A graduate certificate in cyber security could help you develop or advance your skill sets in this lucrative, growing field.
Online programming enables you to further your training while maintaining your current work-load. The more expertise you gain in this field, the more cybersecurity certifications and positions you may qualify for.
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Each cybersecurity graduate certificate is different, as each program might cover different topics and require a different number of courses.
Online Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security Programs
Nearly all organizations have sensitive data that they must protect from cybercriminals. Information security has become a crucial part of any computer network, and cyber security professionals are tasked with keeping their skills up to date.
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The IT field is always progressing, and pursuing a graduate certificate in cyber security can help you ensure that you’re knowledgeable in the latest technology. If you are currently working in another sector, completing a cybersecurity certificate program could help equip you to enter the information security field.
Online graduate certificate programs in cyber security may focus on different topics, such as:
- Digital forensics
- Ethical hacking
- Secure mobile networks
- Operating systems
- Cybersecurity foundations
- Principles of computer networking
- Digital cryptography
- Fundamentals of cloud computing
- Cyber attack vectors
Some graduate certificate programs are designed to also help you qualify for various industry certifications. Professionals who acquire expertise in advanced security techniques may be able to find work securing computer systems in a wide variety of organizations.
Information security analysts often work for private businesses, hospitals, telecommunication organizations, and government agencies and organizations. Related roles include security engineer, network administrator, computer analyst, and software developer.
Cybersecurity Careers & Salaries
Nearly every modern place of business uses computers, so there is always a need for skilled professionals to set up safeguards for data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the potential career paths related to cybersecurity.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer Information Systems Managers||$159,010|
|Computer Network Architects||$120,520|
|Information Security Analysts||$102,600|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$99,270|
|Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$98,220|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$80,600|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$62,760|
Cybersecurity professionals may end up protecting financial records in a bank or securing personal data in a hospital or government office. Others help protect consumer transactions on e-commerce sites or prevent outsiders from hacking sensitive information.
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Some experienced information security analysts become managers who train and supervise others in the field.
Cyber Security Graduate Certificate Curriculum & Courses
Here are examples of various courses that could be offered by online graduate certificate programs in cyber security:
- Computer Network Security: You’ll learn about network architecture and protocols.
- Computer Security and Privacy: You’ll study the use of cryptographic tools to safeguard computers.
- Cybersecurity Risk Management: You’ll learn how to evaluate potential security risks in your network.
- Cybersecurity Policy and Law: You’ll learn about legal issues associated with cybersecurity.
- Digital Forensics and Cyber Crime: This class introduces concepts in investigating security breaches.
- Cloud Computing Security: You’ll learn how to manage security issues in cyberspace.
- Essentials of Business Analysis: This class will teach you how to gather and analyze business data.
- Software Development Security: You’ll learn how to add security elements to software engineering.
- Human Factors in Cybersecurity: You’ll learn how human behavior affects computer security.
- Information Warfare: This class introduces you to the motivations and methods of cybercriminals.
The course offerings and the number of credits that are required for a graduate certificate will vary depending on the school.
Admission requirements can differ from school to school, but here are some commonly seen criteria:
- Undergraduate degree. Most programs require that you have a bachelor’s degree to enroll.
- Application. Some schools require an application fee as well.
- College transcripts. Schools may have a minimum GPA requirement.
- Resume. Some schools ask to review your professional credentials and experience.
Not all schools require GRE or GMAT scores in order to apply for graduate certificate programs. You can ask your prospective school’s admissions office for more information.
Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate Programs Accreditation
When choosing a school for your graduate certificate in cybersecurity, it’s strategic to make sure that it is regionally accredited. Regional accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education evaluate colleges and universities on a regular basis to ensure that they meet standard quality criteria.
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Employers are more likely to trust your educational credentials if they come from an accredited university. In addition, if you decide to continue your graduate studies through another school or program, they may only accept transfer credits that are accredited.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Online graduate certificate programs in cyber security often cost less than a degree program, but it could still be beneficial to explore the financial aid options available to you.
You can see if you qualify for federal aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application can also determine your eligibility for other types of need-based aid. Common forms of federal aid include student loans and work-study programs.
You can also explore scholarship opportunities offered by your university or outside organizations. Some employers will even pay for their employees to further their education and skill sets.
What Can I Do with a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security?
If you earn a graduate certificate in cybersecurity, you may be able to pursue a career in any number of institutions. Any business that deals in data will need somebody who can keep it safe.
You may work for a private company, a medical facility, a financial institution, or even a police station or other government establishment. Here are some potential job titles in the field:
- Network administrator
- Information security analyst
- Computer network architect
- Computer and information systems manager
With experience, you may have the opportunity to supervise others.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Cyber Security Graduate Certificate Online?
Cyber security graduate certificates online typically take 1 year or less to complete. The number of credits required to complete a program can differ widely between programs, but most require between 12 credits and 16 credits.
You might be able to earn this certificate in 1 semester or 2 semesters, depending on how many credits you take at a time. Some certificate programs will add electives in addition to the basic certification courses.
What Certifications Should I Get for Cyber Security?
Professional certification programs are designed to provide training for people working in cybersecurity. Industry certifications can also demonstrate your proficiency in specific areas or skills. Examples of professional certification for cyber security include:
- GIAC Security Essentials
- CompTIA Security+
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
There’s a diverse collection of industry certifications in cyber security. Which ones you choose to pursue depends on your career goals. In addition, some employers require workers to hold certain certifications. Academic certificate programs provide an in-depth study of current issues in the profession, and some are designed to help students prepare for a particular professional certification exam.
