PhD in Cyber Security
To meet the needs of this field, many schools offer PhD in Cyber Sec programs. Cyber security PhD holders typically teach, lead and set defense policies. With cyber attacks on the rise, they may also be at the front of innovation. So if you enjoy a challenge, computers and research, a PhD degree may be a perfect path for you whether you pursue a career with the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency or other government agencies.
What is a PhD in Cyber Security Degree?
A PhD in Cyber Sec is a research degree program. It is also the highest level of award in this field. This is also known as a terminal degree. Many cyber sec PhDs aim to foster two things. Quality research skills and expertise. You may also tailor research projects to your interests. Many PhD or doctoral degrees in cyber sec programs typically do this in about 60 credits. And, may take three to seven years to complete. That said, if you enter a doctoral program with a master’s degree under your belt, it may take you less time to complete.
Southern New Hampshire University
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
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Types of Cyber Security PhD Programs
Many types of cyber sec PhDs exist as the field is still growing. As a result, some schools do not offer a “PhD in Cyber Security” per se. Either way, a PhD may go wide and deep. So, you might do a broad study of IT or comp sci. And then likely conduct your research in a security based theme.
PhD in Comp Sci – Cyber Sec
A PhD in info assurance is a common degree for cyber sec researchers. It typically looks at theory as well as the more tech sides of comp sci and info sec. As a student, you may hone skills in computer engineering. For instance, algorithms and data bases. You might also learn areas like architecture and AI.
PhD In Info Assurance
In a PhD in this field, the focus is typically on info systems. How to keep them safe and maintain the integrity of the data they hold. Often, the course plan may draw from a few areas. Like user access and data privacy. So, you may study how these things affect security measures. And, you may also learn ways to craft policy with those findings.
PhD In Tech and Info Management
This type of PhD may look at the leadership aspects of security. For instance, how to stay ahead of cyber criminals. And, how to oversee all business efforts to manage and lessen risks.
What is the Average Cost of a PhD in Cyber Security?
The average cost of a PhD in cyber sec may change. One reason is that some schools offer stipends to PhD students. This money may help with the cost of tuition, fees, room and board. Something else that can impact the cost is the type of school you choose to go to. For the 2015-2016 academic year, the average cost of grad school was $17,868. But if you go for your PhD at a private school, the average for the same academic year was more than that – at $23,919 for tuition and fees.
Cyber Security PhD Degree Courses
Each school may format their cyber sec PhD in their own way. But you may often find that the first two years are for classes. The bulk of these classes may have a focus on research methods and information technology. How to form a query and set up a research project. Also, how to collect data, use stats and analyze these findings.
You may also take a writing class. There are typically ways to write for science. And, since you may have to defend your theory, you likely need to know how to present it in a clear manner. The other classes you may take could depend on two things. One is usually the focus of your PhD (E.g. info sec, comp sci, comp eng. etc). And, the other could be the focus you choose for your research.
These things may help you gain broad and deep skills. You may also build a knowledge base in a few key areas. Like data privacy, compliance, as well as risk management. After these classes come the exams. You typically need to pass these exams before you can move to your own research. This research may take from three to five years. And, may end in a dissertation. Or, may be a detailed account of your work.
- Network SecurityThis type of course may help you gauge, estimate and assess the impact of security measures. So you may look at info sec protection research and current options. You may also learn how to make a data driven decision as a leader.
- Security Risk ManagementRisk modeling is typically a main topic in this type of class. You may also discuss out sourcing and compliance. As such, you may come to understand issues that affect security and how to manage risk in a company.
- IT Strategic PlanningIn this class, you may study the process used by senior IT leaders when they assess security. This may mean that you may look at governance models from a global point of view. And also learn about decision models, control and risk.
How Long Could It Take to Earn a PhD in Cyber Security?
It may take you from three to seven years to earn a PhD in cyber sec. One reason for the range is likely that some people may go from a bachelor’s degree to a PhD. And others may have a master’s degree under their belts first. Another is the program format you choose. Part time and full time options may be available as well as online programs. You may also need to factor in your research and the actual degree requirements. How much time it takes to create the outline, get the data and so on.
What Accreditation Should I Look For?
Many schools with regional approval typically have PhD in cyber sec programs. These programs tend to meet certain standards. And, they under go constant review to make sure they keep up to date. Some schools are also part of the National Center of Academic Excellence. Or, CAEs for short. These schools likely meet a set of standards that are set by a joint effort.
- CAE in CD Education (CAE CDE)
- CAE in CD Research (CAE R)
Another is the CAE CO. Or, Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.
20 Top Schools with Cyber Security PhD Degree Programs
So what is the difference from one school to the next and why should you care? Really, no two schools are the same even with admission requirements. So, to help you in your school search results we have ranked our top 20 perfect schools that have a cyber sec PhD degree to help you narrow it down. Our method of school rankings uses data from the NCES.
