Best online information systems security degrees 2022: Top picks – ZDNet

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With hacks on the rise, an information systems security degree can open doors into a field that shows no signs of slowing.
Contributing Writer
Information systems security degrees prepare students for careers or graduate study in the evolving and high-demand field of safeguarding computer systems, networks, and databases. 
These IT professionals respond to cyberattacks, mitigate damage, and design and implement recovery plans. With a median annual salary that exceeds $100,000 and a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics-projected 33% employment growth from 2020-30, opportunities in fields like information security analysis should remain strong.
A bachelor’s degree qualifies graduates for many information systems security career paths. Our program rankings highlight top programs’ unique qualities and curricular emphases to help you find your best fit.
Learn about ZDNet’s ranking methodology to discover why prospective students trust us to deliver accurate, objective, and expertly curated information. ZDNet’s researchers, writers, and editors follow rigorous guidelines to help our readers find the right programs for achieving their goals. 
Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, College Scorecard, and each program’s website.
About the program: OSUIT’s online bachelor of technology in information technology – network infrastructure requires 121 credits and includes coursework in secure systems administration. Students learn to identify, investigate, and solve information security issues. 
Accreditation: Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
About the program: Remote learners in WGU’s bachelor of science in network operations and IT security program study foundations and applications in network and cloud security while earning an embedded CompTIA Security+ certification.
Accreditation: Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
About the program: Learners can complete a bachelor of science in network and security administration program online at DSU. The curriculum includes courses in information security management, offensive and defensive network security, and software security. 
Accreditation: Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
About the program: KSU’s online degrees include a bachelor of business administration with a major in information security and assurance that prepares graduates for jobs as data security analysts, information risk analysts, and security engineers.
Accreditation: Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
About the program: Mercy offers a 120-credit online program leading to a bachelor of science in computer information systems. Courses include cryptography and computer security, network security, and website administration and security.
Accreditation: Mercy College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
About the program: Online students at Limestone can earn a 120-credit bachelor of science in computer science – computer and information systems security that prepares them for industry certification exams.
Accreditation: Limestone College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
About the program: UMA’s 121-credit online bachelor of science in computer information systems with an information systems security concentration includes an internship and 27 credits of security concentration courses.
Accreditation: University of Maine at Augusta is regionally accredited by New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).
About the program: The online bachelor’s degree in computer networks and cybersecurity at UMGC requires 120 credits in courses like ethical hacking and introduction to Linux.
Accreditation: University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
About the program: Baker’s 120-credit online bachelor of science in information systems – information assurance offers courses in internet and web security, securing systems, and disaster recovery.
Accreditation: Baker College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
About the program: Remote learners at CityU complete 180 credits to earn a bachelor of science in information systems. The curriculum includes topics in cybersecurity and data and network security.
Accreditation: City University of Seattle is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Online bachelor’s in information systems security degrees may meet the needs of working professionals by offering asynchronous, self-paced learning and opportunities for accelerated or part-time study. Students interact with classmates and professors through message boards and other virtual platforms. 
Remote learning often includes hands-on projects, virtual or onsite internships, and capstones that apply coursework to real-world situations. Programs may incorporate embedded industry certifications, optional opportunities to become certified while studying, or postgraduation certification exam preparation.
The rigorous online curricula require students to stay organized, manage their time, and self-motivate.
In any information systems security degree, online learners can expect classes covering defense against vulnerabilities, maintaining system security, and laws governing computer security. 
You’ll also complete general education and elective courses.
Ethics and cyberlaw
This class examines the agencies, authorities, laws, and regulations that govern information systems security, along with legal issues that may arise. It emphasizes data integrity within organizations.
Ethical hacking
This course teaches penetration testing techniques for security assessments and preventing computer system infiltration and vulnerability exploitation. Topics include enumeration, issues in cryptography, and network scanning.
Information and security planning
Students learn how to create guidelines for maintaining digital security and often gain hands-on experience designing and building information security programs. Topics include digital risk management, encryption, and network security standards. 
Network and security
Enrollees explore basic security principles, identify vulnerabilities, and use mitigation techniques to increase protections. Students dissect computer networks — such as WAN, LAN, and VPN — to learn how they communicate.
With cybersecurity professionals in high demand, information systems security degree-holders should find employment at all levels. 
For those who don’t mind starting at the bottom and working their way up, the quickest route to a job may be a two-year associate degree. Higher degrees can lead to management roles and specialized work.
Length: Two years 
Cost: $5,000-$31,000 per year
Post-grad careers: Computer forensics technician; cyber data analyst; information security associate
An associate degree in information systems security can qualify graduates for entry-level positions, particularly if the program prepares them for cybersecurity-focused IT certifications.
Students in associate of science or applied science information security degree programs learn about the foundations of computer systems, operating systems, program design, and networking and the ways in which they can be compromised and protected. Course topics cover computer forensics, cyber defense, and security policies and protocols.
Length: Four years 
Cost: $6,500-$23,500
Post-grad careers: Database administrator; information security analyst; network administrator
Information systems security degrees may be stand-alone bachelor’s programs. Additionally, students earning bachelor’s in computer information systems or computer science degrees may choose information systems security as a major, concentration, or specialization.
Many online programs are designed for busy adults and offer asynchronous learning, but some may follow a cohort model with set meeting times. Learners master computer forensics, information assurance, and network management. Some programs offer internships and may culminate in a capstone.
Length: Two years 
Cost: $5,600-$47,500 per year
Post-grad careers: Computer systems administrator; computer systems analyst; information systems manager
Remote learners can pursue a standalone master’s in information systems security or add a concentration to their MBA in information systems. Some students specialize in cryptology, database management, or risk assessment. 
Programs may culminate with a thesis or capstone, include built-in industry certifications, and offer internships opportunities.
Graduates qualify for upper-level jobs in cybersecurity and systems administration with information assurance and security responsibilities. 
Length: Three to five years
Cost: $4,000-$50,000 per year
Post-grad careers: Chief information officer; computer network architect; information systems security researcher
Doctoral degree options include a doctor of science in cybersecurity, Ph.D., in information assurance, and Ph.D. in computer science with a specialization in cybersecurity. Graduates can pursue careers in academia or high-level roles developing secure networks and security protocols for organizations and consulting firms.
Ph.D. curricula focus on applied research in data security. Candidates must research and defend a dissertation addressing organizational security challenges. 
An bachelor’s in online information systems security combines general education with concentrated coursework in designing, implementing, and maintaining information assurance systems and defenses. 
If you’re interested in this field, one of our listed programs might be your path into it. Reach out to programs that interest you to learn more.
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