What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Internet Security Program?

Choosing to enroll for an online master’s in internet security program doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the quality of your education. Online programs will leave you with the same level of knowledge that you would find in a traditional, on-campus program but with more flexible scheduling and attendance policies. This lets you pursue your education even if you need to work a full-time job or have other daily or weekly obligations. Before deciding on an online program for your master’s in internet security, take the time to look at several schools to ensure you choose the program that best helps you meet your career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Internet Security

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Network Security Provides students with the training to identify and resolve vulnerabilities in a network. Network security engineer or network security administrator in an corporate environment
Systems Examine security design and protecting operating systems. Security engineer or cryptographer in an office setting
Analysis Learn how to identify hacking, digital forensics techniques and cryptology. Intelligence analyst for private corporations or government agencies

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Internet Security?

Most online internet security graduate programs are designed to be completed in 2 years with a standard full-time course load. Those who choose complete the required 30-36 credit hours on a part-time basis will take longer and may be subject to a time limit, often 5 years, to maintain eligibility for their degree. Accelerated programs are offered by some schools, giving students the opportunity to cut their completion time down to 12-18 months.

To further influence the amount of time it takes to complete an online master’s in internet security program, find out if the schools you are considering offer an individually paced structure or a cohort structure. An individually paced learning program allows the student to move through courses at a speed that matches their comprehension and efforts, but a cohort structure requires classes to advance together, encouraging cooperation and fostering networking opportunities.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Internet Security Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
CompTIA Security+ Certification Completing an online master’s in internet security program prepares students to pass the CompTIA Security+ Certification exam. This global certification signifies competence in identifying and finding solutions for network security breaches. Those who are certified are educated on the latest relevant security techniques and skills, such as risk management, risk mitigation and intrusion detection.
Certified Ethical Hacker An internet security graduate degree lays the foundation needed to obtain the CEH certification. This is given to individuals who demonstrate the ability to meet or exceed the ethical standards, set by the EC-Council, to use their hacking skills to identify potential weaknesses that can be exploited in their clients’ systems.
Analysis A master’s in internet security includes the training needed to pass the Microsoft MCSE certification exam, showcasing your ability to reduce data loss, increase the flexibility and productivity of users and improve an organization’s data security.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Internet Security Degrees

Accreditation from a respected organization is an important factor to consider when choosing a distance learning school for your master’s in internet security degree. To receive accreditation, a program must meet or exceed the educational standards and high-quality curriculum necessary to promote success within the industry. Should you choose a school without accreditation, you risk earning credits that are unrecognized by other educational institutions if you wish to further your education or being disqualified from some licenses and certifications.

If you find a program that is accredited, the agency the accreditation comes from is also important. The U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize programs that meet general national and regional standards. If you wish to pursue a post-graduate education, regional accreditation like the Higher Learning Commission, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for example, may be more beneficial to increase the likelihood that your graduate degree is recognized by other regional schools.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Internet Security Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected job growth for IT security analysts is estimated to be 28 percent by the year 2026. This is four times the average projected growth for all careers and shows that qualified professionals in this industry are in high demand. It would be easy to think completing a bachelor’s degree would be enough to be successful, but the industry considers this the bare minimum to just get your foot in the door.

In truth, most employers strongly prefer, if not require, job-seeking candidates to have a graduate degree. Because the field is so technical, obtaining your master’s degree gives you an additional few years of training in more specialized classes. When it comes to security matters, additional experience is always beneficial, so spending the time and money to complete an online master’s in internet security program opens doors to jobs that require it and makes you stand out for jobs that don’t.

Expected Salary

Salary potential is also strongly impacted by the completion of an online master’s in internet security program. Most jobs in IT pay well, but cybersecurity is especially critical due to the increase in security breaches around the world. This means the value of a skilled and knowledgeable IT security analyst is relatively high to businesses and government agencies. The chart below gives you an idea of the salary range you can expect working in internet security.

