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Best Master’s Programs in Information Assurance

Best Master's Programs in Information Assurance

The National Security Agency defines information assurance as “ensuring [the] availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation” of information and information systems. In the current information age, more and more information is being stored online. As the world and modern industry grows increasingly dependent upon computers and the Web, so does the incidence of cyber-attacks and the demand for information assurance and cybersecurity professionals to prevent and combat them. There is not a sufficient number of adequately prepared information security professionals to meet these demands.

Master’s Programs Guide has researched, evaluated, and ranked the best master’s degree programs in information assurance and cybersecurity in order to help you advance in this growing field. The following programs are designed to build students’ understanding of and skills in protecting information and strengthening network security in public and private settings. Many of the programs listed offer online, on-campus, and/or blended learning formats to accommodate a variety of schedules and lifestyles. 

Information security is a multidisciplinary field that combines business, computer science, engineering, and technical skills. The following programs emphasize ethical and legal issues in the field in order to ensure information assurance practices are compliant with up-to-date regulations. They also explore topics such as cryptography, digital forensics, incident response, infrastructure design, project management, risk assessment, mitigation, and beyond. MSIA students can typically expect to spend time researching a topic or challenge of interest in the cybersecurity and information assurance field. Some of the programs listed also include internship experiences in the relevant industry or government settings. Students enrolled in these programs will learn about the latest regulations, technologies, and processes in the protection of information and information systems about threats such as identity theft, hackers, and viruses.

Individuals who graduate with a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity degree may go on to work in the public or private sector in industry or governmental settings. They may land positions working for nationally- and globally recognized- business organizations such as Boeing, Citi, Hewlett-Packard, or Spectrum Health. Others may work for government branches such as the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or the National Security Agency. Some of the programs listed are designated as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and/or Cyber Security by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. Earning a degree from a school with this designation may increase individuals’ chances of assuming top government positions in the information security field. No matter the path MSIA degree holders take, they will be prepared to help make the world a safer, stronger, and more secure place.

COMMON APPLICATION AND ADMISSION QUESTIONS

Each of the programs listed requires applicants to hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. These bachelor’s degrees must often be in a relevant technical field, such as computer science, information technology, network security, engineering, math, or even political science. Many schools prefer applicants to demonstrate a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Some programs also favor those with relevant work experience in an information technology-related or managerial role. Prerequisite undergraduate coursework in statistics and physical sciences is often required. Applicants should also have sufficient academic preparation in areas such as data algorithms and structures, discrete mathematics, network protocols, processor architectures, structured programming languages, operating systems, and software engineering. Applicants are also typically expected to demonstrate strong skills in coding and programming.

When applying to a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity program, graduate students can expect to submit materials such as official transcripts with GPA records, Graduate Record Exam scores, two or three letters of recommendation, an up-to-date resume, and a personal statement or application essay that relates to professional goals, experience, or education in information security. 

WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS?

  • Air Force Institute of Technology and Center for Cyberspace Research Information Assurance Scholarships: The Center for Cyberspace Research and the Air Force Institute of Technology jointly offer information assurance scholarships of up to $5,000 per recipient each year. Qualified applicants will be civilians or military personnel seeking a graduate education at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Candidates should have U.S. citizenship, a quantitative Graduate Record Exam score of at least 163, and a bachelor’s degree with a demonstrated minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Cisco Systems Information Assurance Scholarship: Each year, leading organization Cisco Systems awards $2,500 to students contributing significant research to the field of information assurance and cybersecurity. Qualified scholarship candidates will have a major in a field related to computer science or information technology, active engagement in extracurriculars, a minimum GPA of 3.2, and a demonstrated need for financial assistance. The scholarship application process requires candidates to submit an essay or scholarly project.
  • CyberCorps Scholarships for Service: The National Science Foundation awards graduate students up to $25,000 each year through its CyberCorps Scholarships for Service. Qualified recipients will be attending a four-year institution on a full-time basis in pursuit of a degree in cybersecurity or information assurance. Scholarship recipients work in information assurance in approved government agencies.
  • Information Systems Security Association Education Foundation Scholarships: The Information Systems Security Association Education Foundation awards two $2,000 scholarships per year to students currently enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate program in information security. Candidates must demonstrate active involvement in community service efforts and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applicants must be currently enrolled full-time at the sophomore level or higher in an undergraduate or graduate information security program at an accredited university. The application process requires a short biography, three letters of recommendation, and a half-hour telephone interview.

