What Can You Do with a Cyber Security Degree: 2023 Costs & Job Opportunities

What Can You Do with a Cyber Security Degree: 2023 Costs & Job Opportunities

As society's need to digitize grows, cyber security is becoming one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Recent education statistics project that the number of information security analysts will increase by 35% from 2021 to 2031 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). That said, students looking to take up a cyber security degree can look forward to many opportunities in the industry.

Cyber security professionals are tasked with preventing data breaches and cyber-attacks. The job involves knowing and applying information security practices to safeguard sensitive data. These include planning and carrying out security measures to protect an organization's networks and systems.

Whether you want to earn an undergraduate or master in cyber security degree or want to advance your career, there are several requirements you have to meet. In this post, you will discover what a cyber security degree entails, how much it can cost, and other requirements that can help you pursue a relevant career.

Cyber Security Degree Table of Contents

  1. What is a Cyber Security Degree?
  2. Cost of Cyber Security Degree
  3. Cyber Security Degree Jobs
  4. Types of Degrees in Cyber Security
  5. Cyber Security Degree Requirements
  6. What to Look for in a Cyber Security Program
  7. Majors Related to Cyber Security

What is a Cyber Security Degree?

One of the IT-related careers, a cyber security degree prepares students to counter cyber security threats. This includes monitoring networking systems, identifying potential security breaches, and taking proactive security measures. Thus, students who pursue this degree can learn skills involving information security, like ethical hacking, network security, and security risk management. They can also acquire knowledge similar to students who take up computer programming degrees.

Offering cyber security programs is also the government's response to reducing national and critical infrastructure vulnerabilities. According to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS), more than 300 colleges and universities across the country are designated to the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Security (NCAE-C) Program (2022).

In addition to coding and hacking, a cybersecurity degree fosters communication, organization and management, and creative problem-solving skills. Every organization, from entertainment to healthcare, needs people with cyber security skills at all levels.

cyber security national centers of academic excellence

What can you do with a cyber security degree?

So, what can you do with a cyber security degree? Earning a degree in cyber security allows graduates to work in various fields. They can perform security audits and risk analyses, install intrusion detection systems, and design access control policies for businesses of all sizes.

Most cyber security jobs involve identifying vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. It also includes configuring and installing solutions to prevent cyber attacks, implementing security policies, and providing counterintelligence investigations.

Cost of Cyber Security Degree

As with any discipline, it is vital to consider the cost of tuition, books, supplies, and other related expenses like application fees and standardized tests.

Students should also consider their preferred college or university. This will dictate how much a cyber security degree will cost. The same goes for the transfer credits and course codes that transfer students should keep in mind.

How much does it cost to get a cyber security degree?

The cost of cyber security degree programs will vary considerably based on the institution you enroll in, its location, and your lifestyle. Cyber security degree tuition and fees at a private four-year institution can range from $44,700 to $46,000. On the other hand, tuition and fees at a public four-year college or university can cost $20,600 (in-state) and $21,100 (out-of-state) (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.).

As for a master's degree program, tuition and fees range from $12,400 to $26,700 per year (National Center for Education Statistics, n.d.). This will depend on the duration of the program and whether you will enroll in a private or public university.

Cyber Security Degree Tuition

Associate Degree$3,377$8,126
Bachelor's Degree (Public)$20,597$21,035
Bachelor’s Degree (Private)$44,671$45,932
Master’s Degree$12,394$26,621
*Values are estimates.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Is a degree in cyber security worth it?

Cyber security professionals are often interested in computers and solving puzzles and mysteries. Add to that their desire to protect themselves and others against hackers and scammers. In turn, working in cyber security allows them to build IT infrastructure that safeguards people, organizations, and governments' sensitive data.

Earning a cyber security degree is the first step towards providing critical network surveillance services, security awareness training, or comprehensive defense analysis and assessment. Whether you want a career that pays well or to do meaningful work, becoming a cyber security professional allows you to contribute to society.

That said, a degree in cyber security provides exciting and fulfilling opportunities. You can find work primarily in IT companies. Still, you can also serve in the government, finance, healthcare, law enforcement, retail sectors, and more. In addition, the average starting salary of a cyber security specialist starts at $70,000 per year (Indeed, n.d.).

Cyber Security Degree Jobs

As a cyber security degree holder, you will find jobs that involve testing and assessing IT infrastructures for vulnerabilities and providing solutions that can minimize business damage and revenue loss. The following sections will discuss in detail the type of jobs you can choose.

Is cyber security in high demand?

No individual or organization is immune from increasing cyber-attacks. Flashpoint's State of Data Breach Intelligence report in 2022 revealed that almost 2,000 breaches were disclosed during the first six months of 2022. Approximately 60% of these incidents are due to hacking, exposing 1.4 billion records (Flashpoint, 2022).

As such, companies are pressured to hire more professionals who can prevent and act on these attacks. However, the number of cyber security professionals cannot keep up with the current demand as discussed in a paper titled “Fight Fire with Fire: Proactive Cybersecurity Strategies for Today’s Leaders” published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It states that “more than two‐thirds of organizations struggle to recruit, hire, and retain cybersecurity talent. Actively working to bridge the diversity gap also helps bridge the skills gap because in so doing the readers' organization opens the doors to additional cybersecurity workers (Tarun, 2022).”

This also explains why the United States has over 750,000 cyber security job openings . In addition, an information security analyst role is the eighth fastest-growing occupation in the country (Cyberseek, n.d.).

Source: CyberSeek.org, 2022

Another contributing factor to the rise of demand for cyber security professionals is the White House's push to build relevant career pathways. This includes providing Registered Apprenticeships in community colleges and non-traditional training opportunities for job seekers wanting to learn and make a good living as cyber security analysts, consultants, or vulnerability testers.

What jobs can you get with a cyber security degree?

  • Cyber security analyst. They study hacking, malware, and cybercriminal behavior to prevent threats proactively.
  • Information security engineer. They implement security measures that safeguard an organization's computer systems and sensitive data.
  • Solutions architect. They are responsible for planning, designing, testing, implementing, and maintaining the organization's network security infrastructure.
  • Information security analyst. They monitor the organization's network for security breaches and use software and programs to protect sensitive information.
  • Cybercrime analyst. They investigate cyber security crimes and the people behind it, as well as collect information related to the cyberattack.
  • Incident and intrusion analyst. They monitor, detect, and report any threats directed against an organization's networks and systems.

What kind of salary can I earn with a cyber security degree?

In the United States, the average annual salary of a cyber security specialist is $97,547 (Indeed, 2023). In entry-level positions, you can earn up to $71,000 annually. Meanwhile, professionals with several years of experience make $73,000 to $118,000 yearly. This will depend on how long they have been in the field and the type of industry they are in.

Some employee benefits that a cyber security professional may receive are long-term care insurance, student loan repayment, and retirement accounts. Companies also provide training and development to their employees, allowing them to upskill and get a chance to earn more.

Types of Degrees in Cyber Security

Depending on your choice of university, you can find certification courses and associate, bachelor, and master's in cyber security degree types. You can also search for the best online cyber security degrees if you prefer to complete this degree online.

1. Associate Degree in Cyber Security

Average time to complete: Two years

Earning an associate's degree in cyber security allows students to increase their understanding of robust cyber defense technology. They will also learn computer technology that can help address security-related information system needs. These include protecting digital information against unauthorized access or attack.

Taking an associate's degree will expose you to the following:

  • Various computer operating systems
  • System networking and automation
  • Web scripting and development
  • Database applications
  • Cyber security essentials

Entry-level jobs: Information security analyst, information system security officer, computer investigative forensic analyst

2. Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security

Average time to complete: Three to four years

A bachelor's degree in cyber security gives students the advanced technical knowledge and skills to monitor, mitigate, and prevent online threats. They can also use this degree to seek employment in various industries like government agencies, ecommerce companies, and defense contractors. There are also graduates who work alongside professionals in biotech careers.

Taking a bachelor's degree will expose you to the following:

  • IT security
  • Wireless and mobile computing
  • Mobile security and implementation
  • Ethical hacking
  • Cyber information security

Entry-level jobs: Cyber security engineer, security operations engineer, information security analyst

3. Master's Degree in Cyber Security

Average time to complete: One to two years

Taking a master's degree in cyber security focuses on system management and design meant to defend IT networks from external threats. Thus, students will learn to safeguard the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of information and systems that support an organization.

Taking a master's degree will expose you to the following:

  • Network security and risk management
  • Security architecture and governance
  • Counterintelligence and defense
  • Homeland security
  • Law enforcement

Entry-level jobs: Cyber security engineer, cyber security architect, security operations center engineer

4. Certificate in Cyber Security

Average time to complete: One to four years

A certificate in cyber security is often a complementary course for bachelor-degree holders who want to pursue a career in cyber security. This may also be a cyber security degree prerequisite to pursuing a master's degree.

Taking a certificate course will expose you to the following:

  • Computer, web, and cloud security
  • Database management systems
  • Digital forensics
  • Network security and cryptography
  • Malware reverse engineering

Entry-level jobs: IT auditor, cyber security specialist, cybercrime analyst

Source: Talent.com, 2022

Cyber Security Degree Requirements

Aside from the increasing demand and competitive compensation, getting a cyber security job allows you to contribute to society. Moreover, you have the opportunity to work in various industries.

