If you have an interest in both IT and security, an online information systems security degree could be perfect for you. Similar to cybersecurity, the field of information systems security (aka computer security or network security) involves policing and protecting computers from harmful traffic. And given that we live in a world that runs on computers, people who know how to shield computer systems from malicious attacks and viruses are extremely valuable in the workforce.
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The 20 Best Online Computer Security Degrees Ranking Methodology
For this ranking, we focused on public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer information security degrees online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $25,000/year or less.
*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.
Unfortunately, there are a limited number of information systems security degrees available online. Therefore, we could not compile a pool of options large enough to justify a multifactorial ranking system in which we’d score colleges and universities based on a list of specific considerations.
So instead, we ranked the programs solely according to their affordability. See below for the best cheap online information systems and online network security degree programs, ranked from most to least expensive.
As a school designed specifically with working adults in mind, it's no surprise that Western Governors University earns a spot on this online network security degree program ranking. Thanks to its unique competency-based approach, you can move rapidly through the course material by demonstrating proficiency rather than passing a test at the end of each course. This means that some students can earn their B.S. in less than a year! Another bonus? The Network Security and Operations curriculum incorporates 14 separate certifications, all available at no additional cost beyond the regular tuition. These options include Cisco Certified Network Associate, LPI Linux Essentials, CompTIA IT Operations Specialist, and more.
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology lets you earn your B.T. fully online, with no on-campus time required. The school's Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics option readies you to protect businesses from "cyber attacks and cybercrimes," using cutting-edge technologies that will help your resume stand out. As you earn this top online information systems security degree, you'll take classes such as "Enterprise Security Management," "Digital Forensics," and "Secure System Administration," and you'll also develop a strong foundation in programming and network systems in general. Keep in mind that you do need an A.A.S. (or equivalent degree) under your belt to apply to this program.
As a fully online institution, Connecticut's Charter Oak State College is in the business of helping adults continue their education. As such, the school lets you earn an accredited information security degree online in a format that works with your schedule. Asynchronous classes, affordable tuition, and the chance to earn credit through myriad sources help the program stand out. To the latter point, Charter Oak gives credit for military training, experiential learning (as demonstrated by a portfolio), testing, and - of course - relevant college coursework from accredited institutions. The IT program blends pragmatic skills with a more high-minded approach, asking you to consider "the social, psychological, ethical, political, economic and environmental impacts of computing technology."
With tuition averaging just under $10,000, UMUC gives you a great way to earn a cheap online computer security degree that doesn't sacrifice quality. The NSA and Department of Homeland Security designated the school as a National Center of Academic Excellence in the field, and students benefit from a curriculum that goes beyond the technical. For example, you'll learn how to communicate your IT knowledge effectively, a crucial skill to stand out in any business environment. On the technical side, coursework focuses on Windows servers but does address other operating systems and various hardware components as well. It also prepares you for quite a few certification exams, including ones to become a Certified Ethical Hacker and Certified Computer Examiner.
If you're looking for an accredited online computer security degree that gives you the chance to carry out research, you'll want to consider Dakota State University. Why? Because undergraduates at this South Dakota school can opt to complete a three-credit research project as part of their senior capstone. Prefer experiential learning? Swap the research project for an internship, a directed plan of study that can be either paid or unpaid. DSU also stands out for its honors program, which gives you the chance to "take the lead in the development and application of information technology tools" that apply to myriad fields.
At CUNY School of Professional Studies, you'll find a project-based curriculum that helps you develop hands-on skills from day one. As you complete increasingly challenging projects throughout the program, you'll add them to a robust portfolio that demonstrates your technical skills and mastery of programming languages such as Python. And while you don't technically need an associate's degree to enroll in this degree-completion program, you will need at least 24 credits to transfer in. If you do have an A.A. or A.S., you might qualify for the 2+2 program, which lets you earn this affordable online information systems security degree in just two years of full-time study.
One of the few schools on this online network security degree program ranking to earn a National Center of Academic Excellence designation by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security, Wilmington University offers an especially strong cybersecurity curriculum. Not only will you complete security-focused core and elective courses, but you can also augment your degree with a concentration in Digital Forensics. The 18-credit concentration teaches you how to do everything from investigating data breaches to gather intel. As such, it's appropriate for anyone interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, corporate security, or even military intelligence. An optional internship and the chance to pursue multiple graduate certificates help make this program even more attractive.
Are you a Georgia resident with some flexibility in your schedule? Give Kennesaw State University a look. While you can always earn the school's affordable information security degree online, you also have the option of pursuing a hybrid program that splits your coursework evenly between the internet and the Marietta campus. But regardless of your delivery method, you'll appreciate the broad curriculum, which combines technical topics with ones that focus on so-called "soft skills," like technical writing. On the technical front, the "Information Assurance and Security" concentration consists of four highly-relevant, career-focused courses, including one in "Ethical Hacking."
Many of the schools on our list offer general computer science programs with some sort of information systems security concentration. However, the University of Maine at Augusta offers an entirely IS-focused degree - plus concentrations in various sub-disciplines of the field. For example, while earning this top information security degree online you might choose to specialize in Networking and Information Systems Security, or perhaps something more broadly applicable like Data Science. No matter your choice, you'll benefit from the thoughtfully-designed curriculum, which helps students develop more than technical know-how. That is, you'll also hone interpersonal skills such as effective communication, and you'll brush up on your knowledge of project management and business as well.
Online learning isn't for everybody. That's why Northwestern State University of Louisiana created a quiz to help gauge your readiness for online learning. If you do choose to enroll in the school's top online network security degree program, you'll find a thoughtfully-designed curriculum that blends both practical and theoretical classes and runs the gamut from programming and systems analysis to cyber forensics. But NSULA also has plenty to offer outside the (digital) classroom. For example, students can join professional organizations that help develop both technical and leadership skills. Plus, you can augment your studies with industry certifications in in-demand areas like Cisco, Network+, and Microsoft Office.
Instructors at Hodges University know that industry certifications can give applicants a leg up as they apply to jobs, so they've incorporated opportunities to earn relevant certifications into the B.S. coursework. The curriculum also complies with the Committee on National Security Systems' requirements, as set forth by the NSA and Department of Homeland Security. And if you happen to be a veteran, you'll definitely want to check out Hodges' affordable online information systems security degree. This veteran-friendly school offers scholarships, transition assistance, and other benefits to active and retired service members.
Intended for students with backgrounds in computer science or management information systems, the University of Nebraska at Omaha's B.I.S. teaches you how to leverage your existing tech skills to solve business problems. A top online computer security degree, this program addresses both current and future business needs and incorporates hands-on experiences to help solidify what you learn. The 18-hour Information Assurance concentration includes both foundational courses ("Information Technology Ethics," "Computer Security Management") and those that let you bring additional focus to the degree. For example, you can choose between Windows- and Linux-specific administration courses.
The degree-completion program at the University of Illinois at Springfield offers a great option for students with associate-level coursework under their belts. And although applicants should already have taken courses in both advanced mathematics and Java, the school occasionally grants conditional admission to students who are still working on those courses. Once you enroll, you'll take classes in standard topics like network security, computer ethics, and systems programming. However, you'll also complete a unique "Engaged Citizenship Common Experience" as you earn this cheap information security degree online. This 10-hour program fulfills a required ethics component and includes a hands-on experience of your choice (such as a project, service-learning course, or a study abroad program).
At Davenport University, you'll find some unique opportunities to enrich and build on the school's top online information systems security degree. For one, there's the co-op program. Best for students local to Grand Rapids, Michigan, this program incorporates a paid professional immersion experience into the regular coursework. Participants receive salaries based on their tenure in the program, and they'll learn performance-based skills that can set them apart come graduation. Or, you can opt for a more traditional online program. In this case, you'll choose one of three highly focused specialties: Programming, Web and Mobile Development, or Database and Data Analytics.
The four-year accredited online network security degree program at Mercy College might be an excellent choice for New York City residents who want to spend time on campus. Thanks to night and weekend classes at the school's Bronx and Dobbs Ferry campuses, you can incorporate some in-person learning into your online degree. As for the curriculum, coursework aims to help you solve business problems through tech-focused classes in network security, cybersecurity, Linux administration, and more. You might also opt for a special topic or independent study class if you want to devote more time to a specific topic of your own choice.
Not only does Arizona State University merit a spot on this online computer security degree ranking, but it also ranks onU.S. News'list of the Most Innovative Colleges for 2018. With faculty who have first-hand experience in the field, ASU's program develops critical thinkers who qualify for careers as network administrators, computer system analysts, security managers, and more. In particular, the Networking and Computer System Security track incorporates coursework in topics like socket programming and security architecture. It also utilizes a project-based approach that will leave you well prepared to work both individually and in teams to develop, implement and present projects. You'll even devote two semesters to creating and demonstrating a solution to a real-world IT challenge.
Designed for practicing IT professionals and recent high school graduates alike, the accredited online network security degree program at the Oregon Institute of Technology has plenty to offer any online learner. The curriculum prizes problem-solving, arming you with the tools and strategies you need to address real-world issues. Along the way, hands-on training will give you plenty of relevant practice. You'll also complete a six-credit senior project, ensuring you have an opportunity to synthesize what you've learned. And this approach pays off: Fully 95% of the school's graduates are employed or enrolled in an advanced degree program within six months of graduating.
If cost is particularly important to you, you might want to check out Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. While not the least expensive program on this list, SIU offers some scholarships that can help bring down costs. For example, students pursuing a cheap information security degree online are eligible for IST-specific scholarships with relatively straightforward application processes. Regardless of how you pay for your degree, you'll benefit from SIU's asynchronous courses, special distance learning support network, and six-course cybersecurity concentration. The latter introduces topics that include information assurance, wireless security, enterprise network management, and more.
The fully online B.S. at Liberty University offers students of faith the unique opportunity to meld their professional interests with their Christian worldview. It's also a great choice if you have college courses under your belt, as you can transfer up to 90 credit hours into the program. (Note that 50% of your major-specific courses must be taken through Liberty, however.) As you earn this accredited online computer security degree, you'll also benefit from the school's flexibility. You can choose from eight yearly start dates, and the eight-week courses are all available asynchronously to fit with your schedule.
Saint Leo University developed its top online information systems security degree based on the curricular standards recommended by leading scientific computing organizations. But students will benefit from more than just a forward-thinking curriculum. Extracurricular activities include a chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, an international honor society in the field, and internship opportunities that have will connect you with both local and national organizations. And if you live near the campus, you can take advantage of the school's thoughtfully designed computer labs - including one solely dedicated to networks and information assurance.
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 20 top cheap information security degrees online!
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