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN INFORMATION ASSURANCE?

Individuals who hold a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity may seek a variety of positions related to computer science, information technology and information security. Potential job titles may include database administrator, information security officer, senior security analyst or strategist, or network administrator. 

MSIA graduates may go on to work as information security analysts. Information security analysts develop and implement security measures to protect computer networks and systems from a variety of threats. They may also install software, prepare reports, conduct research, and recommend enhancements that promote information security. Individuals in these positions may work in business-, computer-, or finance-related organizations or consulting firms. According to the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts earned a median salary of $98,350 in 2018, which is equivalent to $47.28 per hour. As with most information security positions, the demand for experienced analysts is growing at a rapid rate of 32 percent, which is much faster than typical job growth across all industries.

While the demand for computer systems analysts is growing at a slower rate of nine percent, this is still a faster growth rate than most industries are experiencing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 2018 median salary of $88,740—$42.66 per hour—for computer systems analysts. Individuals in these positions can expect to spend their time examining and researching an organization’s systems, analyzing and reporting on costs and benefits, and designing and recommending tools and procedures that will enhance systems’ efficacy and efficiency.

The demand for network and computer systems administrators is growing at a five-percent rate, which is about as fast as average. Network and computer systems administrators deal with routine processes in computing and operating systems. They may install hardware or software, repair networks and maintain network and system security, or troubleshoot for a variety of issues that come up throughout the workday. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median 2018 salary of $82,050 for network and computer systems administrators. This wage is equivalent to $39.45 per hour. 

Individuals who hold a master’s degree in a computer science or information technology field may also be qualified to pursue careers as computer and information research scientists. These researchers examine, design, create, and evaluate cutting-edge technologies and innovative processes in computing and information technology. They may conduct experiments, invent programming languages, publish their research in scholarly journals, and/or present their findings at regional, national, and global computing conferences. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information research scientists earned a median salary of $118,370 in 2018, which is equivalent to $56.91 per hour. The demand for these researchers and scientists is growing at a projected 10-year rate of 16 percent, which is much faster than average. 

Payscale reports the average information assurance analyst salary as $73,099 annually, and $34.82 hourly. The site reports desirable information assurance skills include intrusion detection, risk management, testing and auditing, and an understanding of policies, procedures, and infrastructure. A master’s degree in information assurance can help individuals develop and master these skills.

WHAT ARE THE BEST INFORMATION ASSURANCE DEGREES?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:

40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni 

30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year 

30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

At Master’s Program’s Guide we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals. 

Check out our ranking of the Best Master’s Programs in Information Assurance! 

#1. Iowa State University

Master of Science in Information Assurance

Iowa State University began offering information assurance courses as early as 1995. Today, the university houses one of the nation’s largest Master of Science in information assurance degree programs within it’s Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business. Students can earn their MS in information assurance through online learning or in a traditional campus format. The multidisciplinary program is supported by six Iowa State departments, including computer science, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, mathematics, and political science. 

Applicants to the Iowa State MS in information assurance program should hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant field such as computer science, engineering, management information systems, mathematics, or political science. Students with undergraduate backgrounds in fields such as physical sciences or statistics may be considered in some cases. Some students may be required to submit test scores from the Graduate Record Exam or the Graduate Management Admissions Test. 

The Master of Engineering program is only open to off-campus students who plan to complete their studies online. It is specifically designed for individuals with undergraduate degrees in computing or related fields. Applicants who do not hold a relevant undergraduate degree may be admitted if they have at least three years of work experience in information technology. Applicants must submit their GRE scores and undergraduate GPA, unless they have three or more years of computer-related work experience. 

