Looking for a career in a rapidly-evolving, intellectually-challenging, and fast-paced environment? How does job security into the future sound, with demand for your skills constantly growing? Then it’s time to consider a degree in cybersecurity as a route into the industry. No business, organization or individual is safe from cybercrime, which grows in scope, complexity, and ambition every year.

Hackers are highly motivated to get one step ahead in order to steal money, data, and identities. Therefore, digital security experts need to stay on top of their game to stop them.

Where to get a degree in cybersecurity?

There are various online providers that offer quality, accredited degrees in this field. Even better, the digital nature of the field means that you can get a degree in cybersecurity online.

Some of the courses and their providers which are well worth exploring are:

  • BSc or MSc in Cybersecurity at University of Liverpool Online
  • BSC or MSc in Advanced Security & Digital Forensics at Edinburgh Napier University – which can be taken full-time or part-time through distance learning, and which is GCHQ accredited.
  • BSc or MSc in Cybersecurity at Lancaster University
  • BSc or MSc in Software and Systems Security at University of Oxford
  • BSc or MSc in Information Security at Royal Holloway
  • BSc MSc in Cyber Security at the University of York
  • Cyber Defence and Information Assurance MSc at Cranfield University
  • BSc or MSc in Cyber Security at the University of Birmingham
  • MSc in Cyber Security at the University of Southampton

Different titles, same topic

As you’ll see from the examples above, universities name their courses in slightly different ways, but most will cover the same broad topic areas, with opportunities for specialization in some cases. The important thing is to make sure that the course is accredited and offers a recognized qualification that can be used in the country that you plan to work in upon graduation.

Typically for this subject, you’ll be looking at a Bachelor of Science or an MSc. The latter is actually more commonly offered given the nature of the subject and the fact that it tends to be a specialist area of follow-up study for budding IT professionals.

Topic areas you’ll cover

Although course modules will vary by course, there are certain key topics that you should see repeated across different university degrees in the field.

Typical compulsory modules

  • The design and deployment of secure systems
  • The theory and application of secure system management
  • Elements of digital anonymity
  • The Law with regards to cybercrime and privacy
  • Network security
  • Secure programming
  • Cryptography
  • Digital forensics
  • Mobile security
  • Information Security for Business and Government
  • Cloud computing
  • Project management
  • Business and management
  • Industrial espionage & counterfeiting
  • Data governance.

Many courses will include a longer project, where you choose an area to investigate further under academic supervision with a nominated tutor. This might cover something practical such as the development of a software package to provide network security or an investigation into an existing cybersecurity threat or issue and the development of a potential solution.

Other features common for a degree in cybersecurity

Although these degrees can often be done part-time and online, there may be opportunities to attend guest lectures in person from big-name speakers in the tech industry. These could include representatives from social media giants, hardware and software brands, fintech companies, start-ups and so forth.

Optional modules

These give the opportunity to specialize in certain areas of interest. Modules could include:

  • Incident management
  • Penetration testing and hardware
  • Embedded system security
  • Biometrics
  • Intelligence and operations
  • Enterprise cybersecurity
  • Outsourcing and globalisation
  • Financial control and analysis systems
  • Leadership

Universities structure courses in different ways but it’s typical to take around three elective modules and UCAS points will be awarded at different levels.

Industrial placements

There may also be an industrial placement on offer as part of the degree programme, which offers an opportunity to put theoretical learning into practice. Sometimes these are delivered as the practical element of the thesis, from which a paper is written.

What skills can you learn with a degree in cybersecurity?

The obvious skills are technical ones; from the identification of cyber threats through to the development, deployment, and management of solutions that protect organizational infrastructures from hackers and other cyber threats.

However, the courses also cover broader skills such as analytical thinking and frameworks, systemic thinking, business management, law, organizational contexts and behavior, communication, leadership, project management and so forth. Softer skills are included in recognition of the fact that today’s cybersecurity professionals need to be rounded individuals with the ability to engage confidently with stakeholders of all levels.

Who might want to take a degree in cybersecurity?

If you want to forge a career in cybersecurity – whether at the delivery level as a security analyst, as a specialist programmer, as a manager or entrepreneur bringing new solutions to market, this could be the qualification for you.

Degrees blend technical skills with analytics, knowledge of the law and the programming mindset needed to stay one step ahead. Management and leadership skills are developed to help build robust processes, networks, systems and procedures that mean organizational resources and people alike are on-board and ready to safeguard their data.

Some of the courses are delivered in various partnership arrangements with businesses that hire cybersecurity professionals in different capacities and demand for skilled workers in the field means that there can be a rapid path to employment following graduation.

Many students in the field will choose to take their qualification to the MSc level or even further to be able to command higher salaries as they progress in their field or to move into an academic field themselves, teaching other professionals the skills needed to beat cybercrime across the globe.

What are the typical entry requirements?

To undertake a degree in cybersecurity you’ll usually need a good set of A-levels in relevant subjects (computer sciences, maths, programming, etc.) or upper second class honors for the MSc level in a related subject.

In summary

If a career in cybersecurity has ever interested you, now is the time to look into gaining a degree in the field. Every organization from commercial banks through to government bodies, national security, the police and law enforcement organizations are seeking highly skilled professionals who have the skills, technical expertise and analytical mindset needed to tackle cybercrime at its heart and to implement robust solutions that stay one step ahead of the game.

The field is growing and it’s fascinating. What’s more, roles being advertised are popping up all over the world and the salaries are excellent, with relocation packages likely to be on offer if the urge to travel grabs you upon graduation!

So do your research now and consider a degree in cybersecurity if you really are looking for a challenging career path with a genuine future.