The cyber security sector is fast emerging as one of the top-paying industries. In 2020, the market itself is worth a whopping £132 billion, and there’s nothing to stop you sharing a slice of the pie. There’s currently unprecedented demand for cyber security professionals, with the number of vacant positions in the sector set to grow by 350 percent from 2013 to 2021. This drastic need for a skilled workforce is encouraging more and more people to study cyber security at university.
Cyber security graduates have direct access to well-paid entry-level positions in the information security sector. For many mid-career professionals, a master’s programme can be a springboard into specialist security positions and leadership roles, offering huge benefits such as job security, an impressive salary and many opportunities for career development.
But where is the best place to pursue a degree in cyber security? The following list is a compilation of some of the best cyber security schools and universities in the UK, Europe and the United States, offering some of the most competitive bachelor and masters programmes in cyber and information security.
Please note that tuition fees and course information is for reference only. Actual fees and course details may vary, and you should carry out your own research before reaching a decision.
Disclaimer: This list is purely for informational purposes. The details below were accurate at the time of publishing, we will endeavour to keep this list up to date but as these university programmes are provided by third parties details may change at anytime, thus we are not able to guarantee the accuracy of details/pricing for programmes. You should also always carry out your own further research and seek professional advice before deciding on which university and programme is right for you.
1. Abertay University, Dundee, Scotland
Abertay University offers an undergraduate degree in Ethical Hacking as well as a master’s in Ethical Hacking & Computer Security. It became the first university in the world to offer an Ethical Hacking degree when it introduced its undergraduate degree programme in 2005 and remains the only institution in the UK running a master’s programme focusing on ethical hacking.
Both their master’s and undergraduate programmes are certified by the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ and accredited by the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, giving graduates particular credibility in the UK.
The course adopts an offensive approach when it comes to cyber security, putting hacking techniques/defences at the forefront of its courses. The areas covered by the programme include:
- penetration testing
- digital forensics
- information security management
- malware analysis
- port scanning
- password cracking.
The university is known for producing high-calibre graduates with impressive starting salaries, many beginning on an annual wage of £35,000 – £40,000. Previous Abertay graduates have gone on to positions in Dell Secure Works, GCHQ and Goldman-Sachs. Others have set up their own successful cyber security companies.
The university also has several significant links in the industry. For instance, Securi-Tay, Scotland’s largest security conference, is put together entirely by Abertay’s Ethical Hacking students, and many researchers have ties with key industry players. The school also boasts a dedicated Hack Lab, made up of 70 customised computers where students can develop their skills.
For the undergraduate programme, students need grades of atleast ABBB in the Scottish Highers, or BCC at A level, including a technical subject. The fees range from £1,820-£5,500 per year for Scottish and EU students, £7,500-£9,250 for English, Welsh and Northern Irish students, and £15,500-£16,000 for international students.
2. ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland
Founded in 1855, ETH Zurich is now one of the world’s leading universities in science and technology, currently ranked 6th place in the QS World University Rankings. Its world-renown comes from cutting-edge research and innovation, setting an international benchmark of excellence in the field. Graduates are, therefore, in a strong position to move into the industry anywhere in the world. Students must also complete a mandatory internship in the industry, which provides them with valuable professional experience, setting ETH graduates apart in the job market.
ETH offers a comprehensive master’s programme in Cyber Security, combining base knowledge in computer science with avant-garde cyber security practises. ETH offers its master’s programme in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, another university widely considered to be at the forefront of science and technology. Students will benefit from the expertise of both of these universities, consistently ranking in the top 20 universities in the world. The course consists of three full-time semesters split over two years if taken fulltime. Modules cover topics including:
- System security
- Wireless security
- Security Engineering
- Network security.
The course is open to high-calibre graduates of computer science or a related field. While no specific minimum grade requirement is given for overseas students, the website explains that admissions tutors will expect excellent grades in undergraduate study.
Knowledge of English is required, as all teaching is conducted in English, and tuition fees currently sit at CHF 730 per semester, which amounts to approximately £607. Two scholarship programmes are available from ETH, including the Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Program (ESOP) and ETH-D-INFK Scholarship, offered to outstanding students hoping to pursue a master’s.
3. Boston University, Massachusetts, USA
Boston University offers several cyber security programmes. Students majoring in computer science can choose the concentration in Cryptography & Data Security pathway for a cyber security focus, covering security of networks, operating systems and cryptography. Graduates also have the option to specialise in cyber security, which goes into depth in digital forensics, network forensics and advanced coding theory. Tuition fees are currently $56,854 (about £46K), though they offer several scholarships, awarding $260 million of financial support to undergraduates every year.
Students can also benefit from the BU Security Research group led by Computer Science faculty members. Their research focuses primarily on cryptography, as well as other aspects of computer security. The group offers a number of research opportunities for undergraduates interested in specialising in cyber security, who will be supported by the group’s researchers and postdoctoral fellows.
BU is notoriously difficult to get into with an acceptance rate of 22% across the university, typically admitting students who score in the top eight percent in their admissions exam. However, BU is competitive for a reason, and graduates can expect a high employment rate and excellent starting salaries. Boston University offer a CS Connections programme, specifically designed to connect students with potential employers in the cyber security sector. The scheme has helped place Boston graduates in top technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Akamai as well as significant organisations in the finance and defence industries.
Boston University also boasts some impressive affiliations in the field of cyber security. It’s a National Centre of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defence Research in the US. It also houses the Centre for Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS), which promotes research and education in the field through a multidisciplinary approach, combining fields such as engineering, economics, ethics and law. The centre is currently researching areas such as cryptology, database security, software safety and robust monitoring.
4. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
World renowned, Oxford University ranked second in the world for Computer Science in 2020, according to the Complete University Guide. Within computer science, Oxford offers a variety of master’s courses specialising in cyber security. Research in the department has an emphasis on the security properties of software and information technologies. Their MSc in Software and Systems Security is certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which accredits the highest-quality cyber security degree programmes on offer in the UK.
The school also has a network called Cyber Security Oxford, which brings together academics from multiple disciplines within the university working on cyber security. The network has strong connections with the Global Centre for Cyber Security Capacity, a government-funded centre forming part of a programme to boost global standards of cyber-defence.
To be accepted onto the course, candidates are expected to have a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as computer science or engineering. For applicants from the USA, Oxford expects a minimum GPA of 3.5 out of 4. On top of a degree, most applicants have at least several years’ professional experience in the industry.
The fees vary, starting with a registration fee of £9,215 for EU and UK students or £15,375 for students from overseas. Beyond this, students must pay a fee for each module taken, which currently sits at £2,260 per module, though costs tend to increase year on year.
5. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
Carnegie Mellon University is at the forefront of cyber security education in the US, offering a multitude of master’s programmes specialising in areas such as information security, cyber security policy and management as well as information assurance. It’s frequently cited as a top school in the US and the world, and based in Pittsburgh, the university is well-placed for graduates, sitting among tech giants such as Google, Uber, Disney and Facebook.
Carnegie Mellon’s world-class CyLab Security and Privacy institute leads pioneering research in the field. In the past five years alone, CyLab’s researchers have produced over 400 research papers on cyber security and privacy research. The centre also has a close affiliation with CERT Coordination Centre, a leading centre of internet security expertise with international recognition.
The institute offers nine master’s degrees, as well as a range of PhD research options for further study. Students can specialise in almost any area of cyber security, and are encouraged to customise their degree programmes to suit their specific career goals. According to the website, the current fees for the 2020-21 academic year is $50,100, around £40K.
6. Imperial College London, London, UK
One of the most prestigious universities in the UK, Imperial College London repeatedly ranks within the top 10 universities worldwide, and currently sits at number 5 in the UK according to the Complete University Guide.
They offer a number of computer science degrees which incorporate security, as well as a dedicated cyber security-focused integrated master’s programme, MEng Computing (Security and Reliability) and a new programme, MSc Security and Resilience, which looks at the application of cyber security in the context of physical threats. This new course, developed with input from policymakers together with university professors and critical players in the industry, is unique, marrying together the scientific and technological underpinnings of cyber security with human activity, policy and implementation.
To be considered for any of their cyber security courses, applicants must have achieved a minimum of a 2:1 in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree. Occasionally the institute will make exceptions, mainly if students can show some relevant professional experience. Students can choose from many modules, covering topics such as:
- Cryptographic protocols
- Monte Carlo risk analysis
- Intelligence gathering.
For 2020 entry, the fees are £11,300 for the MSc courses for home and EU students and £28,500 for students from overseas. However, Imperial offers a significant array of university scholarships for postgraduate students to ease the financial burden.
All of their cyber security courses are taught by the Institute for Security Science and Technology (ISST), which brings together academics from multiple disciplines to conduct security research to respond to current and emerging cyber threats in the field. Students also have access to the Enterprise Lab, which has produced several cyber security start-ups, such as next-generation armour and facial recognition. Finally, the university offers a state-of-the-art Advanced Hackspace, where students can put their skills to practise and build prototypes of security defence systems.
Imperial graduates are some of the best placed in the world to secure employment beyond university. Imperial Computing graduates attract the highest starting salaries for Computing in the UK, and the department has links to many technological giants and household names. As such, many Imperial Computing graduates have gone on to work for prestigious companies in the field such as Cisco, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs.
7. Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
The oldest and largest Dutch public university, Delft University of Technology consistently ranks as the top university in the Netherlands. Delft is one of three universities, alongside Leiden University and The Hague University, which collaborated to form the Cyber Security Academy The Hague (CSA), which works together with leading experts in the sector.
Delft offers several degree programmes in computer science, which incorporate elements of cyber security. Their Computer Science Master’s programme has the option of the 4TU Cyber Security specialisation, offered jointly with the University of Twente. With computer science at its core, the 4TU CybSec specialisation looks at the interplay between subjects such as law, economics, criminology and psychology to learn about the application of cyber security across society. From 2020 onwards, the course will also incorporate a socio-technical course on Governance of Cybersecurity.
Practical skills covered on the course include formal methods, cryptography and secure software engineering. The following core modules are compulsory for all students:
- Security and cryptography
- Cyber data analytics
- Cyber risk management
- Dynamic and static program analysis for software security
- Network security.
Beyond these, students can choose from a multitude of specialist modules, including Computer Ethics, Cyber Crime science and E-Law. Their full-time master’s programmes take 24 months to complete and begin in September of each year. For EU students, tuition fees currently amount to €2,143 (approximately £1,870), and €18,750 (around £16,400) for non-EU students.
Delft’s computer science graduates have exciting career prospects. Graduates have gone on to work in the IT security industry, for the police, in ministries and as auditors. 82% of Delft computer science graduates are in employment within six months of leaving university and 42% work abroad.
8. Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
This Italian university ranks in the top 10 technical universities in Europe and among the top 20 in the world. The university offers several courses in cyber security, including its Cyber Risk Strategy and Governance master’s programme. Politecnico Milano encourages applicants from a range of disciplines onto their master’s programme, including graduates in business, economics, political sciences as well as engineering and computer science.
Their two-year master’s programme in Cyber Risk Strategy and Governance has been co-developed by two of Italy’s most renowned universities, Bocconi and Politecnico di Milano. Politecnico offers cutting-edge technological training which complements Bocconi’s knowledge-based expertise. Graduates will acquire technical competencies and practical computer science skills as well as gain a deep understanding of their application in a legal and economic context.
Their courses prepare graduates for two main career paths: roles as Cyber Risk Managers and roles as Data Protection and Security Managers. Cyber Risk Managers deal with discerning cyber risk to enterprises, contribute to determining cyber policy within organisations and use methods of forensic analysis to identify cyber crimes. Data Protection and Security managers are responsible for developing procedures which comply with data protection laws and policies and lead the response to data incidents and breaches. With these career paths in mind, graduates are equipped to deal with all cyber-related issues faced by all types of organisations.
Admissions tutors take into account students’ GPA, CV and motivation letter. International applicants will also have to take either the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record examinations). The tuition fees are currently €14,073 (approximately £12,300) per year, though the university offers a variety of funding opportunities to support students financially during their course of study. Financial aid consists of a tuition waiver of a varying percentage, based on the financial situation of the student and their family.
9. De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
De Montfort University offers four degree programmes in Cyber Security at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The university’s Cyber Technology Institute is recognised as an NCSC Academic Centre of Excellence in cyber security research and is widely known to offer some of the best cyber security courses both within the UK and around the world. The university has strong links in the industry, gaining support from tech and financial companies such as Airbus, BT, Deloitte and Rolls-Royce, meaning De Montfort cyber security graduates enjoy some of the best job prospects. Their industry affiliation also means their research is cutting-edge and remains current to satisfy the needs of the sector.
The courses place a particular emphasis on digital forensics, even offering an entire degree programme specialising in Digital Forensics, where students can make use of the institution’s specialist forensic laboratory. De Montfort’s research in this area has a high international reputation and contributes to the UK government’s policy and approach to digital forensics and computer security.