On-campus information assurance students may choose to complete a research thesis or follow a non-thesis route toward their MS degree. The degree requires a total of 30 credits of study, distributed across 24 course credits and six research credits for the thesis program, and 27 course credits and three creative component credits for the non-thesis plan. The thesis program is ideal for students hoping to pursue doctoral studies or research-based careers after graduation. The non-thesis program includes a creative project in lieu of a thesis, and is intended for students seeking professional roles in information assurance. Online students may complete a coursework-only program and earn a Master of Engineering degree in the field. The university also offers a 12-credit, four-course online graduate certificate program in information assurance.

The 30-credit information assurance curriculum explores a wide scope of subjects. Course examples include Cryptography, Information Warfare, and Steganography and Digital Image Forensics. Students may choose to earn credit for summer internships in information assurance. The program’s capstone course involves designing, creating, and implementing a security policy plan. Graduate information assurance students can expect to engage in interactive, team-based projects that tackle real-world issues in cybersecurity implementation and processes. Students are also offered opportunities to conduct experiments at the university’s network security research laboratories. Iowa State’s information assurance faculty have research interests and expertise in areas such as privacy, risk management, secure e-commerce, and wireless network security.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to become cybersecurity computer science experts, engineers, and information systems professionals. They may work in academia, government, or private industry. Iowa State University is recognized as a center of academic excellence in information assurance education.

#2.  Georgia Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Cybersecurity – Information Security track

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing offers a Master of Science in cybersecurity with an information security track option. The degree program may be completed in a traditional format at the school’s campus in Atlanta, GA, or fully online.

Applicants to Georgia Tech’s computing graduate programs must submit materials including three recommendation letters and satisfactory GRE scores. The program is highly competitive, and most candidates demonstrate a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Applicants to the cybersecurity graduate program must hold an undergraduate degree in computer science or a closely related field. Applicants to the online program should hold a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering or computer science from an accredited college or university. Applicants are also expected to have a foundational understanding of areas such as data algorithms, networking protocols, operating systems, and processor architectures. They must have at least one college course in discrete mathematics, and strong skills in coding and programming.

The on-campus curriculum consists of 32 credits of study. It includes a six-course fixed core that covers contemporary information security theory and practice. The core curriculum includes required courses in Information Security Policies and Strategies, and Introduction to Information Security. Each student also completes specialized electives in their chosen concentration, which allows them the choice to focus on cyber-physical (smart energy), policy, or technology. 

The cyber-physical specialization includes course options in Dependable Distributed Systems, Power System Protection, and Sensor Networks. Policy course options include Internet and Information and Communications Technology Policy; Public Policy; and Scenario Writing and Path Gaming. Technology course offerings include Internetworking Architectures and Protocols; Programming Language Design; and Reliability and Security in Computer Architecture. Each student also completes one free elective from any specialization, and completes a five-credit cybersecurity practicum project course. The five-hour practicum allows online and on-campus students to gain hands-on work experience in academic, commercial, government, or industrial settings.

The fully online MS program features a 10-course, 32-credit curriculum. It includes the same core courses as the on-campus program, including the practicum experience. It also includes 12 credits of required online courses, including Applied Cryptography, Information Security Lab, Network Security, and Secure Computer Systems. Online students also choose two electives from options such as Malware Analysis and Defense, and Security Operations and Incident Response. The degree program can be completed in two to three years of study.

Georgia Tech hosts the Institute for Information Security & Privacy. In addition to master’s degrees in cybersecurity, computer science, and computer engineering, the institute supports a professional cybersecurity certificate program. It also promotes informal learning in the field through its cybersecurity lecture series, which is held each Friday at noon. The lecture series brings industry leaders and researchers to school to discuss the latest cyber discoveries and security measures. The Institute for Information Security & Privacy conducts significant research in areas such as attribution, consumer-facing privacy, and cyber-physical systems.

#3.  National University

Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

National University offers a Master of Science in cybersecurity and information assurance through its College of Professional Studies. The degree program can be completed online or on the university’s campus in La Jolla, CA. 

To earn admission to any NU graduate program, applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Students with lower GPAs may be admitted if they submit sufficient scores on graduate tests such as the Graduate Record Exam or the Miller Analogies Test. Individuals who can demonstrate a GPA of 2.5 or higher do not need to submit these test scores. Required application materials include education transcripts and an admissions application. 

NU follows a uniquely intensive format that involves completing one course per month. This format allows students to focus on one subject at a time and to earn their degree faster than they otherwise would have. The university offers flexibility with online, evening, and weekend course options. It also offers year-round enrollment, accepting applications year-round, offering monthly course starts, and allowing students to transfer at any time. The university operates over 20 locations across California and in Nevada. It is particularly recognized for being a military-friendly, Yellow Ribbon school.

The professionally-oriented program builds managerial and technical skills for computing and information systems security. Students can expect to examine digital threats and computer infrastructure vulnerabilities, and to develop plans to mitigate and prevent these issues. Students also examine the effects of legislation and technical advancement on cybersecurity and information assurance. The curriculum covers infrastructure, the legal and ethical aspects of cybersecurity, and risk assessment. All students must complete 58.5 quarter units of graduate study in order to earn the MS in CSIA. Students may transfer in up to 13.5 quarter units of graduate work from another accredited institution. The core curriculum consists of nine courses, including Cyber Security Ethical Issues, Cyber Security Toolkit Utilization, Net Defense and Cloud Security, and Wireless and Mobile Security. The core curriculum also includes three stages of cybersecurity project work. Students have the choice to specialize in ethical hacking and pen testing or information assurance and security policy. 

The ethical hacking and pen testing specialization explores penetration tests, which assess security measures in information systems and networks by simulating attacks. Ethical hacking and pen testing students complete specialized coursework such as producing a pen test authorization and a rules of engagement document and synthesizing process specifications for infrastructure defense measures. The specialization includes required courses in Ethical Hacking, Information Systems Vulnerability and Attacks, Red Teaming, and Red vs. Blue Team Exercise. 

The specialization in information assurance and security policy focuses on the informational and organizational aspects of cybersecurity. The specialization covers topics such as codified standards, policies, and practices in information security. It includes specialized coursework such as preparing an information technology risk mitigation and security plan and an enterprise disaster recovery and continuity plan. The specialization includes required courses in Certification and Accreditation, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, Ethical Hacking, and Information Assurance.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designates National University a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

#4.  Nova Southeastern University

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity

A pioneer in computing education and research, Nova Southeastern University has been offering graduate computer science programs since 1975. It also began offering distance learning programs in 1983. The university’s College of Computing and Engineering houses a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity degree program. It is designed particularly for individuals who want to focus on network security engineering, including secure infrastructures and network traffic security analysis. Alternatively, prospective students who wish to focus on security policy development and compliance may pursue the university’s Master of Science in cybersecurity management.

The MS in information assurance and cybersecurity program welcomes individuals with undergraduate majors in computer science, engineering, information systems, information technology, mathematics, or physics. Applicants are expected to have an understanding of data algorithms and structures and structured programming languages. Applicants lacking in this background may be required to complete a prerequisite course in Foundations of Programming, Data Structures, and Algorithms.

The degree program is available both online and in a traditional format at the university’s campus in South Florida. Students can take online courses from anywhere in the world. Online courses are delivered through Canvas, an online course content management system. On-campus courses meet one evening per week in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Courses are delivered in a three-term format, with a 16-week fall term, a 17-week winter term, and a 12-week summer term.

The 30-credit curriculum builds skills in professional communication of cybersecurity management concepts, developing effective organizational policies in cybersecurity, mitigating cyber risks through security control measures, and performing risk management analysis compliant with cybersecurity standards. Students must take 10 required courses, including an Information Security Management project course. Other core course examples include Ethics in Computing, Human-Computer Interaction, Information Security Governance, and Telecommunications and Computer Networking. Alternatively, students can pursue a thesis program plan, which includes six thesis credits for a total of 33 credits of study.

Nova Southeastern has earned recognition from the National Security and the Department of Homeland Security as a leader in cybersecurity education and research. The university is also designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense education and a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance education. 

