Best Cybersecurity Associate Degrees 2022

| ComputerScience.org Staff Modified on March 21, 2022

Best Cybersecurity Associate Degrees 2022
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In 2020, a cyberattack on the software company Solar Winds targeted 100 organizations and at least nine U.S. federal agencies. In 2021, ransomware temporarily crippled one of the nation's largest fuel pipelines. The increasing frequency and complexity of cyberattacks drive the current demand for cybersecurity professionals throughout the workforce.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, information security analysts are among the country's fastest-growing occupations for 2020-2030. Aspiring cybersecurity professionals can choose from several pathways to begin their careers. This guide focuses on cybersecurity associate degrees.

Learn more about what you can expect from a two-year degree in cybersecurity. Topics include common courses, cost expectations, and career options.

Why Get a Cybersecurity Associate Degree?

Cybersecurity issues are as old as the internet itself, with the first worms and viruses emerging in the 1970s and '80s. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global cybersecurity industry maintains a value of more than $150 billion as of 2021. That value may grow to $366 billion by 2028.

Increasing cyberattacks demand skilled workers who can develop new data protection solutions. The cybersecurity field attracts professionals seeking a challenging career, high income, and job security. Information security analysts, for example, enjoy a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020 and job growth projections of 33% from 2020-2030.

Cybersecurity professionals' major employers include the banking, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications industries. These industries rely on cybersecurity safeguards to protect sensitive data.

The cybersecurity field includes many roles to suit different skills and interests. Important focus areas include ethical hacking, system architecture and engineering, and software development. Professionals in the field can also work as organizational consultants and forensic analysts.

Cybersecurity professionals' major employers include the banking, finance, healthcare, and telecommunications industries.

Wherever your career goals lie, a two-year degree in cybersecurity can provide a solid introduction to this growing field. A few benefits include:

Students can earn cybersecurity associate degrees through accredited institutions. Attending an accredited school can boost employer recognition and respect. Associate degree candidates receive a reputable education, institutional support services, and a college diploma. Depending on program type, a two-year degree in cybersecurity can often fulfill part of a bachelor's curriculum. Earning transferable credits makes it easier and more affordable to return to school later on. The best associate degrees in cybersecurity provide the knowledge and skills required to land an entry-level job. Associate programs cover foundational topics like network security, computer science, and human communication.

What To Expect From Two-Year Cybersecurity Programs

Most associate degrees take two years of full-time study to complete. Completion times for part-time students vary by individual course load.

Cybersecurity associate degrees require about 60 credits of general education, core, and elective courses. Associate of arts or associate of science graduates can usually transfer their credits to a bachelor's program. Associate of applied science degrees may not transfer.

Two-year institutions usually offer fewer student housing options than four-year schools. Instead, learners may need to commute to campus. Some colleges offer online courses that learners can take from home.

Admissions Process

Even the top associate degrees in cybersecurity maintain fairly simple admission requirements. Applicants usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools require a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Two-year schools often do not request standardized test scores.

Before starting a cybersecurity associate degree, prospective students must apply to their college of choice. Learners can submit an application via a service like Common App or through a school's website. Applications ask for basic information about your education, family background, and finances.

Associate Degree Options

Cybersecurity associate degrees include different program types and formats. Schools may offer cybersecurity or information security as a standalone major or as a concentration within a computer science program.

Two-year colleges offer associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), and associate of applied science (AAS) degrees. AA and AS credits can usually transfer to a bachelor's program. An AAS degree prepares learners to enter the workforce and generally doesn't transfer.

Students can complete a cybersecurity associate degree online or in person. Online learners may take synchronous courses, conducted in real time, or asynchronous courses, accessible 24/7.

Popular Cybersecurity Associate Courses

The best cybersecurity associate degrees provide both theoretical and practical instruction. Hands-on coursework helps build experience with industry-standard software and programming languages. Learners also take general education courses covering science, the humanities, and mathematics.

Three courses commonly required in a cybersecurity associate program include:

Cybersecurity Foundations: This course introduces students to essential cybersecurity terms and concepts. Topics often include threat types, best-practice responses, and cybercrime's legal and ethical aspects. Computer Networking: This introductory course explores computer networking basics. Students learn to design, build, and maintain small and medium networks. Topics include network architecture, security, and troubleshooting. Programming with Python: Students in this course learn to use the Python programming language. Topics include data analysis and manipulation, Python data structures, and security programming. Coursework often requires hands-on lab activities.

How Much Do Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), average 2019-2020 tuition at public two-year colleges cost $​​3,377 for in-state students and $8,126 for out-of-state enrollees. Private institutions often charge higher tuition rates — up to $25,000 a year. Most college students also incur costs for textbooks, supplies, and commuting or housing.

A cybersecurity associate degree costs more to complete than a certificate. Depending on the program you select, an associate degree may cost more or less than a coding bootcamp.

To help reduce out-of-pocket costs, learners can take advantage of financial aid options like scholarships, grants, and loans.

Cybersecurity Careers

Professionals with a two-year degree in cybersecurity can pursue many IT roles. Common job titles for associate program graduates include computer support specialist, systems analyst, and systems administrator.

Further education, certifications, and experience can lead to careers in penetration testing and information security analysis. According to the BLS, information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 as of 2020.

Computer Support Specialist


Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to organizations and individual computer users. Common tasks include testing and evaluating systems, performing maintenance, and troubleshooting issues. Computer support specialists work across many industries, including telecommunications, education services, finance, and data processing.

Required Education: Associate degree; some employers prefer bachelor's degrees

Job Outlook (2020-30): +9%

Median Annual Salary: $55,510

Information Security Analyst


Information security analysts help protect networks and systems from cyberattacks. Common tasks include investigating vulnerabilities and monitoring networks for breaches. These professionals also recommend security enhancements and research IT security trends. Employers prefer to hire security analysts with a bachelor's degree and/or extensive experience.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree; some employers may consider experienced candidates with an associate degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): +33%

Median Annual Salary: $103,590

Network and Computer Systems Administrator


Network and computer systems administrators handle day-to-day network operations. These professionals organize and install local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. Other duties include maintaining network and system security, training system users, and evaluating system performance.

Required Education: Certificate, associate, or bachelor's, depending on employer

Job Outlook (2020-30): +5%

Median Annual Salary: $84,810

Computer Systems Analyst


Computer systems analysts leverage both IT and business knowledge to improve computer system efficiency. Common tasks include consulting with managers, researching emerging technologies, and preparing cost/analysis benefits. These analysts also oversee the installation and configuration of new systems.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree, though some employers may accept experienced candidates with an associate degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): +7%

Median Annual Salary: $93,730

Penetration Tester


Penetration testers play an important role in IT and cybersecurity teams. These professionals seek out system weaknesses to help protect systems from cyberattacks. Penetration testers conduct mock attacks, take notes about their procedures and progress, and work with other team members to develop security solutions.

Required Education: Bachelor's degree, though some employers may accept experienced candidates with an associate degree

Job Outlook (2020-30): Not available

Median Annual Salary: $88,070 (as of November 2021)

Choosing the Right Cybersecurity Associate Degree

Choosing the best associate degree in cybersecurity for you requires careful consideration of several factors, including:

  • Accreditation: Attending an institution with regional or national accreditation ensures your cybersecurity education meets academic quality standards.
  • Location: Especially important if you plan to commute to campus for class, school location also matters for online learners who want to attend in-person events.
  • Faculty Credentials: Look for cybersecurity instructors with real-world experience and advanced degrees.
  • Student Resources: Consider what resources you need to succeed as a student. These may include career services, tutoring, academic mentoring, or tech support.

Should You Get Your Associate Degree in Cybersecurity Online?

Online college is increasingly popular across the United States. According to NCES, 36.3% of all undergraduates attended at least one online course in fall 2019. Just under 15% of undergraduates studied exclusively online during that semester.

Most two-year colleges offer limited or no on-site housing options. Students must either commute or pursue their cybersecurity associate degree online. Before committing to an online program, consider technology requirements, course schedule, and your at-home learning environment.

Should You Pursue a Certificate, Associate Degree, or Degree?

