Introduction to cybersecurity
As each new wave of technology breaks, new risks are created. Cybersecurity experts are the front line workers in this digital environment, identifying, understanding and addressing cyber risks. For those working in security, each new attempt to steal data, install malware or disrupt system components is an opportunity to solve a puzzle.
Complaints about cybercrimes and the resulting financial fallout are at an all-time high. With so many Americans affected, working in this field means you could have a significant impact on people’s lives by detecting, stopping and preventing threats. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity prepares you with the latest techniques to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
The majority of cybersecurity undergraduate degrees offer a strong foundation in computer science with additional courses on data protection and network security. Expertise in this area is in high demand, and the field is projected to grow 31% between 2019 and 2029, a considerably faster pace than most other industries. Candidates who like working with a variety of technologies to analyze and solve problems can make the most of those opportunities with a bachelor’s degree.
The admissions requirements for most bachelor programs in cybersecurity include:
- High school diploma
- SAT or ACT scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Admissions essay
When choosing a school to study cybersecurity, it is important to find programs with experienced faculty who teach the most up-to-date methods using the latest technology. Read on to discover the top schools, what you can learn and the career options available to you with a bachelor’s in cybersecurity.
The best bachelor’s in cybersecurity programs
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical University Prescott, Arizona
The College of Security and Intelligence at ERAU houses the Department of Cyber Intelligence and Security, where you can earn a bachelor of science (B.S.) in cyber intelligence and security. It has links with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Public Safety (DPS), giving students the opportunity to practice in real-world situations. Approximately 60% of students at ERAU graduate after 6 years.
Coursework includes general education modules in management, accounting and writing. Students also take courses in software security, data structures and analysis of algorithms, and computer forensics. A senior capstone involving a project, thesis or internship is the culminating experience of the program. Students have access to specialized labs for hands-on experience.
Students can continue their studies at ERAU choosing a master of science (M.S.) in the following areas:
- cyber intelligence and security
- cybersecurity engineering
- cybersecurity management and policy
John Jay UniversityJohn Jay University New York City, New York
The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is part of the City University of New York (CUNY). One of its majors is a B.S. in computer science and information security. It is offered as a dual admission program, which means students can earn their associate degree at a different college and complete the bachelor’s degree at John Jay.
This program includes 2 capstone modules that involve lab work and programming to give students hands-on experience of protection approaches, application vulnerabilities and possible countermeasures. Other courses include cryptography and cryptanalysis, operating systems, programming language and network security and forensics.
Those wanting to continue their studies can choose to earn an M.S. in digital forensics and cybersecurity.
University of BaltimoreUniversity of Baltimore Baltimore, Maryland
The College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore offers a B.S. in cyber forensics. The college has a well-equipped digital forensics lab giving students access to the latest software, including virtual private networks (VPNs), cybersecurity frameworks and firewalls. You can build the skills needed to begin your career in the field or continue your studies at UBalt in their M.S. in forensic science – cyber investigations program.
Courses cover cryptography, ethical hacking, advanced Python for forensics and operating system forensics. There are opportunities for hands-on experience through the field internship and the incident response capstone project. The program is taught in person through labs and lectures on the Baltimore campus. The bachelor’s cohort at UBalt has a 32% graduation rate.
George Mason UniversityGeorge Mason University Fairfax, Virginia
The new cybersecurity engineering department at the Volgenau School of Engineering at Mason delivers B.S., M.S., doctoral degrees and graduate certificates in cybersecurity and computer science. For those interested in cybersecurity, the bachelor of applied science (B.A.S.) with a cybersecurity concentration is an excellent choice. The university has an overall 6-year graduation rate of 71.6%.
The B.A.S. program is designed to lead on from an associate degree in the subject. It is taught on campus in Fairfax. Coursework includes operating system fundamentals, computer crime forensics and auditing, network security and network defense. The program includes 2 senior capstone projects for practical experience. You can choose to continue your education at the university on one of the following programs:
- M.S. in cybersecurity engineering
- M.S. in digital forensics
Program name B.A.S. in cybersecurity concentration Location Fairfax, VA Accreditation Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Course format Full-time, on-campus Cost of degree $13,014 in-state, $36,474 out-of-state Financial aid Program duration 120 Credits
West Virginia UniversityWest Virginia University Morgantown, West Virginia
At West Virginia University, you can attend lectures at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources to earn a B.S. in cybersecurity. It is taught in person on campus in Morgantown and involves a mix of theoretical and practical work. The culminating experience is an interdisciplinary capstone project that allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and practical skills.
As well as the general education modules, you will have cybersecurity core courses and some electives to choose from. Coursework includes computer incident response, file and data structures, host-based cyber defense and information ethics. The degree could equip you to enter the profession or continue your education at the college with an M.S. in computer science specializing in computer forensics. WVU has an overall 6-year graduation rate of 60.1%.
University of ArizonaUniversity of Arizona Tucson, Arizona
The National Security Agency (NSA) designated program at the University of Arizona is run by the College of Applied Science and Technology. The university has an overall 6-year graduation rate of 64.9%. The program is a B.A.S. in cyber operations designed for those that have already completed an associate degree in the subject. There are 3 program emphases to choose from:
- cyber law and policy
- defense and forensics
The program is taught online, and all of the required software and cyber tools are provided. You can also attend in person at one of several locations, including Yuma, Chandler, Douglas and Sierra Vista. The program includes a capstone project and will cover subjects like national security policy, cyber law, ethics, and policy and cyber threat intelligence. The university also offers an online M.S. in cybersecurity.
Champlain CollegeChamplain College Burlington, Vermont
The B.S. in cybersecurity from Champlain College is taught entirely online and is asynchronous, meaning you can access the material anytime to suit your schedule. This flexible program includes 60 credits of professional courses and several different options for technical electives, general education courses and general electives.
The program focuses on shaping thought leaders that can enhance business practices. Students have the opportunity to complete either a project management or scheduling and budget practical project. Students also must complete a senior seminar project. Other coursework includes digital forensic investigation techniques, cloud computing security, emerging threats and defenses and ethical hacking.
The college has an overall 6-year graduation rate of 65%. Degree holders could progress to a position in the field or continue their studies at Champlain in the M.S. in the information security program.
Purdue UniversityPurdue University West Lafayette, Indiana
The computer and information technology program at Purdue offers a B.S. in cybersecurity. This degree is taught in person at the campus in West Lafayette using industry-standard labs that provide investigative support to law enforcement agencies. The program is also available online through the Purdue Global platform with multiple start dates. The faculty includes cybersecurity experts with direct experience in the industry. The university has an overall 6-year graduation rate of 82.2%.
Coursework includes general education modules and core courses. Students learn about information technology architectures, cryptography, network security and cyber forensics.
Purdue has a choice of program concentrations, including:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) preparation
- cloud computing
- data management
- game development
- programming and analytics
Students who study on campus can take advantage of internships based in different departments, including working with Indiana’s computer network. Those wishing to continue their education could consider the M.S. in computer and information technology with a specialization in cyber forensics.
Program name B.S. in computer and information technology – major in cybersecurity Location West Lafayette, IN Accreditation Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Program format Full-time, on-campus Cost of degree $12,042 in-state, $30,844 out-of-state Financial aid Program duration 120-180 Credits
George Washington UniversityGeorge Washington University Washington, District Of Columbia
The College of Professional Studies at George Washington University delivers a degree completion program in cybersecurity. Students who hold an associate degree or have 60 credits to transfer from another organization can earn this Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.). The program design follows the competencies set out by the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education (NICE).
Some modules can be taken online, but the majority of the program is taught at 3 GW locations in Virginia. They include the GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus in Ashburn, GW Education Center in Arlington and the Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge Campus. Coursework includes digital forensics, incident response, ethics, law and policy and cyber-attack tools and techniques.
The university has an acceptance rate of 40.8%. Students can continue their studies with a master of professional studies (M.P.S.) in cybersecurity strategy and information management.
A crucial consideration before you start your bachelor’s degree program is what kind of financial support you can access. For example, you might seek grants or scholarships, or apply for financial aid or a federal loan. You can complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine your eligibility.
Alternatively, you might consider a computer science award or scholarship for bachelor’s degree students. In this field, you can find many scholarship-for-service programs offered by government agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Defense (DoD) or the NSA. You commit to working for a set period after you graduate or during summers in exchange for a grant or payment of your tuition fees.
Careers with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity
Many entry level careers in cybersecurity require a bachelor’s degree. These positions are found with private businesses as well as the local, state or federal government. You can also obtain industry certification for security or programming systems to help advance your career. Potential roles include: