Study Computer Security: Masters Degree, Certificate & Online Info

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What kind of job can you get with a degree or certificate in computer security? Find out degree requirements, online options and info on courses in computer security.
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Computer Security: Master's Degrees and Certificates at a Glance

Information security specialists research security trends, monitor networks for security breaches, develop security standards and install security software. As a computer security student, you'll study information policy, cryptography, e-commerce security and network defense. Master's and certificate holders may find careers as computer security specialists or analysts in enterprise, telecommunications, computer systems design, insurance, healthcare and government.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for computer security analysts is expected to be high, due to the growing use of digital data and the increase in cyber attacks. The BLS projected that the demand for information security analysts will increase by 22% from 2010-2020. Those with work experience will have the best opportunities.

Certificate Master's
Who Is This Degree For? Individuals working in computer science or information technology interested in expanding their skill set in computer security Individuals interested in management or supervision positions within computer security
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Information security analyst ($78,000)*
- Telecommunications security analyst ($88,000)*
- Chief information officer ($168,000)**
- Information security director ($143,000)**
Time to Completion About 1 semester 2 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Several courses- Graduate coursework
- Master's thesis/research paper (if applicable)
- Capstone project
Prerequisites - Bachelor's degree
- Relevant coursework
- Bachelor's degree
Relevant computer science coursework
- Work experience (if applicable)
Online Availability Yes Yes

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

Graduate Certificate in Computer Security

Graduate certificate programs in computer security are short programs that train professionals in current security protocols. Within the programs, you delve into networks and security, communication security protocols, intrusion detection systems, authentication, encryption, security criteria and network applications. Typically, you complete 2-3 required courses and can choose electives to round out your program. While graduate certificate programs lack in-depth research into security analysis, the programs do offer a broader computer security education to current computer science professionals.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Allow you to gain career training in computer science in a short period of time
  • Online programs are common
  • You can complete the program at your own pace

Cons

  • Programs lack research opportunities and in-depth exploration into computer security
  • A bachelor's degree and computer science experience are typically required
  • Experience may still be required for management or director positions

Courses and Requirements

Certificate programs are short, condensed programs that typically include core courses in computer security and network security. Students can choose to complete elective courses in areas like mobile security, web security, emerging threats and network defense. Courses explore fundamental concepts in cryptography and codes, the rise in computer-based information and e-commerce security.

Online Programs

Fully online certificate programs are common. These programs are taught by the same faculty as on-campus programs and include hands-on training exercises. Since the coursework is designed for working professionals, it can be completed at your own pace.

Getting Ahead With This Program

Since computer technology and cyber attacks are increasing in complexity, you can ensure that your skills are cutting-edge by exploring advanced topics with your elective courses. Coursework in advanced topics, such as cryptography, examine the current research and developments being used to improve security through computational and information theoretic secrecy. Additionally, with the push towards mobile and wireless application security, you may want to consider taking courses in wireless and mobile applications. These programs provide you with knowledge in secure routing, intrusion detection and wireless network authentication, which may be important to some employers.

Master's in Computer Security

In a master's degree program, you'll use coursework and research to analyze current policy, explore security strategies and evaluate policy impact. Research is a large component of the program, and thesis and non-thesis programs may be available. You may have the opportunity to complete real-world experiences, which will help you to meet the specific demands of the field that can't be taught in the classroom. Master's degree programs may allow you to concentrate in several areas of security, such as networks and information systems.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides in-depth research and real-world learning opportunities
  • Master's degrees may provide more job opportunities than a bachelor's degree
  • Online programs are available
  • Careers available in several companies, such as computer systems design, telecommunications, finance and management companies

Cons

  • Programs are typically designed for midcareer professionals and require work experience
  • Master's degrees are not required for entry-level work
  • It is a research intensive program and may require a capstone course or thesis

Courses and Requirements

Master's degree programs typically offer thesis and non-thesis options. These programs may also include real-world learning opportunities. Within the program, you'll learn to prevent software vulnerabilities, identify security breaches and audit systems. Typical courses you may complete in a master's degree program include:

  • Cyber crime investigation
  • Secure software
  • Cryptography
  • Policy
  • Secure operations

Online Programs

Fully online master's degree programs are widely available because these programs are designed for working professionals. Online programs include the same curricula as campus-based programs, but in a virtual classroom setting. While lectures are viewed online, you will still be required to complete weekly assignments and projects. Computer specific hardware and software may be required, such as operating systems or web browsers.

Getting Ahead With This Program

Since cyber attacks are growing in sophistication, information security specialists can stay ahead of the field by completing a research thesis or capstone course. These courses allow students to gain an in-depth understanding of the current problems found in the field. Additionally, you may choose to be certified in information security. Certification is available through associations, such as the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium and Global Information Assurance Certification. These certifications can familiarize you with the latest technology and procedures.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
      • MSM in Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology
      • Master: Information Technology - Project Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Tulane University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Claremont Graduate University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Information Systems & Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. South University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems (MS)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Information Technology Management
      • M.S. in Instructional Technology
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security
      • Master of Science in Cyber Security (Bridge)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Brenau University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Cybersecurity Management
      • Masters in Business Administration - Cybersecurity Management
  • Ames, IA

    Iowa State University

  • Ypsilanti, MI

    Eastern Michigan University

  • Troy, MI

    Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: IT/Information Security and Assurance
  • MSM in Information Technology
  • Master: Information Technology

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Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

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Claremont Graduate University

  • Master of Science in Information Systems & Technology

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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South University

  • Information Systems (MS)

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bridge to the M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • M.S. in Information Technology Management
  • M.S. in Instructional Technology

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Brenau University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership-Cybersecurity Management
  • Masters in Business Administration - Cybersecurity Management

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