Is an Online Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity Worth It?

Is an Online Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity Worth It?

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Key Takeaways

  • Deciding whether an online cybersecurity master’s degree is worth it depends on an individual’s goals, interests, and preferences.
  • A master’s degree can give cybersecurity professionals job security and the opportunity to advance to higher-level cybersecurity positions.
  • Certification is a good option if you already have cybersecurity employment experience, while a cybersecurity master’s degree is is better if you are looking to enter the field or advance to leadership positions.

An online master’s in cybersecurity degree can lead to a number of in-demand career options, many in high-paying fields. Learn more about the benefits of online master’s degree in cybersecurity programs.

Is an online master’s in cybersecurity worth it?

Businesses and the governments worldwide are susceptible to data breaches, espionage, theft, blackmail, and fraud. And today, all of these cyber threats can be carried out from a computer. Cybercrime is among the top problems that businesses and governments deal with.

Many of these crimes have financial motives. A single cyberattack may cost up to $200,000.

According to McAfee, cyberterrorism and other cyberthreats cost governments, companies, and people more than $1 trillion annually. Furthermore, it is expected that the total cost of cybercrime will be $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. These numbers highlight how economically devastating hacking and other cybercrime are and how exposed our sensitive digital data is.

However, cybercrime is preventable with enough skilled cybersecurity specialists. However, there are a lack of workers in the field.

There is currently a large workforce gap in the number of job openings for cybersecurity professionals needed and the number of cybersecurity experts available. What’s more, the gap just keeps getting wider.

This is good news for those who are attracted to the job security and higher than average pay in this in-demand field.While anyone with a few professional certificates in cybersecurity and a lot of practice can pursue entry-level jobs, it often takes an advanced degree to qualify for executive-level positions in business, government, or finance. Promotion is aided by experience, but a higher degree is a more surefire route to advancement.

Find out more about the best online master’s degrees in cybersecurity can lead to leadership roles and a higher salary. If you are interested in finishing your degree in less time, consider earning an accelerated master’s in cybersecurity from one of the best schools.

cyber security professionals working during a cyber threat
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What is an online master’s in cybersecurity?

Online master’s degree programs in cybersecurity are similar to their on-campus programs. You will study the same topics as you would in person, have the same number of credits, and learn from the same instructors teaching on-campus courses. The primary difference between an online and on-campus program is the convenience and flexibility.

Similar to the traditional brick-and-mortar master’s degree, an online master’s in cybersecurity is an advanced two-year graduate degree where you’ll focus on a specific area of cybersecurity like software development, network and computer security systems, and systems vulnerability analysis. These degree programs can also focus on areas like database administration, cloud security and computing, and system security resiliency.

The online master’s in cybersecurity degree is a good degree because it can lead to high-paying specialized or leadership roles.

There are various delivery formats for graduate degrees in cybersecurity. Some online master’s degree programs are fully online, which means that students are not required to step foot on campus. Other online master’s degrees are hybrid, which means that students are required to complete some classes online and some in person.

Depending on a person’s goals and interests, an online master’s degree program in cybersecurity can be worth it. The online master’s in cybersecurity is a convenient and flexible way to earn a valuable advanced degree.

It can lead to specialized jobs in network security, risk management for computer networks, security surveillance, and more. The online master’s in cybersecurity can also lead to leadership roles and higher pay.

Students who earn a master’s in cybersecurity have a lot of career options including leadership roles in corporations, financial institutions, or with government agencies, like the National Security Agency (NSA) or Homeland Security. Graduates with a cybersecurity masters are in high demand.

Job Outlook for Online Cybersecurity Graduates

cyber security professional working on a laptop

A cybersecurity expert with a master’s degree will discover their professional skills will be in high demand. The career prognosis for cybersecurity is favorable, and there are numerous advanced cybersecurity positions for master’s degree holders. Cybersecurity master’s degrees allow students to do a lot of specialized jobs and leadership roles in computer and network security.

As a very in-demand field, students who get an online master’s degree in cybersecurity have a good chance to earn a higher than average salary. The most common cybersecurity jobs for those with an online degree in cybersecurity is Cybersecurity Analyst.

Some graduates will specifically go into Information Security Analysis. Information security analysts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), have a median annual pay of $103,590 and expected job growth of 35 percent.

And because cyber security is necessary in all fields that use computers, you can break into several industries and obtain high-paying positions. Some areas where cybersecurity experts are hired include:

  • E-Commerce
  • Education
  • Banking and Finance
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government agencies (local, state, and federal)
  • Research and Development

Governmental organizations like Homeland Security were established to safeguard against and stop cyber-attacks due to impending risks like hacking or downloading viruses. Security guards or cybercrime detectives are frequently recruited by private businesses and the public sector to protect against and stop assaults from inside and outside the organization.

Jobs for masters-level cyber security specialists can be found in organizations like AT&T and Google, as well as the Department of Defense, NSA, and all branches of the armed forces.

Those job titles can range widely, from Entry-Level Security Technician to Chief Information Security Officers (CISO). A master’s degree will easily get you into positions similar to CISO. Other job titles include:

Security Architect

Average Annual Salary: $132,623

Security architects develop and maintain the security infrastructure, rules, and practices of an organization. These professionals are responsible for setting and implementing security procedures, managing system tests to ensure the organization’s security framework effectively protects computer networks and data.

Security Auditor

Average Annual Salary: $128,870

Security auditors analyze a company’s systems, policies, and procedures, taking a broad perspective to identify any issues. They gather and analyze information about information systems, governance, data storage, security protocols, and other topics, and ensure the business complies with laws governing IT practices like data storage and protection.