One reason is that companies in every industry are at risk of cyber attacks. In 2022 alone, small businesses reported more than 800 incidents of data breaches (Verizon, 2022). Other than that, some industries are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Source: Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report

To become a cyber security professional, you must earn a relevant degree. That said, we compiled a list of the cyber security degree requirements that you must complete before enrolling.

Admission Requirements

  • GPA. Aside from a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, most colleges and universities offering cyber security degrees require a GPA of at least 2.0.
  • Additional units. Although uncommon, some schools would encourage students to earn a certain number of Math, English, Science, and Social Science units for their educational benefit.
  • Standardized test scores. Depending on the school, you may also be required to submit your SAT or ACT score. For undergraduate studies, the accepted ACT scores for English/Reading and Math are 17 and 19, respectively. Meanwhile, the accepted SAT score is between 1170 and 1270.
  • Transcripts. Should you want to pursue a master's in cyber security, you may be required to submit your official transcripts from an accredited college or university.
  • Proficiency Tests. For international students wanting to study cyber security in the United States, you will need to submit a TOEFL PBT score of 500, a computer-based TOEFL score of 173, a TOEFL iBT score of 61-79, or a Duolingo English Test score of 90-100.

Skills Requirements

  • Computer proficiency. Being proficient in computer hardware and software allows students to understand how a computer system works. This allows them to quickly figure out what security measures to implement.
  • Coding. Although not a primary requirement, having basic coding knowledge gives students the advantage of conducting ethical hacking or malware analysis.
  • Research and commitment to learning. Every expert in any field does not know everything there is to know. As a cyber security professional, staying compliant and knowledgeable about the changes in the IT industry is a must. One must be committed to learning new cyber security skills.
  • Communication skills. This is consistently among the top desired job skills in any industry. Working in cyber security often requires working in a team and interacting with others. Hence, the need to have strong communication skills.
  • Leadership and networking. Depending on your job role, leadership can be an essential skill. This is because it shows potential for growth and advancement. It is also crucial that you can share ideas and theories with your team or client.

What to Look for in a Cyber Security Program

More than 6,000 cyber security training courses are available in the United States, over 300 of which are offered by colleges and universities (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, 2022). So how do you choose which program to consider? We recommend considering the specialization you want to study and the program's accreditation.

Available Specializations

Since every business is vulnerable to threats, cyber security can fit into organizations of all sizes. This also explains why the field has matured into a complex and diverse set of functions.

When looking for a college or university offering cyber security programs, consider whether the course provides relevant specializations:

  • Vulnerability management
  • Threat intelligence
  • Security architecture
  • Network security
  • Incident response
  • Forensics
  • Data loss prevention
  • Application security


There is no specific body that accredits cyber security programs. However, the U.S. Department of Education recognizes these six regional accreditation organizations:

  1. Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  2. Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  3. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  4. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  5. New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  6. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

In addition, students can enroll in colleges and universities that are part of the NCAE-C Program. This program features schools that offer top cyber security degree courses.


Aside from completing a degree, acquiring a cyber security certification can increase a student's chance to land their preferred career. This is because some employers require job applicants to have specific credentials. In fact, as of 2022, the number of job openings for certified information systems security professionals have increased to 13,4613 (CyberSeek.org, 2022).

Other common certifications that cyber security students can look into include CompTIA Security+, Cisco Certified Network Associate (Cisco CNA), Certified Computer Forensic Examiner (CCFE), and Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC).

Source: CyberSeek.org, 2022

Hands-on Experience

To leverage the cyber security degree skills and knowledge that a student acquires, it would help if the school offers hands-on experience. It can be through a computer lab or a virtual environment that will enable students to apply what they have learned. Some hands-on activities they can do include building secure IT infrastructure, monitoring networks and systems against cyberattacks, or uncovering system vulnerabilities and mitigating risks.

Scholarship and Financial Aid

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) teamed up with the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management to provide scholarship funding to programs related to cyber security.

Scholars may take advantage of the following:

  • Financial support for up to three years of undergraduate and graduate education
  • Academic-year stipends of $25,000 and $34,000 per year for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively
  • Professional allowance of $6,000 for Scholarship for Service (SFS) Job Fair

Students can check the list of schools that offer cyber security scholarships. In return, scholars must serve a cyber security role within a U.S. government entity for a period equal to the length of their scholarship.

Majors Related to Cyber Security

Should You Study Cyber Security?

For students looking for a job that lets them contribute to society and pays well, we recommend that you acquire a cyber security degree.

First, the need for cyber security professionals will continue to rise as the need for digitization grows. Second, your prospect is wider than IT. You can work for the government or in healthcare, finance, education, marketing, and more.

Albeit the tuition can be expensive, ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 per year, you can earn an average of $71,000 annually for an entry-level cyber security job. That's why having a degree in cyber security is worth it.