Choosing between a certificate, associate degree, or cybersecurity bootcamp can prove challenging. Associate degrees may best suit learners who prefer a traditional liberal arts college education. Certificates and bootcamps accommodate students seeking a narrow focus on cybersecurity topics.

Compare these popular program formats in the table below.

Comparing Certificate, Associate, and Bootcamp Programs
Comparison Point Cybersecurity Associate Degrees Cybersecurity Certificates Bootcamp Programs
Program Length Typically takes two years to complete Typically takes 2-8 months to complete Typically takes 3-6 months to complete
Admission Requirements High school diploma or equivalent No formal prerequisites Varies by program; may require an interview, skills test, and/or high school diploma
Types of Courses Credit-bearing general education and cybersecurity courses covering foundational theory/practices Credit or non-credit cybersecurity courses covering foundational theory/practices Non-credit cybersecurity courses focused on career skills
Program Format On-campus or online, synchronous or asynchronous On-campus or online, synchronous or asynchronous On-campus or online, synchronous or asynchronous
Program Provider Accredited colleges Accredited colleges and universities Independent organizations
Program Goal Prepare graduates for entry-level jobs and/or transfer to a bachelor's program Provide a foundational knowledge of cybersecurity concepts Prepare graduates for entry- or mid-level careers in cybersecurity
Average Total Tuition $3,377/year (in state); $8,126/year (out of state) $1,800-$10,000 total $10,000-$18,000 total

Other Educational Paths

A cybersecurity associate degree can build a strong foundation in the field. Some learners opt to pursue further education as they progress through their careers.

Bachelor's degrees may open doors to more entry-level opportunities and higher salaries. According to the BLS, bachelor's degree-holders across all disciplines earn about 33% more per week than associate degree-holders as of 2020.

A master's degree prepares cybersecurity professionals for advanced career paths. Finally, doctoral programs can lead to opportunities in academia and research.

Explore other cybersecurity education paths:

Top Five Cybersecurity Associate Degrees 2022

Looking for the best cybersecurity associate degrees? Explore the ranking below for five of the top programs in 2022 and learn more about admissions and degree requirements.

East Mississippi Community College

Serving a six-county district in east central Mississippi, EMCC enrolls over 4,000 students in 48 academic programs. EMCC aims to improve students' lives with an emphasis on healthy bodies, spirits, and minds.

Associates of Applied Science in Cybersecurity

EMCC offers an associate of applied science in cybersecurity at their Golden Triangle campus in Mayhew, Mississippi. This 62-credit program typically requires four semesters to complete when enrolled full-time.

Certified by the Cisco Networking Academy, the program offers students the opportunity to earn a variety of certifications and credentials including A+, Security+, Server+, MCP, Cloud+, and Linux+. All students earn at least A+ and Security+ certifications.

In addition to courses in cybersecurity, IT foundations, and network security fundamentals, students also complete a general education curriculum featuring courses in the humanities, social sciences, and math. Students working in the field may earn credit for their work experience.

Applying to EMCC

Admission to EMCC requires high school or equivalent transcripts and completion of the WorkKeys Assessment. Students seeking financial aid and scholarships must submit ACT scores.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $165/credit (in state); $265/credit (out of state)
  • Program Length: 4 Semesters
  • Delivery Format: On Campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 27%
Salem Community College

Located in southern New Jersey, SCC serves a small student body of roughly 1,000. SCC's small size allows for a close-knit community and individualized student attention.

Associate in Science - Criminal Justice Cybersecurity

SCC's criminal justice cybersecurity associate degree is a 60-credit program that students typically complete in four semesters with full-time enrollment. This unique program utilizes current technology, security systems, and tools to provide students with a hands-on learning experience.

During the program, students take a variety of foundational courses in computer applications, computer forensics, and network security. Students also explore law enforcement, criminal investigation, and ethics. Additionally, the curriculum includes general education courses in English, math, and the sciences.

SCC has transfer agreements with a variety of local four-year institutions for students seeking a bachelor's degree.

Applying to SCC

Students must submit high school transcripts and an electronic application. Applicants who graduated more than five years ago or who hold at least a 3.0 GPA are exempt from the required placement exam. Admitted students also meet with an admissions counselor prior to enrollment.

