Best Online Master’s Program in Cybersecurity: Guide to Online Programs for 2023

As technology advances, the danger posed by cyber threats proportionately increases. New data from Check Point Research shows that cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022 (Check Point Research, 2023). To keep the digital public safe, cybersecurity professionals create security protocols and enhance security systems that detect threats and curb attacks. As such, cybersecurity is in high demand in today’s landscape.

To become cybersecurity specialists, students must earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or any related field. Although this is sufficient to land a job as an information security analyst, many enterprises prefer graduates who have earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity, given their superior proficiency in safeguarding networks. Master’s degree holders will have greater access to the surging job market for cybersecurity specialists, which, according to recent education statistics, will grow by 35% from 2021 to 2031 (BLS, 2022).

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In this article, the details surrounding an online master’s in cybersecurity will be discussed, including the expected courses, costs, and requirements. Our team of experts has also compiled the best online master’s in cybersecurity degrees on the market. By reading this guide, students will have an easier time applying for an online program.

Online Master’s Programs in Cybersecurity Table of Contents

Can you get a degree completely online?

The courses of online cybersecurity degrees are fully online but there are also some schools that offer hybrid programs, which have a mix of online and in-person courses. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced postsecondary institutions to offer fully online degrees, cybersecurity programs were the easiest to digitalize since most of the courses are conducted in front of a computer and the discipline doesn’t require as much fieldwork as other degrees.

Moreover, distance learning was the primary mode of education at the height of the pandemic and continues to be a viable option in this day and age. Data from Coursera shows that the number of registered students for its online programs drastically rose from 71 million in 2020 to 92 million in 2021 (Coursera, 2021). Likewise, the number of enrollments for online programs spiked from 143 million to 189 million in the same period. A similar trend can be seen with enrollments in postsecondary institutions, based on the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) figures.

Although face-to-face classes have returned, the share of students taking online programs remains high.

Source: Coursera, 2021

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

They will. The prominence of online degrees during the peak pandemic years made them respected means of education in the eyes of employers. After all, according to the NCES, the number of students enrolled in online programs increased by a staggering 97% year-over-year in the Fall of 2020. What’s more, the number of learners enrolling in online degrees was already on the rise prior to COVID-19 (NCES, 2021).

Online programs are now recognized as effective alternatives to campus-based education. In fact, many people view online degrees in the same regard as their traditional counterparts.

the number of students enrolled in online programs has increased 97%

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Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

At the height of COVID-19, 90% of highly developed countries turned to online education so as to continue the scholastic activities of learners despite the school closures while 53% of low-income countries did the same (UNESCO, 2022). These figures likely increased for both types of nations as the global society went deeper into the pandemic. In addition, many of the online programs offered by postsecondary institutions were and continue to be extended to the global market, to grant opportunities to everyone who wants to learn.

The globalization of online education has made online degrees universally recognized as proof of learners’ education and competency in their respective fields.

Source: UNESCO, 2022

Online vs. Traditional Master’s Programs in Cybersecurity

Traditional and online master’s in cybersecurity are similar in terms of coursework since the major courses take place on a computer. In addition, online lectures are conducted through live sessions, which simulate classroom discussions. However, the two modes of instruction do have their share of differences, primarily when it comes to schedule, pacing, and learning experience.

While both traditional and online programs carry around 30 to 33 units, the time it takes to complete them may vary. The same applies to the pacing of lessons and making adjustments to the capacity of learners.  Due to the distinct advantages of each mode of instruction, many postsecondary institutions offer online, traditional, and hybrid degrees in cybersecurity.

Schedule and Pacing

Traditional degrees in cybersecurity implement a set schedule for all classes to follow. Students who miss a class will have to read up on the lessons and answer exercises on their own or attend a remedial class at the discretion of the instructor. For online degrees, the schedule is more relaxed, especially for programs that adopt asynchronous learning.

Many online programs afford students the flexibility to learn at their own pace and increase their concentration on areas that are hard to grasp, sometimes at the expense of taking longer to finish courses. Interestingly, students can potentially earn a degree faster with online programs since they have the freedom to take as many courses as they want daily, as long as they can manage the heavy workload. The duration is even shorter if a program credits courses from previous educational institutions.

Learning Experience

With traditional programs, students listen to instructors to absorb lessons and interact with peers and teachers to clarify points that are confusing or aren’t fully understood. They can join study groups to further enhance their knowledge.

Online degrees, on the other hand, have a more personal approach to learning since students are typically alone on their computers, although they can interact with classmates through messaging tools. The structures of these programs are not as rigid as traditional ones, so instructors can opt to spend more time clarifying unclear points. Moreover, the modules used by online programs provide access to many source materials and sample scenarios to help students imbibe complex topics.

Teaching Methods

Given the computer-dependent nature of cybersecurity courses, the teaching methods applied for both traditional and online degrees are similar. Classroom lectures are effectively simulated by videos and live footage on the learning management systems (LMS) for education used by schools. An inherent advantage of online programs is that students can replay parts of lectures that are difficult to understand, which is not always possible in face-to-face programs since teachers are tasked to finish a fixed number of lessons per day and set the learning pace of the entire class.

Is an online degree cheaper?

Online degrees are generally more affordable than their classroom-based counterparts since students are not using a school’s non-virtual facilities to learn and do not have to deal with routine expenses like transportation, rent, and restaurant meals in or near schools.

However, these programs come with their own sets of expenditures, which include the use of the school’s LMS, the coursework, the various software systems used for the various branches of cybersecurity, and the support services for maintaining the software. Additionally, students would need a desktop or laptop and a stable internet connection to run the school’s LMS and the other programs needed for the courses.

Is an online degree as good as a traditional one?

Traditional and online degrees in cybersecurity are nearly identical in content, with most of the major courses conducted using a computer. For this alone, the two types are already on par with one another. There are areas where traditional degrees hold an advantage such as direct access to physical resources, networking with teachers and students, and the predisposition to focus and be disciplined with one’s studies.

However, online degrees have the edge in a lot of significant areas as well. Students can adjust their schedules to match their learning pace. They can also do other things concurrent with their studies, especially working students and those who have started families. Moreover, the best cybersecurity graduate programs recognize transferrable credit, which shortens the duration of earning a degree. The course materials used have even led to a 20% to 60% increase in student retention rates (Christians, 2022).

In a nutshell, taking an online program is just as good as enrolling in a traditional one.

20% to 60% increase in student retention rates with online degrees

How much does an online master’s program in cybersecurity cost?

The tuition fees for online master’s degrees in cybersecurity tend to vary per state, postsecondary institution, and how close a student is to the campus. According to a report by the University of San Diego (2022), the average total cost of taking up a master’s degree in cybersecurity ranges from $20,000 to $40,000. This includes the tuition costs and the expenses from the use of school facilities.

Online programs, including the best online cybersecurity degrees, are usually part of this spectrum’s lower end since distance-learning students do not use classrooms and the school’s non-virtual facilities. Online costs revolve around coursework, LMS use, software licenses, instructor pay, and support services.

Data from Data USA presents a similar range of tuition costs for computer and information systems security degrees, including master’s programs in cybersecurity. The portal shows that the median tuition cost for in-state students of public schools is $6,930 while the median cost for out-of-state students of private schools is $33,070 (Data USA, n.d.).

Postsecondary institutions post the tuition costs on their website and also offer estimations based on each type of program.

Is an online master’s program in cybersecurity worth it?

There is a huge demand for cybersecurity specialists in the global market. A viable way to become one is by earning a degree from any of the best online master’s in cybersecurity programs available. In 2022, the cybersecurity workforce reached an all-time high with 4.7 million professionals on active duty but despite this, the global market reports a shortage of at least 3.4 million workers (Lake, 2022). This bodes well for graduates since the market suggests an explicit need for their competencies, and with high demand comes strong compensation packages.

Over the course of eight years, from 2013 to 2021, the number of unfilled positions for cybersecurity specialists jumped by an astounding 350% (Morgan, 2021). And this is expected to grow at an even faster rate in the coming years, given today’s rapid rate of technological advancements and the ongoing development of large-scale technologies like the Metaverse and AI.

Graduates in the coming years are expected to ride this wave and easily find promising career opportunities. As for online programs, a 2019 survey shows that over 75% of employers see online degrees as a valued means of receiving education (Wintemute, 2022), This was before the COVID-19 pandemic and the ubiquity of distance learning programs. The number is surely higher in today’s times.

Source: (ISC)2, 2022; Cybersecurity Ventures, 2021

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What are the requirements of an online master’s program in cybersecurity?

