To meet industry needs, many schools offer PhD in Cyber Security programs. Cyber security PhD holders teach, lead and set defense policies. With rising cyber attacks, they may also be at the forefront of innovation. So if you enjoy a challenge, computers and research, a PhD may be a perfect path.
What is a PhD in Cyber Security Degree?
Types of Cyber Security PhD Programs
Many types of cyber security PhDs exist as the field is still emerging. As a result, some schools do not offer a “PhD in Cyber Security” per se.
Either way, a PhD goes wide and deep. So, you might do a broad study of IT or computer science. And then conduct your research in a security related theme.
PhD in Computer Science – Cyber Security
PhD In Information Assurance
PhD In Technology and Information Management
What is the Average Cost of a PhD in Cyber Security?
The average cost of a PhD in cyber security varies. One reason is that some schools offer stipends to PhD students. This money may offset the cost of tuition, fees, room and board.
Another factor that impacts cost is the type of school you choose. At last check, the average cost of grad school was $17,868. But if you pursue your PhD at a private school, the average is $23,919.
Featured Online Schools
Colorado Technical University
- Colorado Technical University has over 50 years’ experience providing industry-relevant degree education to career-focused adults.
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Popular Online Programs
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Southern New Hampshire University
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Cyber Security PhD Degree Course Curriculum
- 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. While also learning how to make a data driven decision as a leader.
- Security Risk ManagementRisk modeling is 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 within a company.
- IT Strategic PlanningIn this class, you may study the processes used by senior IT leaders when assessing security. This often means looking at governance models from a global point of view. And also learning about decision models, control and risk.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a PhD in Cyber Security?
It may take you from three to seven years to earn a PhD in cyber security.
One reason for the range is that some people go from a bachelor’s to a PhD. And others 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.
You also need to factor in your research. How much time it takes to create the outline, collect the data and so on.
What Accreditations Should I Look For?
Many schools with regional approval offer PhD in cyber security programs. These programs tend to meet standards. And, undergo periodic reviews to keep the curricula current.
Some schools are also National Centers of Academic Excellence. Or, CAEs for short. These schools meet a set of standards set by a joint effort.
The joint effort is between two agencies. The NSA (National Security Agency) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security).
- CAE in CD Education (CAE CDE) for Associate, Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral Programs
- CAE in CD Research (CAE-R)
Another is the CAE-CO . Or, Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations.
20 Best Schools with Cyber Security PhD Degree Programs
So what is the difference from one college to another and why should you care? The reality is, no two universities are the same. To help you in your search we have ranked our top 20 colleges that offer a cyber security PhD degree to help narrow it down. Our methodology uses data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Iowa State University
Ph.D. in Computer Science with a focus on Information Assurance
This Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science with a focus on Information Assurance program is a multidisciplinary degree supported by six departments from three Iowa State colleges. These are: Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering; Management Information Systems; Mathematics; and Political Science. Sample Courses include:
- Information Warfare
- Network Defense Strategy
- Wireless Security
- Computer Security
- Expand and develop ability to engineer complex systems;
- Develop an understanding of strategic and policy issues.
- Build knowledge about information infrastructure security
Indiana University - Bloomington
PhD in Informatics – Security Informatics
Ninety (90) credit hours are required to earn this PhD in Informatics – Security Informatics, students will learn to conduct practical and theoretical research into areas such as complex networks and systems, human-computer interaction design, and virtual heritage. Sample Courses include:
- Security for Networked Systems
- Systems and Protocol Security and Information Assurance
- Introduction to Informatics
- Human-Centered Research
- Strong technical foundation and an interdisciplinary perspective on security informatics.
- Understanding of the economics of security
- Ability to conduct thorough threat assessments and analysis
University of Tennessee - Chattanooga
PhD in Computer Engineering – Cybersecurity Concentration
This PhD in Computer Engineering with a concentration in Cyberseurity requires 72 total graduate credit hours for completion. Students in the PhD program will be required to demonstrate general competence in Computer Engineering by completing a comprehensive examination Sample Courses may include:
- Cyber-Physical Systems Security
- Mobile and Embedded Systems Security
- Forensic Engineering
- Doctoral Research and Dissertation
- Application of forensic engineering tools to the comprehensive investigation and analysis of enterprise systems
- Understanding security challenges and techniques at both the physical layer and the cyber layer of important cyber-physical systems
Capitol Technology University
Doctorate (DSc) in Cybersecurity
The Doctorate degree in Cybersecurity is a total of 54-66 credits, which covers a literature review, professional research and theory, professional ethics and leadership, dissertation preparation, and other topics. Expect to take courses like:
- Information Assurance Research Literature
- Applied Research in Information Assurance
- Special Topics in Information Assurance
- Dissertation Preparation
- Graduates will evaluate the legal, social, economic, environmental, and ethical impact of actions within cyber security and demonstrate advanced knowledge and competency to integrate the results in the leadership decision-making process.