Job Title Salary Range
Information Security Analyst $50,192-$104,309
Information Security Manager $75,456-$145,713
Information Security Engineer $63,195-$128,434
Security Consultant, IT $54,433-$132,493
Information Assurance Engineer $60,285-$124-617
Security Architect, IT $82,577-$154,559

Source: PayScale.com

Security positions often depend on the analyst’s experience to determine effectiveness. More experience allows analysts to identify potential security concerns faster and lets them draw on their additional knowledge to come up with better solutions. Completing a master’s program in internet security gives you an extra two years of experience and more specialized training that will improve your skills as an analyst. This additional knowledge will also reflect in your salary potential, which is directly related to years of experience in the industry. The chart below shows how the salaries for internet security positions grow over time.

Average Salary of Various Internet Security Careers

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Depending on the concentration you choose for your online master’s in internet security program, there are a number of career paths you could take. The advanced skills that come with completing your graduate degree open the door to lucrative positions that offer better benefits and more job security.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Information Security Analysts Information security analysts design and implement security measures to protect the networks and systems of a business or organization. This includes identifying security breaches and assessing any damage caused, testing the system for potential weakness to attack and developing company-wide security protocol. $95,510 per year 28%
Network Security Architects Network security architects are responsible for designing and building an organization’s network so that it meets the company’s needs with possible security risks in mind. This process includes testing the network for potential weaknesses throughout its development and after it is complete and addressing new weaknesses as they are found. $104,650 per year 6%
Network and Computer Systems Administrators A network and computer systems administrator is responsible for the daily operations of a network. This can include the implementation of new software, training users in the use of network hardware and software, monitoring the efficiency and performance of the network and working to maintain and improve network security. $81,100 per year 6%
Database Administrator Database administrators are responsible for the data collected and stored for businesses and organizations. Their function is to use specialized software that organizes and stores the data collected and then allow authorized users access to it while maintaining the integrity of database security. $87,020 per year 11%
Security Software Developer As a security software developer, responsibilities include conceptualizing, designing and developing desktop, mobile and network security software so programmers can write the code. They then test the software for issues and develop solutions to those problems so it is ready for consumers. $103,560 per year 24%

Professional Organizations

The world of IT evolves rapidly, especially when it comes to internet security, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the industry. Professional organizations are a great way to do this and can also encourage collaboration between colleagues and offer additional education opportunities. Here are a few organizations that can benefit anyone with a graduate degree in internet security.

CompTIA: This organization was created for IT professionals and dedicates itself to advocating for causes that impact the IT world. Members have access to a wealth of resources and educational opportunities along with career tools to help professionals grow.

International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2: The (ISC)2 offers a range of certification options to its members and maintains an events calendar that provides in-person networking opportunities across the globe. The organization provides members access to multiple industry publications and offers training opportunities and professional development tools.

The SANS Institute: The SANS Institute is considered one of the largest and most trusted organizations in the world for security training and certification. Home to the Internet Storm Center, the early warning system for the internet, the organization provides professionals access to a massive database of publications, research and programs related to internet security.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Internet Security

Online master’s degree programs are often less costly than on-campus classes, but you may still find yourself in need of some financial help. After filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to find out if you qualify for federally funded grants and loans, private loans and scholarships are also an option to help you cover the tuition for your online master’s in internet security program. The resources below can help you get started if you need to seek out financial assistance.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

ISSA Educational Foundation Scholarship

Award: Varies

Deadline: June 15

Eligibility: Full-time graduate students pursuing an information assurance or cybersecurity degree at an accredited U.S. institution with at least a 3.0 GPA and three letters of recommendation.

CAISSA Cybersecurity Scholarship

Award: $4,000

Deadline: October 31

Eligibility: Students pursuing a graduate degree in cybersecurity or related majors with no restrictions, who have at least a 3.0 GPA and have completed 2 years of courses.

Snort Scholarship/Cisco

Award: $10,000

Deadline: April 3

Eligibility: Enrolled in a graduate cybersecurity degree program or something similar and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Deputy Scholarship for Women in Technology

Award: $1,000

Deadline: July 31 and November 30

Eligibility: Full-time female undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a cybersecurity degree at a U.S. institution with at least a 3.0 GPA.