25 Best Cyber Security Associate Degree Online Programs [2021 Guide]
If you’re good with computers and want to protect people from hackers, identity theft or other online threats, you might consider earning your Cyber Security Associate Degree.
An associates degree online usually takes two years or less to earn and can give you access to many new jobs.
Our world is relying on the online world more and more these days. Most businesses, if not all will need someone who knows information technology and cyber security to help keep their data safe. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Information Security Analysts’ job growth is at 32% and is expected to continue growing.
Best Cyber Security Associate Degree Online
Cyber security is a fairly specialized field, so if you decide to pursue a degree in it, it’s very likely the career field you hope to go into. Within the field, the most common jobs are:
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Cyber Security Analyst
- Cyber Security Administrator
- Cyber Security Technician
- Cyber Security Consultant
As you can see, all the jobs have a common theme. However, because the online cyber security degree program is designed to give students an overview of skills in other computer science-related areas, there are other jobs for which you could potentially be qualified after earning this degree, including:
- Vulnerability Analyst
- Software Developer
- Software Engineer
- Systems Engineer
- Network Architect/Engineer
If any of those sound appealing to you, earning an Associate’s in Network Security or Cyber Security may be a good choice.
Because most of the career paths involve cyber security in some way, there’s typically a heavy emphasis on security-based classes in the curriculum. In fact, security-based courses, along with required general education classes, should make up the bulk of your schedule. Additionally, you’ll likely take courses in a variety of computer science-related fields.
These may include courses like Intro to Computers, Intro to Programming, Fundamentals of Networking, Fundamentals of Software Development, Statistics, Database Concepts, Program Design and Development, Hardware/Software Support, Information Technology, Server Administration and more.
If you hope to do well in this particular degree program, you’ll need to be technologically- and computer-savvy. If computers and tech just aren’t your thing, you may not want to attempt this degree. Furthermore, you need to be very detail-oriented and hyper-focused.
Classes in network security and computer forensics are par for the course in this type of program, and they often require intense scrutiny and concentration.
In addition to these traits, you should also be someone who loves to learn because this is a field that is constantly evolving and improving. You’ll have to keep up. Persistence, curiosity, an analytical mind, grace under pressure and the ability to put yourself in the mind of a criminal are also good traits to possess if you want to succeed in this field.
Online Cyber Security Associate’s Degree Curriculum & Courses
In addition to general education classes and the computer science-related classes we mentioned above, there are some major-specific classes that you’ll likely be required to take in this program. We’ve compiled a list of ten of the most popular.
- Fundamentals of Cyber Security – This class is a mixture of coursework and lab work geared towards teaching students the basics of cyber security, particularly how to secure small networks and personal computers.
- Fundamentals of Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity – This course helps students learn the basics of how to recover lost data and keep businesses up and running in the event of a severe cyber attack, disaster or failure.
- Ethical Hacking – In this class, students are exposed to various hacking techniques in order to recognize and learn to combat them. This can help you put yourself in the mind of someone trying to break the law and develop the tools to stop them.
- Cyber Competition – This is considered by many to be one of the most important cyber security courses taken in this field because it can help equip you with the techniques and tools hackers most frequently use to undermine someone’s network/site/etc. It can help you learn reverse engineering and reverse hacking skills in order to design your own defense and counterattack scenarios.
- Computer Forensics – This is an intermediate-level course that can help strengthen your digital forensic skills. If you find you enjoy this class more than some of the others, you might consider pursuing an Associate’s in Computer Forensics.
- Routing Theory and Technology – This is an introductory class on router configuration, theory and technology.
- Computer Maintenance and Forensics I, II, III – These are multiple-tiered forensics classes.
- Networking Security Fundamentals – This is an introductory class on protecting the security of individuals on small and large networks.
- Cyber Law – This class can help you develop the principles of the overall legal system that governs the Internet.
- Risk Assessment – This course can help you learn how to analyze and assess potential risks or security weaknesses in people’s private computers or business’ networks.
Many of the other classes you may take will likely build off the foundation these courses provide.
Cyber Security Careers & Salaries
Although most jobs in this field are cyber security-related, there are several different job titles within the field. Furthermore, the skills you learn in a cyber security program are comprehensive enough that you may also be able to branch out into a few other computer science-related fields.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some potentially lucrative cyber security jobs that people with degrees in this field can pursue. Keep in mind, some employers will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field to qualify for some of these positions. It depends on the employers and your years of experience.
|Careers||Annual Mean Salary|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$156,390|
|Information Security Analysts||$99,730|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$83,510|
|Computer User Support Specialists||$55,050|
|Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians||$45,510|
Because the field is so specialized and because security specialists are in-demand, the pay is generally quite good, even at the associate’s level. Most jobs pay more than the national average, with some paying quite a bit more. Plus, if you ever want to increase your annual salary by a larger amount, you may want to consider pursing a master’s or online PhD in cyber security.
It’s important to ensure the college in which you enroll is regionally accredited. Regional accreditation gives your degree meaning and makes it acceptable both to potential employers and other colleges where you may transfer your credits.
As long as your school is regionally accredited, you shouldn’t have to worry about your degree or your credits being a waste of money and/or time.
There are two other types of accreditation – national accreditation and programmatic accreditation – but they aren’t as all-encompassing or widely recognized as regional accreditation. National accreditation only accredits schools within a certain area, and outside of that area, the accreditation may not be accepted.
Programmatic accreditation is accreditation given to particular programs of study (such as computer science, business, etc.) rather than whole schools. It’s usually recognized by employers in those particular fields, but it may or may not be recognized by other schools when you go to transfer credits.
Your safest bet is to look for a college or university that has regional accreditation. Then you can be fairly certain you’ll never have to worry about your degree or credits not being accepted anywhere you happen to relocate.
Cyber Security CAE IA/CD Designation
If you’re working towards your degree in cyber security, another important factor to look for is whether or not your school’s cyber security program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) worthy program.
The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense was something that the NSA (National Security Agency) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) worked together to create. Only schools with the most rigorous cyber security programs are awarded this designation.
According to CyberSecurityMastersDegree.org, both the DHS and NSA worked together to create this program as a way of promoting “higher education and research in cyber defense.”
There are three different designations. They are:
- CAE-CDE – for schools with bachelor’s and graduate degree programs.
- CAE-2Y – for colleges offering associate’s degree programs.
- CAE-R – for institutions of higher learning who have research programs dedicated to cyber defense.
Programs with this designation are believed to provide the most comprehensive, meticulous education in cyber security there is. By the time you graduate, you should be ready to work in a variety of businesses, corporations and government agencies. You should also be equipped with the skills you’ll need to protect against even the strongest and most complex cyber crime.
Financial Aid for Online Cyber Security Associate Degrees
When it comes financial aid, two of your options are loans and grants. You can apply for both a federal Pell Grant and federal loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These types of financial aid have nothing to do with your grades or standardized test scores.
These are awarded based solely off your household’s income. If you’ve used and abused federal Pell Grant money in the past or if you’ve defaulted on a federal loan, you might not be eligible for these anymore. However, if you’ve done neither of these things and fall within a certain income bracket, you should be eligible for both.
The great thing about the Pell Grant is that it doesn’t have to be repaid. There are also other grants out there that you can find, especially at the graduate level, and they generally don’t have to be repaid either.
Loans, on the other hand, must be repaid. Subsidized loans don’t start drawing interest until after you finish or quit college. Unsubsidized loans begin drawing interest immediately upon borrowing them, so try to borrow only the subsidized loans if you have to borrow at all.
Cyber Security Scholarships
The third type of financial aid is a scholarship. There are all types of scholarships out there. We’ve compiled a list of a few really good ones here.
- Computing Research Association. The Computing Research Association provides several scholarships each year to deserving students entering into a computer science or other computer/tech field.
- Center for Cyber Safety and Education Undergraduate Scholarships. The Center for Cyber Safety and Education also provides many scholarships each year to students hoping to earn their degrees in cyber security. This particular link will take you to the undergrad scholarships, but they also have scholarships for women, veterans and graduate students.
- Information Systems Security Association Foundation Scholarships. The ISSA also provides several different scholarships for those majoring in computer science with a focus in cyber security.
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service. This scholarship is given to those who plan to study cyber security and then go to work for either their local, state or federal governments.
- CompTIA Rising Star. CompTIA provides a number of scholarships to students pursuing careers in technology, but recipients must be CompTIA student members.
You can also look for local or state scholarships, scholarships specific to your college or those found on various scholarship websites such as Scholarships.com.
What Can I Do With an Associates Degree in Cybersecurity?
There are various cyber security jobs for which you might qualify after you’ve earned your associate’s degree in cyber security.
You might also qualify for jobs such as system analyst, software developer and more.
How Much Can You Make With an Associates in Cyber Security?
Your salary will be different depending on where you work and what your job title is, but the general salary range for people with this degree starts at about $50,000 and goes up.
Can I Get a Job With an Associate’s Degree in Cybersecurity?