- Graduates will evaluate complex problems, synthesize divergent/alternative/contradictory perspectives and ideas fully, and develop advanced solutions to cyber security challenges.
Dakota State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Defense
This 72 credit Ph.D. in Cyber Defense addresses growing cyber threats, risk management practices, technological controls and workforce needs, while providing you with a foundation in research methodology and practice, security issues and practices, risk analysis, politics, data privacy, security technologies, and more. Expect to take courses like:
- Principles of Information Assurance
- Privacy Enhancing Technologies
- Data Privacy Management
- Intrusion Detection
- Graduates will be able to take a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to cyber defense, including important technical, leadership, ethics, and management concepts
- Ability to defend organizations from malware, phishing attacks, spyware, hacking schemes, social engineering attacks, insider fraud, and other digital attacks.
PhD in Information Technology – Information Assurance & Cybersecurity Specialization
Designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD) for academic years 2014-2021. 90 total program credits needed for completion. Sample courses include:
- Leading Information Technology Strategic Planning in Complex and Global Environments
- Network Security Advances
- Assurance Controls and Compliance Management
- PhD Dissertation Research Seminar
- Formulate new theoretical constructs to advance knowledge in IT.
- Apply strategies that integrate best practices and tools in the field of information assurance and cybersecurity.
- Develop theories associated with creating new applications that can improve information assurance and cybersecurity practice.
This 60 Credit PhD program is designed to help students prepare for technology leadership roles in both government and private organizations. NCU offers weekly course starts, no scheduled lecture hours, no group assignments, weekly assignments, and the ability to schedule courses around your personal and professional obligations. Sample courses include:
- Cyber Forensics
- Contingency Planning & Disaster Recovery
- Advanced Risk Management
- Constructive Research Design & Methodology for Technology Leaders
- Develop knowledge in technology and innovation based on a synthesis of current theories
- Evaluate theories of ethics and risk management in computers and emerging technologies
- Formulate strategies for managing technology and innovation in global organizations
Online Doctor of Information Technology – Cybersecurity Concentration (Track 1)
In Walden’s online Doctor of Information Technology (DIT) program, you will gain advanced knowledge in the field of information technology and acquire the strategic leadership skills needed to guide organizations through critical IT-related challenges. This program requires 52 credit hours for completion. Course examples include:
- System Analysis and Design
- Operating System and Network Architecture
- Fundamentals of Information Assurance
- Seminar in Information Security
- Recommend IT strategies that support enterprise mission and objectives following tenets of professional, social, and ethical responsibility.
- Demonstrate the ability to formulate project management, compliance, and sourcing of IT within an organization.
- Conduct original research that contributes to professional and actionable knowledge in an applied environment.
Colorado Technical University
Doctor of Computer Science – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
This Online Doctorate in Cybersecurity includes an online curriculum with a residency component, multiple start dates, dissertation development integrated into the program and in-person symposium experiences. Program requires 100 credits for completion. Course examples include:
- Current Topics in Computer Science and Information Systems
- Enterprise Security Architecture
- Security Management
- Dissertation research process
- Grow your expertise in managing enterprise systems
- Conceptual understanding of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, trust and privacy best practices and enterprise tools, such as COBRA, J2EE and others.
- Effective monitoring practices of systems and networks.
Nova Southeastern University
PhD in Cybersecurity Management
This 67 credit cybersecurity management doctoral program at the College of Computing and Engineering (CCE) is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, research program that prepares graduates for key positions in academia; in federal, state, and local government agencies; and in business and industry. Courses in this program may include:
- Research Seminar in Cybersecurity Management
- Information Security Risk Management
- Human-Computer Interaction
- Doctoral Dissertation
- Obtain the necessary skills and abilities for the development of organizational policies related to information assurance/cybersecurity defense
- Analysis of operational systems for compliance with applicable related laws and policies
University of Rhode Island
PhD in Computer Science with Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity
URI’s PhD Degree Program is a Computer Science PhD degree with its coursework concentration and research in Digital Forensics or in Cyber Security. Students must complete 54 credits of coursework in addition to 18 credits for the doctoral dissertation. Courses in this program may include:
- Introduction to Information Assurance
- Advanced Topics in Network and Systems Security
- Advanced Incidence Response
- Advanced Intrusion Detection and Defense
- Demonstrate mastery of cyber security technologies and trends
- Apply system-level perspective by thinking at multiple levels of detail and abstraction and by recognizing the context in which a computer system may function, including its interactions with people and the physical world.
University of Arizona
PhD in MIS with Emphasis in Information Assurance
The MIS PhD program starts with a solid foundation in research methodology, then builds on this with a synthesis of state-of-the-art technologies and approaches that span multiple disciplines. Program requires minimum of 42 credit hours for completion. Courses in this program may include:
- Enterprise Database Management
- Economics of Information Systems
- Information Assurance
- Research Workshop
- Learn how to implement, deploy, evaluate and secure business information systems
Arizona State University
Computer Science (Cybersecurity), PhD
The PhD program in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity is designed for graduate students who want to pursue a thorough education in the area of cybersecurity and information assurance. This program requires 84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation. Sample courses include:
- Architecture and Networked Systems
- Software & Information Assurance
- Data & Information Systems
- Intelligent & Interactive Systems
- Demonstrate an understanding of the processes and skills in science and engineering for cybersecurity, including computer and network security, software security, data and information security, applied cryptography and computer forensics.
- Ability to provide restoration of information systems by incorporating protection, detection and reaction capabilities.
PhD In Cybersecurity
The PhD in Cybersecurity prepares students to advance the reliability and security of data networks and information systems as researchers, faculty members, and policy advisors. 48 total semester hours required for completion. Sample courses include:
- Information Security Risk Management
- Cyberlaw: Privacy, Ethics and Digital Rights
- Fundamentals of Computer Engineering
- A strong technical foundation plus interdisciplinary curriculum focused on policy and social science perspectives.
- Ability to effectively monitor and safeguard critical technology.
- Expertise in areas such as cloud security, cryptography, differential privacy, embedded device security and much more.
George Mason University
PhD in Information Technology: Concentration in Information Security and Assurance
The focus of this PhD in IT with a concentration in Information Security and Assurance is on the science, engineering, and technology of information processing; which complements and enhances traditional approaches to engineering that are more strongly based on the physical and material sciences. Program requires 72 credits for completion, 18 of which are in the concentration area. Sample courses include:
- Intrusion Detection
- Operating Systems Security
- Security Protocol Analysis
- Security Experimentation
- Ability to prevent and detect unwanted process activity and recover from malicious behavior
- Expertise in Basic OS security techniques, such as logging, system call auditing, and memory protection
- Ability to conduct security experimentation and empirically demonstrate, validate and evaluate security vulnerabilities, exploits and defense mechanisms.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
PhD in Computer Science – Cybersecurity specialization
WPI’s PhD in computer science program places the science and engineering of security within the broader holistic framework of institutions and society. The cybersecurity specialization prepares students to approach technical computer security problems in the context of users and organizations. Sample courses include:
- Information Security Management
- Software Security Design and Analysis
- Network Security
- Advanced Cryptography
- Ability to assess and prioritize security-related threats
- Understand technical security vulnerabilities and technologies in at least two different abstraction levels within computing systems
- Ability to appreciate behavioral and human factors when creating security systems.
Mississippi State University
PhD in Computer Science – Cybersecurity Systems specialization
This PhD program is broken down into 7 hours of core courses, 15 hours in the primary specialization (Computer Science), 9 Hours in the secondary specialization (Cybersecurity), 12 Free or Elective hours, and 20 Hours for Dissertation Research. Sample courses include:
- Data Communication & Computer Networks
- Introduction to Computer Forensics
- Advanced Cyber Operations
- Ability to help meet the challenges posted by increasing cyber-threats.
- Ability to effectively prepare enterprise level systems to protect itself
- Expertise in evaluating, understanding and solving cyber security problems.
University of California - Davis
PhD in Computer Science – Information Assurance Concentration
UC Davis offers a PhD in Computer Science with an Information Assurance Focus. It’s estimated to take 4-5 years for completion. This program includes 10 graduate courses, a dissertation, a qualifying exam and more. 45 units of upper division and graduate coursework are required for completion. Sample courses include:
- Computer and Information Security
- Computer Security Intrusion Detection Based Approach
- Advanced Computer Architecture
- Operating Systems
- Students gain advanced knowledge of algorithms; computational biology; computer architecture;
- Students graduate with the qualitative and quantitative skills necessary for professional research and teaching in computer science and information assurance.
University of Idaho
PhD in Computer Science – Information Assurance
This 72 Credit PhD program in Computer Science – Information Assurance will allow students to collaborate in research dedicated to strengthening the nation’s cyber infrastructure. Sample courses include:
- Introduction to Information Assurance
- Theory of Computation
- Software Engineering
- Computer Forensics
- Gain an in-depth understanding of the limitations and opportunities in the use of computers to solve problems
- Ability to effectively reduce vulnerabilities in information infrastructure
University of Missouri-Columbia
PhD in Computer Science – Information Assurance specialization
The CS PhD degree is a research degree designed to prepare students for various advanced professional careers, including college teaching and research, as well as research and development in leading industrial and government R&D facilities. Must earn a minimum of 72 credit hours of course work to complete this program and complete a dissertation. Sample courses include:
- Advanced Topics in Computer Science
- Information security: A Language based approach
- Computer Networks
- Cloud Computing
- In-depth understanding of upcoming trends in verifying security protocols
- Management and security of virtual machines and virtualization of clusters, networks, and data centers
What Jobs Can You Get With a PhD in Cyber Security?
College Professor and Research Scientist are suitable careers for PhDs in Cyber Security. In fact, they may end up working at the very place where they earned their degree. Students don’t need an internship to make networking 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 annual median of $118,370 and fast projected 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 doctoral 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 an annual 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
Focuses on security policy and management. This is the most often mentioned Cyber Security certification.
Created by (ISC)2, this certification focuses on security policy and management. This may not be the first certification you go after as candidates need at least 5 years of experience before they can take the exam. Your experience must cover at least two of these knowledge areas:
- Security and Risk Management
- Asset Security
- Security Engineering
- Communications and Network Security
- Identity and Access Management
- Security Assessment and Testing
- Security Operations
- Software Development Security.
To remain current, cert holders must also join the (ISC)2 and recertify every three years. Beyond this, CISSPs have to pay an $85 maintenance fee each year, and, submit 40 continuing professional education (CPE) credits each year.
Centers on audits, controls. It also monitors and assess information technology and business systems. Offered by ISACA®, more than 140,100 people have earned this certification. The exam covers 5 core areas tied to information systems:
- Auditing – can you evaluate an organizations IT security and risks?
- Governance & Management of IT – can you identify critical issues and recommend practices to safeguard the information:
- Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation – can you show knowledge in these areas will meet business objectives
- Info Systems Operations, Maintenance and Service Management – can you show knowledge in these areas will meet business objectives
- Protection of Information Assets – can you show your policies and procedures insure the safe keeping of information assets?
To remain current, cert holders must recertify every three years. Beyond this, CISAs have to pay an annual fee. $45 for ISACA® members, $85 for nonmembers. You must also submit a minimum of 20 continuing professional education (CPE) credits each year 120 total for the 3-year period.
Gives guidelines for Cyber Security management with great responsibility. That means high level positions like CIO of IT security. Also offered by ISACA®. Introduced in 2002, this cert has been obtained by more than 40,000 professionals. This certification focus’ on the ability to understand and explain complicated security management issues. The exam covers 4 core areas:
- Information Security Governance – can you develop and run an information security governance framework.
- Managing Information Risk – can you identify different levels of information importance and protect accordingly?
- Developing and Managing an Information Security Program – can you keep the data protected while still allowing other departments to run as they need to?
- Information Security Incident Management – are you able to detect, investigate and recover from information security incents while minimizing business impact?
To remain current, cert holders must recertify every three years. Beyond this, CISMs must pay an annual fee. $45 for ISACA® members, $85 for nonmembers. You must also submit a minimum of 20 continuing professional education (CPE) credits each year 120 total for the 3-year period.
For critical detections, this handles responding to and resolving major computer security incidents. The GCIH certification focuses on detecting, responding, and resolving computer security incidents. The focus of the exam is to show an understanding of the following core areas:
- The incident handling process
- Detecting malicious applications and network activity
- Common attack techniques that compromise hosts
- Detecting and analyzing system and network vulnerabilities
- Continuous process improvement by discovering the root causes of incidents
Recertification happens every 4 years and will cost $429. You also need to submit 36 CPE credits and take the current exam at time of renewal.