BS in Cybersecurity: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity equips students with the essential knowledge of information technology, computing, and information security principles and tactics.

Due to the rising frequency of cyberattacks, companies require qualified professionals to enhance their information security systems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for information security analysts is expected to grow by 35% from 2021 to 2031.

What Will I Learn?

Cybersecurity Bachelor’s degree programs offer a comprehensive curriculum that emphasizes the development of fundamental IT and computer skills, with a specific focus on information security, risk mitigation, and data analytics.

Through a blend of technical and analytical instruction, students are equipped with the skills needed to pursue successful careers in the industry.

Cybersecurity programs at the undergraduate level place a significant emphasis on the complexities of operating systems and network security.

The courses provide students with an understanding of network functionality and the ability to detect potential security vulnerabilities.

Furthermore, students learn object-oriented programming to equip them with the skills to address these vulnerabilities in the event of a threat or attack.

Though the courses may differ from one school to another, students should expect to learn things such as:

  • The Foundations of Scripting and Programming
  • Introduction to Cryptography
  • Web Development Foundations and Applications
  • Managing Cloud Security

Digital forensics is another common course requirement in cybersecurity programs since it teaches students how to detect and track security threats and unauthorized access attempts that could expose data.

Some programs may also include courses in cyber security law, computer ethics, and telecommunication systems to provide students with foundational knowledge relevant to their studies.

How to Choose a Good Program

Cybercrime is a persistent threat that affects individuals, businesses, and governments worldwide.

As a result, numerous cybersecurity degree programs have emerged these past few years, creating a wealth of career opportunities for skilled specialists.

However, choosing the right one is not always easy; here are a few things to consider:

Curriculum: When choosing your program, the curriculum should be a top consideration.

Look for programs that teach lifelong learning skills in addition to practical skills, as cybersecurity and its threats are always evolving.

A multi-disciplinary program that focuses on leadership and cybersecurity strategy is also recommended.

Collaboration with the cybersecurity community is also important for keeping the curriculum current and relevant for immediate job placement after graduation.

On-campus vs Online: When it comes to finding the right program, don’t limit yourself to local options.

Online degree programs can be just as rigorous and are often more affordable.

Plus, they offer the chance to interact with cybersecurity professionals from around the world and offer flexibility tailored to the needs of working professionals and students with families.

However, if you prefer in-person classes, weigh all the positives and the negatives before making your choice.

Cost & Financial Aid: A degree in cybersecurity can be a life-changing investment, but it can also come with a high price tag.

While the cost of some programs can cost between $20,000 and $40,000, don’t immediately dismiss an expensive program.

Make sure to research the scholarships and grants available at each school, as they can greatly reduce the total cost.

Work/Life Balance: While some programs are entirely online, others offer a hybrid of online and in-person classes.

Moreover, there are programs that require you to be physically present on campus for a certain period.

Hence, it’s important to keep in mind that the degree program you select is as flexible as you need it to be.

Another aspect to keep in mind is the number of courses you must take each semester, and if there are any deadlines for completing the program.

For instance, some programs may have a three-year completion restriction.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a BS in Cybersecurity?

To earn a Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, students typically need to complete about 120 credits, which generally takes four years for full-time students.

However, some schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as 2.5 years.

The completion rate of a program can depend on several factors, such as the availability of classes, transferable college credits, enrollment status (full-time or part-time), and individual commitment level:

  • Transferable credits: Students who have already earned transferable credits from previous college programs that can be applied to their cybersecurity program, may be able to shorten their degree completion time.
  • Part- or full-time schedules: Some degree programs provide part-time tracks to assist students in balancing their work, life, and academic responsibilities.

Although part-time programs may require less commitment, they could also extend a student’s degree completion time.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a BS in Cybersecurity?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for in-state students in 2020 was about $9,375, compared to the $32,825 tuition that out-of-state students were charged.

However, the cost of a cybersecurity BA program varies based on the school.

The cost of obtaining a cybersecurity degree can range from $4,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on the type of college, the program, and whether it is in-person or online.

Aspiring students should consider researching financial aid and grant programs that could potentially reduce or even eliminate the cost of their cybersecurity degree.

Numerous cautionary tales have been circulating among the student population, detailing scenarios where individuals graduate from college with a staggering $200,000 worth of debt that could potentially take an entire lifetime to pay off.

Although some of these stories may be slightly embellished, the gravity of the issue at hand should not be overlooked.

Fortunately, obtaining a cybersecurity degree can be achieved without having to incur exorbitant expenses.

Regardless of whether you attend a prestigious university or not, a degree in this field holds immense value and significance in the current job market.

What Can I Do with a BS in Cybersecurity?

Completing a bachelor’s degree program in cyber security equips you with the necessary skills to explore employment opportunities in the network and security fields.

Additionally, possessing expertise in optimal security procedures can increase your appeal as an ideal candidate for IT-related positions as network security is a primary concern for numerous organizations.

In general, professions in cyber security offer adaptable career paths and well-paid positions, such as:

1. Information Security Analyst

Your job will be to monitor your organization’s network for potential security breaches and conduct investigations in the event of an actual breach.

Information security analysts are tasked with documenting the breach and devising encryption protocols to prevent future breaches.

The average salary for this position is $113,270 per year.

2. Computer and Information Systems Manager

Computer and information system managers have the crucial role of overseeing technology-related endeavors in their organization while setting up and accomplishing objectives for the company.

In this position, you would also be responsible for maintaining communication with a diverse group of personnel within the company, ranging from network technicians, security analysts, and system administrators to top-level executives and other significant decision-makers.

The average annual salary for this job is $162,930.

3. Systems Analyst

As a business grows, its needs are likely to change significantly over time.

The information systems that may have been effective in the past may no longer be capable of keeping up with the increased demands.

So, this is where the systems analyst comes in.

With these changes, it becomes the responsibility of a systems analyst to ensure that the organization’s hardware, software, and network architecture are expanded accordingly.

The systems analyst will also assess the current systems through testing and then propose new modifications for developers and programmers to implement.

The average annual salary for this job is $80,757.

Should I Get a BS in Cybersecurity?

Though not always mandatory for a career in cybersecurity, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree can prove advantageous in developing essential skills, expanding job prospects, and elevating your candidacy during the job search process.

However, before deciding whether pursuing this type of degree is right for you, keep in mind:

  • A bachelor’s degree program takes around four to five years of full-time attendance.
  • Students are expected to complete at least 120 credits, with approximately 50% dedicated to their core curriculum.

Pursuing a BS in cybersecurity demands a significant investment of your time and finances.

This is why it’s crucial you analyze all angles before making a decision.

For example, if you are raising a family or have added responsibilities that require your constant attention, your best bet might be to pursue an online degree.

Furthermore, while not all cybersecurity job opportunities may not demand a degree, many employers still prefer candidates who hold one.

In general, advanced cybersecurity positions, particularly those in management and executive roles, are more likely to mandate a Bachelor’s degree.

Positions such as cybersecurity engineer, cybersecurity architect, cybersecurity manager, and penetration tester typically require candidates to possess a specified level of education – with a Bachelor’s degree usually being the lowest level required.