Online Cybersecurity Bachelor's Degree

Overview

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Cybersecurity is a top concern for consumers, business leaders and government officials, and for good reason. Reports of cybercrime in the United States jumped 34 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to a report by the American Bar Association, and the number of cybersecurity incidents at federal agencies climbed 650 percent between 2006 and 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported.

“This is the biggest threat we currently face,” Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in an interview with Yahoo! Finance. “We are losing billions of dollars of intellectual property every year that is being stolen and it is resulting in job losses and damages to our economy.”

An online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity prepares students to battle digital crime with classes that blend technology with critical thinking, forensics and investigative techniques.

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Course Work

Example courses
Cybercrime investigations and forensics
Computer organization and programming
System vulnerability assessments
Discrete mathematics
Software engineering principles
National cybersecurity policy and law
Terrorism, antiterrorism and homeland security

The course load for students earning an online bachelor’s in cybersecurity often includes classes such as ethics in information technology, security policy analysis and psychology of criminal behaviors. Most cybersecurity students are also required to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus, statistics and discrete mathematics.

While many of those courses teach students how to protect governments and businesses from cyberattacks, classes such as computer forensics, criminal investigations and criminal evidence prepare students to track down perpetrators of cybercrimes.

Professionals who already hold a bachelor’s degree may want to consider applying to a cybersecurity master’s degree program.

Job Outlook

Median salaries*
Information security analyst $70,000
Information technology auditor $71,800
Forensic computer analyst $76,200
Security consultant (computing/networking/IT) $81,300
Information assurance engineer $89,700
Security director (computing/networking/IT) $118,300

*per PayScale.com

Graduates with a bachelor’s in cybersecurity have a variety of career options open to them, including positions within the financial sector (banks, credit card companies and lenders) and the health care industry (hospitals, insurance agencies and medical supplies). Overall, the information security field is expected to grow 22 percent by 2020, faster than most occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New positions at federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will make up a large percentage of that growth, according to the BLS. These positions include security analysts and auditors, as well as computer analysts.

To work at the federal level, students must have a clean criminal record - no felony or drug convictions. Defaulting on a federal student loan can also disqualify students from working for a government agency.

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