Is cyber security a good career? That depends, but for those who are interested in computer science, this could be a rewarding career not only for today, but especially for the future. Those who pursue a degree in this field learn how to protect internet data and solve cyber crimes. Individuals in this field get to use problem-solving skills on a routine basis. Those interested in this career path have several options for employment. They may work in national security, financial services or even manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, or retail. It’s possible to take on roles like a cyber security consultant, an information security analyst, or an information security manager.
Anybody who works in cyber security needs to have an education before entering the field. For a long time, there has been a place in the field for self-taught individuals, but as the market gets more competitive, that is changing. Generally today, information security analysts must complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to work in this field. Anyone who wants to enter the cybersecurity field may choose to complete a degree that specifically relates to cyber security. If you’re starting now, as a traditional college student, the combination of mentorship, networking, and top-of-the-line equipment you get in an on-campus program can’t be beat.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Cyber Security Undergraduate Degree Programs
For students who are looking for traditional, on-campus cybersecurity bachelor’s programs, Bachelor’s Degree Center sought out cybersecurity programs based on their accreditation and reputation for helping students get ahead. Programs were ranked according to data gathered from IPEDS, Niche, and College Scorecard:
- Alumni Salary
- Graduation Rate
- Job Placement
With these criteria, students can trust the programs featured by BDC to hit all of the major needs of the modern student.
1. Virginia Tech
The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech offers a BS in Computer Engineering with a Cybersecurity specialty minor. The coursework for this cyber security undergraduate degree program includes network security, information security, and computer security. VT’s undergraduate cybersecurity minor is among the best cyber security undergraduate programs in the state of Virginia and nationwide. Many students graduate from VT’s engineering/cyber security program sit for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification (CISSP).
Virginia Tech was established in 1872 and currently holds the status as a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant institution of higher education. With regard to enrollment, VT is Virginia’s 2nd largest school with a total enrollment that exceeds 33,000 students.
What We Like: Virginia Tech is a (Virginia Polytechnic Institute) is a State University and is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research.
Degree: Cybersecurity Minor (to add to BS in Computer Engineering)
2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering offers a BS in Computer Engineering degree program and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science degree program. These best cyber security undergraduate programs include the Illinois Cyber Security Scholars Program (ICSSP), which offers scholarship opportunities. UI-UC’s cyber security undergraduate degree program’s coursework includes Thermal Physics, Computer Design, Data Structures, and Calculus. Degree graduates must complete a rigorous course load of a minimum of 27 credit units from the school’s required list.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public institution of higher learning that was established in 1867 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. UI-UC’s urban 6,000+ campus is home to more than 50,000 students earning degrees from the university’s sixteen colleges/schools.
What We Like: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign holds the distinction of being the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system.
Degree: BS in Computer Science or Computer Engineering – ICSSP
3. Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering offers a cyber security minor to each student studying for his or her Bachelor of Science. This cyber security undergraduate degree minor allows students to select from three tracks as they pursue their baccalaureate degree. They include the Interdisciplinary Track, the Technology Track, and the Engineering Track. Degree candidates studying for the minor must hold a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5 when applying for admission. A&M’s best cyber security undergraduate programs permit students to choose a cyber security program that best aligns with their career interests.
Texas A&M University was established in 1871 as a public institution of higher education focused on research. A&M holds the distinction of being a senior military school, a sea-grant, space-grant, and land-grant university, which also represents the wide variety of research projects managed by the school. Texas A&M’s campus serves nearly 70,000 students.
What We Like: Texas A&M University’s main campus (5,100+) is considered one of the largest campuses in the country.
Degree: Cybersecurity Minor (to add to BS)
4. Purdue University
Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute offers a BS in Cybersecurity degree program that is considered among the best cyber security undergraduate programs in the state of Indiana and across the country. Purdue University’s cyber security undergraduate degree program has received accreditation from the Computer Accreditation Commission known as ABET – The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. Degree candidates have the opportunity to participate in campus internships and learn in industry-standard laboratories.
Purdue University was chartered in 1869 and is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institution of higher learning. Purdue University is organized into ten colleges/schools which serve nearly 45,000 students. US News and World Report recognizes Purdue among the top innovative universities and the top twenty public schools in the country.
What We Like: Purdue University is the alma mater of more than 20 United State Astronauts.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity
5. University of Maryland
The University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering offers a BS in Computer Engineering with a concentration in Cyber Security degree program. The University of Maryland’s cyber security undergraduate degree program requires the completion of five classes from a pool of coursework that covers Security, Networks, Computer Systems, and a hands-on practicum approach. The University of Maryland’s best cyber security undergraduate programs often work on (or parallel) cyber security work from the agencies and organizations located in the DC metro area.
