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How Fast Can I Earn a Cyber Security Degree Online?

If you are looking to earn your cyber security degree more quickly, then this guide is for you! Explore online programs and compare accelerated degrees to traditional pace to help determine if the fast track is right for you.

Author: Mikala Lugen
Editor: STEPS Staff
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Are you passionate about computer systems, networks, and the protection of data? If so, an accredited online or accelerated cyber security program could be the perfect career move for you. A degree in cyber security leads to a wide range of career options in a growing field with prosperous salary earnings. Potential computer and informational technology occupations in the cyber security field include information security analyst, network administrator, software developer, security consultant, and more. Many accredited colleges – such as the ones in the rankings list below – offer accelerated fully online cyber security degree programs. These schools provide a standard for potential students, helping them consider all essential factors (e.g., cost, program content, etc.) when choosing a top accelerated cyber security degree online.

Spotlight on Top Accelerated Cyber Security Degree Online Programs

Enrolling in an accelerated cyber security degree program is a smart career choice that can lead to a prosperous and high-earning career since jobs requiring a cyber security degree – such as information security analysts – have a much faster than average outlook through 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While what is a “top” school is subjective, the accelerated cyber security bachelor’s and master’s degrees featured below serve as standards for what most students look for – ideal program length, eligibility requirements, and accreditations, for example – in a quality program.

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security

Bellevue University is a private, non-profit institution offering a second-place ranking among Security Degree Hub for its online cyber security accelerated bachelor’s degree cohort program. Additionally, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Bellevue University as a National Center of Academic Excellence (NCAE) in Cyber Defense, (CAE-CD). It’s also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Students register for preselected courses and finish fully online coursework – taught by experts from the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, and NASA – with the same group of peers in less time than in a traditional format.An associate degree is required to enroll in Bellevue University’s accelerated cyber security degree online, and the curriculum is designed for students completely new to the technology field.

Western Governors University (WGU), a private, non-profit university, has an accelerated, fully Online Cyber Security and Information Assurance Bachelor of Science designed with guidelines and curriculum from cybersecurity experts and leading IT employers within the DHS and NSA. Additionally, the program has been designated a NCAE in CAE-CD through 2026 with its 15 top industry certifications. Nearly 70% of students complete the program within 32 months with enrollment starting the first of every month. The program is self-paced and with courses usually completed one at a time, with students passing a class assessment to move on to a new course. Students complete a capstone project that consists of a technical work proposal, the proposal’s implementation, and a post-implementation report to end the program.

Purdue University Global is a public, non-profit institution within the Purdue University system, located in West Lafayette, IN. Its Online ExcelTrack® Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity is a self-paced, 180-credit program accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Courses are fully online and span 10-week terms, allowing students to control their own pace, deadlines, and course load. Students can choose from eight cybersecurity concentrations, including CISSP certification, cloud computing, data management, programming and analytics, software development using C#, software development using Java, software development using Python, and software development using Web Languages. You must be a high school graduate or possess a General Education Development (GED) certificate to enroll.

Accelerated Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security

Arizona State University (ASU) Online is part of Arizona State University, a public, non-profit research institution. Its Online Master of Arts in Global Security – Cybersecurity grants students access to highly specialized course content from more than 100 Arizona State University faculty, former military, award-winning journalists, and top scholars in international law, global affairs, humanitarian assistance, and strategy. The program, accredited by the HLC, focuses on policy and strategy within international cyber security, so a background in computer science or engineering is not required. Students take 10 classes spanning seven and a half weeks each at their own pace for a total of 30 credit hours. The program also requires a capstone project such as a research paper, group project, or policy memo. To enroll, students need a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA in the last 60 hours of their bachelor’s program or a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA in the last 12 units of their post-baccalaureate transcript.

Western Governors University (WGU), a private, non-profit university, has an accelerated, fully Online Cyber Security and Information Assurance Bachelor of Science designed with guidelines and curriculum from cybersecurity experts and leading IT employers within the DHS and NSA. Additionally, the program has been designated a NCAE in CAE-CD through 2026 with its 15 top industry certifications. Nearly 70% of students complete the program within 32 months with enrollment starting the first of every month. The program is self-paced and with courses usually completed one at a time, with students passing a class assessment to move on to a new course. Students complete a capstone project that consists of a technical work proposal, the proposal’s implementation, and a post-implementation report to end the program.

National University, a private, non-profit institution, offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity which is a professionally focused, rigorous degree designed for those who want to help secure the world’s computer and information systems infrastructure. In addition to accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the NSA has designated National University as an NCAE in CAE-CD through 2028. The program is also in the top 10 for graduating students in the Master of Science in Cybersecurity program among online, nonprofit, four-year, private universities. Students take a series of four-week, fully online courses, totaling 58.5 graduate units while also specializing in enterprise cybersecurity management, ethical hacking and pen testing, digital forensics, or cloud security. Monthly course starts allow for starting sooner and finishing faster. All students must interview with the faculty advisor to enroll, and enrollment applications are available year-round.

Types of Accelerated Online Cyber Security Degrees

Not all types of accelerated online cyber security degrees are the same. In fact, accelerated online cyber security degree programs vary significantly depending on the institution and program length. The different types of accelerated cyber security degrees online, including bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates are detailed below to help you home in on your best option.

Bachelor’s Programs

Like most bachelor’s programs, an online bachelor’s degree in cyber security can be completed in four years. Accelerated programs, like those found at Bellevue University, Western Governors University, and Purdue University, take as little as two years. Many of these programs are self-paced, so you choose how quickly to complete courses.

Master’s Programs

Completing an accelerated cyber security master’s degree online typically takes 18 months to two years. Most – if not all – of the coursework is completed online, so programs like the ones at Arizona State University and National University can be taken at your own time and pace. Arizona State University, specifically, outlines 10 total classes spanning 7.5 weeks each, so you could complete its accelerated master’s degree in cybersecurity in 75 weeks. These programs also usually include a capstone research or thesis project, making it different from a graduate certificate program that allows for quicker skill acquisition.

Graduate Certificates

Online graduate certificates in cyber security typically take six months to one year to complete, offering focused, skill-oriented courses. These programs emphasize practical expertise over comprehensive knowledge and research-heavy coursework like that found in a master’s program. They offer specific skill enhancement – such as developing solutions to protect online information, find vulnerabilities within your organization, prevent common cybersecurity attacks, use secure coding, and more –within cyber security as a whole. Cybersecurity certificate program examples include ones at Stanford University and the University of Washington.

Why Accelerated? The Benefits of Earning Your Cyber Security Degree Faster

Wondering if an accelerated cyber security degree online is right for you? Below are some key highlights and benefits of earning your cyber security degree faster, including starting your career earlier, less rigid admission requirements, flexibility with coursework, and more.

Begin your Career Faster

Unlike a traditional bachelor’s or master’s program that can take years to complete, an accelerated online cyber security degree allows you to graduate in six months to two years. This allows you to get through school as quickly as possible and begin working in a field you’re passionate about.

Ideal for Career Pivots

Enrolling in an accelerated cyber security degree online is perfect for a career pivot. Many programs, like Bellevue University’s accelerated bachelor’s degree in cyber security and Purdue Global’s Online ExcelTrack® Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, allow anyone with a high school diploma or associate degree from another field to enroll. If you’re looking for an exciting and fulfilling career change, many programs make it easy to enroll and make the switch.

Admission Requirements May be Less Rigid

Worried about admission requirements for an accelerated online program in cyber security? Many online-only accelerated programs involve a streamlined admissions process to get students enrolled more quickly. Schools like National University review and accept enrollment applications year-round for their cyber security master’s programs, requiring only a simple interview with the faculty advisor. Others, like Arizona State University, don’t require a background or previous knowledge in computer science or engineering to enroll.

Pace and Structure

Traditional bachelor’s and master’s online degree programs often operate on a more continuous schedule with shorter breaks or no breaks between terms. Many accelerated online cyber security degree programs are self-paced for full flexibility with coursework. The faster you get through your classes, the quicker you’ll graduate and work within the field.

Flexibility

Online cyber security programs offer great flexibility for working students and those with other time commitments. Coursework can be completed anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace! There has never been a better time to take charge of your education and career because of how these programs allow you full flexibility to earn an online cyber security degree on your terms.

Cost Effectiveness

Many accelerated cyber security online degrees are more cost-effective than other programs because you don’t have as many fees associated with being on campus. For example, Bellevue University’s online cyber security accelerated bachelor’s degree program costs $449 per online credit for traditional students with a discounted $250 per online credit for military students.

FAQs About Accelerated Online Cyber Security Degree Programs

Enrolling in an accelerated online cyber security degree program is a big decision, and you likely have many questions. Below are answers to common questions related to accelerated online cyber security degree programs, including how long they take to complete, admission requirements, what skills you’ll learn, and more. In addition to these FAQs, considering resources for public service students and professionals is another avenue for learning all you can about the cybersecurity field.

How long does it usually take to complete an accelerated cyber security degree program?

The amount of time needed to complete an accelerated online cyber security degree program varies depending on the program, such as if it’s a bachelor’s, master’s, or graduate certificate program. A graduate certificate program, for example, can take six months to a year, while an accelerated bachelor’s or master’s program can take two or three years. Accelerated programs condense coursework and are faster than traditional programs, and most allow students to work at their own pace.

What are the admission requirements for accelerated programs, and are they different from traditional programs?

Admission requirements for accelerated cybersecurity programs vary between institutions, but they often differ from traditional programs in terms of flexibility. Accelerated programs usually have less strict requirements for enrollment, including just needing a high school diploma or an associate degree in another field. Some programs, like Arizona State University’s Master of Arts in Global Security- Cybersecurity, don’t even require a background or previous knowledge in computer science or engineering to enroll.

Can I work while pursuing an accelerated cyber security degree, or is it a full-time commitment?

Many accelerated online cyber security degree programs are flexible to accommodate working professionals. Unlike traditional full-time programs, most accelerated online cybersecurity degree programs are self-taught and self-paced, allowing you full freedom to work through the coursework on your own time and schedule.

What specific skills and knowledge will I gain from the program, and how does it prepare me for a career in cyber security?

An accelerated cybersecurity degree equips you with a range of skills and knowledge crucial for a cyber security career. Courses and skills include computer programming, governance, risk, compliance laws, application of security controls, web and database security, forensics, assessing risks and vulnerabilities in cyber systems, data management, web and cloud security, hacking countermeasures and techniques, and more. All these skills are crucial in a career in cyber security, whether it’s as a cybersecurity analyst, security consultant, software developer, forensic computer analyst, or other role.

Are accelerated cybersecurity degree programs more challenging than traditional programs?

Each program varies with its structure, coursework, and your own learning and comprehension style. An accelerated program does differ from a traditional program in that it condenses the coursework in a smaller time frame, so you’ll learn a lot of information in a short amount of time. This can make accelerated programs more intense than traditional programs and require exceptional time management skills.

How does the cost of an accelerated program compare to a traditional cyber security degree, and are there financial aid options available?

Accelerated cyber security online degrees can be more cost-effective because you don’t have fees associated with being on campus. Most accelerated programs offer financial aid, and there are a variety of other financial aid options outside of individual schools to make the cost even more affordable. Filling out the FAFSA is an essential first step. There are also a variety of scholarships for online students and for public service students that can help make your cyber security degree more affordable.