Students must take several core modules and have the choice of a list of optional modules. Topics covered on the programmes include:
- Cyber threat intelligence
- Foundations of cyber security
- Host and network security
- Penetration testing and incident response
- Cyber engineering
- Digital forensics principles and practice
- Malware analysis
- Legal, ethical and professional practice.
DMU also offers the opportunity to study abroad during the undergraduate study as part of their DMU Global initiative. These opportunities aim to give graduates international experience, shaping them into global graduates, attractive to employers both inside and outside of the UK. De Montfort graduates typically go on to roles in industry, government and law enforcement across a variety of roles, from penetration testers to forensic investigators.
Tuition fees for undergraduate degrees are £9,250 per year for UK and EU students and £14,250 for international students. For 2020, the prices for the master’s programme amounts to £15,500 for UK and EU students and £17,780 for international students. Applicants must hold the equivalent of a British Honours degree with a minimum of a 2.1.
10. George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA
Founded in 1821, the George Washington University offers world-class degree programmes in cyber security through its Cyber Security and Privacy Research Institute. They provide an impressive total of seven master’s degree programmes in cyber security. The university has strong government links, too – the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have assigned the university as a Centre of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defence Research.
Their M.S. in cyber security was the first of its kind in the US capital. The degree programme covers a range of areas, including modules in the following domains:
- Design and analysis of algorithms
- Computer architectures
- Advanced software paradigms
- Wireless and mobile security
- Computer Network defence
- Internet and online law for security managers.
GWU also offers an online master’s programme in cyber security and compliance, which offers considerable flexibility in terms of the start date as students can choose to start their studies in any of the five windows offered. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree. The university will consider applicants with a non-technical degree, provided they can demonstrate work experience in an IT-related area. Like Politecnico di Milano, overseas students are advised to submit GRE or GMAT scores.
Many students have years of experience working in the field before pursuing their master’s degree: professionals are able to hone and develop the skills they have learnt during their time in the industry to access higher positions and advance their careers. George Washington computer science graduates have an impressive 92% employment rate after 6 months, and cyber security graduates typically enter into government positions, such as cyber roles within the Department of Defence or the National Security Agency.
Currently, tuition fees amount to between $1,050 and $1,125 per credit (around £850 – £910), and most students must take 30 graduate credit hours to achieve a master’s. On top of the credit fee for the course, students must pay a number of charges on enrolment which vary from $3 for the Student Association contribution to $495 for matriculation.
11. Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
Queen’s University boasts one of the largest cyber security university research labs in the UK, the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). The centre supports the university’s two cyber security pathways, the MSc in Applied Cyber Security and the Ph.D. vacancies through the CSIT. Leading experts in the field teach Queen’s programmes, widely regarded to be among the best cyber security courses in the world.
The programme is informed by cutting-edge research and current technical advances in the field, spanning domain such as cryptography, computer forensics, malware, networking and software development. Alongside these specialist areas, the course examines the intersection of cyber security with ethical, legal and economic issues.
Their master’s programme is fully certified by the GCHQ and NCSC, which stands graduates in good stead to achieve positions in reputable firms in the UK and abroad. Adding to its global reputation is the Prize for Higher and Further Education awarded by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015, for the university’s work in bolstering global cyber security.
Students must undertake a range of modules, including:
- Applied cryptography
- Computer forensics
- Ethical & legal issues in cyber security
- Network security and monitoring
- Software assurance.
On top of these, students must carry out a practical research project for 3-4 months. The course duration is one year for full-time students or two years for part-time students. The master’s programme’s technical focus requires applicants to have a degree in a relevant subject. Applicants must have the equivalent to a 2.1 Honours degree in one of the following disciplines:
- Computer Science
- Software engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Mathematics with Computer Science
- Physics with Computer Science.
The university also considers applicants without a degree in a technical subject, providing they can demonstrate relevant industry experience. The MSc course is therefore suitable both for recent graduates and mid-career professionals looking to hone their skills and access managerial roles.
For applicants from Northern Ireland or non-UK EU countries, tuition fees currently amount to £6,140 per year, rising to £6,900 for applicants from England, Scotland or Wales and £20,800 for international students. However, tuition fees tend to increase year on year.
12. John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
Frequently appearing in the top 25 universities worldwide, John Hopkins University offers comprehensive courses in cyber security. The faculty boasts an impressive 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, better than the majority of its competitor institutions. There are a number of programme pathways that students can study, including a combined bachelor’s and master’s programme, providing a grounding in Computer Science and specialising in Security Informatics.
Courses are administered through the John Hopkins Information Security Institute (JHUISI), which the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland security have designated a Centre of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance in Cyber Defence Research and Education, giving graduates international credibility.
The courses are open to recent graduates as well as working professionals, who can benefit from part-time programmes or online programmes which offer maximum flexibility. Students will gain skills and understanding in the following areas:
- Computer forensics
- Software vulnerability analysis
- Intrusion detection
- Cloud security
- Rights in the digital age.
John Hopkins’ multidisciplinary approach comes from a diverse department, with faculty members with varying technical backgrounds and specialisms. The faculty also has links with high-profile R&D institutions and federal agencies, offering graduates exciting career prospects.
Acceptance on the course requires possession of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. International students who hold degrees from institutions overseas must have their degrees validated by World Education Services before John Hopkins will consider applications. The course is taught entirely in English, so international applicants whose first language is not English must submit proof of proficiency.
John Hopkins offers some of the more affordable programmes in the US. The tuition fee per course is usually around $5,701 (approximately £4,600), with most degree programmes requiring ten courses, taking the tuition fee total to $57,010 or around £46,000. However, most students are eligible for financial support from the dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, after which the typical per-course tuition fee reduces to $1,240 for undergraduate and $4,595 for graduate-level.
13. The University of California, Berkeley, USA
Ranked fourth in the world for Computer Science in the QS World University rankings, Berkeley’s School of Information offers a master’s programme in Information and Cyber Security. The course is delivered by a range of scholars with varied academic backgrounds, bringing together disciplines such as computer science, social sciences, management, law and policy to prepare graduates for diverse roles in policy and leadership in the cyber sector.
It’s an online, part-time degree programme aimed at mid-career professionals with significant relevant experience looking to access leadership roles in industry, government and military organisations. Berkeley’s world-class reputation, coupled with its interdisciplinary approach means that graduates are well-disposed to apply technical competencies in a business, political and legal environment.
The course has a project-based structure which allows students to develop practical skills and experiment with different techniques. The core topics covered include cryptography, secure programming, systems security as well as how they apply against an ethical, legal and economic backdrop. Beyond this, master’s students at Berkeley can choose from a range of optional modules, including:
- Privacy engineering
- Managing cyber risk
- Usability security
- Understanding and implementing cryptosystems.
To be considered for the course, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification from an accredited university, equivalent to a GPA of 3.0. Applicants whose first language is not English must submit proof of proficiency in English. Tuition fees currently amount to $14,536 (approximately £11,800) for the 2020-21 academic session, though students are also required to pay for a Student Health Insurance Plan which amounts to $5,682 (around £4,600).
14. The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
The sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Edinburgh was founded in 1582 and now enjoys global prestige. It consistently appears in the top 50 universities worldwide, across multiple university rankings. They offer a range of undergraduate courses in computer science which touch on cyber security, as well as their dedicated Cyber Security, Privacy and Trust master’s programme.
Faculty members have expertise in a broad range of skills, offering students a comprehensive cyber education. The course covers the following topics:
- Secure software
- Secure hardware
- Distributed ledgers
- Privacy preserving data mining.
The course duration is one year if taken full-time, but students can achieve the master’s on a part-time basis over 2-3 years. The one-year course is split into seven months of teaching across two semesters, followed by up to four months of project work which culminates in a final dissertation. Applicants must have a 2.1 honours degree or equivalent qualification in either computer science, cognitive science, informatics, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics, psychology, artificial intelligence or electrical engineering. However, admissions tutors will also consider other quantitative disciplines.
Tuition fees vary per course, per year and the applicant’s fee status. Typically, annual fees for master’s students amount to £14,600 for UK and EU students and up to £32,500 for students from overseas.
On top of the school’s world-renown, the department has been recognised by GCHQ/NCSC as an Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research in light of its efforts and contribution to cutting-edge cyber security research. As such, graduates can expect exciting job prospects in the public, academic and commercial spheres.
15. University College London, London, UK
Computer Science at UCL is widely regarded to be at the forefront of computer science research. Indeed, in the UK’s most recent Research Excellence Framework, UCL achieved the highest percentage for quality of research in Computer Science and Informatics, at 96%. The National Cyber Security Centre has awarded the course full certification, provided students opt for the Information Security Management module.