The University of Maryland was established in 1856 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. The University of Maryland is a member (and flagship) campus of the University of Maryland System. UMD’s suburban campus covers more than 1,200 acres and services more than 41,000 students.
What We Like: The University of Maryland holds the distinction of being the largest institution of higher learning in the state of Maryland and the metro DC area.
Degree: BS in Computer Engineering – Cybersecurity
6. Northeastern University
Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences offers a BS or BA in Computer Science with a specialty minor in Cybersecurity. Northeastern’s best cyber security undergraduate programs cover coursework in the areas of systems, networks, computer theories, software development, design, and language principles. The BA cyber security undergraduate degree program version allows for a wider selection of degree electives. Both cyber security degree programs require a minimum of 136 hours to graduate.
Northeastern University is a private institution of higher education that was established in 1898. The school’s main campus is in Boston; however, NU operates satellite campuses across the country and Canada. NU’s urban campus is home to a mostly residential student enrollment of more than 27,000.
What We Like: Northeastern University’s first classrooms were located in the YMCA on Huntington Avenue in Boston.
Degree: BS or BS in Computer Science – Cybersecurity
7. Iowa State University
Iowa State University’s BS in Cybersecurity Engineering degree program offers degree candidates the opportunity to apply the skills they learned using real-world situations. Iowa State’s cyber security undergraduate degree requires the completion of 125 credit units to earn the degree. Coursework for Iowa State’s best cyber security undergraduate programs includes Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Calculus, Data Structures, and Digital Logic, to name a few.
Iowa State University was established in 1858 as a land-grant university under the Morrill Land Grant Act. Iowa State is also a land-grant and space-grant institution of higher education. The school’s urban campus serves nearly 34,000 earning degrees from the university’s eight schools/colleges.
What We Like: Iowa State holds the distinction of being the first to accept the funds issued by the Morrill Land Grant Act in 1862.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity Engineering
8. University of California, Davis
The University of California Davis offers a cybersecurity BS in Computer Science (or Computer Science & Engineering) with a variety of academic, informal cyber security tracks, making the degree programs some of the best cyber security undergraduate programs available. The Security & Cryptography cyber security undergraduate degree track provides classes in Computer Security (several levels), Technology & Ethics, Networks, Computation Theory and the Design of Algorithm, to name a few.
The University of California Davis was established in 1905. UC Davis is the third-largest member school of the University of California system. UC Davis’ suburban campus covers more than 7,300 acres and is home to nearly 40,000 students and a one-hundred-acre arboretum.
What We Like: The University of California Davis is considered a Public Ivy school.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Security and Cryptography
9. University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information offers a BS in Information Science (BSIS) with a concentration in Networks and Security. Pitt’s cyber security undergraduate degree program prepares students to build, repair, secure, and manage network architecture. As a recognized National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, Pitt’s cyber security offerings assure the student that the program is among the best cyber security undergraduate programs available. Degree graduates must complete 120 credit units to graduate.
The University of Pittsburgh was established in 1787 as a private university; however, it became public in 1966. Pitt’s 100+ acre campus is home to nearly 29,000 students studying for an academic degree offered by the university’s 17 colleges/schools.
What We Like: The University of Pittsburgh is consistently recognized among the top research universities in the country and the world.
Degree: BS in Information Science – Networks and Security
10. George Mason University
The BS in Cyber Security Engineering from George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering offers a that prepares degree candidates with rewarding opportunities while reaching for a student’s career objectives. George Mason University’s Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program cyber security undergraduate degree program focuses on the techniques of cyber security engineering in building and safeguarding security systems at local, regional, and national levels. Mason’s best cyber security undergraduate programs are regarded as the nation’s top programs.
George Mason University was established in 1949 as a public institution of higher education dedicated to research. The school operates several campuses in Virginia and another in South Korea. Mason’s mostly suburban campuses are home to more than 24,000 students studying for degrees provided by the school’s eleven schools/colleges.
What We Like: George Mason University’s student to faculty ratio is 17 to 1.
Degree: BS in Cyber Security Engineering
11. Arizona State University
Arizona State University offers two of the best cyber security undergraduate programs available. ASU offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program in Applied Computing (Cybersecurity Focused) or Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree program with a concentration in cybersecurity. The Applied Computing cyber security undergraduate degree offers degree candidates global experiences with over 200 international programs from which to choose. The BSE program offers accelerated options. Arizona State University has partnered with universities/colleges across the country that facilitates the ease in which a student can transfer.