As with online degrees in accounting, learners are expected to have respectable grades in high school and in the previous postsecondary institutions attended since colleges and universities that offer the best online cybersecurity degree programs want to ensure that their students are capable of learning and mastering the various concepts surrounding cybersecurity. Recommendations from former teachers strengthen one’s application as these ascertain the skills and study habits of aspirants. Moreover, an applicant must have the necessary equipment to seamlessly run a school’s LMS.

Admission Requirements

  • Official Transcripts. Official transcripts from previous institutions attended that show a learner’s GPA and finished courses are required by postsecondary institutions to gauge the intellectual capacity of applicants. These enable school officials to determine if an applicant can complete a cybersecurity master’s program.
  • Resume and Work Experience. Applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree and entered the professional realm are required to submit their resumes, which indicates their work experience and their responsibilities at work. They should also submit professional certifications obtained to further strengthen their application.
  • Application Form and Fee. Schools require applicants to submit an accomplished application form along with the payment for application fees and related dues. Application forms can be downloaded from a postsecondary institution’s website.
  • Standardized Test. Applicants must submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores with their application. Having a high GRE signifies that a learner has the capacity to imbibe master’s level courses and accomplish complex exercises and exams.
  • Essay. Submitting an essay boosts one’s application since it explicitly states an applicant’s goals for earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity and the level of dedication committed to finishing the program. It also highlights an applicant’s communication skills.
  • Recommendation Letters. Letters of recommendation from previous employers and teachers reflect the proficiency of an applicant and their attitude toward work and growth. Around two or three letters can be submitted with one’s application.

General Requirements

  • Analytical Skills. Cybersecurity specialists constantly monitor networks and computer systems to improve security protocols, prevent breaches, and analyze risks. The job requires analytical skills since specialists need to identify potential weak spots or entry points for malware and hackers.
  • Problem-solving Skills. In the event of a malware attack or a data breach, cybersecurity specialists should be able to identify threats, remove these from the system, fix system flaws, and find ways to prevent attacks of a similar nature from occurring again. Students are expected to develop the critical thinking needed to properly respond to cyberattacks.
  • Detail-oriented Mindset. Cyberattacks are not easy to detect, thus having a keen eye for detail helps in this regard. Through the course of the cybersecurity program, students will develop the ability to observe minute differences in computer performance and any odd behavior that a system is displaying.
  • Creativity. This skill is not unique to students of graphic design degree programs. Skilled cybersecurity specialists are a step ahead of cyber attackers as they anticipate potential attacks in the future and design network security protocols based on the latest tech trends. Students are expected to keep abreast of recent trends and tap into their creativity to come up with relevant security solutions.
  • Communication Skills. In enhancing security protocols and policies, cybersecurity analysts have to explain to top management the potential threats, the needs of the current system, and how the proposed system meets or surpasses those needs. Students are expected to develop the skills to communicate technical concepts to non-tech-savvy individuals.

Technological Requirements

Online master’s degrees in cybersecurity require students to access the LMS used by the school since it contains the lessons, lectures, exercises, homework, quizzes, and other learning materials. As such, students need to have a desktop or laptop that fits the technical requirements of the LMS and a mobile device for remote tasks. In addition, a stable internet is required for the LMS to run. The complete list of technical requirements is posted on the websites of postsecondary institutions.

$6930 for a cyebrsecurity degree for in-state public schools, $33,070 for out-of-state public schools

Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Programs in Cybersecurity

Master’s programs in cybersecurity feature a deep dive into various concentrations. These often include networks, systems, security analysis, and autonomous networks. The major courses build on the knowledge and skills developed during the course of earning a computer or IT-related bachelor’s degree. Moreover, these are designed to add to the extant literature on digital security, given the fast-evolving nature of technology and computer systems.

After all, the advancement of technology paves the way for new sets of security concerns. Currently, the biggest ones are the growing number of cyber criminals (52%), privacy issues (47%), the wide variety of cyberattacks (47%), the scale of possible attacks (46%), and the increased data reliance (44%) (CompTIA, 2022).

According to a study by Mishra, Alzoubi, Anwar, & Gill (2022), “Attributes impacting cybersecurity policy development: An evidence from seven nations” published by Computers & Security, “To combat cybercrime, there should be well-established policies, as well as the identification of critical cybersecurity traits so that a comprehensive policy can be devised.” The coursework for the best online degree in cybersecurity aims to accomplish this.