Iowa State U
Ph.D. in Computer Science with a focus on Info Assurance
This PhD program is a degree with support from six departments from three Iowa State schools. You may take classes like:
- Info Warfare
- Network Defense Strategy
- Wireless Sec
- Computer Sec
- Grads will expand the skill to engineer complex systems
- Gain a knowledge of strategic and policy issues
- Build knowledge about info infrastructure sec
Indiana U - Bloomington
PhD in Informatics – Security Informatics
90 credit hours are needed to earn this PhD and students will learn to conduct practice based and theory based research in areas such as complex networks and systems, and human computer interaction design. You may take classes like:
- Security for Networked Systems
- Systems and Protocol Sec and Info Assurance
- Intro to Informatics
- Human Centered Research
- Grad will have a strong tech based foundation
- Understand the economics of security
- Gain the skill to conduct deep threat assessments and analysis
University of Tennessee - Chattanooga
PhD in Computer Engineering – Cyber Security Focus
This PhD requires 72 total grad credit hours to complete. Students in the PhD program will be required to show basic knowledge in Computer Engineering by completing a comprehensive exam. You may take courses like:
- Cyber Physical Systems Sec
- Mobile and Embedded Systems Sec
- Forensic Engineering
- Doctoral Research and Dissertation
- Grads will be able to apply forensic engineering tools to the investigation and analysis of systems
- Know security issues and methods at both the physical layer and the cyber layer
Capitol Technology U
DSc in Cyber Security
The Doctorate degree is a total of 54 to 66 credits, which covers a literature review, research and theory, ethics and leadership, dissertation prep, as well as other topics. You may take courses like:
- Info Assurance Research Lit
- Applied Research in Info Assurance
- Special Topics in Info Assurance
- Dissertation Prep
- Grads will assess the legal, social, and ethical impact of actions in cyber sec and show knowledge to use the results in decision making
- Grads will assess complex problems, and come up with ideas that are developed and advanced solutions to issues in the field
Dakota State U
Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Defense
This 72 credit Ph.D. deals with the growing cyber threats, risk management practices, tech controls and work force needs, while it also provides you with a base in research methods and practice, security issues and practices, risk analysis, politics, data privacy, security tech, and more. You may take courses like:
- Principles of Info Assurance
- Privacy Enhancing Tech
- Data Privacy Management
- Intrusion Detection
- Grads will be able to take a holistic approach to cyber defense
- Have the skill to defend an org from malware, phishing attacks, spyware, hacking schemes, and other types of attacks
PhD in IT – Information Assurance & Cyber Security Focus
Designated by the NSA and the DHS as a National CAE IA/CD for years 2014-2021. 90 total program credits are needed to complete. You may take courses like:
- Leading IT Strategic Planning
- Network Sec Advances
- Assurance Controls and Compliance Management
- PhD Dissertation Research Seminar
- Grads will be able to come up with new theory based constructs to advance knowledge in IT
- Apply strategies that use best practices and tools in the field of info assurance and cyber sec
- Develop theories that deal with creating new apps that can improve info assurance and cyber sec practice
Cyber Security, PhD TIM
This 60 credit PhD program is made to help you prep for tech leadership roles in both gov’t and private companies. NCU has weekly course starts, no scheduled lecture hours, no group assignments, weekly assignments, and the ability to schedule courses around your personal and professional obligations. You may take courses like:
- Cyber Forensics
- Contingency Planning & Disaster Recovery
- Advanced Risk Management
- Constructive Research Design & Methods for Tech Leaders
- Grads will gain knowledge in tech and innovation based on many current theories
- Evaluate theories of ethics and risk management in computers and emerging tech
- Come up with strategies to manage tech and innovation in global business
Online DIT – Cyber Security Focus (Track 1)
In this online DIT program, you will gain advanced knowledge in the field of IT and acquire the leadership skills needed to guide a company through critical IT issues. This program requires 52 credit hours to complete. You may take courses like:
- System Analysis and Design
- Operating System and Network Architecture
- Fundamentals of Info Assurance
- Seminar in Info Sec
- Grads will be able to suggest IT techniques that support the mission and goals following tenets of social and ethical responsibility
- Show the skill to come up with project management, compliance, and sourcing of IT in a business
- Conduct original research that contributes to professional knowledge in an applied environment
Colorado Technical U
Doctor of Computer Science – Cyber Security and Information Assurance
This program has an online curriculum with a residency component, many start dates, dissertation development as a part of the program and in person symposium experiences. Program requires 100 credits to complete. You may take courses like:
- Current Topics in Comp Sci and Info Systems
- Enterprise Sec Architecture
- Sec Management
- Dissertation Research Process
- Grads will grow expertise in how to manage enterprise systems
- Understand Sarbanes Oxley regulations, trust and privacy best practices and enterprise tools, such as COBRA, J2EE and others
- Know the best monitoring practices of systems and networks
Nova Southeastern U
PhD in Cyber Security Management
This 67 credit program is a comprehensive research program that preps grads for key roles in academia; in federal, state, and local gov’t agencies; and in business and the field. You may take courses like:
- Research Seminar in Cyber Sec Management
- Info Sec Risk Management
- Human Computer Interaction
- Doctoral Dissertation
- Grads will obtain the skills for the development of policies related to info assurance/cyber sec defense
- Analyze OS for compliance with applicable related laws and policies
University of Rhode Island
PhD in Computer Science with Grad Cert in Cyber Security
In this PhD degree program, students must complete 54 credits of course work as well as 18 credits for the dissertation. You may take courses like:
- Intro to Info Assurance
- Advanced Topics in Network and Systems Sec
- Advanced Incidence Response
- Intrusion Detection and Defense
- Grads will show mastery of cyber sec tech and trends
- Apply system level perspective by thinking at many levels of detail
University of Arizona
PhD in MIS with Focus in Information Assurance
The MIS PhD program starts with a solid base in research methods, then builds on this with a synthesis of state of the art tech. Program requires a minimum of 42 credit hours to complete. You may take courses like:
- Enterprise Data Base Management
- Economics of Info Systems
- Info Assurance
- Research Workshop
- Grads will learn how to implement, deploy, and secure business info systems
Arizona State U
Computer Science (Cyber Security), PhD
The PhD program is designed for grad students who want to pursue a thorough education in the area of cyber sec and info assurance. This program requires 84 credit hours, a written exam, a prospectus and a dissertation. You may take courses like:
- Architecture and Networked Systems
- Software & Info Assurance
- Data & Info Systems
- Intelligent & Interactive Systems
- Grads will show a knowledge of the process and skill in science and engineering for cyber sec
- Gain the skill to restore info systems by using protection, detection and reaction capabilities
PhD In Cyber Security
The PhD preps you to advance how reliable and secure a data network is. As well as that of info systems as researchers, faculty members, and policy advisors. 48 semester hours are required to complete. You may take courses like:
- Info Sec Risk Management
- Cyber Law
- Fundamentals of Computer Engineering
- Grads will have a strong tech foundation
- Have the skill to monitor and safe guard key tech
- Have the skill in areas such as cloud sec, embedded device sec and much more
George Mason U
PhD in IT: Focus in Info Sec and Assurance
The focus of this PhD in IT is on the science, engineering, and IT processing; which goes with and enhances traditional approaches to engineering that are more strongly based on the physical and material sciences. Program requires 72 credits to complete, 18 of which are in the focus area. You may take courses like:
- Intrusion Detection
- Operating Systems Sec
- Sec Protocol Analysis
- Sec Experimentation
- Grads will have the skill to prevent and detect unwanted process activity and recover from harmful behavior
- Have the skill in Basic OS sec techniques, such as logging, system call auditing, and memory protection
- Have the skill to conduct security experiments and show, validate and assess security weakness, exploits and defense tactics
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
PhD in Computer Science – Cyber Security Focus
WPI’s PhD program puts science and engineering of security within the broader holistic frame work of institutions and society. The cyber sec focus preps students to approach technical computer sec problems in the context of users and business. You may take courses like:
- Info Sec Management
- Software Sec Design and Analysis
- Network Sec
- Advanced Cryptography
- Grads will have the skill to assess and prioritize security related threats
- Understand technical security weakness and tech in at least two different abstraction levels within computing systems
- Have the skill to appreciate behavioral and human factors when creating security systems
Mississippi State U
PhD in Computer Science – Cyber Security Systems Focus
This PhD program is broken down into 7 hours of core courses, 15 hours in the primary Focus, 9 Hours in the secondary focus, 12 Free or Elective hours, and 20 Hours for Dissertation Research. You may take courses like:
- Data Communication & Computer Networks
- Intro to Computer Forensics
- Advanced Cyber Operations
- Grads will have the skill to help meet the issues posted by growing cyber threats,
- Have the skill to prep enterprise level systems to protect itself
- Have knowledge in how to assess, understand and solve cyber sec problems
University of California - Davis
PhD in Computer Science – Information Assurance Focus
UC Davis offers a PhD. It’s estimated to take four to five years to complete. This program has 10 grad courses, a dissertation, an exam and more. 45 units of upper division and grad course work are required to complete. You may take courses like:
- Computer and Info Sec
- Computer Sec Intrusion Detection Based Approach
- Advanced Computer Architecture
- Students gain advanced knowledge of algorithms; computational bio; computer architecture
- Grads will have the skills that they need for research and teaching in comp sci and info assurance
University of Idaho
PhD in Computer Science – Info Assurance
This 72 Credit PhD program will allow you to work in research dedicated to strengthening the nation’s cyber infrastructure. You may take courses like:
- Intro to Info Assurance
- Theory of Computation
- Software Engineering
- Computer Forensics
- Grads will gain an in depth knowledge of the limits and opportunities in the use of computers to solve problems
- Have the skill to reduce weakness in info infrastructure
University of Missouri Columbia
PhD in Computer Science – Info Assurance Focus
The CS PhD degree is a research degree designed to prep you for many advanced careers, like teaching and research, as well as research in leading industrial and gov’t R&D facilities. You must earn a min. of 72 credit hours of course work to complete this program and complete a dissertation. You may take courses like:
- Advanced Topics in Comp Sci
- Info Sec: A Language Based Approach
- Computer Networks
- Cloud Computing
- Grads will have an in depth knowledge of up and coming trends in how to verify security protocols
- Manage and secure virtual machines and virtualization of clusters, networks, and data centers
What Jobs Can You Get With a PhD in Cyber Security?
College Professors and Research Scientists are careers for PhDs in Cyber Sec. In fact, they may end up working at the very place where they earned their degree. You don’t need an internship to network and make connections for these careers. So, that’s a built in bonus for both.
Computer and Info Research Scientist is an exceptional career, though. With a 2018 yearly median of $118,370 and fast job growth, it’s a hot prospect. In fact, the BLS predicts an average job growth for all careers sits at about 7%. But Research Scientists in computers have projected growth at 19%.
Many students find comfort among their professors. In fact, they often teach, assist, and grade papers as part of their degree program. Best of all, the BLS reports that Comp Sci professors had a yearly mean wage of $96,200 in 2018. So, it could pay in more than dissertation pages to get all that schooling, after all.
Top Salaries by State for Computer and Info Research Scientist
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Cyber Security Certifications
Focus is on security policy and management. This is the most often mentioned Cyber Sec cert.
Created by (ISC)2, this cert looks at security policy and management. This may not be the first cert you go after as you need at least 5 years of experience before you can sit for the exam. Your experience must be in at least two of these areas:
- Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Engineering
- Communications and Network Sec
- Identity and Access Management
- Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Sec
To remain current, cert holders must also join the (ISC)2 and renew every three years. CISSPs also have to pay an $85 fee each year, and submit 40 CPE credits each year.
Centers on audits and controls. It also monitors and assesses IT and business systems. Offered by ISACA®, more than 140,100 people have earned this cert. The exam deals with 5 core areas tied to info systems:
- Auditing – can you evaluate an companies IT security and risks?
- Governance & Management of IT – can you deal with key issues and suggest practices to safe guard that info?
- Info Systems (Acquire, Develop and Implement) – can you show knowledge in these areas will meet the business objectives?
- Info Systems (Operations, Maintenance and Service Management) – can you show knowledge in these areas will meet the business objectives?
- Protection of Info Assets – can you show your policies and procedures ensure the safe keeping of info assets?
To remain current, cert holders must renew every three years. Beyond this, CISAs have to pay a yearly fee. $45 for ISACA® members, $85 for non members. You must also submit a min of 20 CPE credits each year. 120 total for the 3 year period.
Gives guide lines for Cyber Sec management with great responsibility. That means high level positions like CIO of IT sec. Also offered by ISACA®. Introduced in 2002, this cert has been obtained by more than 40,000 pros. This cert’s focus is on the skill to know and explain complex security management issues. The exam looks at 4 core areas:
- Info Sec Governance – can you develop and run an info sec governance frame work?
- Managing Info Risk – can you identify different levels of info importance and protect?
- Develop and Manage an Info Sec Program – can you keep the data protected while still allowing other departments to run as they need to?
- Info Sec Incident Management – are you able to detect, investigate and recover from info sec incidents while you lessen impact on the business?
To remain current, cert holders must renew every three years. CISMs must pay a yearly fee. $45 for ISACA® members, $85 for non members. You must also submit a min of 20 CPE credits each year. 120 total for the 3 year period.
For critical detections, this handles how to respond and resolve major computer sec incidents. The GCIH cert deals with how to detect, respond, and resolve computer sec incidents. The focus of the exam is to show a knowledge in these core areas:
- The incident handling process
- Detect harmful apps and network activity
- Common attack techniques that compromise hosts
- Detect and analyze system and network weakness
- Continuous process improvement by finding the root causes of incidents
Renewal is every 4 years and will cost $429. You also need to submit 36 CPE credits and take the current exam at the time of your renewal.