Arizona State University was established in 1885. ASU is often recognized among the country’s top institutions of higher education dedicated to research and the top innovative school by US News.
What We Like: Arizona State University is considered to have one of the largest student enrollments across the United States, nearly 90,000 undergraduates and 20,000+ graduate students.
Degree: BS in Applied Computing (Cybersecurity) or BSE in Computer Systems Engineering (Cybersecurity)
12. Towson University
Towson University offers a BS in Computer Science with a Cybersecurity specialty track. Towson’s cyber security undergraduate degree program is accredited by the ABET – The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. The cyber security coursework for Towson’s best cyber security undergraduate programs includes Data Structures, Software Engineering, Programming Language, and Discrete Mathematics, among others. Students must meet take at least 30 credit units at Towson University.
Towson University was established in 1866 as a public institution of higher education dedicated to educating teachers. Towson University is a member campus of the University of Maryland system. The school’s 325+acre suburban campus is home to more than 22,000 students studying for varying degrees offered by eight colleges/schools.
What We Like: There are more than 750+ international students who hail from nearly one-hundred countries/nations.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Security Track
13. George Washington University
George Washington University’s cyber security undergraduate degree completion program prepares students for rewarding careers using virtual environments and hand’s on lab work. GWU’s cyber security baccalaureate cybersecurity programs are recognized among the best cyber security undergraduate programs available. GWU’s cybersecurity degree is generally completed in about 24 months. The classes are either on the weekend or in the evening, making the program available to working learners.
George Washington University was established as an act of the US Congress in 1821. GWU operates an urban and suburban campus that services more than 27,000 students studying from the university’s fourteen colleges/schools. George Washington University is the largest school located within the District of Columbia.
What We Like: George Washington University is recognized consistently as one of the most political schools in the country.
Degree: Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Completion
14. Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology offers a BS in Computing Security in a cyber security undergraduate degree program. During this program, students learn about digital forensics, cyber analytics, data and software security, and even strengthen their math and programming skills. Once a student earns their bachelor’s degree, he or she may continue on to earn a master’s in computing security or a cyber security advanced certificate. On average, a person in this field makes over $70,000 per year, which means a degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in cyber security has a high ROI.
Rochester Institute of Technology is a privately owned educational institution founded in 1829. It didn’t, however, award its first bachelor’s degree until 1955. It wasn’t until 2001 when the Rochester Institute of Technology started offering computer science degrees, which was when the Golisano College of Computing and Information Science opened. Students who decide on this school may cheer for the orange and white tigers throughout their entire program.
What We Like: RIT has one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs because it has a graduation rate of 97 percent.
Degree: BS in Computing Security
15. Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University offers an Information Assurance Professional Certificate, which a student may obtain once they receive a bachelor of science degree in a computer science-related field. Unlike a cyber security undergraduate degree program, the course only consists of a few courses but strengthens a student’s information base regarding cyber security and information assurance. Pupils enhance their problem-solving skills and gain the ability to safeguard businesses.
When a student takes an interest in the “crimson and blue,” they benefit from a high acceptance rate of 88 percent. In-state students benefit from a low tuition rate for one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs as well. Mississippi State University is the largest university in Mississippi in terms of enrollment. It’s a public research facility that encourages students to live by the motto, “For knowledge and wisdom.” This college has a long history dating back to 1844.
What We Like: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an information security analyst is nearly $100,000 per year, giving MSU’s low-tuition program a high ROI.
Degree: Cybersecurity Certificate – add to BS in Computer Science or Computer Engineering
16. Misericordia University
Students who opt for Misericordia University benefit from a cyber security undergraduate degree, in particular, a BS in Information Technology Security. The program emphasizes six main areas of interest regarding cyber security, including security management and cryptography. Students learn how to assist after a security breach. It ranks as of one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs. The ROI of this degree program from Misericordia University is high, considering the average annual wage for an information security analyst in the state of Pennsylvania is over $97,000 with the national average being even higher.
Misericordia University is a private, Catholic college that was the first four-year university in Luzerne County. It opened its doors in 1924 and has remained true to its initial goal of being a broad-based, liberal arts institution. Students who decide to become a cougar benefit from a low student to teacher ratio.
What We Like: Misericordia has a high acceptance rate of over 80 percent, along with a graduation rate of over 60 percent. Plus, more than 80 percent of students are eligible for financial aid.
Degree: BS in IT Security
17. University of Nebraska at Omaha
Students who choose the University of Nebraska at Omaha may opt to earn a cyber security undergraduate degree, particularly their bachelor’s degree in cyber security. The program focuses on secure information systems, including the design, development, and implementation of them. Students gain an understanding of the importance of cyber security in an Internet-driven world and how it impacts society. Students earn credits related to mathematics and take courses specifically focused on cyber security.