NSU hosts the Center for Information Protection Education and Research. The center partners with industry leaders throughout South Florida and beyond for community outreach in the field of information security. It also hosts cybersecurity competitions in locations from Las Vegas to Georgia. Through the center, grad students conduct research on data breaches at organizations and companies of various shapes and sizes. NSU is also home to an Information Security Department within its Office of Innovation and Information Technology.

#5.  Robert Morris University

Master of Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance

Robert Morris University offers a Master of Science in cybersecurity and information assurance through its School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences. The degree program may be completed online or on the university’s campus in Moon Township, PA. It is designed to prepare students to recognize and mitigate threats and vulnerabilities in computer information systems, and to develop compliant, reliable, and secure systems. 

Students must be proficient in an object-oriented computer programming language. Applicants must submit the following materials: official undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and an essay on their academic and professional goals.

The 30-credit cybersecurity and information assurance curriculum covers effective administration and management along with modern technologies in the information security realm. It builds skills such as identifying threats, tools, and techniques and understanding security policies, countermeasures, and risk management.

The program offers students the option to concentrate in general cybersecurity and information assurance or enterprise systems, or to take an internship-oriented route. Each option includes required courses such as Computer Network Security, Information Technology Governance, Information Technology Security & Assurance, and Secure Programming. Other course examples include Microcomputing Technology and Network Technology & Management. The internship route includes 21 credits of required courses and 15 additional credits, including two courses from the computer and information systems discipline and nine credits of internship work.

The general concentration includes 27 required credits and three elective credits. For the elective credits, students can choose any course in the computer and information systems discipline. The general program culminates in a cybersecurity capstone and program outcome assessment. The capstone course requires the completion of a research project, the compilation of a comprehensive portfolio report based on work or internship experience, the pursuit of professional certification, and participation in a cybersecurity competition. The program outcome assessment requires an assessment of the program, such as the Graduate Student Exit Interview Survey.

The enterprise systems concentration prepares students to develop and maintain secure enterprise information systems for major organizations. It includes 21 required credits and nine specialized credits. The specialized component consists of three courses: Cobol Programming, Advanced Cobol Programming, and Enterprise Transaction Process Systems. It culminates in the program outcome assessment. 

The U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Agency have designated RMU a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The university houses the Center for Cybersecurity Education, which offers the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program and grants students access to a variety of cybersecurity resources, including certifications, competitions, conferences, journals, and more. 

Robert Morris offers a number of graduate certificate options relevant to the cybersecurity and information assurance field. Students may pursue business-oriented certificates in areas such as Ethics and Legal Studies, Group Dynamics and Conflict Resolution, Leadership and Organizational Change, and Nonprofit Leadership. Students may also pursue a specialized graduate certificate in Enterprise Systems, which requires 15 credits of study in areas including Cobol Programming, Enterprise Operating Systems, and Enterprise Transaction Processing Systems. Students can earn the certificate online in one year of study.

#6.  Davenport University

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Security

Davenport University offers a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity through its College of Technology. The degree can be earned on the university’s campuses in Detroit or Grand Rapids, MI, or the fully online Global Campus. Courses are offered in a blended format of online and on-campus learning.

Davenport’s information assurance and cybersecurity program is a particularly ideal choice for prospective students who do not have a strong technological background. The program welcomes applicants of all professional backgrounds, and applicants do not need to have undergraduate degrees in a relevant technological field. However, those who do not have sufficient undergraduate preparation or a satisfactory security certification will be required to complete a series of prerequisite courses with a grade of “B” or higher. Graduate foundational courses may include Cryptography, Data Communications and Networks, Information Security and Assurance, and Statistics for Business.

The 34-credit curriculum covers areas such as application and network security, forensics, and project management and risk mitigation. The degree program is designed to build students’ understanding of data protection and ethical and legal issues, and to build skills in analysis and risk management in cybersecurity. It also emphasizes hands-on case studies and experiential learning in high-tech university laboratories. The curriculum includes 27 credits of required core courses, two upper-level three-credit elective courses, and a four-credit capstone. Students may specialize in information assurance or health care information assurance.