Courses at UCL centre around the expertise of its faculty members, who adopt a human-centred approach to security and privacy. The master’s programme currently has a particular emphasis on cryptography alongside a range of optional modules, including:
- Applied cryptanalysis
- Distributed systems and security
- Information security management
- People and security
- Privacy enhancing technologies
- Philosophy, politics and economics of security and privacy.
The department has strong ties with industry: students have the chance to base their projects in industry with companies such as McAfee and BT, giving them valuable professional experience. UCL graduates are therefore highly regarded by many of the world’s leading organisations, with many graduates going on to secure positions in global IT consultancies and software companies.
For UK and EU students, tuition fees for the master’s programme beginning in 2020 are £13,640, and £30,400 for students from overseas. Applicants must have at least a 2.1 degree or equivalent qualification in computer science, maths or electrical engineering. Admissions tutors may consider students from other academic backgrounds if they can demonstrate relevant work experience.
16. Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, USA
Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute offers both an undergraduate and graduate programme in cyber security. Their undergraduate course provides a comprehensive grounding in cyber security, using an interdisciplinary approach to finding security solutions. Students can see their research projects realised and brought to market with the help of the university’s many industry partners.
The course runs through the Centre for the Advancement of Secure Systems and Information Assurance (CASSIA) which bolsters research as well as entrepreneurship in the field. The master’s programme is aimed at mid-career security professionals looking to further their knowledge and expertise to access leadership roles. The master’s programme therefore looks at cyber security practises and principles within a social, economic and legal context. Some of the core modules include:
- Introduction to Operating Systems
- Advanced algorithms analysis and design
- Discrete mathematics for cryptography/cyber security
- Fundamentals of cyber security
- Privacy in a networked world
- Foundations of cryptography
- Forensics analysis or threats, exploits and countermeasures.
On top of this, students have an extensive range of elective modules to choose from, with the option to specialise in areas like cloud computing, wireless security or the application of cyber security in the law. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 or an international equivalent qualification, and admissions tutors also expect students to have undertaken the GRE or GMAT. Fees for graduate-level tuition in 2020-2021 are currently listed as $18,707 per semester (approximately £15,150), and $26,914 per semester (approximately £23,500) for undergraduate-level.
The master’s programme is one of the few degree courses in the US co-developed with the US National Security Agency, meaning that Stevens graduates are at a considerable advantage when entering the job market. The institute has links to over 500 cyber security companies, including Visa, Goldman Sachs and Google. Graduates can expect a lucrative career, with the average starting salary for the Class of 2019 in this field being $76,400 (approximately £67,000).
17. Royal Holloway, London, UK
Part of the University of London, Royal Holloway has contributed significantly to advancements in the cyber security sector. Royal Holloway has joined together with five universities from the UK, USA and Japan to found a consortium, the International Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (INCS-CoE), established to encourage international collaboration against some of the most pressing issues faced by security professionals today.
In addition to the consortium, in 2018 Enterprise M3 Lep (EM3) pledged £5 million to Royal Holloway to build a state-of-the-art cyber security centre, which should be completed by 2021. The NCSC recognises the university as an Academic Centre of Excellence in cyber security research and fully certifies the MSc Information Security programmes.
Royal Holloway offers a range of master’s degrees in information security, including an online option and a course involving a year in industry. They also offer an MSc in Mathematics of Cryptography and Communications which is run in conjunction with the university’s Mathematics department. For graduates wishing to pursue academic in cyber security, there is also the opportunity to do a PhD.
MSc students follow the core modules in Security Management, Introduction to Cryptography, Network Security and Computer Security. They also have the option to pick from a broad range of optional modules, including:
- Cyber crime
- Legal and regulatory aspects of information security
- Smart cards, RFIDs and embedded systems security
- Software security
- Digital forensics
- Security testing
- Human aspects of security and privacy.
For the master’s course, applicants must have the equivalent to a 2.2 UK bachelor’s degree. However, the university will also consider applicants without a degree if they have some relevant experience in the industry. Tuition fees currently amount to £11,600 per year. The costs for international students are £21,000.
Royal Holloway is well recognised in the field of cyber security in the UK, and graduates enjoy high rates of employability. Royal Holloway’s research centre has links with key organisations in the industry, having received funding from corporations such as Cisco, Adobe, Hitachi and Fujitsu, with many graduates going into careers in these organisations as well as into banking, telecommunications, consultancies.
18. DePaul University, Chicago, USA
Study.com listed DePaul University as the second-best cyber security school in the US in 2019. The institution offers a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s, with both programmes focused on cyber security. The university is a Cisco Networking Academy and lays particular emphasis on Cisco networks within its information security programmes, although the university prides itself on providing a broad knowledge of other systems, too. Students can practise their skills in the hands-on CDM Security Lab, boasting more than 100 routers, 60 switches, 90 firewalls and a multitude of other specialised networks and servers.
Undergraduate students will get a comprehensive grounding in cyber security, covering a broad range of subjects, beginning with the fundamentals of computer science and delving into areas such as programming, computer forensics and the legal, ethical and social issues in information security.
For the 2020-21 year, undergraduate students can expect to pay around $40,551 (approximately £33,200) per year. The application process takes place online, where applicants must submit transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
The Department of Homeland Security, together with the National Security Agency has designated DePaul as a National Centre of Academic Excellence in cyber security, which translates into excellent career prospects for cyber security graduates. 93% of students are in employment within six months of graduating, with the average starting salary being an impressive $70,000 (around £57,000).
Final thoughts & FAQ’s
The list here provides a snapshot of some of the best universities for cyber security degrees in the world, but is by no means exhaustive. There are thousands of cyber security courses on the market available at hundreds of reputable universities. Selecting the right course for you is a personal choice, and you should take time to research the factors important to you. This might be whether the curriculum is research-based or instructor-led, how many options there are for specialisation, as well as course length and university location.
There are a number of pathways to get into information security, whether you want to study cyber security directly at undergraduate level or pursue a postgraduate course after your broader studies. A lot of these degrees, particularly the master’s programmes, are aimed at mid-career professionals looking to develop their careers in cyber security. Whether you’re already in the industry or are working in an unrelated role, a cyber security master’s can open the door to an exciting and lucrative career the cyber security sector, as well as many managerial and strategic positions.
Finally, it’s worth considering whether a degree is right for you. With such a high demand for cyber professionals, only set to rise further, there are hundreds of ways to get into the cyber industry. What’s certain is that the sector is thriving, so whatever your pathway, consider joining the growing number of cyber security professionals pursuing a cutting-edge, high-income career.
Are there any cyber security courses for school students?
Cyber security education is starting to appear lower down the education system. Many children are now being exposed to basic coding as young as 7 or 8, and there are several government-backed initiatives aimed at younger students with interest in cyber security. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched a UK scheme called CyberFirst in 2016 aimed at 11-19-year-olds. The programme consists of a range of competitions, bursaries and courses, including a two-week summer course designed to introduce the next generation of cyber professionals to the basics of cyber security.
Short courses include Trailblazers, Adventurers, Defenders, Futures and Advanced, ranging from a half-day event to a two-week course of fun and interactive sessions, introducing young people to the various aspects of cyber defence. As a way to encourage a better gender balance in the cyber industry, the CyberFirst runs a competition specifically aimed to get girls interested in cyber security. The CyberFirst Girls competition is a team contest open to female pupils aged 12-13.
Do I have to study cyber security at university?
A degree is by no means necessary to get into the cyber security industry. The significant demand means that there are many entry-level positions on the market, which require only A levels or high-school qualifications. Information security professionals need to have a range of soft skills like problem-solving, analytical thinking and keen attention to detail, and most employers value work experience more highly than a degree.
What is the best cyber security master’s programme?
The list provided here gives a breakdown of some of the best universities in the world to study cyber security, and a master’s from any of these institutions will command a high level of respect in the industry. Many schools not listed here also offer highly reputable cyber security master’s programmes. The NCSC also has a list of its UK accredited cyber security courses, including several master’s programmes, assuring employers that graduates will have the necessary competencies to handle the needs of the industry.
What should I study to get onto a cyber security degree course?
School students looking to study cyber security at university should opt for at least one mathematical, technical, or science-based subject at A level. Most bachelor programmes require an A level in either Computer Science, Maths, Biology, Architectural Technology, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Geography, Physics or another technical subject. Most of the courses listed here require the equivalent to an A level grade A, B or in some cases C.
What are the cyber security master’s degree rankings?
The list compiled here represents a selection of the world’s top universities, either for computer science or cyber security specifically, or owing to the university’s ranking as a whole. QS Top Universities, Times Higher Education and The Guardian, among others, offer both UK-specific and World University Rankings which can be filtered by subject or region.