An online cyber security associate’s degree can prepare you for an IT career. This degree lays the foundation for digital forensics and cyber defense. It can also help you transfer to a four-year college where you can earn a BA or BS cyber security degree.
But getting a cyber security associate degree doesn’t have to break your budget or disrupt your schedule. Sure, you will need to make adjustments, but online programs help you keep your life and school balanced. You can find cheap online cyber security degree programs if you know where to look. This ranking covers schools that offer cyber security associate degree online programs.
We found online associate programs at:
- Community (two-year) colleges
- Four-year colleges and universities
- Technical colleges
- Trade schools
Read on for more information on where to find the cheapest online cyber security degree programs.
Affordable Online Cyber Security Associate’s Degree Ranking Methodology
We looked at over 40 two- and four-year colleges and universities that offered an undergraduate degree in cyber security. We narrowed our original pool of schools by choosing online associate programs. We chose schools that had received accreditation and were in good standing with accrediting governing bodies.
To narrow our list to the top 10 most affordable online associate’s degree cyber security programs, we used out-of-state program cost as a determining factor. Schools ranked below have low out-of-state program costs. In-state program cost does not affect the ranking. We used it for informational purposes only.
Below you will find our top 10 online associate degree in cyber security programs ranked by cost. You can also find information on frequently asked questions about cyber security jobs and career outlook.
Ranking the Top 10 Online Cyber Security Associate Degree Programs
1. Palo Alto College
Estimated Program Cost (TX Residents): $5,940
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $12,900
Palo Alto College tops our list of the most affordable online associate degree cyber security programs. It offers an AAS in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity program for online students.
The program consists of 60 credit hours. It takes about five semesters to complete the associate degree. Online students improve their technical knowledge and critical thinking skills while enrolled in the cyber security program. Courses cover different topics relevant to the field of cyber security. Topics include:
- Digital forensics
- Disaster recovery in information technology
- Firewalls and cyber defense
- Introduction to networks
You also learn how to protect networks from cyber attacks. By the end of the cybersecurity program, students become eligible for jobs in cyber defense and security. Students can also transfer to bachelor’s degree programs.
2. Georgia Military College
Estimated Program Cost: $13,965
Georgia Military College is a good school for cybersecurity associate’s degree online programs. It offers an A.S. in Cyber Security program.
Students who complete their online degree can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. If you don’t want to continue with school, you can choose to go to work in one of many cybersecurity careers.
The online program takes two years to complete. Students study four core areas of cyber security. These include:
- Cyber information security
- Data structures
- Desktop programming
In the online classes, you study everything from database management systems to cyber defense. Classes help develop your critical thinking skills. You can take these critical skills into the workplace.
3. Bismarck State College
Estimated Program Cost (ND and MN Residents): $9,872 – $10,788
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $14,448
Bismarck State College is a great school for affordable online degrees. It offers an A.A.S. in Cyber Security and Computer Networks online.
In this program, students explore industry relevant topics that help them prepare for jobs after graduation. The online cybersecurity associate degree program offers courses in:
- Computer hardware
- Cyber defense
- Modern computing technologies
- Operating systems
- Programming and scripting
- Security and hacking
You also study security concerns in business continuity planning, which allows you to take your knowledge into different business fields.
With a high school diploma, you can enroll in general education courses. This helps you sample online classes before committing to the degree in cybersecurity.
4. Central Texas College
Estimated Program Cost (In-District TX Residents): $5,700
Estimated Program Cost (Other TX Residents): $7,140
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $14,880
Central Texas College offers an associate degree cyber security. The AAS degree offers different pathways students can follow, including degrees and certificates.
For students interested in cybersecurity, there is a 60-credit hour program that leads to the cybersecurity associate degree. The focus of this program is on cyber defense and information assurance.
The program will prepare students for careers in the field. Courses cover topics such as:
- Firewalls and security
- Incident response and handling
- Project management software
- Security management practices
Students also take part in a four-credit computer and information systems security internship in the second semester of their final year. When you graduate, you can qualify for cybersecurity analyst jobs and other roles in IT.
5. University of the Potomac
Estimated Program Cost: $16,650
University of the Potomac is an affordable school for cyber security online associates degree programs. You can earn an online AS in Network Security Management degree.
This online program prepares students for careers in cybersecurity and security risks. Graduates can qualify for jobs as a cybersecurity specialist, certified ethical hacker, or computer programming analyst. The 60-credit-hour program covers coursework in:
- Computer systems and forensics
- Data communication
- Ethical hacking
- Operating systems
Faculty members have extensive industry experience, so students learn from relevant sources. New sessions begin every few weeks, which means you can jump in at any time and start building your cyber security worth.
Potomac accepts international students and offers financial aid awards.
6. Mohave Community College
Estimated Program Cost (AZ Residents): $4,860
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $17,010
Mohave Community College offers online associates degree in cyber security programs for students interested in software development, IT, and security. You can earn an AAS degree in Cybersecurity and Network Support.
Degrees like this one teach students about the disaster management cycle in computers. The program’s curriculum covers subjects like:
- Computer repair
- Ethical hacking
- Information security and help desk support
- Network troubleshooting and security risks
- Operating systems (how to document programs)
- Software development
Higher education students can also earn certificates of proficiency in computer graphics and web design, professional applications, and programming and game development.
7. Nash Community College
Estimated Program Cost (NC Residents): $5,264
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $17,552
At Nash Community College, you can earn a cybersecurity degree that focuses on criminal justice technology. The online associate’s degree blends criminal justice practices with technology.
The program teaches students about the criminal justice system and operations. Courses focus on judicial practices and security services. You can expand your core courses by taking electives in computers and technology. Students interested in operating systems and cyber defense can take courses covering topics like:
- Disaster recovery in computer systems
- Introduction to computers
- Labor statistics and ethics
- Software development in technology
The school offers financial aid packages to qualifying students.
8. Guilford Technical Community College
Estimated Program Cost (NC Residents): $5,016
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $17,688
Guilford Technical Community College is an affordable school for a two-year degree online for those interested in becoming cyber security analysts. It offers an AAS in IT with certificates in different areas of security and cyber defense.
You can earn credentials by following these tracks of study:
- Cisco certified network associate
- Cyber crime and digital forensics
- Disaster recovery in computer technology
- IT systems support
- Security and data assurance
Programs help train students in the technical skills needed to succeed in the IT field. But you don’t have to go in debt to earn your degree. Financial aid packages attract qualifying students on a budget. In-state tuition also cuts down on the overall cost of your degree.
9. California Institute of Arts and Technology
Estimated Program Cost: $18,750
California Institute of Arts and Technology ranks among the cheapest associate degrees in cybersecurity on our list. While the estimated program cost is higher than some of the others, financial aid awards offset tuition.
At CIAT, students can earn an AAS in Computer Information Systems Security. The program is online and students learn at their own pace. Coursework prepares you for transferring to a four-year college or entry into the workforce. The classes you take cover topics like:
- Advanced network security
- Cisco IOS network security
- Installation of Linux
10. Community College of Allegheny County
Estimated Program Cost (Allegheny County Residents): $7,080
Estimated Program Cost (Pennsylvania Residents): $14,160
Estimated Program Cost (Out-of-State): $21,240
The Associate of Science in Cybersecurity is one of many degrees that Community College of Allegheny County offers online. Over the course of the 60-credit program, students learn how to:
- Defend against system intrusions
- Identify cyber threats
- