What is an IT Security Degree?

An IT security degree is also Info Sec for short. It studies the ways to keep business data safe. Also, secure and private. A main focus of info sec is on industry tools. These protect a company’s information assets. Large and small.

High on this list is to guard against unauthorized access. But it doesn’t stop there. Businesses also need to know other things. For one, that no one is able to disclose or change information. Or, that no one can see, record or destroy their data. As such, many programs include extra anchor points.

Online social media is one. Here are a few others.

What are the 3 Principles of Information Security?

An IT security degree program touches on three main areas. These “AIC triad” are at the heart of info sec practices. And, are central to most study plans.

  1. CONFIDENTIALITY. This means putting security measures to keep data private
  2. INTEGRITY. Info needs to stay accurate and consistent. So no one should be able to tamper with it.
  3. AVAILABILITY. Only authorized users can access data to prevent breaches


Why is IT Security Important?

Info Sec is a growing concern. Cyber attacks are on the rise and many companies now store data in the “cloud”. Also, for most companies, information is their most vital asset. So protecting it is crucial.

 That said, information can be one of two things. Physical or electronic. As such, info sec plays a few very key roles.
  • Protects the company’s ability to function
  • Enables the safe use of apps used in IT systems
  • Secures the data the company collects and uses
  • Safe guards the technology a company uses

Types of IT Security Degrees

There are IT Security degrees at all levels. From associate and bachelor. To master’s and Phd.

Associates Degree in IT Security 

An associate degree in IT security may serve a few goals. One is to provide transfer credits to a bachelor’s degree. The other, to prep you for the work force. Many programs also serve as study guides. So, when you graduate you might be able to take industry credential exams. The classes you take at this level are often very basic. You usually take 60 credit hours. And many go to general studies.

What You Need: High School Diploma or its equal

Term: About two years

Possible Next Steps: Bachelor’s Degree or entry level job. A few examples are, Technical Support Specialist, Web Developers, or Programmer.

Sample Classes: 

  • Statistics
  • Intro to Computers
  • Database Concepts
  • Network Basics

Bachelor’s Degree in IT Security

A bachelor’s in IT security often serves to prep you to pursue a career. Most jobs in this field ask you to have one. So, many programs cover key skills and concepts.

To earn your degree often takes four years and 120 credits. And each year, your courses may get more detailed. As you do this, you may want to focus a bit. For instance, you may want to tack on an area of emphasis. If so, there are schools that offer options. Cloud computing or cyber security for example. Or homeland security and intelligence.

What You Need: High School Diploma or Equivalent. Or an associate degree.

Term: Usually four years

Possible Next Steps: Masters or PhD Degree. You may also pursue a career. Such as info sec analyst and others. 

Sample Classes:

  • Scripting Languages
  • Computer and Network Security
  • Cyber Warfare
  • Operating Systems
  • Managing Risk

Master’s Degree in IT Security

Some people study on and earn a master’s in IT security. Often, they already work in the field. But may be ready to step into a manager role. As such many programs cover leadership. Things like how to manage people, IT projects and budgets. You often need two years of full time study to earn a master’s degree. This since most programs cover about 36 credits.

What You Need: Bachelor’s, and maybe work experience

Term: About two years

Possible Next Steps: PhD. Or a manager role. For instance, Computer & Info Systems Managers. And Computer & Info Research Scientists

Sample Classes:

  • Game Theory
  • Incident Response
  • Software Security
  • Malware Analysis

PhD in IT Security 

PhD in IT security programs are research degrees. So, they tend to ask you to be a thought leader. And, to contribute to your field in a new way. While the number of courses vary, they include research focused topics. Things like how to test a theory and present data.

What You Need: Bachelor’s and / or Masters

Term: About eight years

Possible Next Steps: Professor, consultant, expert. Or high level roles like Chief Information Security Officer

Sample Classes

  • Tech & Research
  • Policy & Management
  • Statistics 
  • Global Issues


Certification exams are set by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). This includes the CompTIA A+ examination. CompTIA A+ certification is for entry-level IT technicians. It’s mandatory for many information technology organizations. 

Those with CompTIA A+ certification must recertify every three years. Certificate holders recertify by passing an exam or completing CompTIA’s continuing education program.

Other standard certifications include the CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ designations. CompTIA recommends you have at least nine months professional experience to take it. This is not required but is a recommendation. The same holds with five years of experience to take their Network+ examination.

Earning an IT Security Degree

How Long Does it take to get an IT Security Degree?

It may take a full time student about 4 years to earn an IT Security degree. But there are ways to fast track your studies. Or, study at a slower pace. For instance, if you have viable transfer credits from an associate degree. In this case, you may have only 2 years to complete. Some people also study past the under grad level. If this is your goal, a master’s in info sec may take about 2 years after your bachelor’s.


Top Schools for IT Security Degree Programs

NCES lists 14 institutions with IT Security Programs. And, from those schools, 2,661 degrees were awarded to students in 2016.

School2016 Degrees awarded2018/19 Graduate Tuition
University of Maryland-University College1226$11,976
Western Governors University652$5,780
University of Phoenix-Arizona531$11,219
American Public University System310$6,480
ECPI University281$14,720
Capella University211$8,726
Baker College154$9,000
Clover Park Technical College148$10,736
Ferris State University136$17,910
St Petersburg College129$ 9,717

Information Systems Security Careers

Jobs in info sec are in demand and will continue like this. Take info sec analysts for example. BLS.gov predicts a 32% rise in the number of jobs on the market. Of course, each career path is unique. Both in opportunity and salary. But most of these need a bachelor’s degree. And may be the perfect path to start with.

Computer Network Architects

These pros design and create networks. The networks help data transfer from one to the next. And, are vital to a business. While day to day tasks vary, there are three main ones. First, to build networks based on company needs. Then, two, to upgrade systems. Finally, to maintain these networks. As such, network architects need to stay up to date. So, a key part of their job is to research trends and tools.

Database Administrators

A data base administrator is a manager. So, a key role is to organize data for their employer. But they have other duties too. One is to back up current info. The other, to restore any lost data in the event of a breach.

Information Security Analysts

Info sec analysts assess security protocols and risks. They also install and manage security software. Another key task is to handle all breaches and hacks. So, many times they run pre tests to make sure safety measures work.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Those in this job set up, install, and maintain computer systems. Both local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs). They also manage other things. Like network segments, intranets, and other systems.

CareerEntry level educationAverage Median SalaryProjected growth rate

Computer Network Architects

Bachelor’s $109.0206%

Database Administrators


Information Security Analysts


Network and Computer Systems Administrators


Professional Organizations

There are a few professional info sec agencies.

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)

ISSA serves about 10K cyber security pros worldwide. As a non profit, they aim to promote global cyber security. And offer a few certifications. To do this, they function as a place to network and collaborate. So, being a member may help you expand your circles. At conferences, for instance. It costs about $85 to join. You need to do this each year, and follow steps to renew.

Internet Security Alliance

The Internet Security Alliance (ISA) serves a wide range of companies. For instance, Starbucks, AIG, Reuters, GE, Lockheed Martin and UNiSYS. A main ISA goal is to meld technology, public policy and economics. In doing so, they hope to create a sustainable system of cyber security. One of the benefits of being a member is their business focus. But the lowest level annual member fee is 10K. While they do not offer certifications, they do give awards.

Information Security Research Association

ISRA serves chapters world wide. They too are a non profit. And, aim to promote research and study in cyber security. There is no cost to become a member. As a research org, there are also no training programs. But, there are conferences, events, awards and so forth.