Network Security Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a network security degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of an undergraduate degree in this field and the potential careers.
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Studying Network Security: Degrees at a Glance

Network security professionals safeguard the information technology used by companies. The information security field encompasses several occupations, and you may pursue careers in data management, networking, hardware or programming. With an associate's degree in network security, you'll be qualified for some entry-level jobs in the computer or networking support fields. A bachelor's degree in network security will open more doors to information technology (IT) careers, which includes management positions once you've gain the appropriate experience.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported job growth for network and computer systems administrators is expected to increase 28% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). Many positions that offer a higher salary require at least a bachelor's degree in network security, although an associate's degree may allow you to earn a good salary and pursue other several job opportunities.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level careers in the technology industry Individuals interested in data control or network security who want to become managers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Computer support specialist ($48,000)*
- Computer security specialist ($46,000 - $63,000,)**
- Network and computer system administrator ($71,000 )*
- Information security analyst, web developer or computer network architect ($78,000 )*
- Computer and information systems manager ($118,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 2 years with an associate's degree, 4 years without an associate's degree
Common Graduation Requirements -About 60-90 credits
- Information security capstone
- About 120 credits
- Foundational programming course
- Internship or capstone project
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Payscale.com (June 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Network Security

By earning an associate's degree in network security, you'll gain the basic education needed to understand computer network interaction, information assurance and security management. These programs are highly technical in nature and may involve hours of laboratory work to give you the background needed to build network systems, as well as identify, isolate and quarantine security threats. Students without a technical background may be required to take introductory or fundamental computer courses.

Many of these programs provide a general education foundation and are transferable to many 4-year universities. An associate's degree program in network security may also prepare you to take industry-related certification examinations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Entry-level positions are available with competitive salaries
  • Many programs are transferable to bachelor's degree programs
  • Internships and capstone projects help you develop hands-on skills and stand out

Cons

  • Possible competition from applicants who hold a bachelor's degree
  • Certification of a skill is separate from degree training
  • Technically intensive programs may require introductory computer training to those without a computer background

Courses and Requirements

Network security requires a strong knowledge of software, system vulnerability, ethics and threat-prevention techniques. Programs may require 60 to 90 credits in networking, security, forensics and mobile technologies. You may also take elective courses to focus your studies. The following are some common courses:

  • Local Area Network (LAN) switching
  • Networks and data communications
  • Ethical hacking
  • Essentials of networking
  • Countermeasures and defense
  • Troubleshooting and logic

Online Course Info

Associate's degree programs in network security are available online and provide similar coursework to traditional programs. Online programs are designed for working professionals who need flexible scheduling or who prefer an accelerated learning experience. These programs may replace internships with capstone projects. Some programs are offered entirely online, while others may be hybrid programs. Each program has different requirements on how curriculum is accessed online.

Stand Out with This Degree

The speed of change within the IT industry requires professionals to continually update their skills. Employers prefer candidates who possess current technology certifications. Also, many IT jobs require work experience in a related field.

To stand out, you'll want to obtain industry credentials in network security, which may increase your opportunities for hire and earning potential. Vendor-neutral certifications are offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and include the Security + credential, which validate your skills in network security, threats, vulnerabilities and cryptography. You may also pursue vendor-sponsored certifications such as the Microsoft Certified IT Professional, especially if your employer utilizes this type of program or technology. Take advantage of internships to gain valuable work experience.

Bachelor's Degree in Network Security

A bachelor's degree program in network security provides a well-rounded education through coursework that includes substantial laboratory work. You'll learn to create computer networks from the ground up, perform ethical hacking tasks and learn to identify hacking scripts. This type of training will also provide you with the opportunity to work closely with your professors on real-life issues facing the industry. A bachelor's degree program combines courses in business, networking and technology. It prepares you for entry-level work as an information security analyst or network system administrator.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Comparatively high salaries with advancement opportunities to management positions
  • Detailed training and laboratory skills in networking environments
  • Employers prefer applicants with a bachelor's degree

Cons

  • Some jobs may require a master's degree
  • Certification may also be required for employment
  • Online degree programs may not provide enough hands-on experience

Courses and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program in network security allows you to broaden your knowledge in other areas as well. You may be exposed to courses in communications, project management, programming and database technology. Generally, you'll need to complete about 60 credits of major courses. These may include computer forensics, web programming, information security, defensive networking security and mathematics. Some programs may also require you to complete a computer science course, which focuses on algorithms, programming and problem solving.

Online Course Info

Bachelor's degree programs are available entirely online. Some offer an accelerated learning experience with courses that may last up to two months. You can select from several specializations, including security compliance, network infrastructure or computer forensics. In addition, some online programs offer a security capstone that similar to an internship. The capstone project allows students to apply their network security skills to an intensive collaborative project.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience is one of the most important components for obtaining work and advancement. Participating in a combination of capstone projects, internships and technology clubs will give you exposure to the networking environment, as well as to relevant technologies. You may also choose a specialization, such as hacking prevention or computer forensics, to increase your marketability.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
      • BS in Cybersecurity
      • BSIT - Information Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
      • Bachelor: Technology Management
      • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration
      • B.S. - Information Technology Admin and Management With No Declared Minor or Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cyber Security
      • B.S. in Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Information Systems
      • B.S. in Computer Programming
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology
      • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology - General
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Management Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    7. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Network Security
      • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Business Information Systems
      • B.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Cyber Forensics/Information Security
      • B.S.s - Management Information Systems
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Utica College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Information Assurance
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Cyber Operations
      • BS in Cybersecurity - Network Forensics and Intrusion Investigation
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
      • Online Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • BS in Information Technology/Information Security and Assurance
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BSIT - Information Management

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

  • B.S. - Information Technology: Security Technology Concentration
  • Bachelor: Technology Management
  • B.S. - Information Technology: Network Management Concentration

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Ashford University

  • B.A. - Business Information Systems

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Grand Canyon University

  • B.S. in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cyber Security
  • B.S. in Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology

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Virginia College

  • Bachelor: Management Information Systems

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ECPI University

  • Bachelor's - Network Security
  • Bachelor's - Cloud Computing

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Business Information Systems
  • B.S. General Studies - Computer Information Technology

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