Cyber Security Degree, Certificate and Training Programs
Students or professionals interested in the field of information technology might enroll in an additional cyber security training program to learn how to protect computer systems and networks from cyber attacks. Students interested in the subject can enroll in a Cyber Security Certificate program, an Associate of Science in Cyber Security, a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis or a Master of Science in Cyber Security degree program.
Associate of Science in Cyber Security
A 2-year, associate's degree program can provide students with an entry-level insight into computer operating systems, network security and cyber security. Students enrolled in such programs study the basic principles of computer networking and learn how to protect the information found within network systems. Some degree programs in the field also provide students with a foundation in criminal justice and computer forensics to prepare them for an entry-level career in cyber crime investigation.
The most common prerequisite for students interested in enrolling in an associate's degree program in cyber security is a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may make exceptions for students who do not have a high school diploma but who do have a working understanding of computer operating systems and who can pass English and mathematics placement tests.
Introductory courses included in an associate's degree program in cyber security are taught in classroom settings, while more advanced courses are often taught in computer laboratories. A mixture of lecture courses and hands-on, practical courses in cyber security includes:
- Computer literacy
- Computer operating systems
- Introduction to networking
- Principles of criminal justice
- Data communications
- Computer forensics
- Information security
- Cyber crime
Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis
Individuals interested in studying the aspects of computer science and cyber security at the baccalaureate level might consider enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Security and Risk Analysis. Such programs provide students with an extensive overview of the theories surrounding risk analysis and computer security. Curriculum covers the regulations that guide information security protocols as well as the legal and ethical issues surrounding cyber security. Such programs also include practical training courses that teach students how to recognize and then manage potential security threats and breaches.
Schools offering baccalaureate degree programs in security and risk analysis may prefer to accept students who have completed college-level courses in business administration, computer science or information technology. Others enroll students who simply have a high school diploma or GED as well as a working knowledge of computer operating systems.
Many baccalaureate degree programs dealing with the subject of cyber security feature both theoretical and practical courses. Sample courses are:
- Risk management assessment
- Principles of networking
- Network security
- Computer and cyber forensics
- Decision theory
- Programming techniques
Cyber Security Certificate
Cyber security certificate programs are primarily post-graduate programs offered by 4-year universities. They are designed for individuals who already have a baccalaureate degree or professional experience in the field of information technology. Students enrolled in such a certificate program learn how to protect computer systems and networks from hackers, viruses and other potential dangers from the Internet. The curriculum focuses on the principles of network security as well as the practical skills of cryptography, authentication, public key cryptosystems, cryptanalysis, network security protocols and more.
A bachelor's degree is a standard prerequisite for gaining admission into a graduate certificate program in cyber security. Some schools require that incoming students hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, while other schools do not. A university may also give enrollment preference to individuals with professional experience in the field of information technology.
Graduate certificate programs in cyber security typically consist of just 12-15 credit hours of study. Specific topics covered include:
- Network security
- Information assurance
- Security protocols
Master of Science in Cyber Security
Master's degree programs in cyber security take two years to complete and are therefore more comprehensive than graduate certificate programs in the field. Students still learn the basics of network security and cyber security while enrolled in a graduate program. However, they are also expected to learn how to protect the computer systems of large businesses, corporations and government agencies. They study the ethical, legal and psychological ramifications behind cyber attacks and cyber security. A master's degree program in the field may also put an emphasis on global cyber security protocols.
The admissions process for master's degree programs in cyber security is similar to the process for graduate certificate programs in the field. Incoming students are required to have a baccalaureate degree and a working knowledge of computer systems. Many programs are specifically designed for mid-career professionals interested in moving into the cyber security field.
Core courses found within a master's degree program in cyber security focus on the skills, principles and protocols in the field. Electives might allow students to specialize in cyber security in the business world, global cyber security or national cyber security policy. Students may take courses in:
- Cyber security and cyberspace
- Ethics and legal issues in cyber security
- Human aspects of cyber security
- National cyber security policy
- Enterprise cyber security
- Global cyber security
- Business communication
Popular Career Options
Certificate and degree programs in cyber security are often undertaken by professionals working in the field of information technology. With training in cyber security, individuals can advance to positions as:
- Cyber security specialist
- Cyber policy analyst
- Cyber intelligence analyst
- Information security manager
- Cyber investigator
Certification in the field of cyber security is primarily offered by for-profit institutions and companies that develop security systems. While certification is not required, it can act as a proof of competence for jobseekers in the field. The Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) offers general designation options for professionals working in the field of information security.
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