The University of Nebraska is the state’s oldest university. It’s a public university with one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs. Once a student starts supporting scarlet and cream, they benefit from a school that’s been around since the mid-1800s. The college’s fall acceptance rate was 80 percent, so a majority of students who wanted to become Cornhuskers earn that privilege when they enroll in one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs.
What We Like: In-state students benefit from UNO’s low tuition rate while also students benefit from a high ROI for this degree program.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity
18. Cedarville University
One of the best cyber security undergraduate programs is from Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH. Cedarville offers a BS in Computer Science with a concentration on cyber operations. This cyber security undergraduate degree prepares someone for a career protecting individuals or businesses from cyber threats. Students learn how to gather information and exploit the root of the problem. Additionally, a student in this program learns how to implement protection against cyber threats. A pupil learns about cryptography and how to write programs for secure software.
This cyber security undergraduate degree program is from a Christian school founded in 1887. It ranked as number 12 in the category of regional colleges in the Midwest. This private Baptist school encourages students to live by the motto, “For the Crown and Covenant of Christ; For the Word of God.” More than 70 percent of pupils who apply get to become yellow jackets.
What We Like: A student benefits from a high ROI of a bachelor’s degree in cyber security from Cedarville University, considering the average software developer makes over $100,000 per year.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Cyber Operations
19. Regis University
Regis University offers one of the best cyber security undergraduate degree programs. Students who earn this degree can partake in keeping sensitive information safe. Pupils develop critical thinking skills and learn how to solve cyber security problems. A pupil in this program takes courses related to information systems, software engineering, and information technology as well as computer science. Additionally, students in one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs like this one from Regis University benefit from a high ROI.
This school opened in 1887 and has remained a strong, private college in Denver ever since. In fact, it ranks as number 23 in the category of regional universities in the West. The school encourages students to live by the motto, “Men and Women in Service of Others.”
What We Like: Individuals with cybersecurity skills are highly in need, considering there will be more than three million cyber security jobs that need to be fulfilled by 2021.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity
20. DePaul University
DePaul University’s BS in Cybersecurity is one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs in the Midwest. Students who complete this cyber security undergraduate degree learn about computer forensics and how to assess risks. They receive education about the security requirements of a business as well as how to implement courses of action to protect sensitive information using multi-level firewall protection. All the students in this cyber security program benefit from a high ROI.
Students can benefit from attending in-person classes or online courses through DePaul University in Chicago, IL. This private educational institution arose in 1898 and continued to grow. The school strives to educate students through the motto of, “Viam Sapientiae Monstrabo Tibi,” which means “I Will Show You the Way of Wisdom.” Students who enroll in their cyber security program represent the royal blue and scarlet Blue Demons.
What We Like: In 1998, DePaul became the Catholic college with the highest enrollment in the country.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity
21. Thomas Edison State University
Thomas Edison State University provides students with one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs available. It’s an innovative course that prepares students for the real world of cyber security. In Thomas Edison State University’s cyber security undergraduate degree program, a student learns about information assets and how to protect them. Students learn to design and implement security programs and also how to manage them. A vital component of a pupil’s education in cyber security consists of learning the legal and ethical issues associated with cyber security.
Thomas Edison State University opened its doors in 1972. Since then, it’s shifted to mainly online programs. The school’s staff firmly believes in “Eruditio Perpetua Vitae,” which translates to “Learning Throughout Life.” Students who represent burgundy and beige are encouraged to continue their learning for life.
What We Like: Both in-state and out-of-state students benefit from a low tuition rate at Thomas Edison State University.
Degree: BS in Cybersecurity
22. University of Texas at San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio provides students with one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs. UT San Antonio’s BS in Computer Science focuses on cyber defense and security. It educates students about software reverse engineering in addition to computer programming language. Students learn about computers, the Cloud, and even cell phone protection. Part of the course focuses on ethics, digital forensics, and cryptography.
The University of Texas ranks as number 56 in the country in terms of national universities. It arose in 1883 and now has the eighth highest number of students in enrolled at a single campus. Although the school has a tough acceptance rate, students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for well for a career.
What We Like: Students in the cyber security program from the University of Texas in San Antonio benefit from a moderately priced tuition and high ROI.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Cyber Operations
23. University of Texas at El Paso
The BS in Computer Science program from the University of Texas at El Paso focuses on secure cyber systems. As one of the best security undergraduate programs, it educates students about software engineering and programming. Students who enroll in this cyber security undergraduate degree program from the University of Texas benefit from a moderately priced education and a high ROI.
The Carnegie Foundation ranks this particular campus as one of the top schools in the United States for its research. It began in 1914 and remained a school that stresses the importance of fostering innovation in pupils. Mainly, the school focuses on science and humanity, as noted by its motto.
What We Like: UTEP is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and plays a key role in preparing Latinx and Hispanic students for STEM careers.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Secure Cyber Systems
24. University of New Haven
The University of New Haven offers one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs, which focuses on cyber operations. Students learn to determine computing problems in this cyber security undergraduate degree program. The courses revolve around designing programs that stress the importance of cyber security.
The University of New Haven has an acceptance rate of over 80 percent. It opened in 1920 and now ranks in the top 40 schools for veterans. It’s a private institution that touts about being a leader in experiential education. Pupils become Chargers once they enter into this school.
What We Like: A UHN cybersecurity degree has a high ROI, as proven by the fact that most careers in cyber security earn a student over $100,000 per year.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Cyber Operations
25. Dakota State University
Students may choose to complete one of the best cyber security undergraduate programs with Dakota State University’s BS in Cyber Operations. This cyber security undergraduate degree focuses on how to conduct research to catch cyber criminals, such as those involved in data breaches. During the course, students learn about hacking and malware while also gaining insight into the minds of hackers.
Dakota State University is a public university that opened in the late 1800s. Today, it gained permission through state legislature to specialize in computer management. Students who represent yellow and reflex blue are encouraged to embrace innovation.
What We Like: Both in-state and out-of-state students in a BS in cyber operations from Dakota State University benefit from low tuition costs.
Degree: BS in Cyber Operations
Is Cyber Security a Good Career?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates the number of jobs for information security analysts will grow by 32 percent by 2028. This is much faster than average. Certain areas have a higher number of opportunities in this field. For instance, states like California, Texas, and Virginia have the largest number of opportunities.
As of May 2018, the BLS reports more than 100,000 individuals were information security analysts. Those who held these positions made an average of $47.28 per hour, which is the same as $98,350 annually. The highest earners made much more than this. In fact, the top 90 percent of earners made more than $156,580 annually. Not to mention, information security analysts aren’t the only positions for those who earn an undergraduate degree in cyber security.
What’s the Difference Between Computer Science and Cyber Security?
It’s important to understand computer science vs cyber security degree to understand if this is a beneficial career path. Computer science is the study of computers. It consists of aspects of computing like hardware and software, as well as information processing. Those who pursue a degree in this field study both data structures and algorithms in addition to modeling data.
On the other hand, when a person compares a computer science vs cyber security degree, it’s important to know that cyber security is the handling of sensitive information. Students learn how to protect both personal and business data. Cyber security deals with protecting systems, programs, and networks from cyber attacks. A pupil in a cyber security program learns about malware and hacking and may take courses related to encryption and digital investigations.
In general, a computer science degree is a much broader discipline. Once a person completes this degree, he or she has more options for career paths besides working in cyber security. However, it’s still possible to obtain a job in cyber security with a computer science degree.
What Will I Learn in a Cyber Security Degree Program?
Although cyber security degree requirements vary from program to program, students in any program learn about firewalls and how to stop hackers. Additionally, students learn about viruses, hackers, and malware. A pupil in a cyber security program learns how to safeguard sensitive material from cyber criminals to protect sensitive material, including financial information.
During their education in cyber security, individuals learn about the protocols taken during a data breach. These individuals also learn how to repair the damage caused by the breach.
Students gain an understanding of encryption and solving cyber crimes. This is all part of the digital forensics aspect of a cyber security degree. Students in a cyber degree program learn how to troubleshoot hardware and computer programs. Often, the cyber security degree requirements also consist of ethics and laws.
Do I Need a Degree to Work in Cyber Security?
However, it’s also possible to complete an undergraduate degree program in computer science, programming, or information assurance. These career paths are versatile and allow the individual to work in other fields besides cyber security. Individuals who choose to earn a bachelor’s degree can expect to take four years to complete their program if they enroll full time. However, students may opt for an accelerated degree path, which takes less time. Either way, a bachelor’s degree makes more money.
Although a bachelor’s degree is the least amount of education a person can have and still enter this field, some employers may want prospective employees to have at least a master’s degree. To obtain a master’s, a person must complete an undergraduate degree first and then a master’s degree. The master’s degree tends to take an additional three years. Keep in mind, earning potential for cyber security professionals who have a graduate degree is higher.
Once a student meets the bare minimum for cyber security education requirements, he or she may also decide to take a certificate program to further his or her knowledge. Sometimes, employers prefer that an employee has a professional certification. One option is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification.