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Best Cyber Security Programs in California for 2024: Online & On-Campus

Find the best cyber security degrees in California and learn how they can help you prepare for this rising field.

Author: Kenya McCullum
Editor: STEPS Staff
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The cyber security field is on the rise in California with cyber criminals working harder than ever to wreak havoc in compromised systems. Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, for example, suffered a cyber-attack in late 2023 that forced staff to send ambulances to other facilities as healthcare professionals worked to protect sensitive patient information. Around that same time, the city of Long Beach faced a cyber security attack that could have impacted vital services like the 911 system. Additionally, school districts around the state experienced a series of ransomware attacks in 2022 with speculation of some capitulation to the criminals’ demands for payment.

Thanks to top cyber security degrees in California, higher education can help address and prevent cyber-attacks as well as help implement strategies to tighten cybersecurity. Become part of the solution to this growing problem by earning a degree from one of the top cyber security degree programs in California. This guide tells you about these programs, the specific jobs you can qualify for after graduation, and the ways you can fund your education.

Best Colleges to Earn a Cyber Security Degree in California – Campus-Based Programs

Cyber security is an increasingly in-demand profession in the state. Choose the right cyber security degree program for you by perusing this curated list of the best cyber security degrees in California. Although what is considered best varies from one student to the next, these schools have some of the characteristics, like affordability and convenience, that most students care about. All these schools are accredited, so you can be confident you’re learning the skills employers need most. Come back soon for a full list of the top cyber security degrees in California coming soon.

California State University, San Bernardino offers cyber security degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Undergraduate students learn the fundamentals of cyber security work, including the types of threats and vulnerabilities organizations encounter. Coursework also covers the tools, technologies, and best practices professionals use to identify, neutralize, and mitigate threats. Additionally, these programs cover risk assessment and management along with incident investigation best practices.

Graduate students can study cyber security from technical, business, or public administration perspectives. For example, the cyber security concentration in the school’s MBA program combines business and technical standpoints to understand the role cyber security professionals play in the well-being of organizations and how policy and training may impact how they work. The Master of Public Administration with cybersecurity concentration, for example, covers the field from technical and policy perspectives and teaches about cyber security theory and practice as well as the policy implications of database management, enterprise architecture planning, and risk management.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On campus
  • Full-time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and Technology, Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Intelligence and Crime Analysis, Cybersecurity

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Science, Cybersecurity
  • Master of Public Administration, Cybersecurity
  • Master of Business Administration, Cybersecurity

The California Institute of Arts and Technology offers associate and bachelor’s degrees as well as certificate programs in cyber security. The associate degree prepares you for work in cyber security and networking thanks to a curriculum that builds vital skills that include designing, implementing, and configuring wireless and wired networking systems. Students also learn to effectively work in cloud environments. Similarly, those in the certificate program study computer hardware, operating systems, wireless networking devices, and network infrastructure security.

Students who want to continue their education past the associate degree can transfer into the bachelor’s degree program where they take a combination of technical core classes that cover programs such as Cisco and Linux and cyber security courses about network security, ethical hacking, and Microsoft security. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to earn a variety of certifications, including the Certified Ethical Hacker, Advanced Network Security CISSP, and CompTIA Linux+ credentials.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On campus
  • Full-time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Computer Information Systems Certificate Program
  • Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems
  • Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems – Cybersecurity Concentration

San Diego Community College provides an Associate of Science in Cybersecurity with a curriculum based on the standards of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework and the Department of Defense Cyber Workforce Framework. It prepares students to create protocols that prevent data security breaches and effectively respond to them when they occur. Coursework covers computing fundamentals, information security, network defense and countermeasures, and penetration testing.

The school also has a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Defense and Analysis where students gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to address cyber-attacks in real time. The curriculum teaches students how to analyze technology problems and determine the best answers, design and implement computing solutions for an organization, and work based on the legal and ethical principles of professionals.

To help students in both degree programs, San Diego Community College has a cyber security resource center that provides vital information about staying safe online, using antivirus protection, and creating effective passwords.

Delivery:

  • Online
  • On campus
  • Part-time
  • Full-time

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Associate of Science Degree in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Defense and Analysis

Top Online Cyber Security Degree Programs in California

If you’re currently working and raising a family, an online cyber security degree program in California can help make earning your degree a lot easier. You may even be able to complete your degree entirely online, so you never have to visit campus. If you prefer spending some time on campus, you can find a hybrid program where you participate in some in-person activities. Whichever model you choose, this list of top online cyber security degrees in California can help you choose the right school. A full rankings list is coming soon, so be sure to come back to see what else is available.

California State University San Marcos offers graduate and undergraduate degrees designed to prepare students for various positions, including cyber security analyst, security manager, penetration tester, and security specialist roles. Students in the fully online cyber security bachelor’s degree program learn the demands of the field through professors with real-world experience in different areas of cyber security, from mobile to hardware to systems to IoT security.

The school, named a cyber security National Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, also offers an online master’s degree program. In it, students learn advanced concepts related to choosing encryption algorithms, assessing system vulnerabilities, and detecting security intrusions.

Students able to travel to campus can benefit from the cyber security student activities, including presentations from industry leaders and student competitions.

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity

Program Options:

  • Full-time
  • Fully online

California Baptist University offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program that can be completed in 16 months. When working through the 48-credit curriculum, students can take eight-week courses to finish their studies quickly. Courses are in an asynchronous format, so students aren’t required to watch lectures at prescheduled times. Coursework covers offensive and defensive security, cyber security management, business networking, and computer and network security. Additionally, students learn about the legal and ethical issues that arise in the information technology field, so they know how professionals should conduct themselves in the workplace. Tuition is $520 per credit, and the school offers financial aid options specifically for online students.

Undergraduate Programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

Program Options:

  • Part-time
  • Full-time
  • Fully online
  • Partially online

To be admitted to the Master of Information and Cybersecurity program at the University of California, Berkeley, you need an overall 3.0 grade point average in a bachelor’s degree program. Also, applicants must demonstrate their qualitative and problem-solving skills through their work experience or coursework and submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. To further bolster your application, you can submit GRE and GMAT scores, but they are not required.

This program provides an advanced understanding of operating system security, coding, cyber risks, network and web security, and cryptography. The curriculum includes classes about privacy engineering, software security, managing cyber risk, and usable privacy and security. Students also participate in hands-on training on campus during the school’s immersion experience which lasts about three days.

Graduate Programs:

  • Master of Information and Cybersecurity

Program Options:

  • Full-time
  • Partially online

Types of Cyber Security Degrees You Can Earn in California

Whether you’re interested in the best cyber security degrees in California delivered on campus or online, there are several program options. Continue reading to learn about the different undergraduate and graduate programs available.

Undergraduate Cyber Security Degrees in California

Associate Degrees in Cyber Security

If you want to learn the fundamentals of cyber security and go on to earn a higher-level degree or land an entry-level job, an associate from colleges offering the best cyber security degrees in California is a good starting point. These degrees take two years to complete and may focus entirely on cyber security or concentrate on a programming, information security, or computer science program. Curriculums include classes in computer forensics, ethical computer hacking, safe software development, and infrastructure security.

Accredited California Colleges with an Associate’s Degree in Cyber Security

Bachelor’s Degrees in Cyber Security

Whether you have an associate degree or are just starting your cyber security education, the best cyber security bachelor’s degrees in California provide an in-depth education to prepare you for your next move. These degrees generally take four years to complete and require technology-based coursework in areas such as computer security, network security, web development, and cloud security. Students also take general education classes in algebra, English composition, and biology, so they receive a well-rounded education that develops numerous skills useful in the workplace.

Accredited California Colleges with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security

Graduate Education Degrees in California

Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security

If you already possess technical skills and knowledge, the best cyber security master’s degrees in California can help you build on your previous education and experience. Students learn advanced strategies for planning, managing, and maintaining an organization’s computer systems to keep them safe; build a strong technology infrastructure that is less susceptible to breaches; and develop safeguards an organization can use to protect its systems.

Accredited California Colleges with a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security

Cyber Security PhD Programs

Cyber security professionals interested in advancing research that will impact how professionals work as well as in technology policy can earn a cyber security PhD to prepare for this vital area of the field. Coursework may cover advanced security risk assessment and management, information technology research methods, and policy and compliance issues in the technology field.

Accredited California Colleges with this Cyber Security PhD Programs

Graduate Certificates

A cyber security certificate is designed for those who want to quickly earn an advanced credential from a school offering the top cyber security degrees in California. These programs provide an intensive experience that allows students to gain advanced cyber security skills they can incorporate into their work.

Accredited California Colleges with Cyber Security Certificate Programs

Paying for Your Cyber Security Degree in California

Is financing your education making you reluctant to pursue the best cyber security degrees in California? It doesn’t have to. There are several financial aid options you can pursue, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Schools like California State University, San Bernardino and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona offer scholarships for students who study cyber security. Scholarships are also available from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies and the U.S. Department of Defense.

For more information about the types of funding you can receive, read this financial aid guide and scholarships guide.

Salary & Growth for Cyber Security Grads in California

After earning one of the best cyber security degrees in California, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and skills necessary for multiple types of jobs. The job market for cyber security graduates in California is looking good in the coming years, and people with these degrees can leverage their education to make healthy salaries. The table below provides information on specific jobs and their growth and earning potential.

Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
Annual Mean Wage
(2022/2023)
Computer Network Architects15.8%1,720$145,390
Computer Systems Analysts13.3%5,150$129,330
Database Architects18.2%1,870$152,960
Network and Computer Systems Administrators13.4%2,370$112,080
Software Developers36.1%39,040$182,570

Sources: Projections Central;Bureau of Labor Statistics

California Cyber Security Professional and Student Resources

  • California Cybersecurity Institute
    Housed in California Polytechnic State University, this organization increases training for those interested in the cyber security field. It provides a newsletter and organizes events for current and prospective cyber security professionals.
  • California Cybersecurity Integration Center
    Cal-CSIC reduces the number of cyber-attacks around the state by creating a comprehensive strategy and sharing it with government agencies, schools, and nongovernmental organizations.
  • California State University, San Bernardino Cybersecurity Resources
    This site provides student resources that include information on the types of certifications you can earn, conferences you can attend, and organizations you can join. It also has reports and information on industry standards.
  • Cyber Center of Excellence
    This San Diego-based organization has programs to further develop the cyber economy. it provides research and information on careers in the field.
  • National Cybersecurity Student Association
    Members of the National Cybersecurity Student Association can access conferences, training sessions, financial aid opportunities, and up-to-date industry information.