Rankings

Top 25 Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs for 2018

An online master’s degree in information security prepares degree candidates for jobs as IT professionals at private and public organizations. Graduates help companies build and protect computer systems by creating cybersecurity technologies. IT professionals work as computer systems analysts, managers, and technicians. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in employment for computer and information occupations between 2016 and 2026. An online information assurance master’s degree enhances salary earnings for all IT professionals.

What are the Best Online Master's in Information Systems Security Programs?

1

Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD

ADMISSIONS RATE 14%
GRADUATION RATE 94%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 25%
RETENTION RATE 97%
DEFAULT RATE 2%

A recognized leader in graduate science education, John Hopkins offers its master’s in information security online or on-campus. The online master of science in cybersecurity program offers each course in a 12-14 week learning module. In addition to three required foundational courses in algorithms, information assurance, and cryptology, students select a specialized track in analysis, networks, or systems and take at least three courses in their chosen specialization.

Course delivery is through Blackboard, and Adobe Connect is used for web conferencing. Admission to the program requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school with a major in a related science or technical field, and a grade point average of B or higher. Applicants must have completed a full year of calculus, an advanced math course beyond calculus, and one course each in Java or C++ programming, data structures, and computer organization.

2

University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

ADMISSIONS RATE 18%
GRADUATION RATE 92%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11%
RETENTION RATE 96%
DEFAULT RATE 2%

Located in Los Angeles, USC offered its first classes in 1880 to 53 students. Now an institution with a student population of over 44,000, USC offers a master of science in cybersecurity engineering, a career-enhancing option for working professionals looking for advanced training in the field. This entirely online program gives students the option to participate in live classes through the interactive DEN@Viterbi learning management system.

Students enrolled in this information security master’s degree online complete courses in applied cryptology, computer systems assurance, and computer forensics. Online students can participate in synchronously delivered live classes during which they can ask questions and receive feedback, or they can access the same classes asynchronously when convenient. Full-time students earn the 28-credit master’s degree in a year and a half, while part-time students take up to three and a half years.

3

Brandeis University Waltham, MA

ADMISSIONS RATE 34%
GRADUATION RATE 86%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 7%
RETENTION RATE 92%
DEFAULT RATE 2%

The flexible online master’s in information security at Brandeis enables students to move at their own pace; most complete their degrees in two and a half to five years. The master of science in information security leadership is open to students who have completed coursework in computer science, networking, or computer security, or who have undergraduate degrees and work experience in related fields. The GRE is not required for admission.

The curriculum provides information security professionals with the leadership skills needed to oversee cybersecurity and risk management in a variety of organizations. The 30-credit degree consists of six required foundation courses and four electives. Courses are offered in 10-week modules throughout the year, with start dates in October, January, April, and July. Undergraduate alumni of Brandeis are eligible for a 15% tuition discount.

4

Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, NJ

ADMISSIONS RATE 44%
GRADUATION RATE 82%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 9%
RETENTION RATE 94%
DEFAULT RATE 4%

The online master’s degree in information security offered by Stevens provides training in systems security engineering for professionals currently working in or planning to move into cybersecurity positions. This program emphasizes a holistic approach to systems security, integrating the fields of engineering, computer science, and mathematics with course content in policy, risk analysis, and economics.

This 30-credit degree consists of six required core courses and four electives and is offered both on-campus and online. Most students pursue the master’s degree part time at their own pace with up to six years to complete their degree. Online courses are offered through Stevens’ WebCanvas technology platform and content is delivered through a combination of the Blackboard Collaborate and Canvas learning management applications and the NJ-Vid video library system.

5

Drexel University Philadelphia, PA

ADMISSIONS RATE 75%
GRADUATION RATE 68%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 20%
RETENTION RATE 84%
DEFAULT RATE 4%

Drexel provides its information security master's degree online for working professionals who want to pursue graduate study in a flexible and convenient format. The accelerated online master of science in cybersecurity is offered in four 10-week quarters. Students may choose a full-time schedule of nine or more credits per quarter or only one class each term, depending on their preferences.

The master’s requires 45 credits total, including core courses, networking and mathematics foundations, cybersecurity technical courses, and general electives. The program accepts students with undergraduate and professional experience in computer science, electrical engineering, telecommunications and other related fields. GRE scores are preferred, but not required. Drexel provides tuition discounts to alumni, employees of their partner organizations, and military personnel, veterans, and their families through the Yellow Ribbon Post 9-11 Program.

6

University of Dallas Irving, TX

ADMISSIONS RATE 64%
GRADUATION RATE 70%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 11%
RETENTION RATE 81%
DEFAULT RATE 5%

The UD cybersecurity program has received recognition by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Training. UD currently offers its information security master's degree online and on campus in two flexible formats: The 30-credit master of science in cybersecurity consists of 10 classes, including data protection, network security, and digital forensics. The 42-credit MBA emphasizes cybersecurity management and requires 14 classes.

UD delivers both programs in a convenient trimester format to accommodate working professionals, featuring multiple start dates throughout the year. Courses are offered in six- or 12-week modules, or in an accelerated intermester schedule consisting of two weekday evenings and Saturdays for three to four weeks. An 18-credit cybersecurity certificate is also available for professionals who wish to enhance their training without completing a master’s degree.

7

New York University New York, NY

ADMISSIONS RATE 32%
GRADUATION RATE 84%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 1%
RETENTION RATE 93%
DEFAULT RATE 3%

The master of science in cybersecurity at NYU is available entirely online, allowing students to design a schedule that works best for them. Students may take up to three courses each semester to finish the degree in less than two years, or can opt to take only one or two classes each term, completing the degree in two to three years. Students must fulfill all degree requirements within five years.

The 30-credit online master’s degree in information security consists of 10 courses, offered in 16-week semesters in the fall and spring, and a 12-week term in the summer. All classes are delivered asynchronously through the NYUClasses learning platform with time built in for feedback with faculty through video-chatting, chat-rooms, and other applications.

8

Lewis University Romeoville, IL

ADMISSIONS RATE 62%
GRADUATION RATE 66%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 10%
RETENTION RATE 84%
DEFAULT RATE 7%

Admission to the MS in computer science-cybersecurity concentration at Lewis is selective, limited to a small number of academically qualified students each year. Minimum entrance requirements include a 3.0 grade point average with preference given to applicants with an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering or a related field. Students with majors in other fields may be required to take up to 13 credit hours in foundation courses as a prerequisite to the program.

A minimum of 32 credits is required to complete the master's in information security online, including four courses in cybersecurity and one elective. Students in this online program receive a high level of individualized attention. The curriculum is offered entirely asynchronously, meaning students can access course materials when convenient for them, but they can also receive feedback and support as needed from faculty, student services coordinators, and technical specialists.

9

Robert Morris University Moon Township, PA

ADMISSIONS RATE 78%
GRADUATION RATE 58%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 13%
RETENTION RATE 85%
DEFAULT RATE 5%

RMU is nationally recognized for its affordable and user-friendly online degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school’s online information assurance master’s program prepares information technology professionals to oversee cybersecurity and manage system threats in a variety of public and private settings. The master’s is delivered completely online, providing students with the flexibility to work at their own pace, on a full- or part-time basis, with all courses scheduled in an accelerated eight-week format.

The MS in cybersecurity and information assurance requires 30 credit hours, consisting of 21 credits in core courses and nine credits of electives in informational systems and communications. RMU is a military friendly school, offering tuition discounts to veterans and participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program for post-9/11 military personnel.

10

DePaul University Chicago, IL

ADMISSIONS RATE 72%
GRADUATION RATE 73%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 8%
RETENTION RATE 84%
DEFAULT RATE 6%

Chicago-based DePaul offers its master’s in information security online or on-campus, and students have the option of taking courses in either format throughout the program. Course delivery is through DePaul’s Course OnLine learning management system that records all lectures for downloading within two hours of the end of the on-campus class.

The 52-credit MS in cybersecurity offers three distinct concentrations. The computer security concentration focuses on security issues in distributed systems, cryptography, and software vulnerability. The network infrastructure track emphasizes management and assessment of software and network systems. The compliance concentration deals with risk management and regulatory compliance in business. This concentration aligns with the ISACA Model Curriculum, which leads to the Certified Information Systems Auditor designation. Regardless of which track students choose, the degree culminates in a 10-week capstone project.

11

Iowa State University Ames, IA

ADMISSIONS RATE 87%
GRADUATION RATE 71%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 4%
RETENTION RATE 87%
DEFAULT RATE 5%

Iowa State’s multidisciplinary Information Assurance Center houses its online information assurance master’s program. The 30-credit MS in Information Assurance consists of 18 hours of core courses, such as information warfare, cryptography, and wireless security. The remaining courses are in research and computer science electives. This entirely online program allows students to begin the program at the beginning of any semester and take classes in any sequence at their own pace.

Depending on the instructor and the nature of the course, classes are offered synchronously at fixed times, asynchronously with access to course materials at the student’s convenience, or asynchronously with some required interaction with other students in the cohort. Iowa State accepts up to six graduate-level credit hours from other institutions. Students complete the program with a master’s thesis, a capstone course, or a creative project.

12

Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL

ADMISSIONS RATE 73%
GRADUATION RATE 45%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 58%
RETENTION RATE 71%
DEFAULT RATE 10%

Saint Leo offers an MS in cybersecurity in an innovative blended format that includes online courses and video conferences with on-campus classes two weekends a month. Prerequisites for admission to this online master’s degree in information security include a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related and undergraduate coursework in programming logic, computer systems, and computer networks.

Online students can enter the program at the start of any semester and can take two courses each term. The curriculum emphasizes both the technical aspects of information security systems as well as the operation and management of these systems. The program is aligned with the National Security Agency requirements for graduate information assurance degrees and leads to specialized professional certifications that enhance employment opportunities.

13

Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX

ADMISSIONS RATE 73%
GRADUATION RATE 49%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 14%
RETENTION RATE 80%
DEFAULT RATE 11%

SHSU’s online information assurance master's degree provides a convenient avenue for breaking into the growing field of cybersecurity and information assurance. The master of science in information assurance and security is geared towards information technology professionals or students with a bachelor’s in computer science or a similar technical field. Students can begin the 36-credit master’s at the start of any term; fall and spring semesters run for 16 weeks each, and two accelerated 4-week sessions are available in the summer.

Online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system. Students take courses completely online or in a hybrid format. The GRE requirement is waived for applicants who hold a master’s degree from another accredited institution or who have over five years of full-time work experience in the field. Newly enrolled online students are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship, and generous tuition benefits are available for military personnel.

14

University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI

ADMISSIONS RATE 73%
GRADUATION RATE 63%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 2%
RETENTION RATE 85%
DEFAULT RATE 6%

UDM boasts several distance learning programs that combine affordability with convenience. Its master of science in information assurance with a major in cybersecurity is a reasonably-priced, accelerated program that provides individualized support and a small faculty-to-student ratio. This fully online information assurance master’s is one year long including summer sessions, which means a substantial tuition savings compared to similar programs at other schools.

This 30-credit degree requires nine core courses and one elective, and graduates of the program earn CNSS certifications for System Management and Standard for Information Assurance Professional. Alongside an emphasis on operations and management, the degree offers specialty courses in areas like digital forensics and ethical hacking. Course delivery is through the Blackboard learning system, with substantial technical support offered through UDM’s instructional design studio and its TitanConnect web portal.

15

Dakota State University Madison, SD

ADMISSIONS RATE 81%
GRADUATION RATE 38%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 39%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 9%

The master of science in information assurance and computer security at DSU is a popular degree offered both online and on-campus. The program tends to fill up quickly and applicants should apply well before the start of the term in which they intend to begin their studies. Fall and spring semesters run for 16 weeks each, and summer sessions are available in 4-week or 12-week sessions.

The online information assurance master’s requires ten courses or 30 credits, and takes two years to complete. Online students may take courses at their own pace but all students must complete the entire program within five years. Courses are offered synchronously through the Desire2Learn course management system. Some courses require collaborative meetings with on-campus students. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field and a 3.0 GPA or better.

16

Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY

ADMISSIONS RATE 66%
GRADUATION RATE 37%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 12%
RETENTION RATE 76%
DEFAULT RATE 7%

Mercy’s Cybersecurity Education Center, recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for its information assurance education, sponsors a number of cybersecurity programs, including a master’s in information security online and in person. The online 30-credit master of science in cybersecurity is delivered through the Blackboard learning management system, with courses offered asynchronously or synchronously in blended or web-enhanced formats. The degree is interdisciplinary, emphasizing management and leadership in dealing with security threats, as well as the legal and technological training needed for effective cyber defense.

Admission to the master’s program requires an undergraduate degree in a technological field and a personal statement. Applicants must also demonstrate competency through previous coursework or professional experience in database management, computer networking, or computer programming. The Center offers another convenient option for undergraduates pursuing a master’s through its accelerated 5-year BS/MS degree in cybersecurity.

17

Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI

ADMISSIONS RATE 89%
GRADUATION RATE 39%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 41%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 12%

Michigan-based Davenport offers flexible degree programs entirely online and on-site across a dozen campus locations. The master of science information assurance and cybersecurity is offered online asynchronously in 7-week class modules. The 34-credit online information assurance master’s is four semesters long and includes nine core courses, two specialized electives, and a capstone thesis project. The program leads to certifications in national security training standards.

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in computer science, mathematics, information technology, or a related field. Students who do not hold any security certifications and have not completed undergraduate coursework in computer, networking, statistical analysis, and security must demonstrate their proficiency by passing the foundational courses with a B or higher prior to beginning the program. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated Davenport’s program as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

18

Hampton University Hampton, VA

ADMISSIONS RATE 69%
GRADUATION RATE 65%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 3%
RETENTION RATE 81%
DEFAULT RATE 12%

A historically black university that has recently introduced distance learning, Hampton offers several online undergraduate and graduate programs, including the master of science in information assurance. This entirely online master’s degree in information security is sponsored by the university’s Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Center, a National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated training site for quality education in information assurance.

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or a related field. Students without the requisite science background may be provisionally admitted and required to take a set of bridge courses prior to entrance into the master’s program. The 25-credit degree is delivered entirely asynchronously, enabling students to log in when convenient and complete coursework at their own pace through the Blackboard learning management system.

19

National University La Jolla, CA

GRADUATION RATE 33% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 60% RETENTION RATE 64% DEFAULT RATE 7%

National offers a convenient, one-class-per-month format for both its online and on-campus degrees. The online information assurance master’s is a good fit for working professionals seeking the technical and managerial skills needed to move into the expanding field of cybersecurity. The master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance is offered fully asynchronously.

Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree in computer science or a related field. National also requires an interview with a faculty advisor for admission. The degree requires a total of 58.5 graduate credits, including nine core courses. Students must also complete four courses in one of the two specializations: ethical hacking and pen testing, or information assurance and security policy. National accepts up to 13.5 graduate credits from other regionally accredited institutions towards this degree.

20

Our Lady of the Lake University San Antonio, TX

ADMISSIONS RATE 68%
GRADUATION RATE 37%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 33%
RETENTION RATE 59%
DEFAULT RATE 10%

OLLU, established in 1895 by a Catholic religious order, the Sisters of the Congregation of Divine Providence, has grown into a comprehensive, coeducational university that boasts multiple campuses and several non-traditional programs, including the master of science in information systems and security. Certified by the National Security Agency, this entirely online master’s degree in information security offers entirely asynchronous classes.

The 30-hour program is one year long, with 15 hours in core information systems classes and 15 hours in information assurance and security. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a technical field with a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA and a 3.2 or better GPA in their major and should submit GRE/GMAT results. OLLU offers students without an undergraduate degree in a technical field a one-semester “cybersecurity boot camp” to fulfill the technical prerequisites.

21

Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT

GRADUATION RATE 14% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 100% RETENTION RATE 75% DEFAULT RATE 7%

WGU is a completely online university recognized for its affordable, innovative, and flexible degree programs. The master of science in cybersecurity and information assurance is a competency based program, where progress toward the degree is based on achieving core competencies in areas like risk management, cyber law, computer forensics, and ethical hacking. This online master’s degree in information security requires students to complete 30 competency units with most students completing about 8 or 9 per term.

In their final term, students develop and orally defend a capstone research project. Students who complete the degree will also be eligible for two certifications: EC-Council Hacking Forensic Investigator, and EC-Council Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a related field, but the program does not require the GRE or a minimum GPA for admission.

22

City University of Seattle Seattle, WA

GRADUATION RATE 47% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 58% RETENTION RATE 0% DEFAULT RATE 6%

CityU, established in 1973 to serve the specific needs of transfer students and working adults, has recently expanded this mission through its distance learning programs. Its master of science in information security is a highly specialized program in cybersecurity that can be completed entirely online. Classes are delivered asynchronously, accessible any time, with opportunities for faculty feedback and interaction with other students through web-based discussions. Students enrolled in the master’s in information security online take 16 courses, including a set of core classes and a required capstone thesis.

The program offers two specializations. The cybersecurity environment option focuses on emerging areas in the field including cyber warfare, intellectual property, and espionage. The intellectual security audit specialization emphasizes the management of information technology infrastructures. The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have designated CityU’s program as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

23

Bellevue University Bellevue, NE

GRADUATION RATE 18% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 78% RETENTION RATE 63% DEFAULT RATE 7%

Nebraska-based Bellevue University offers a master of science in cybersecurity on its main campus and online in two convenient formats. The traditional format, available online or on-site at several locations, requires 36 hours and can be completed in two years, over the course of four semesters. This format is particularly suited for entry-level or intermediate working professionals who seek career opportunities in the expanding cybersecurity field.

The second option is an accelerated cohort format, also available online or on-campus, which is open to experienced professionals who already possess security certification and are working in IT, IS, or MIS fields. In this format, the cohort of students proceeds together through six consecutive sessions with two classes per session. Both the on-campus and online information assurance master’s degrees are offered through Bellevue”s Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity.

24

Coastal Carolina University Conway, SC

ADMISSIONS RATE 60%
GRADUATION RATE 43%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 0%
RETENTION RATE 65%
DEFAULT RATE 8%

CCU has expanded its graduate offerings, recently adding a completely online master of science in information systems technology with a concentration in information security and data analytics. Students with undergraduate degrees in mathematics, science, business administration, or related work experience, are usually able to complete this specialized master’s in information security online within 24 months. Students without this preparation may be considered for provisional admission.

The 33-credit online program is delivered through CCU’s Moodle open source learning platform. The degree requires five foundational courses in analytics and systems technology, electives in information security or data analytics, and a thesis or other capstone research experience. Coursework includes projects and case studies with real-world applications, and graduates of the program find employment as managers, analysts, and IS specialists, in both the private and public sectors.

25

Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration Troy, MI

GRADUATION RATE 0% ONLINE ENROLLMENT 37% RETENTION RATE 0% DEFAULT RATE 3%

Walsh began offering its master of science in information technology in 2005. One of only five Michigan schools to be designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security, the college added a concentration in cybersecurity to this master’s program in 2016. Students can pursue this master’s in information security entirely online or in a hybrid 2+2 format, with each course requiring two hours of in-person classroom instruction and two hours of online delivery.

The master’s is offered in 11-week semesters, with admission in the fall, winter, spring, or summer terms. The degree requires 40 credits with seven courses in cybersecurity in areas like intelligence analysis tools and crisis management. Applicants to Walsh’s graduate programs should have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university and a GPA of 2.75 or above. The GRE or GMAT is not required for admission.

How to Choose an Online Master's in Information Systems Security Program

A master’s in information security online takes full-time students between one and two years to earn. Some schools require 11 units or credit hours; others require 36 credit hours or more. Courses include telecom clouds and mobile applications. Students also take courses on business fundamentals like business communication. Some programs allow students to choose a specialization, which include organization theory and design or ethical issues in management. Distance learners have the option to pay per credit or pay tuition in full. Online program tuition rates may differ from on-campus rates.

Careers for Graduates of Master's in Information Systems Security Programs

An online master’s degree in information security makes you a valuable asset to most companies. Graduates possess the skills to develop, monitor, and troubleshoot information systems for businesses. Distance learners are prepared to acquire positions as IT directors, who lead entire technology departments. Companies are turning to information security analysts to fix cybersecurity issues, and the demand for IT professionals is increasing.

Job Outlook and Salary for Graduates of Information Systems Security Master's Degrees

The BLS projects a 28% increase in information security analyst jobs between 2016 and 2026. Occupations in the information security sector are expanding at a rate much faster than occupations in other industries; the average job growth rate is 7%. Salary rate and growth depend on several factors, including job location and position. Information security analysts have the potential to make six figures with an online information assurance master’s. Students work their way up to management positions by gaining experience in the industry. Experience leads to higher salaries and increased earning potential.

Employment Growth for Information Systems Security
Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
100,000 128,500

Salary Growth by Experience for Graduates of Information Systems Security Master's Programs

Experience is one of the primary salary determinants for IT professionals. Many professionals started out as computer programmers or developers and worked their way up to senior-level positions. Workers develop information systems and detect weaknesses to prevent security breaches. IT professionals must be experienced due to the demands of their job. An information security master's degree online helps IT professionals gain experience, which can lead to higher salaries.


To determine the best online master's in information systems security programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in information systems security programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.