Cybersecurity Degree Programs: What to Expect

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Category: Value of Education

By Matt Rowley
Posted on

Cybersecurity is a rapidly-expanding career market. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 32% from 2022 to 2032. This growth can be attributed to many factors, including the move toward digitizing valuable data, the growth of cyberattacks as both a criminal enterprise and a part of global conflict, and the exponential expansion of the technology sector.

As IT and other technical jobs have become less of a standalone part of the tech industry and a greater part of the professional ecosystem, cybersecurity has followed. Many large companies employ entire teams of cybersecurity professionals, while smaller companies may rely on third-party security providers or in-house specialists.

If you’re looking to start a cybersecurity career, earning a degree in cybersecurity provides the foundational skills you need as well as history and perspective on the cybersecurity discipline. In this article, we break down some of the key elements of a cybersecurity degree.

Technical Skills

A primary focus of a cybersecurity education will be developing the skills necessary to analyze and solve cybersecurity issues, identify potential issues before they happen, and teach others about best practices. You’ll learn:

  • The basics of information security, data storage, and the basics of internet security protocols, which are critical to understand common threat vectors and issues.
  • Standard technical skills, including the function and syntax of common coding languages, version control systems like Git, the structure of a software stack, and the relationship between software and hardware.
  • Details about networks, connection security, and how to audit and assess an individual or organization’s security posture and vulnerabilities.

Program Design and Soft Skills

The other side of working in cybersecurity – which can be just as important – is finding ways to make things easier for your coworkers while still maintaining secure programs and operations. Human behavior is one of the biggest risks to secure networks; if you’re unable to get buy-in from your teams, they may see your efforts as obstacles and find ways to bypass them, putting themselves and your organization at risk.

Many cybersecurity degree programs address these kinds of challenges:

  • Students learn how to design systems that enable their coworkers to do their work while also staying secure. You’ll learn some of the ways that cybersecurity teams have been trying to keep security present in the minds of coworkers without being an obstacle.
  • As a cybersecurity professional, it’s important to develop the language and skills necessary to explain and justify your programs to coworkers and organizational leaders. This means explaining the risks and importance of these practices while giving people opportunities to express feedback.
  • You’ll also learn how to teach fundamental skills like password management and how to spot phishing, plus more complex topics like social engineering.

The Cybersecurity Landscape

Gaining a perspective on the history, present, and future of cybersecurity technology and trends is one of the key benefits of studying cybersecurity in a degree program. Knowing what kind of cybersecurity threats are emerging, where they come from, and how to combat them is especially valuable if you are considering a role with the government or military. Benefits include:

  • Students gain a global perspective about the uses and abuses of technology as a weapon of war and terrorism and what government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security are doing about it. They learn the skills necessary to identify high-risk infrastructural targets, address zero-day vulnerabilities, and rapidly implement solutions.
  • The growing interest in cybersecurity means it is seeing an uptick in research and development. Tools and strategies such as polymorphic encryption and zero-trust architecture are changing the way security professionals and cybercriminals look at systems. Knowing where the industry is headed will help you focus your skills and prepare for the future.
  • Learning ethics and digital law is also important. Many governments have started to advance legislation addressing issues of privacy, data collection, and digital security to protect their citizens’ data. Learning how this can impact your systems and compliance goals can help you provide better security analysis and help your future employers meet or exceed compliance requirements.

Cybersecurity Education at CSU

Here at Columbia Southern University, our online cybersecurity degree programs are designed to give students a strong foundation on which to build their career. Our degree programs in cybersecurity and information technology include the following:

To learn more about our online degree programs in cybersecurity, including some offering an Accelerated Path*, visit our website.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

*Eligibility rules apply.

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