What is cybersecurity?
The field of cybersecurity is among the most cutting-edge within the I.T. arena and an associate degree can be the first step to join this exciting profession. Professionals working in cybersecurity use technology and processes to assure the safety of networks, devices and data from attack. Those drawn to cybersecurity are motivated by the importance of the work, the fast pace at which the field shifts and the optimistic projections of job growth in the industry at large.
If you are detail oriented, ethical and looking for purposeful work, an associate in cybersecurity may be a good fit for you. Programs cover the fundamentals of protecting digital data, including system operation, data collection, analysis and reporting. With an associate degree, you could begin your career in an entry-level position or transfer your credits and continue your education.
The universities listed below represent the best associate degrees in cybersecurity to date. They were chosen based on graduation rates, program quality and investment in students. Read on to learn more.
The best online associate degrees in cybersecurity
Davenport UniversityDavenport University Grand Rapids, Michigan
The College of Technology at Davenport is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and delivers an associate degree in cyber defense. The school prides itself on the national recognition it has received for its cybersecurity programs and its experienced faculty. Courses in this 2-year program include database design, digital forensics and disaster recovery.
Students are equipped to enter the workforce upon graduation thanks to practical projects in their portfolio. Alternatively, you could continue by transferring your credits to a bachelor’s program in cyber defense or digital forensics at Davenport University or another institution. You can earn your associate degree through asynchronous online learning, using real-time virtual classes or a blended format.
Davenport is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). For financial aid information, please check their financial aid resources.
Mt. Hood Community CollegeMt. Hood Community College Gresham, Oregon
At its campus in Oregon, Mt. Hood Community College delivers an associate degree in cybersecurity focusing on networking and security operations. Courses include scaling networks, ethical hacking, wireless security and firewall implementation. The program is taught in person at the Gresham campus.
MHCC has transfer agreements with more than 100 universities and transfer resources to help students that wish to continue with a bachelor’s degree. The program includes a capstone project, which is recommended for those who go on to complete a 4-year program. Alternatively, there is a practical module to prepare students for the workforce.
MHCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). For information on their financial aid packages, visit their student financial services page.
Lackawanna CollegeLackawanna College Scranton, Pennsylvania
Lackawanna College is located in Scranton, Pennsylvania and provides an associate degree in cybersecurity. It focuses on the fundamentals of computer science with additional modules looking at security and data protection. Courses cover cyber attacks, operating systems, security techniques, programming and data assurance. The theoretical concepts are applied through practical projects to help students build their portfolios.
The program is completely online and asynchronous, meaning students learn at their own pace. The college has a continuing education department that assists students that want to transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree. It also provides support for those seeking employment.
Lackawanna College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSASC). For information about their financial aid offerings, visit their financial aid page.
Saint Leo UniversitySaint Leo University St. Leo, Florida
Saint Leo University is located in St. Leo, Florida. The associate degree in cybersecurity from Saint Leo prepares students for an entry level position in the industry or to continue their education to earn a bachelor’s degree. The required cybersecurity courses include programming logic and design, system administration and penetration testing and countermeasures.
The program is taught online only. Saint Leo holds transfer agreements with over 50 institutions across the U.S., making it possible for holders of this degree to put their credits toward a 4-year course. Saint Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For financial aid information, visit their tuition and costs page.
Bismarck State CollegeBismarck State College Bismarck, North Dakota
Bismarck State College is located in Bismarck, North Dakota. Its cybersecurity center offers an associate degree in cybersecurity and computer networks. The program is taught in person on the Bismarck campus and can also be completed online. There are several certificate options besides computer networking, although they cover many of the same elements. They include:
- Security and hacking
- Computer networking
- Offensive and defensive security
Modern computing technologies
The program includes a small selection of general education modules, but the majority of the curriculum is made up of technical courses. Some examples of those are principles of information security, ethical hacking and network defense and intermediate networking. Students have the choice of a capstone project or an internship. The college has articulation agreements with colleges in North Dakota, for students interested in transferring credits to a bachelor’s degree program.
Bismarck State is accredited by the HLC. To learn more about their financial aid opportunities, visit their admissions and cost page.
Franklin UniversityFranklin University Columbus, Ohio
Located in Columbus, Ohio, the College of Arts, Sciences and Technology at Franklin University delivers an associate degree in cybersecurity. There are also options to progress to a bachelor of science (B.S.) and master of science (M.S.) in this field. The program is taught online or at the main campus in Columbus.
The semester hours are split between the major requirements and general education courses. Subject-specific modules include principles of programming, network security, database management systems and web page construction. The program is designed to lead to further education or immediately into a role in cybersecurity.
Franklin University is accredited by the HLC. For information about their financial aid packages, visit their tuition and financial aid resources page.
Trident UniversityTrident University Chandler, Arizona
Trident University is located in Chandler, Arizona and they off a completely online associate of science degree in cybersecurity. This 2-year, 60-credit program is designed to prepare students for entry-level roles in the field of cybersecurity. Students learn how to apply their knowledge of computer systems and networks, find security risks, apply ethical responses to cybersecurity events and identify tools to respond to risks.
The coursework includes general education subjects and computer systems modules. They include network defense, operating systems and security and ethical hacking and intrusion detection. Trident University also offers a B.S. in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity, which you may choose to complete after the associate program.
Trident University is accredited by the HLC. For information about their financial aid packages, check admissions and tuition resources page.
University of CharlestonUniversity of Charleston Charleston, West Virginia
The University of Charleston is located in Charleston, West Virginia. Their associate degree in cybersecurity is considered a degree completion program. That means you can take it as a standalone program or, if you have already completed the required elements of a previous associate degree, you can earn your bachelor’s degree with this program in 2 years.
The program is available full- and part-time and is taught online only. Along with foundational courses, students are expected to complete courses in advanced security trends, cybersecurity strategy and an introduction to computers, networking or security. There is a choice of electives, and students are required to complete a capstone project.
The University of Charleston is accredited by the HLC. For information about paying for programs at this college, visit their financial aid page.
Community College of PhiladelphiaCommunity College of Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Community College of Philadelphia, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides an associate of applied science in cybersecurity. This in-person curriculum is taught through the Division of Business and Technology on the main campus. The college has several transfer agreements with different schools that can help you continue to a bachelor’s degree.
The program is designed to equip students with the knowledge required to pursue a career in cybersecurity, including preparing for industry certification. Coursework includes network technology, principles of operating systems, cyber investigation and ethical hacking and penetration testing.
The Community College of Philadelphia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). To learn about their financial aid opportunities, check their paying for college page.
There are many ways to get financial support including grants, scholarships and loans. When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, you determine your eligibility.
Alternatively, you may consider an award, scholarship, or grant for graduate students studying cybersecurity. In this field, it’s common to find scholarship-for-service programs, for example, through the National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Defense (DOD) or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Grants or tuition is provided in exchange for a commitment to work while you study or after you graduate.
Career options with this degree
While many careers in cybersecurity require you to have a bachelor’s degree, you can find entry level positions where the skills and knowledge from your associate degree will be applicable. Typically these positions are with business or local, state, or federal government. You could also obtain industry certification for security or programming systems to help advance your career. Potential roles include: