Best Cyber Security Master's Programs

Cyber Security Master's programs may help students build the managerial and technical knowledge involved in the protection of critical data. Global threats to information safety are on the rise. As a result, many universities offer Cyber Security Masters programs to help prepare graduates to tackle some of today’s complex information assurance challenges. For instance, through their courses, students may develop a grasp of how to prevent and detect cyberattacks, cybercrime and cyberwarfare.i Also, they could learn to design and implement security measures, and to address threats from network outages, computer viruses and hackers.

best cyber security masters programs infographicwritten by Rana Waxman

Masters in Cyber Security Overview

Sometimes referred to as Masters in Information Security programs, a range of Masters in Cyber Security programs are available to meet different needs. Some may look at security issues through the lens of technology and computer science. Other programs might discuss risk analysis, government policy and strategy. These programs might help develop administrative skills. As a graduate, you could be versed in how to create policy, manage information continuity, lead teams, navigate compliance and more.

Potential Application Requirements

The diversity of Masters in Cyber Security program goals means there could be a large range of application requirements. Certain cyber security masters programs could ask applicants to have a bachelors degree in cyber security, computer science, IT or a related field. In these programs, coursework might start out with more advanced topics to build upon prior study.

Other programs could require a bachelors in any major. These programs may presume that students have little or no previous experience and may provide courses in basic principles at the outset. However, applicants to certain information security masters programs may

have to take prerequisite courses in topics such as networking and programming. 

Masters in Cyber Security Degree Requirements

Masters in Cyber Security degree requirements vary in terms of courses, credits, and time to completion. Some programs entail about 30 credits and could consist of a series of core courses, approved electives, cybersecurity research and a capstone or thesis. On average, this could take a full-time student about one to two years to complete.

Masters Degree in Cyber Security Coursework

Students who pursue a Masters in Cybersecurity could complete core coursework in digital forensics, cyber intelligence, cryptography, ethical hacking, and other security-related concerns. A typical curriculum could draw content from the items below.

  • Information systems audit
  • Firewalls and lines of defense
  • Analysis of malware and malicious software
  • Incident response
  • Implement technical and administrative control measures
  • World Wide Web security
  • Business decisions and strategy based on IT

Since each cyber security masters degree has a slightly different focus, read through each school’s syllabus.

Types of Cybersecurity Masters Degrees

Masters in Cyber Security programs may take on several forms, from the Master of Science (MS) to the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. MS programs often discuss issues of information safety from the lens of computer science. These might provide a more technical point of view. Cyber MBA programs might expand on key managerial concepts for those who aspire to lead projects and teams. They could also explore courses in some computer security disciplines. Consider your interests and career goals to choose the best masters degree in cyber security for you.

MBA in Cyber Security

In MBA Cyber Security programs, students may gain the managerial knowledge to lead projects and teams, as well as the technical know-how to grasp key computer security concepts. Some MBA in Cyber Security programs entail about 36 credits. Typically, students take a series of courses where they might expand their grasp of key business processes. Core courses could span financial management, human resources, customer care, communication, systems and business leadership.

In addition to the required business administration courses, students who focus on cyber security may be required to take about 12 extra credits. These courses discuss issues of information security from the context of complex business operations. Cyber MBA students might, for example, study the ins and outs of how to assess and manage risks. They could also learn how to identify security threats and system vulnerabilities, as well as how to design and implement safeguards.


Per the BLS, “Employers of information security analysts sometimes prefer applicants who have a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems.” i

Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy

Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis programs may be designed as non-technical programs that blend policy, principles and practices. This type of program may appeal to current cybersecurity professionals who hope to learn about recent trends and potentially avoid and manage the risks of security threats to networks, data, and other assets.

Some MPS courses could explore foundational theory in cyber law, public policy and ethics. Other courses might focus on areas such as policy and professional responsibility, cyber espionage, surveillance, and cyber data fusion. Students could analyze data, policy, and intelligence to get into the minds of adversaries and predict their actions.

Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management

A Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management might help students develop their ability to lead, collaborate and create security policies and practices. Coursework is likely to blend theory, industry research, and decision analysis. Students might also study how to think critically and apply cybersecurity science and technology to mitigate risk.

Master of Science in Information Assurance

The Masters in Information Assurance may help students acquire the technical knowledge required to protect crucial data from hackers and viruses. Some programs entail required courses, and either a practicum, graduate capstone or graduate thesis.

Courses could start out with an introduction to key information systems concepts, system architecture and IT research methods. Other required courses could explore ways to manage a secure enterprise, evaluate risk and recover from security breaches.

In some schools, students in a MS Information Assurance program might tailor their degree through a concentration. These areas of emphasis could vary between universities. 

  • Cybersecurity: Students who focus on cyber security could survey key aspects of computer systems, as well as laws and legal issues that are associated with cyber and information security. Moreover, students could take courses in offensive cyber security where they might be exposed to topics such as reconnaissance, high-jacking, cracking, vulnerability exploitation, and malware deployment.
  • IA Policy Management: Students who focus their degree with a concentration in IA Policy Management could learn to view IT strategy with a focus on security policy development, procedures and IT security strategy. Some courses are likely to explore high-level threat control and data privacy. Other courses could discuss laws, regulations, legal issues and trends associated with cyber and information security.

Master of Science in Computer Science / Computer Systems Security

A Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program typically centers on a set of core courses which are designed to provide the student with a grasp of several areas in the field. These are operating systems and networking, computer system architecture and the software system engineering processes.

Students who pursue an area of emphasis in computer systems security could take extra courses that build on the MSCS core. These courses could include digital forensics, security management and software information assurance. Other courses might zero in on different types of security for operating systems and networks.

Master of Science in Computer Science / Cyber Security

The Master of Science in Computer Science with a focus in cyber security highlights computer research, and the design of digital tools and technology to help fight cyber crimes. Students in this type of program could learn how to identify cyber threats as well as create responses to these risks. For instance, they might explore data encryption and verification methods, user authentication and reverse-engineering for malware. Students could also learn to design software and networks that resist and mitigate cyber-attacks.

Master of Science in Information Technology / Information Assurance

Students in a Master of Science in Information Technology program with a focus in Information Assurance and Security could develop the technical and business knowledge to protect data assets. On the administrative side, some courses might examine management skills as they relate to the IT industry and topics like privacy, legal and policy issues. Other courses could help students examine computer networking concepts to translate business objectives into network design.

With respect to security technologies, some courses could discuss operating systems, database management systems, and computer networks. Other classes may explore how to use secure protocols through applied cryptography, audit systems, and risk identification. As a result, students may acquire a sense of how to make network-related business decisions.  

Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy

A Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy degree program may be designed to provide information technology professionals with a basic grasp of cybersecurity issues. Consequently, it may be less technical than some of the other Masters in Cyber Security programs. Rather, it might help students make informed decisions about policy for cybersecurity issues in the public or private sector. Coursework could cover IT management, IT/Computer Science and cybersecurity law and policy for those who require some baseline knowledge of cybersecurity issues.

MS/JD Cybersecurity / Law Dual Degree

Students who want to double up on graduate degrees might explore a Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Cyber Security (JD/MSCS). This type of degree is likely to provide an integrative education in both technology and the law of information security. The joint degree program might allow a student to earn both the Master of Science in Cyber Security (JD/MSCS) and Juris Doctor (JD) in an accelerated period of study. In some schools, students who enroll in the JD/MSCS program must complete 18 of the credits for the master’s degree and 78 credits of the credits for the law degree.

Master of Science in Computing Security

A Computer Security Masters degree program could be designed for individuals whose undergraduate major or minor was in a computer science discipline such as Engineering, Science, or Mathematics. Since it is presumed students already have a solid grasp of theory, courses could build on pre-requisite knowledge.

Classes could, as a result, dive into computer security concepts and practices from various points of view. Among them, software engineering, computer science, mobile computing, computer networking, policy and risk management, and systems administration. Some of the required courses might include security theory, forensics, and cryptography. Approved electives could help develop more breadth and depth. Finally, there may be a thesis, project or capstone course which could help students prepare for further academic study.

On-Campus or Online Masters in Cybersecurity?

If you can’t make it to the campus, several Cyber Security schools and universities offer online Masters in Cyber Security programs. You might be able to study full-time or part-time. Follow up with programs to learn more and  choose whatever format is convenient for your busy personal and professional life.


Whether you prefer the virtual or in-person classroom, you may want to look for a masters cybersecurity program from a regionally or nationally accredited university. Accreditation refers to a voluntary process where a school is reviewed periodically to see if it meets quality standards.

Also, you may find programs that are individually approved by professional agencies. For instance, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) program. CAEs are academic institutions and programs that have undergone an in-depth review. They have met the rigorous requirements to be designated a Center of Academic Excellence.ii

Continued Education

For some students, the masters degree in Cyber Security is a platform for continued education. At the doctoral level, you might find programs that tackle management. The Doctor of Business Administration – Computer and Information Security is one example. As alternatives, you might consider either a research-oriented PhD or practice-focused Doctor of Computer Science in Information Assurance. If this is your intention, make sure you choose a Masters in Cyber Security program that best supports this goal.

Cyber Security Career Outlook

Due to the broad range of programs, graduates of a Masters in Cyber Security program may be prepared to pursue a variety of career paths. Computer and information research, IT manager, Chief Technology Officer and Security Analyst are a few examples. At present, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an 18 percent growth in employment from 2014 to 2024 for information security analysts. Two sectors where this growth might be seen are in the federal government and health care industry.i

Did you know that according to TechCrunch there are too few cyber security professionals for 2019? Learn more about why getting a masters in cybersecurity might be worth it.

Find You Cyber Security Masters Program

Information security professionals must continually adapt and learn to stay ahead of cyber attackers. Which Masters in Cybersecurity will help you in your quest to protect vital data?
Narrow your search by program format or location. Then, easily compare programs from your list, and contact schools directly with the on-page form.

[i] | [ii]

  • IT majors including cybersecurity, IT Management and software development.
  • Some of the nation's most affordable tuition rates, from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
  • Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
  • No application fee for April & June terms! Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 
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