What to Expect from an Online Cyber Security Degree Program

A cyber security student works on the computer

Things you care about: protecting individuals, empowering organizations and ensuring that bad actors get caught.

If you’re planning to get your degree in cybersecurity, you’re interested in more than just learning about technology—you’re passionate about doing the right thing.

An online cybersecurity degree is a thorough and efficient way to prepare to enter the cybersecurity field, all while continuing to manage a busy work or home life schedule. But you already know this, and that’s why you’re here. As you prepare to enroll in an online cybersecurity degree program, here are a few important things you can expect.

What would an online cyber security degree online program be like?

Logistically, online cybersecurity degree programs are designed to help you enter the specialized field of cybersecurity and information security in as few as 18 months.1 An online cybersecurity degree program will arm you with the hard and soft skills you need to manage proprietary information, keep data secure and handle the unexpected.

You’ll learn how to protect data from a range of rapidly increasing and ever-evolving cyber threats, and you’ll advance supplementary technology skills in the process.

Primarily intended for students with an associate’s degree or transferrable college credits, an online cybersecurity program offers a way to further your education and accelerate your degree. That said, it’s also possible to start your bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity from square one. Online programs are specifically created to fit into a busy working schedule, while still providing practical and hands-on learning opportunities.

What kind of classes would I take?

The Rasmussen University Course Catalog provides a preview of the core curriculum of an online cybersecurity degree program.

Here are some examples of the courses you may take as you pursue your cyber security degree online:

  • Malware Reverse Engineering
  • Principles of Cyber Security
  • Security Risk Assessment
  • Security Controls
  • Cyber Security Policy Analysis
  • Regulatory and Legal Compliance
  • Cryptography and Traffic Analysis
  • Auditing Information Technology Infrastructure
  • Enterprise Storage Management
  • Risk Management and Business Continuity
  • Managing Security Awareness
  • Computer Forensics
  • Hacker Techniques, Tools and Applications
  • Advanced Network Security
  • Advanced Networking
  • Virtualization

If these course titles pique your interest, then you’re definitely on the right track.

What kind of skills would I learn?

Over the course of your online cybersecurity degree program you’ll learn a combination of technical skills and transferrable skills, both of which are equally important for a successful career in the cybersecurity and information security industry.

Given that a large part of a cybersecurity professional's job is identifying security vulnerabilities in computer networks and responding to data breaches, the program will prepare you to implement security measures that help protect sensitive data.

Learning various computer science skills, incident response tactics and cyber defense practices is a significant part of a robust cybersecurity education. Here are some of the technical skills you'll master during your cyber security bachelor's degree.

Technical skills and industry certifications

An online cybersecurity degree program will focus first and foremost on the most in-demand skills in the job market, all by using real-world tools, techniques and applications. Examples of these technical skills may include:

  • Cryptography
  • Windows®
  • Linux®
  • Cisco®
  • VMware®
  • Azure2®

In addition to exposing you to different operating systems and database management systems, a great online cybersecurity program will also prepare you to take various industry cybersecurity certification exams, some of which may include the following:

  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP®)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP®)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA®)
  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+®)

Transferable skills

Along with the technical skills listed above, a well-rounded online cybersecurity degree program will teach a range of transferrable skills valued by employers in the cybersecurity industry and beyond. Examples of these in-demand soft skills may include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Digital fluency
  • Information literacy
  • Communication
  • Ethics and professional responsibility

All of these skills and more will be built-in to the courses and curriculum. From risk management to project management and beyond, the courses will prepare you to successfully communicate your security recommendations to other cybersecurity professionals and meet the ethical standards of the cybersecurity field—regardless of the specific role you end up in.

What kind of roles will the degree lead to?

Despite cybersecurity already being a specialized field within the technology industry, there are still various specializations and types of roles you may choose to pursue within the cybersecurity and network security space. Your online cybersecurity bachelor's degree will prepare you to pursue any of the following types of roles:

  • Information Assurance Analyst
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Information Security Manager
  • Information Systems Security Analyst
  • Information Technology Security Analyst

Of course, this is just a sampling of some typical career paths for cyber security students. From cyber security analysts to digital forensics roles and more, cybersecurity is applicable to a vast selection of industries—so there are a ton of different roles it can lead to.

Just imagine a few companies you’d be really excited to work for. Now ask yourself—do they need cybersecurity?

The answer is yes.

What is the job outlook for these roles?

One of the most popular cybersecurity pathways is to become an information security analyst. The typical entry-level education for this role is a bachelor’s degree, which is likely what you’ll receive from your online cybersecurity degree program. Most importantly, it’s a thriving career path.

Job outlook for information security analysts

Employment of information security analysts is projected grow 35 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).3 An average of 19,500 openings for information security analysts are projected each year over the decade. The BLS reports that many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the workforce to retire.

As for salary expectations, the median annual wage for information security analysts was $102,600 in May 2021, according to the BLS.3 All things considered, this type of cybersecurity job is likely to need lots of professionals (like you) who can take what they learned in an online cybersecurity degree program and put those skills to good use.

Will employers respect if I get my cyber security degree online?

While this question ultimately comes down to the preferences of individual employers, general trends in online education may be a good indicator of how people will treat online degrees.

In the fall of 2021 alone, the percentage of students enrolled in online or distance education courses in postsecondary institutions was 59%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.4 Online education might still seem new to employers who are used to very traditional structures, but technology is anything but old-fashioned.

And of all industries, cybersecurity is arguably the quickest to adjust to change—and in fact, to change and adapt faster than cyber attackers can.

As online degree programs continue to become more commonplace, the benefits of online learning become increasingly well-documented. As more candidates with online degrees rise through the workforce, any stigma or skepticism around online degrees should continue to decrease. And since more than half of today’s students have had experience in at least one online course, it’s safe to say we’re already making progress.

Which online cybersecurity degree program should I choose?

There are always considerations when it comes to choosing where to pursue your degree: from eligibility to scheduling to financial aid and beyond. Take the next step towards your cybersecurity career and enroll in an online cybersecurity degree program that meets your needs. Not sure which program is for you? Check out the Cyber Security Online Bachelor's Degree at Rasmussen University for important details about tuition, timing and more.

Windows® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation
Linux® is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds
Cisco® is a registered trademark of Cisco Technology, Inc
VMware® is a registered trademark of VMware, Inc.
Azure® is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation
SSCP® is a registered trademark of International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc.
CCNP® is a registered trademark of Cisco Technology, Inc.
CISA® is a registered trademark of Information Systems Audit And Control Association, Inc.
CySA+®is a registered trademark of The Computing Technology Industry Association, Inc. DBA CompTIA, Inc

1Completion time is dependent on transfer credits accepted and the number of courses completed each term.

2Rasmussen University will reimburse you any out-of-pocket costs of the application fee for each first attempt of up to three designated industry certification exams for which you qualify. Should you need to take an exam more than once to receive a passing grade score, you will be responsible for all subsequent exam application fees. Rasmussen University will provide practice exams and materials when available.

3Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [information accessed August 2023] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and include workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

4National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Undergraduate Enrollment. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. [information accessed August 2023] https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cha.

About the author

Hope Rothenberg

Hope Rothenberg is a creative copywriter with agency, in-house, and freelance experience. She's written about everything from area rugs to artificial intelligence, and a ton in between.

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