The world of technology and internet connectivity has made life so much easier in many ways, but it has also new threats and concerns with personal and data security. Cyberthreats have both personal and corporate entities on alert, as reports of network hacks, data breaches, phishing scams, password theft and cyber crimes happen daily across the globe. Reports have blamed cyberspace and the threats it holds for tampering with elections, jeopardizing consumer security and sabotaging key infrastructure around the globe. If you want to join a profession that is in growing in need but also offer exciting opportunities to mitigate cyber threats, you may want to consider a degree in cybersecurity.

College Requirements

There are multiple degree options if you are interested in higher education. All degree coursework will have some prerequisites, whether it be a high school diploma or a passing score on a general education equivalency exam (GED). To pursue the highest levels of instruction in your field, such as a master or doctorate degree, you will need to have first earned your bachelor's degree. This is often a four-year program that lays the foundation of your field and provides a strong overview of the theories and applications associated with your discipline. There are many options for pursuing your education in cybersecurity at this level, such as enrolling in a brick-and-mortar institution or pursuing distance learning. 

Moving on past a bachelor's level will mean you pursue either an online Masters in Cybersecurity or an engineering program that focuses on cybersecurity through a course held on campus. The type of graduate degree that you seek will have some coursework variation according to the school where you enroll and the overall focus of the program. There are options for a Master of Science in Information Security, Master in Digital Technology Management or a Master of Information and Cybersecurity.  The field is still breaking new ground, and new areas of interest and study are to be expected as the industry grows and realizes the need for further training and preparation.

The Skills Needed

Though the specific coursework may vary between institutions, the purpose of each program is often very similar. Areas of study are directed towards the essential skills that are needed to protect government agencies and thriving corporations from the latest security threats. Most programs include study in skills such as network creation and monitoring, threat detection, prevention, protection, troubleshooting, data synthesis and complex system analysis. The online learning environment includes activities and resources to help the student become proficient in these areas, although classroom instruction provides the benefit of an on-site professor for more immediate feedback.

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Instructional Methods

For many, attending class online is the only way to pursue their academic goals while managing their careers and attending to domestic priorities. Adult students find online coursework to be the most conducive to the scheduling needs their busy lives have, and their quality of instruction is on par with traditional classroom lectures and labs. The classroom instruction will provide opportunities for collaboration among peers, offer live or recorded class sessions, provide access to an instructor who is usually highly experienced in the field, present learning opportunities through creative idea sharing and application-based assignments and encourage self-directed learning through a research thesis or capstone project. Graduate coursework is often more focused on stretching basic understanding into more targeted areas of application and change.

The Benefits of Choosing A Graduate Degree

Though there may be a strong interest in learning more about cybersecurity issues, many individuals pursue graduate coursework for the earning potential that comes with an advanced degree. Those who hold a graduate degree earn an average of $17,000 more a year compared to those with bachelor’s degrees. Career advancement is another reason to earn a master’s degree, as employers often look for advanced degrees to have more qualified individuals on staff. For others, a graduate degree opens up an opportunity to make a career change.

Higher education can open many doors if individuals are willing to put in the time and commitment to completing a program of study. Earning a master’s in cybersecurity provides openings for defending the country’s companies and government agencies from devastating cyber attacks.  

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