What’s the Difference Between a Graduate Certificate vs. Masters in Cyber Security Online?
There are some key differences between a graduate certificate program and a master’s program.
- Graduate certificate: This type of graduate program involves fewer courses than a degree program, so it can often be completed in 1 year of less. It focuses on select cybersecurity topics and skill sets, and it may prepare you for professional certification.
- Masters degree: A masters program involves more in-depth study of the cybersecurity field as a whole, though it may also offer specializations. It generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete. A graduate degree can be a prerequisite for some roles, and it can help prepare you for doctoral studies.
Both a graduate certificate and degree program can help you advance your cybersecurity knowledge and skill sets. The track you choose to follow may depend on your short-term and long-term goals.
Is It Worth Doing a Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity?
Yes, a graduate certificate in cybersecurity is worth it for many students. Cybersecurity is a lucrative and rapidly-growing field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts are expected to see 33% job growth over the next ten years.
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Getting a graduate certificate could be an effective way to introduce yourself to this career path. If you’re already working in cybersecurity, a graduate certificate could help you advance your expertise. Some certificate programs can even help you prepare for a professional certification.
Universities Offering Online Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Abilene Christian University offers a certificate in cybersecurity that can be earned online. The program is intended for working adults and can typically be completed in 9 months. Courses include Incident Management and Response, Risk Management and Compliance, and Information Assurance and Control. ACU provides a Christ-centered learning community.
Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Colorado State University’s graduate certificate in cybersecurity program consists of 12 credit hours of coursework and can be completed 100% online.
The program’s courses are asynchronous. They include Cyber Security Management, Enterprise Cyber Security, Cyber Security Defense and Countermeasures, and Emerging Cyber Security Technology, Threats, and Defense. All credits can be counted toward a master’s degree from CSU.
Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Fayetteville State University offers an online program for a graduate certificate in cyber security management. Students in the program can watch live lectures via Zoom or watch recorded lectures. The certificate requires 4 courses: Cyber Security Plans, Intrusion Detection and Prevention, Cyber Incident Analysis and Response, and Best Practices and Emerging Trends.
FSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Georgetown University offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity risk management that can be earned online or on campus. Students may enroll full-time or part-time and usually take 6 months to a year to finish. New students may start in the fall, spring, or summer. The curriculum takes a hands-on approach to learning.
Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Harvard University offers a cybersecurity graduate certificate through its online extension school. The program is also available on campus. Most students in the program are adults who work full-time and take about a year and half to finish. To earn the certificate, students are required to take two core courses and two electives.
Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Northeastern University’s graduate certificate in cybersecurity is available on campus in Boston. Classes can be taken full-time or part-time. Students can typically finish the program in 8 months to 2 years. The program is designed for students who do not already have backgrounds in cybersecurity but want to change careers.
Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Old Dominion University offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity that can usually be earned in 1 year by taking two courses each semester. All courses can be counted toward a master’s degree in computer science from ODU. The program is available exclusively online, and students with backgrounds in computer science may apply.
Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Stanford University’s graduate certificate program in cybersecurity emphasizes real-world problem-solving and application. Classes can be taken online or on campus. Online students watch the same lectures and receive the same assignments as those on campus. The program consists of four courses that are each 12 weeks long.
Stanford is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.
The University of Louisville offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity that can be earned online. The certificate requires 12 credit hours of coursework, including two required courses and two electives. Students typically finish in 1 year. All coursework is designed to be applied to an MS in Computer Science.
The University of Louisville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a graduate certificate in cybersecurity technology that focuses on hands-on learning and problem-solving. Courses include Communicating, Problem Solving, and Leading in Cybersecurity, Cyberspace and Cybersecurity Foundations, and Prevention of Cyber Attack Methodologies. Each course is worth 6 credits.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Massachusetts—Lowell offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity that can be earned entirely online. The program includes four courses that can be completed at a student’s own pace. Each course typically requires a time commitment of 6 to 10 hours per week. Accepted students can start in the fall, spring, or summer.
The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of Missouri—St. Louis offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity. Courses are available in the evenings and online. The program requires the completion of 12 credit hours: three required courses and one elective. Certain prerequisite math and computer science courses may also be required.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of North Georgia has been recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the NSA and the DHS. UNG’s graduate certificate in cybersecurity can be earned online during the summer term and requires 10 credit hours of coursework.
UNG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Rhode Island offers an online program for a graduate certificate in cybersecurity. This is often a good option for those who want to further their education without committing to a full master’s degree program. The curriculum includes lectures that can be streamed on a student’s own schedule and cloud-based labs to provide hands-on experience.
The University of Rhode Island is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of West Florida’s graduate certificate in cybersecurity is designed to provide students with maximum flexibility. Courses are 8 weeks long, and the full program typically takes about 1 year to complete. All courses can be easily transferred into a master’s in cybersecurity from UWF.
The University of West Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security Online
Online graduate certificate programs in cyber security can be a strategic starting place for on-campus or online cyber security bachelor’s degree holders or for those with bachelor degrees in other fields. If you currently work with computers, earning a certificate in cybersecurity could broaden your skill set.
A typical certificate program can be completed in about a year, allowing you to further your qualifications relatively quickly. Online classes can consist of live lectures, virtual classes, or pre-recorded lectures. Much like online cyber security associate’s degree programs, some online cybersecurity certificate programs still require on-campus labs, orientations, workshops, or seminars, while others are 100% online.
If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate certificate in cyber security online, you can start researching accredited schools to compare available programs.