  • Network Security. This course explores the structures of computer networks and the various forms of protection that can be implemented, including firewalls, authentication layers, and watermarking. Students will learn the appropriate security measures to apply for any given cyber threat.
  • Information Security. This course presents the cybersecurity models and policies applicable at varying scales and threat levels. It underscores various approaches to establishing and enhancing a cybersecurity ecosystem, accounting for governance, deployment, and diplomacy.
  • Cryptography. This course navigates cryptography and its wide range of applications. The lessons students are expected to encounter include encryption and the use of digital signatures. In addition, the course focuses on cryptography’s outcomes in regard to data privacy and data integrity. Students will learn how to establish methods to safeguard different types of systems and networks.
  • Computer Systems. This course highlights the programming involved when developing computer security. Students will learn how to build and design security features, with the lessons touching on database security, kernel design, and application of authentication methods, among many others.
  • Cybersecurity Practicum. The best online master’s in cybersecurity have culmination activities that have students apply their skills in live scenarios as they temporarily work for the IT or cybersecurity departments of enterprises. Serving as the capstone for the program, the practicum trains students to become professionals and lets them see the level of knowledge and skill required in actual cybersecurity jobs.

Source: CompTIA, 2022

Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Program in Cybersecurity

Given the high demand for cybersecurity, many of the world’s leading postsecondary institutions offer online master’s degrees in cybersecurity. While there may be unique features offered in online master’s programs in cybersecurity, common features similar to those in other programs, like online bachelor’s degree in business, are things to look for as well. To narrow down your choices, consider several of the following.


Since the major courses of cybersecurity degrees are conducted on a computer, postsecondary institutions have no trouble translating the coursework for online, on-ground, and hybrid programs. As such, many colleges and universities offer all modes of instruction, or at least online and on-campus programs. This means learners have a lot of worthwhile options regardless of the type of instruction they prefer.


The best online cybersecurity degrees have accreditation from the Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE), which is backed by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Being accredited by the CAE means the courses are vetted by organizations that adhere to high standards of cybersecurity. There are also other organizations like the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges that ensure that a program’s coursework is designed to deliver the intended results.

Learning Experience

With different modes of instruction available to learners, applicants can choose an online program that provides synchronous or asynchronous learning and conventional or accelerated curricula. Students who prefer a flexible schedule or plan to work along with their studies can take a program that features asynchronous learning. Meanwhile, learners who want to earn their master’s degree earlier than expected can take a synchronous, accelerated program or increase the course load of an asynchronous program.

Support Services and Hidden Costs

Online students have access to a school’s support services like tutoring, academic advising, career services, and digital library use. These services help a lot in studying and various activities. Students are also given LMS support in case there are concerns with any of the platform’s functionalities. Moreover, some postsecondary institutions offer internships and grant access to the alumni network, which can help with schoolwork and career opportunities.

Objectives of Cybersecurity Strategies

2023 Best Online Master’s Programs in Cybersecurity

To start your search, our team of researchers has ranked the best online master’s in cybersecurity available. The programs were graded based on recent academic ratings, enrollment rates, passing rates, costs, and other key metrics.

1. Johns Hopkins University Online Cybersecurity Master’s Program

The Online Cybersecurity Master’s Program at Johns Hopkins University hones the skills of learners so that they can effectively safeguard data, restore systems, and identify potential threats. It centers on four areas, namely analysis, networks, systems, and autonomous systems. The degree teaches the latest cybersecurity techniques, covering machine learning, vulnerability analysis, and security engineering.

  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Tracks/concentrations: Analysis, Assured Autonomy, Networks, Systems
  • Cost per Credit: $1,640
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 30
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

2. Georgetown University Master’s in Cybersecurity Risk Management

The Master’s in Cybersecurity Risk Management program at Georgetown University takes an interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity as it touches on disciplines like computer science, law, management, and security. Students will leverage the latest tools as they learn sophisticated techniques like machine learning algorithms and applied security intelligence in stopping and preventing cyberattacks.

  • Program Length: 2 to 5 years
  • Tracks/concentrations: Information Security, Cybersecurity Governance Frameworks, Information Assurance and Risk Management, Security Architecture and Design, Information Security Laws and Regulatory Compliance, Communication Strategy for Information Security Professionals, Disruptive Technology and Organizational Change
  • Cost per Credit: $1,543
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 33
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

3. Mississippi State University Master of Science in Cyber Security and Operations

The Master of Science in Cyber Security and Operations program at Mississippi State University offers a multidisciplinary approach to enable students to evaluate, understand, solve, and prevent cybersecurity issues. It centers on various security aspects leveraged in the cyber domain. Students will learn advanced operations like malware analysis, action analysis, and penetration testing.

  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Tracks/concentrations: cyber defense, cyber operations
  • Cost per Credit: $539
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 31
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

4. Norwich University Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity

The Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program at Norwich University offers six concentrations that cover every aspect of cybersecurity as a practice. Besides cyber defense techniques, it touches on cyber law, vulnerability management, and project management. Students will also learn how to be part of a computer forensic team and how to handle contracts for the service.

  • Program Length: 18 months
  • Tracks/concentrations: Computer Forensic Investigation and Incident Response Team Management, Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Crime, Cyber Law and International Perspectives on Cyberspace, Project Management, Vulnerability Management, Procurement and Government Contract Management
  • Cost per Credit: $850
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 36
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education

5. Valencia Polytechnic University Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity and Cyberintelligence

The Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity and Cyberintelligence at Valencia Polytechnic University aims to holistically train individuals as leaders in the cybersecurity field. Composed of 90 credits, the program offers education on vulnerability analysis, cybersecurity infrastructures, leveraging digital intelligence, secure platform development, and situational awareness. Students will take up comprehensive modules for professional development, common subjects, and dissertation.

Program Length: 1.5 to 2 years
Tracks/concentrations: Information Systems Security, Cybersecurity, Cyberintelligence, Legal and Professional Aspects
Cost per Credit: €35.34
Required Credits to Graduate: 90
Accreditation: Ministry of Education and Science (Spain)

A Rosy Career Outlook for Cybersecurity Specialists

Earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity grants graduates access to a job market with high demand for their competencies. They can find opportunities not just in the United States but also in other parts of the world. Moreover, cybersecurity jobs typically come with impressive salaries. According to Payscale (2023), the average annual salary for cybersecurity professionals is $94,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places the median annual salary for information security analysts at $102,600.

Given the wide range of skills that cybersecurity graduates have, they can enter numerous professions across every industry. Besides cybersecurity or information security analysts, graduates can also take on jobs like cybersecurity engineer, security architect, penetration tester, or security consultant. And each of these occupations comes with strong compensation packages and benefits.

To learn more about the job opportunities you’ll encounter, check out our guide on what you can do with a cyber security degree. Besides the different professions you can enter, it also details the costs involved in pursuing a cybersecurity degree.

If you are the type, who wants to share your knowledge with others, consider online teacher degrees. Pair this with your cybersecurity expertise, and you’re bound to get a very fulfilling career that pays well while imparting valuable knowledge to others.



  • Check Point Research (2023, January 5). Check Point Research Reports a 38% Increase in 2022 Global Cyberattacks. Check Point Research
  • Christians, T. (2022, February 14). 6 Reasons Why Online Learning Can Be More Effective Than Enrolling In A Face-To-Face Training. eLearning Industry
  • CompTIA (2022, September). State of Cybersecurity 2022. CompTIA
  • Coursera (2021). 2021 Coursera Impact Report. Coursera
  • Data USA. (n.d.). Computer & information systems security. Data USA
  • Lake, S. (2022, October 20). The cybersecurity industry is short 3.4 million workers—that’s good news for cyber wages. Fortune
  • Mishra, A., Alzoubi, Y., Anwar, M., & Gill, A. (2022, September). Attributes impacting cybersecurity policy development: An evidence from seven nations. Computers & Security, 120. ScienceDirect
  • Morgan, S. (2021, November 9). Cybersecurity Jobs Report: 3.5 Million Openings In 2025. Cybercrime Magazine
  • National Center for Education Statistics. Distance Education in College: What Do We Know From IPEDS? NCES
  • Payscale (2023, February 15). Salary for Skill: Cyber Security. Payscale
  • UNESCO (2022, April 21). UNESCO survey highlights measures taken by countries to limit impact of COVID-19 school closures. UNESCO
  • University of San Diego (2022). What You’ll Pay vs. What You’ll Get: Examining the Lifetime Value of a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security. University of San Diego
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, September 8). Information Security Analysts. BLS
  • Wintemute, D. (2022, August 9). Are online degrees respected? (And how should you choose one?). ZD Net

Find The Best Degree Match

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The website is funded by advertising. All school search, finder, and match results, as well as featured or trusted partner programs, are for schools who pay us. Our school rankings, resource guides, or any other editorially impartial content on our website are unaffected by the compensation we receive.