecurity

2017 list of universities that offer a Master of Science (M.S.) in cybersecurity

A Master’s in cyber is attainable from a growing number of universities in the U.S.

Robert Herjavec, founder of Herjavec Group, a leading information security firm and a Shark Investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, says “As an industry, cybersecurity presents incredible opportunity for the youth of today.”

“There are literally over 1 million job openings in our space” says Herjavec. “That’s incredible. Hard to believe really. But security isn’t slowing down and we need more talent with keen curiosity, strong technical skill, and the ability to analyze and enrich data. I highly recommend high school students consider a post secondary degree in computer science and that we continue to expand Master’s programs in cybersecurity to help grow our talent base for years to come.”

To see a 2017 list of 80 schools offering M.S. in Cybersecurity programs, go to MastersInCyber.com, a community resource compiled by the research team at Cybersecurity Ventures (Disclaimer: Steve Morgan is founder and CEO of Cybersecurity Ventures.) The directory will be updated quarterly with more universities domestically and internationally.

Cyber stats from cyber schools

Some universities share stats on cybercrime damages, cybersecurity spending, and cyber employment figures, to help frame the market and career opportunities for prospective M.S. students.

  • Brown University knew it was bad when they read a report that predicted cybercrime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Commenting on this report, Brown’s Executive Master in Cyber Security Program Director Alan Usas said, “This prediction underscores the inevitability of a cybercrime and the need for corporate and societal resilience.
  • The University of San Diego notes that worldwide spending on cyber defense is expected to exceed $1 trillion between 2017 and 2021, according to a CSO story. The school has created two 21st century cyber security Master degree programs — the Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering and the Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership.
  • Bellevue University blog states that study after study shows we’re lacking combatants on the cyber battlefield to take up both offensive and defensive roles — and links to a CSO story which forecasts there will be 1.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2019, up from 1 million openings in 2017. Bellevue offers a M.S. in Cybersecurity program, online or in-class.
  • St. Cloud State University is listed on the Minnesota State CAREERwise Education site, which shares a story from CIO Magazine that states the cybersecurity industry is suffering a severe workforce shortage — with more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. alone. St. Cloud offers a M.S. in Information Assurance, which prepares students to support and protect the nation’s information infrastructure and conduct advanced research.
  • post on the National Cybersecurity Institute at Excelsior College Cyber Experts Blog cites a report that examined the mindset of cybersecurity in the boardroom today. The findings revealed that 40 percent of businesses don’t have a formal strategy in place for it, nor do 68 percent of smaller organizations. The school apparently wants incoming students to get the big picture on cyber. Excelsior, a provider of distance learning programs, offers an online M.S. in Cybersecurity.
  • Information security is one of the fastest-growing and best-compensated fields in the information technology industry — and job openings are expected to increase almost 20 percent in the next 10 years, according to a story in the Embry-Riddle newsroom. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The school offers Master’s degrees in Cybersecurity Engineering, and Cybersecurity Management and Policy.

If these numbers aren’t compelling enough, then prospective M.S.ers might read up on the zero-percent cybersecurity unemployment rate.

Technical vs. management tracks

Siobhan Gorman is a director in the Washington office of the communications advisory firm, the Brunswick Group, working in the cybersecurity and privacy practice. “It’s important to note that there are now different types of Master’s degrees in the cybersecurity field,” says Gorman, previously a national security correspondent at The Wall Street Journal where she covered intelligence, terrorism, cybersecurity, and national security in the Washington bureau.

“For engineers, a M.S. helps them to specialize on the technical side, which can be critical to developing expertise in tackling the latest cybersecurity problems. There are also executive Master’s programs in cybersecurity, which prepare students for cybersecurity management positions in business and government–or higher levels of technical management.” Gorman’s advice should be heeded, and prospective students should separate out programs based on their career ambitions.

“Given the embarrassingly small proportion of women engineers, these executive Master’s programs can be a critical bridge for women into a cybersecurity management career that requires less technical experience.” Gorman’s remarks align with numerous industry reports that state women hold roughly 10 percent of the jobs in cybersecurity.

“As governments and businesses begin to see cybersecurity as a business risk, there will be a growing demand both for technical expertise and cyber-savvy managers. I see this first-hand both as the companies I advise and at Brown University, where I am on the Advisory Committee for their Executive Masters in Cybersecurity.”

A M.S. in cyber isn’t the only way forward notes Gorman. “The value of an additional degree focused on cybersecurity depends largely on someone’s prior experience. Sometimes learning on the job provides sufficient, or even better, experience. But for many students, a Master’s degree gives them the additional boost they need to truly specialize, which makes them much more marketable when looking for the next job, particularly in an area like cybersecurity that is constantly evolving.”

Variety of M.S. programs

There’s no ranking here of one school over another. Each M.S.has a unique focus. As Gorman pointed out, there’s a lot of variety in the programs.

  • The Air Force Institute of Technology at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio offers a M.S. in cyber operations and satisfies the requirements of the CO academic degree code assigned to Air Force officers on entry into the program.
  • John Jay College of Criminal Justice / CUNY (City University of New York) offers a M.S. in Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity. The program is designed to produce professionals qualified as digital forensic scientists who can apply and sustain their expertise as new technological and societal challenges emerge.
  • Maryville University in St. Louis, Mo., offers a M.S. in Cyber Security that gets into high-demand skills with courses covering Cryptography and Network Security, Mobile Device Hacking and Forensics, and Designing and Implementing Cloud Security.
  • The University of Delaware College of Engineering offers a M.S. in Cybersecurity with four concentration areas including: Secure Software, Secure Systems, Security Analytics, and Security Management.
  • George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., offers a M.S. in Management of Secure Information Systems. The program attracts mid-career students actively engaged in the cybersecurity field and prepares them to further their leadership careers.

Help wanted: Cyber defenders

“The requirement for trained cyber defenders, continues to grow exponentially,” says Eric Hipkins, chairman and CEO at cybersecurity firm root9B.

“The rapid enhancement and complexity of technologies has driven the necessity for both foundation and post graduate technical education. The continuous development of communication structures and protocols quickly place cyber defenders at a disadvantage and is responsible for the critical shortage.”

“Cyber defense is an intense, fluid warfare space that requires substantial prerequisite knowledge, drive to innovate, attention to detail, and mastery of disparate skillsets and technologies. It is my belief that programs of study concentrated in network security help develop the critical thinking, technical and soft skills needed for a successful career in cybersecurity,” he said.

Hipkins has earned more than 12 nationally recognized certifications, including professionalization by the National Security Agency as an intelligence analyst and adjunct faculty. Hipkins holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Resources and Information Management and is a graduate of the prestigious Middle Enlisted Cryptologic Career Advancement Program and Defense Language Institute.

See the full list of Master’s in Cyber programs here.

The list indicates which programs offering a M.S. in cyber also have a B.S in cyber. This is helpful to high school students and parents looking into a full stay at one university.

Coming from CSO later this year, a list of B.S. in cyber programs.