Program at a Glance

    • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    • Tuition: $11,532/program
    • Program Length: Four semesters
    • Delivery Format: On Campus
    • Percentage Awarded Loans: 15%
Georgia Military College

With 12 campuses around the state, Georgia Military College serves both military cadets and non-cadet students. Recognized federally as a predominantly Black institution, GMC's diverse student body welcomes learners of all backgrounds.

Associate in Science in Cybersecurity

GMC offers a two-year associate in science in cybersecurity. Students complete six courses within the concentration.

The program emphasizes skills in desktop programming, networking, data structures, and cyber information security. In addition to general education courses, students take classes in computer programming, webpage development, spreadsheet applications, computer science, and data systems analysis and design.

This program equips students with basic programming and networking skills. Many students go on to pursue careers in the field or bachelor's degrees.

Applying to GMC

Students must submit an electronic application, a $35 application fee, and official high school transcripts or a GED certificate. Active cadets may require additional documentation for admission. Students must apply to the campus they plan to attend and speak with an admissions counselor prior to enrollment.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $150/credit
  • Program Length: 1.5 years
  • Delivery Format: On Campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 33%
Northwest State Community College

Founded as a technical institute in 1968, NSCC became a community college in 1994. Today, NSCC offers courses in a variety of majors and topics, serving students in northwest Ohio at multiple campus locations.

Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity & Network Administration

NSCC's associate in cybersecurity and network administration requires four semesters of full-time study. Students complete 61 credits, including general education and concentration hours.

This program emphasizes the skills needed to install various programs and maintain network systems, including Microsoft and Linux. Students take courses in Python, computer operations, Linux networking, IT security fundamentals, and database programming.

This program prepares students to earn certifications from organizations like CompTIA and Microsoft. Students learn and practice fundamentals in a variety of coding languages, preparing them for careers or further study.

Applying to NSCC

As an open-access institution, all students gain admission to NSCC by submitting an application and transcripts. Students must also submit a federal financial aid application to become eligible for scholarships and assistance.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $177/credit (in-state); $349/credit (out-of-state)
  • Program Length: Four semesters (2 years)
  • Delivery Format: On Campus
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 25%
Northwest Vista College

Established in 1994, Northwest Vista College serves the greater San Antonio area with more than 17,000 students. Students may take courses at the campus in San Antonio or through NVC's distance learning programs.

Associate of Applied Science in Information Security and Assurance

NVC's associate in information security and assurance provides students with the skills needed to maintain secure networks, install and implement software and programs, and address breaches in network security. Students also learn about computer forensics and how to gather digital forensic evidence.

This five-semester program includes courses in routing and switching essentials, Linux installation and configuration, digital forensics, and network administration. Students also take general education courses in the humanities, sciences, and math.

Students may also pursue certifications like CompTIA Security+ and Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.

Applying to NVC

Applicants to NVC must submit an online application and official high school transcripts or a GED certificate. Students must take a required placement exam for general education courses and sign up for a new student orientation.

Program at a Glance

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Tuition: $99/credit (in district); $215/credit (out of district); $466/credit (nonresident)
  • Program Length: 5 semesters
  • Delivery Format: On Campus or Fully Online
  • Percentage Awarded Loans: 5%

Cybersecurity Associate Degree Questions

Is a cybersecurity associate degree worth it?

true Many students find a cybersecurity associate degree worthwhile. A two-year degree offers a reputable, college-backed education for less time and money than a bachelor's. Graduates can pursue entry-level cybersecurity careers.

What can you do with an associate degree in cybersecurity?

true After completing an in-person or online cybersecurity associate degree, graduates often secure positions such as computer support specialist, cybersecurity analyst, or penetration tester. Graduates can find career opportunities with companies of all sizes.

How much money can you make with an associate degree in cybersecurity?

Earning potential varies according to location, experience, and employer. According to the BLS, computer support specialists earned a median annual salary of $55,510 and information security analysts earned a median of $103,590 as of 2020.

Is cybersecurity a two-year degree?

An associate degree in cybersecurity usually takes two years to complete. Shorter programs like cybersecurity certificates and bootcamps typically take less than a year. Longer education pathways include bachelor's and master's degrees.

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