Penetration Tester

Average Annual Salary: $116,104

Penetration testers evaluate the security weaknesses and strengths within a business. They simulate cyberattacks and security breaches from the perspective of a cybercriminal and compile their research into risk assessment reports. Penetration testers may also work with companies to create mitigation strategies for such weaknesses.

cyber security professional working on a laptop

Vulnerability Assessor

Average Annual Salary: $91,120

These professionals specialize in locating, evaluating, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in computer networks, systems, apps, and other digital assets. Their main objective is to identify vulnerabilities that online attackers might use and to suggest relevant countermeasures.

Security Administrator

Average Annual Salary: $89,692

Security administrators are responsible for the safekeeping of an organization’s security infrastructure. Their primary concern is developing and overseeing security protocols to safeguard a company’s digital assets.

Digital Forensics

Average Annual Salary: $81,410

These professionals research and analyze digital evidence to elucidate the specifics of cybercrimes, security breaches, and other digital incidents. They play a critical role in comprehending the extent of incidents, locating offenders, and giving proof for legal actions.

Security Manager

Average Annual Salary: $76,229

Teams of cybersecurity analysts who work together to defend a company from cyber threats are managed by cybersecurity managers. Job duties of security managers may include penetration testing, encryption, firewall implementation, and tracking data flow into and out of their organization’s networks. They also keep up with new vulnerabilities and seek to prevent danger to their organizations.

Are online master’s in cybersecurity respected?

Online master’s in cybersecurity degrees are respected as long as they come from good schools. Employers respect online master’s in cybersecurity degree online from accredited grad schools.

Accreditation is very important. Accreditation means your degree comes from a school that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

There are two kinds of accreditation—national accreditation and regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is superior to national accreditation.

An online master’s in cybersecurity degree from a regionally accredited college or university will be respected by employers. Check out the best online master’s degrees in cybersecurity to make sure you are getting a respected online cybersecurity degree.

An online master’s degree in cybersecurity is definitely worth it, and if you are looking for the nuts and bolts of earning that degree, check out our article How to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity.

Professional Certifications vs. Master’s in Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity field is vast. There are several ways to jumpstart a career in the field, including earning an advanced degree or industry certifications after a bachelor’s degree.

Another option is to pursue online courses, some of which are free. Although several online courses are available, certificates and degrees are the primary entry points to land a cybersecurity job. Both have advantages of their own and present opportunities for one’s career.

Remember that a cyber security certificate, degree, or other credentials may not be relevant to professional advancement in this industry. Because achieving success in this field necessitates lifelong learning, cyber security experts frequently have resumés jam-packed with credentials, including graduate degrees and certifications.

However, there are several significant distinctions between cyber security certificates and degrees in terms of the caliber of education, amount of training, level of qualification, and job possibilities.

Nature of Training

Cyber security certifications are best for professionals seeking to obtain a particular knowledge set like picking up new technologies or skill sets. Specific certifications are more practical and hands-on.

On the other hand, students seeking to broaden their cyber security knowledge should pursue master’s degree programs. An online master’s degree gives students an in-depth understanding of cybersecurity concepts, methods, and practices.

It can provide you with a solid foundation in computer science subjects and covers a wide range of topics. A master’s degree can open doors for research projects and academic positions.

Time Commitment

Because certifications focus on a particular skill set and cyber security area, they demand fewer hours of study or training. Master’s degrees, because they offer a more in-depth study, require a bigger time commitment.


An online master’s degree in cybersecurity can cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands per year. The length of the program and the institution’s tuition fees will determine the overall cost.

Certification can range significantly in price. Costs range from a few hundred dollars for entry-level certificates like CompTIA Security+ to over $600 for more advanced credentials like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Qualification Level

Certifications can help persons trying to further their careers in a specific field because they are frequently viewed as a method to show proficiency in that field. But employers prefer degrees, making them a better choice for people looking to further their careers.

Future Job Prospects

The chances securing a career in cyber security rely on your degree and credentials. A degree may offer up more advanced employment prospects, such as management or research responsibilities in the future, while certifications may lead to specialized roles in cyber security.

Is an online cybersecurity master’s worth it?

Absolutely! A master’s degree program in cybersecurity can lead to a number of in-demand career options, many with higher than average pay.

The online master’s degree in cybersecurity program is designed to be flexible. Working adults can earn their online master’s degree in cybersecurity by completing self-paced courses or attending online lectures at night. This makes the online master’s degree in cybersecurity worth it for cybersecurity professionals who want career advancement and higher pay.

An online master’s degree in cybersecurity is definitely worth it, and if you are looking for the nuts and bolts of earning that degree, check out our article How to Get an Online Master’s in Cybersecurity.

Student Submitted Questions on Online Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity

Ronnie asks, “How frequently is curriculum in an online master’s in cybersecurity updated to reflect current cybersecurity trends and threats?”

Dr. James Barham’s answer: This will vary largely by program, but due to the ever-evolving nature of this field, curriculum updates should be made regularly. Especially in top tier programs, these regular updates should occur quickly after new threats, technologies, and methodologies are created to ensure that students have a competitive edge upon entering the field.

Chad asks, “How does the program ensure that students gain practical skills in using current cybersecurity tools and technologies?”

Dr. Jed Macosko’s answer: A critical component of a solid education in cybersecurity is practicing the skills and using the tools necessary to succeed in this field. Many programs will accomplish this with virtual labs, cloud-based platforms, capstone and collaborative projects, internships, and workshops. Look for programs that are well connected in the industry so that you can see what kind of practical experiences you might be a part of.

Millie asks, “Are there opportunities for online students to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, or cybersecurity competitions?”

Dr. James Barham’s answer: Many online cybersecurity programs host extracurricular activities and cybersecurity competitions you can join, even if you are not on campus. Look into what options your specific program has to make sure you get connected with the opportunities available.

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