Yes, while you may not be able to move into the higher level management positions, you can definitely qualify for many jobs within the cyber security field with only an associate’s degree.
Is Cyber Security a Good Degree?
If you enjoy working with computers and online and if you want to protect people/businesses from cyber threats, such as identity theft and hacking, yes, cyber security could be a great degree for you.
The pay for jobs in this field is quite good, usually over the national average, and there’s an extreme need for cyber security experts in the field right now.
Is a Cyber Security Associate Degree Worth It?
Again, as long as your interests lie in computers, technology and cyber security, earning your Associate’s in Cyber Security may be the best way to advance your education. Furthermore, you’re more likely to be hired with an associate’s degree than without one, and you’ll usually be paid more.
The field is very in-demand right now and salaries are quite competitive, thus making a cyber security associate degree worth it for many.
Universities Offering Associate’s Degree Program in Cyber Security Online
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Bismarck State College has been delivering public education to North Dakota since 1939. With a broad array of associate degrees and vocational certifications, Bismarck State College also has two notable bachelor’s degrees.
Students attending BSC participate in programs such as computer science, cybersecurity, healthcare, and education. Some programs are offered through a distance learning platform.
- AAS in Cybersecurity and Computer Networks
Bismarck State College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Central Texas College has been opened for public education since 1965. Students at Central Texas College have academic options that help learners earn one of its dynamic associate degrees in various majors. CTC connects students on a global level by way of US and Europe campuses and distance learning platforms.
- AAS in Cyberdefense – Information Assurance
Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Opening in 1973 as a public vocational college, Cerro Coso Community College works to give all adults access to higher education. With a wide array of program options, CCCC awards associate degrees and workforce certifications to thousands of students annually.
Working towards equality and social reform, CCCC helps to educate people who are incarcerated.
- AS in Cyber Security Technology
Cerro Coso Community College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Helping to make higher education accessible to all, Community College of Allegheny County was established in 1966. Today, it consists of four campuses and four learning centers throughout the county that provides a hands-on approach to higher education.
CCAC awards associate degrees, vocational certificates, and diplomas in a variety of academic majors.
- AS in Cybersecurity
The Community College of Allegheny County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
A new public educational entity was born in 1881 when Dakota State University emerged. Offering students program options that lead to a two-year, four-year, graduate, or doctoral degree, Dakota State University has top-of-the-line program options such as cybersecurity, technology, healthcare, and science.
Many programs at DSC can be completed online.
- AS in Network and Security Administration
Dakota State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Franklin University was founded in 1902 as a small community-based learning center. Today, Franklin University provides higher education worldwide and is a significant college presence in the state of Ohio.
This private University offers a plethora of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in a range of academic majors and minors.
- AS in Cybersecurity
Franklin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Georgia Military College was founded in 1879 as a way for military members to earn better training in higher education. Today, Georgia Military College serves military members, veterans, and other community members by providing public education. Serving thousands of students worldwide, GMC has an associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
- AS in Cyber Security
Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Established in 1958, Guilford technical Community College is one of the largest public community colleges in the North Carolina system. Offering a range of associate degrees, GTCC also has English as a second language course, GED preparation courses, and vocational education certifications.
Popular majors at GTCC include cybersecurity, education, and business courses.
- AAS in Information Technology – Security and Data Assurance
Guilford Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
1963 marks the beginning of Ivy Tech Community College, which is a public vocational school. With several learning centers and campuses around Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College strives to make public education assessable for anyone hoping to gain educational advancement.
ITCC has a variety of associate degree programs and career technical certifications.
- AAS in Cyber Security
- AS in Cyber Security
Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Since its commencement in 1968, Lake Superior College has gone through many changes that helped it expand into the vast community college that it is today. Students at Lake Superior can earn one of the many associate degrees offered or take part in the diploma or many certificate programs. This public college helps make education affordable for all.
- AAS in Network Administration and Cybersecurity
Lake Superior College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
Minnesota State College-Southeast opened in 1949 as a public, academic facility. Today, MSC offers dynamic hands-on learning options to students looking to earn a two-year degree that can be moved to a four-year college or used for career advancement. Minnesota State College also has several diplomas and vocational certificates available.
- AAS in Cyber and Information Security
Minnesota State College Southeast is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Beginning in 1997, Minnesota West Community and Technical College is a public learning institution that provides an extensive collection of academic programs that can help students acquire a two-year associate degree, a diploma, or a career certificate.
Students at MWCTC can participate in classroom instruction through an online platform or traditional on-campus options.
- AAS in Information Security and Assurance
Minnesota West is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Mohave Community College began in 1970 and is known throughout the nation as a top option for public education. Offering a variety of associate degrees, career diplomas, or vocation certifications, Mohave Community College holds classes in a traditional classroom setting, as well as night, weekend, online, and hybrid course options.
- AAS in Cybersecurity and Network Support
Mohave Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Palo Alto College has been providing quality instruction to a diverse community since its beginnings as a public-school option in 1985. With degree paths that lead to an associate in arts, science, applied science, and teaching, PAC provides student-centered instruction in all academic areas. Students at PAC learn critical thinking and leadership skills.
- AAS in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
Palo Alto College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Inspiring students to gain higher learning since 1958, Prince George’s Community College provides public education to more than 40,000 students annually. Students at PGCC have access to more than one-hundred study areas that lead to an associate degree, workforce development, or vocational certification.
Popular areas of study include education, technology, and science.
- AAS in Cybersecurity
PGCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
As one of the most affordable public schools in the state, Quinsigamond Community College commenced in 1963. Offering more than 150 academic programs, QCC awards associate degrees and workforce certifications to thousands of students every year.
Many students attending QCC decide to transfer into a four-year school with a guaranteed-acceptance program through one of its sister schools.
- AS in Computer Systems Engineering Technology – Cybersecurity
QCC is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Saint Leo University has been offering a private Christian learning option for students since 1889. All academic programs at Saint Leo University have a liberal arts foundation and a low student to teacher ratio. Program options at Saint Leo University include associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate program studies.
- AA in Cyber Security
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Providing a public education since 1975, Southern State Community College is divided among four campuses to assist students in obtaining an associate degree. Students attending SSCC can be sure they are getting a curriculum that is aligned with the community’s vocational needs.
Bachelor’s and master’s degrees can be accessed at SSCC through partnership universities. Online programs are also available.
- AAS in Computer Technology – Cybersecurity
Southern State Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
St Petersburg College was created in 1927 as the first public school for higher education in FL to offer a two-year degree. Offering more than just associate degrees, St. Petersburg College also has an assortment of bachelor’s degree options. Serving more than 29,000 students annually, St. Petersburg College gives online and in-class learning options.
- AS in Cybersecurity
St. Petersburg College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Opening in 1946 as a public, academic school, SUNY Broome Community College is part of the System Universities of New York. SUNY Broome Community College offers two-year associate degrees and technical certificates to students looking to gain higher education or career advancement.
Some programs offered at SUNYBCC include cybersecurity, healthcare, and liberal arts.
- AAS in Computer Security and Forensics
SUNY Broome Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Maine – Fort Kent has been offering an affordable public education since 1878. Students attending UMFK can earn an associate in arts, associate in science, bachelor’s in art, or a bachelor’s in science in several academic areas. Instruction for most programs at UMFK is in the English and French languages.
- AS in Information Security
The University of Maine at Fort Kent is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
The University of the Potomac has been offering learners a private education since 1991. Extending educational options for students by offering online, hybrid, and campus-based instruction is an essential aspect of UP’s values. With a multitude of program options, students at UP can earn an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree.
- AS in Network Security Management
The University of the Potomac is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Virginia Western Community College began offering public education in 1966. With about 12,000 students attending several discipline areas, VWCC can maintain small class sizes for individual student attention. Students at VWCC can obtain an associate of arts, applied science, or science degree through several program paths.
- AAS in Cyber Security and Network Administration
Virginia Western Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
With over sixty-five academic majors, Westchester Community College has been helping the community earn associate degrees and vocational certifications since 1947. This public Community College gives students flexible learning choices that include distance learning, hybrid classes, and traditional learning options.
Serving thousands of students every year, WCC strives to meet the needs of every learner.
- AAS in Cybersecurity
Westchester Community College is accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Offering public education options to the community since 1926, Western Nebraska Community College enrolls almost 2,000 students annually in one of its associate, diploma, or certificate programs.
WNCC has a full range of majors, including business, health science, education, and technology. Many programs offered at WNCC can be completed online.
- AA in Cyber Security
Western Nebraska Community College is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Associate’s Degree in Cyber Security Online
Jobs in cyber security are very much needed right now, and the pay is typically good. With the current availability of financial aid and convenient online programs, there’s never been a better time to earn your associate’s degree online.
Numerous programs out there can be taken entirely online, and many of them have CAE IA/CD certification. These types of programs can usually be completed in two years or less and can lead to some excellent government jobs. Don’t wait another day. Enroll in a program now.