The core MSIA curriculum consists of nine courses, including Applied Cryptography, Information Security Planning, and Research Techniques for Information Assurance. Elective course offerings include Comprehensive Issues, Healthcare Security, and Wireless and Mobile Security. Students also have the option to complete an internship experience related to information assurance to fulfill their elective requirement. The capstone experience involves a research proposal, supervised research in cybersecurity and information assurance, and a master’s thesis paper. The degree program prepares graduates to pursue careers as chief information security officers.

Davenport is among the few schools in Michigan recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This program designation increases students’ governmental job prospects. The program also holds certification for alignment with national training standards for INFOSEC and security systems managers from the National Security Agency and the Committee on National Security Systems. Davenport has also been recognized by the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center as one of the nation’s 13 Centers of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence. Davenport also offers specialized scholarships to MSIA students. 

In its 2020 rankings, Niche ranks Davenport among the top 50 best colleges in America for information technology. The site also ranks the university in the top 10 in the state of Michigan for its campus, dorms, and food.

#7.  Florida Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity

The Florida Institute of Technology is situated on the Florida Space Coast’s high-tech corridor, among respected organizations such as Harris Corp., Leonardo DRS, and NASA. The school offers a Master of Science in information assurance and cybersecurity. Students may complete the program entirely online through interactive learning or on the school’s campus in Melbourne, FL. The program is suitable for working students with professional obligations.

The degree program welcomes applicants from a variety of academic backgrounds, such as those with undergraduate majors in business, engineering, science, and technology disciplines. However, it is particularly designed for students with bachelor’s degrees in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants should have at least three undergraduate credits of discrete mathematics, three credits of statistics, and nine credits each in computer programming and data structures. All applicants must submit Graduate Record Exam test scores.

The interdisciplinary degree program is designed to prepare students to deal with cybersecurity risks in corporate, government, and military settings. Students can expect to learn about threats such as identity theft, intellectual property theft, and infrastructure security threats. The curriculum also explores topics including attack models, biometric technology, communications encryption, data mining, forensics, and security architectures and mechanisms. The program features a student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1, which promotes close connection and mentorship. Many faculty members have relevant experience in academia, industry, and research.

The degree requires 33 credits of study, including 18 credits of required courses and 15 credits of electives in information assurance and cybersecurity, computer science, or software engineering. Required courses include Biometric Authentication Technologies, Cryptography and Information Hiding, and Host and Application Security. Students may choose to substitute a master’s thesis for six elective credits. Those who do not complete a thesis must complete a three-credit capstone project.

The MS in information assurance and cybersecurity program is associated with the Harris Institute for Assured Information, a center that deals with computer security information and research at the intersection of biology, business, computer science, and psychology. The institute provides students opportunities to conduct hands-on research with faculty members, which may lead to the publication of conference papers or journal articles. Past research projects have explored areas such as detection of emulated and synthetic environments and network traffic generation. The school also conducts research in collaboration with Florida’s Institute for Human Machine Cognition.

The school is also designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Research by the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency. Florida Tech also operates advanced centers and labs that serve as settings for research in areas such as behavioral virus detection and spyware resistance.

Graduates of the Florida Tech MS in information assurance and cybersecurity program may be prepared for careers as computer network defense engineers, cybercrime technology directors, network defense engineers, or threat intelligence analysts. Those who enter the MS program with a BS degree in computer science or computer engineering may pursue careers as security-focused software engineers or software architects.

#8.  Regis University

Master of Science in Information and Cyber Security

In its 2020 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks Regis University in the top 60 schools nationwide for its online master’s programs in computer information technology. Regis’ College of Computer & Information Sciences offers a Master of Science in information and cybersecurity. Students may complete the program online, on the university’s campus in Denver, CO, or through a blend of traditional and online learning. Courses are offered in eight week-terms beginning in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Campus-based classes follow a cohort model, with groups of students entering the program each August and progressing through sequential coursework at the same pace. Campus classes are held at the university’s Denver Tech Center campus.

Applicants to the MS program must have sufficient academic preparation in the information technology realm. This may include a bachelor’s degree in a computer science discipline that has been earned within two years of application. Those who do not hold a relevant recent undergraduate degree can substitute a minimum of three years of relevant work experience as their prerequisite experience. Some students may be required to complete a foundational graduate course to build sufficient preparation for the MS program. All applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Required application materials include an admissions essay, a current resume, official transcripts, and the university’s online graduate application.

Regis’ MS in Information and Cyber Security requires 36 credits of graduate study, including 15 core required credit hours and 18 specialization credit hours. The core curriculum consists of five courses: Enterprise Architecture, Information Technology Concepts, Information Technology Research Methods, Managing a Secure Enterprise, and Risk Management. 

Students can choose to specialize in cybersecurity or information assurance policy management. The cybersecurity specialization includes three required courses: Advancing to Cyber Security, Computer Forensics, and Offensive Cyber Security. Students in the cybersecurity specialization choose three elective courses from options such as Legal Basics in Cyber and Information Security, Malware Analysis and Response, and Network Forensics. The information assurance policy management specialization includes required courses in Enterprise Information Assurance, Legal Basics in Cyber and Information Security, and Planning and Implementing Architecture Security. 

IA Policy Management students can expect to take electives in Advancing to Cyber Security and Information Technology Auditing, in addition to a relevant approved elective of their choice. Alternatively, students can opt to complete the program with no specialization. Those who are not pursuing a specialization must take courses in Advancing to Cyber Security, Legal Basics in Cyber and Information Security, and Offensive Cyber Security, in addition to three approved electives from within the College of Computer & Information Sciences.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to pursue professional certifications. Graduates of Regis’ program are eligible to sit for industry exams from Cisco, the Electronic Commerce Council, and ISACA. Regis also offers graduate certificate programs in Cybersecurity, Executive Information Technology, and Information Assurance Policy Management.

#9.  Dakota State University

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Computer Security

Dakota State University offers a Master of Science in information assurance and computer security. The degree program emphasizes hands-on, applied learning in information security. It is designed to prepare individuals to lead in the implementation of new technologies, security strategies, and cyber-attack protections in the public and private sectors. 

Applicants to the DSU MSIA program must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. They must have an undergraduate background that includes coursework in computer engineering, science, and security; information assurance and technology; network administration and networking; and software engineering. Those who do not have sufficient undergraduate preparation may be required to take one additional course in IT Infrastructure, Technology, and Network Management en route to their graduate degree. Applicants must also demonstrate a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. As part of their application, prospective students must submit an essay that addresses a problem scenario in cybersecurity.

Students may complete the program in a traditional classroom setting in Madison, SD, online through interactive video-conferencing at sites across the state of South Dakota, or entirely online. The online learning format incorporates recorded class videos for every class, live video streaming via Elluminate software, interactive online discussion boards, email interaction, and a dedicated IA laboratory for conducting experiments and completing lab work at a distance. 

The DSU MS in information assurance and cybersecurity requires 30 credit hours of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. The curriculum is structured in a sequence of 10 required courses. Required core course examples include Computer Forensics, Cryptography, Data Privacy, Ethics and Information Technology, Incident Response, and Offensive Security. Some courses may require students to complete lab-based assignments using specialized hardware or software. Each degree candidate must successfully complete a comprehensive exam in their final semester of study in order to qualify for graduation. Individuals who do not wish to follow the general MSIA program track may follow a banking and financial security specialization, which emphasizes policymaking and risk management. MSIA candidates also have the option to complete an industry internship experience during the summer. Students often start with a more generalized internship related to computing after their second year of study, and they may choose to complete a more security-specific internship following their third year.

DSU students may earn their MS in information assurance and cybersecurity in two years of full-time study. Students also have the option to pursue the degree on a part-time basis at their own pace, but all degree requirements must be met within five years of admission. Students also have the option to earn the degree as part of Dakota State’s 4+1 graduate program, which allows students to earn both an undergraduate degree and the MSIA degree in five years of study. Graduates of the MSIA program are equipped to pursue industry certifications.

DSU is home to a Dedicated Information Assurance Lab, which is used frequently for research projects, team projects, and lectures. This may include labs that focus on areas such as firewall administration, incident responses, password cracking, and website hacking. The university is also a north-central regional host of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Dakota State students can seek further involvement in the university’s cybersecurity community through its Student Research Initiative. Recent MSIA research projects have explored topics such as cloud computing security, digital forensics and Xbox 360s, and malware cataloging.

#10.  Sam Houston State University

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security

U.S. News & World Report currently ranks Sam Houston State University No. 28 nationally in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs, and No. 16 in Best Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs for Veterans. Students can engage in one of these highly-ranked programs by pursuing the university’s Master of Science in information assurance and security

The MSIA program is offered through the university’s Department of Computer Science within its College of Science and Engineering Technology. The department houses a variety of institutional computing facilities and resources in programming languages and network protocols. It also operates laboratory facilities that conduct research in data recovery, network robotics, network security, and more. It also houses technologies that can be used for cryptanalysis, digital forensics, parallel processing, and beyond. The department also houses the Sam Houston State University Cyber Forensics Intelligence Center, which is dedicated to training in digital forensics development and research in forensics and security.

The MSIA degree program is open to applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree with a major or minor in computer science or management information systems. Those who do not meet this requirement may be accepted if they have an undergraduate degree in a relevant technical field in addition to appropriate professional experience. All applicants must submit materials including the university’s graduate application, an official transcript from their undergraduate degree-granting institution, a current resume, and two letters of recommendation. 

All applicants must also submit Graduate Record Exam scores, unless they hold either a Master of Science degree from an accredited institution or at least five years of full-time, relevant work experience beyond the undergraduate degree. Students who demonstrate an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher will be given preference in admissions decisions. Accepted students may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer semester.

The curriculum consists of 36 semester credit hours of graduate study. It is designed to build students’ skills in network damage prevention, risk assessment, corporate information protection, and disaster recovery planning. It includes six specified course requirements: Business Continuity Management, Database Security, Directed Management & Development Project, Network and Cyber Security, Operating System Security, and Principles and Policy in Information Assurance. Upon registration for the program’s capstone project course, each student will be assigned a graduate committee. The project course explores design methodologies for forensic and security techniques for operating systems. Students must also complete six approved graduate courses in information assurance and security for a total of 18 elective credits. Prior to graduation, each student must successfully complete a written comprehensive exam in any core subject in which they earned a grade of B or lower. A supplemental oral exam may also be required in some cases.

Graduates of the program will be prepared for information assurance careers in commercial, governmental, and industrial settings. 

OTHER NOTABLE PROGRAMS

#11. Towson University

Location: Towson, MD

Degree: Master of Science in Applied Information Technology

Net Price: $1,054 per unit

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#12. Norwich University

Location: Northfield, VT

Degree: Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Net Price: $26,695

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#13. University of Maryland Global Campus

Location: Adelphi, MD

Degree: Master of Science in Information Technology, specialization in Information Assurance

Net Price: $500 per credit

Website     

#14. Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Degree: Master of Science in Information Systems

Net Price: $27,540

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#15. Brandeis University

Location: Waltham, MA

Degree: Master of Science in Information Security Leadership

Net Price: $39,735

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#16. University of Denver – University College

Location: Denver, CO

Degree: Master of Science in Information and Communications Technology With a Concentration in Information Systems Security

Net Price: $34,337

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#17. American Intercontinental University

Location: Chandler, AZ

Degree: Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Net Price: $15,116

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#18. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Location: Daytona Beach, FL

Degree: Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance

Net Price: $18,922

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#19. Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Location: University Park, PA

Degree: Master of Professional Studies in Information Sciences – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

Net Price: $924 per credit

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#20. Wilmington University

Location: New Castle, DE

Degree: Master of Science in Information Systems Technology

Net Price: $13,814

Website       

IF YOU ENJOYED THAT THEN CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLES ON THE 10 BEST ONLINE MASTER’S IN COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAMS & 50 BEST ONLINE MASTER OF CYBERSECURITY DEGREE PROGRAMS!

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor