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Start Here: Best Cyber Security Associate Degrees Online in 2024

If you are looking to earn your associate degree in cyber security, then this guide is for you! Explore online programs and compare degree options to help determine which school is right for you.

Author: Shelby Green
Editor: STEPS Staff
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As one of the most in-demand tech skills for 2024, building cyber security expertise can unlock rewarding career opportunities. Developing a cyber security mindset can also position you for long-term job security, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts roles like Information Security Analyst are expected to grow 32% by 2032. So how can you break into this rapidly growing field?

Launching a successful cyber security career starts with a high-quality, affordable education, and luckily there are many great online cyber security associate degrees to help you achieve your goals. In this guide, you’ll find our complete list of rankings, and we’ll explore several of the best cyber security associate degrees online to help you find the ideal program at an affordable price. Keep reading to explore this lucrative degree that’ll prepare you for an in-demand role.

Spotlight on Top Online Cyber Security Associate Degree Programs

What should you look for in an online cyber security associate degree program? How can you tell which programs can help you land your first cyber security role? A comprehensive curriculum, hands-on experiences, and affordable tuition are all tell-tale signs of a top online cyber security associate degree program. However, with so many impressive programs to choose from, it can be difficult to filter out the hidden gems from the rest of the bunch. In this section, we’ll explore three of the top online cyber security associate degree programs including curriculum, time to completion, accreditations, and tuition.

As part of the SUNY network, Finger Lakes Community College’s online Associate in Applied Science in Networking and Cybersecurity prepares you to become a leader in this evolving field. Led by the same knowledgeable faculty who teach on campus, the asynchronous, semester-based program will help you gain hands-on experience through real-world cyber security scenarios and simulations. Built on a career-focused curriculum, the online cyber security associate degree will cover key concepts like programming, PowerShell, routing and switching, ethical hacking, and digital forensics. The 64-credit program ensures you are workforce-ready in as few as two years and can prepare you for further study in cyber security.

  • Formats available: Online
  • Accreditations: Finger Lakes Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Cost per credit: $207
  • Program completion time: As few as two years

Through hands-on learning experiences and an industry-relevant curriculum, the online Associate Degree in Cybersecurity at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) provides you with the knowledge and skills to break into the fast-growing field. Ideal for those just beginning their cyber security career, the 60-credit program explores foundational cyber security concepts, frameworks, and technologies to prepare you for several in-demand entry-level roles and further education. The associate degree in cyber security online is broken up into eight six-week terms, allowing you to finish in as few as two years. Plus, online classes are asynchronous, so you can learn on a schedule that works best for you.

  • Formats available: Online
  • Accreditations: SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Cost per credit: $330
  • Program completion time: As few as two years

In DeVry University’s online Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking, you’ll learn how to identify vulnerabilities, protect networks and devices, and prepare for and respond to cyberattacks. With no prior experience required, this degree provides you with the expertise and support to succeed in several highly rewarding roles. Plus, the comprehensive curriculum can prepare you to pursue industry-recognized certifications from CompTIA. As a student, you’ll also benefit from the DeVry University Center for Cybersecurity which ensures students are receiving an industry-informed, market-aligned education.

Additionally, DeVry student teams compete twice a year in the National Cyber League (NCL) Games where participants demonstrate skills in identifying hackers in forensic data, penetration testing, auditing vulnerable websites, and recovering from ransomware attacks.

  • Formats available: Online, hybrid
  • Accreditations: DeVry University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Cost per credit: $514
  • Program completion time: As few as one year and four months

Courses for an Online Cyber Security Associate Degree

If you’re considering the pursuit of an online cyber security associate degree, you’ll likely want to know more about the courses and topics your program will include. While each university has a unique curriculum and program requirements, there are several courses that are commonly part of the curriculum. In this section, we’ll explore five courses you can expect to take when earning an associate degree in cyber security online.

Computer Forensics

Computer forensics is used to gather digital evidence that could be used in investigations. In this course, you’ll typically learn the principles, techniques, and tools used to collect and analyze digital data for investigations. As a cyber security professional, your main responsibilities will include protecting your organization’s sensitive data and successfully responding to cyberattacks. By developing an understanding of computer forensics, you’ll know what evidence to capture should your organization be the target of a cyberattack.

Criminal Law and Cyber Security

As a cyber security professional, you’re the police of the digital realm — which means there are many legal implications that you need to understand. In this course, you’ll explore legal frameworks and learn how cybercrime is prosecuted. This course will empower you to become a better cyber security professional by providing you with an understanding of the legalities to help inform your organization’s own policies.

Database Management

With data being of high value to companies in every industry, database management is often one of the key responsibilities for cyber security professionals. In a database management course, you’ll learn about database structures, how to protect them, and how hackers exploit databases. Additionally, you may cover privacy regulations regarding data. This course will give you the skills you need to protect your company’s valuable data and what to do should there be a data breach.

Ethical Computer Hacking

You may be thinking, “If I’m trying to prevent cybercrime, why do I want to learn how to hack systems?” Ethical hacking is a common technique used by cyber security professionals to identify and proactively fix vulnerabilities within your system. An ethical computer hacking course will dive into topics like vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, and tools and techniques for ethical hacking. While it may seem counterintuitive, ethical hacking is an essential part of building strong cyber security measures and protecting your valuable assets.

Intrusion Detection Systems

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a “listen-only” device that monitors for suspicious activity and reports to the administrator. As you might imagine, IDS is a critical technology for cyber security professionals. In this course, you’ll learn about the different types of IDS and how they work while exploring how to effectively integrate them into your cyber security strategy. By learning how to manage and implement intrusion detection systems, you’ll be able to enhance your cyber security measures.

The Job Market: Salary and Career Outlook for Cyber Security Associate Degree Graduates

By 2025, cybercrime is expected to cost $10.5 trillion annually. While cybercrime is on the rise, there is a lack of skilled professionals to meet the demand. In fact, data shows that over half a million open cyber security roles in the United States, yet only enough professionals to fill 72% of them. While many cyber security roles do require at least a bachelor’s degree, earning an associate degree in cyber security online can be an ideal first step for those to build foundational knowledge to pursue further education. To gain a better understanding of the cyber job market, let’s explore several popular roles.

Job titleStarting salary (2024)Median Salary (2022)Job Growth (2022 – 2032)
Information Security Analysts$75,932$112,00032%
Computer and Information Systems Managers$76,791$164,07015%
Digital Forensics Analysts$67,172$98,74013%
Database Administrators$68,390$99,8908%
Computer Systems Analysts$71,723$102,24010%

Sources: BLS.gov, ONet, Glassdoor

Choosing the Right Online Cyber Security Associate Degree

There are many high-quality cyber security associate degrees online, so how do you know which one is the right fit for you? Here are few factors to consider when evaluating online cyber security programs:

  • Curriculum: The program you choose should offer a curriculum that can help you achieve your goals.
  • Cost: Decide how much you’d be willing to spend to earn a cyber security associate degree online and choose a program within your budget.
  • Time Commitment: Make sure your program can work with your current schedule so that you can easily balance education, work, and other life commitments.
  • Accreditation: To ensure you’re receiving a quality education, check to see what accreditations your program holds.

These are just a few factors to consider when researching potential programs. Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself to narrow down your options even further.

Should you choose an online or on-campus program?

On-campus and online associate degrees in cyber security both have their pros and cons. Ultimately, which option you choose should be based on your preferred format, learning style, schedule, and career aspirations. If you’re looking for greater flexibility and convenience, an online associate degree in cyber security is likely the right fit for you. However, it’s important to note that online programs do require a higher level of self-discipline and motivation, especially for asynchronous courses, so it’s critical to ensure you’re willing to fully commit.

Associate vs. certificate vs. bootcamp — which is better?

There are many pathways to launching a cyber security career, and no type of education is necessarily “better” than others. However, to ensure you’re choosing the right type of program, you should define your career goals and understand your learning style. Typically, cyber security certifications are tailored more for specific skills rather than broad knowledge. An associate degree in cyber security and a cyber security bootcamp will both help you launch a career in the field, but they take different approaches. Cyber security bootcamps are usually fast-paced and able to be completed in just a few weeks or months. Earning an associate degree in cyber security online will result in a degree, but you’ll move at a much slower pace.

What is the program length?

An online associate cyber security degree can usually be completed in two years, but there is slight variation among programs. Some programs have shorter semester lengths, which may allow you to finish the program more quickly. Additionally, your individual time to completion with depend on your course load. For most associate cyber security degree online programs, full-time students usually take around 15 credits per semester. However, if you’re a working professional or have other life commitments, you may be inclined to take fewer courses each semester, which could extend your program length.

How is the program paced or structured?

While each online associate in cyber security program is structured differently, you can expect to take a variety of classes. Usually, you’ll start by taking general education courses, such as math and science, then you’ll move into more cyber-focused courses. These courses will typically combine a mix of theoretical concepts with simulations and hands-on learning experiences.

Does the school help with job placement?

Many schools do offer job placement and career support services to help you land your first cyber security role. These services can help you connect with potential employers, tailor your resume, prepare for interviews, and provide networking opportunities. If job placement is important to you, make sure to research your school to inquire about what kinds of placement services they offer.

What financial aid and scholarship resources are available?

As a student in an online cyber security program, there are a variety of resources available to help you find financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Here are just a few of our recommended resources: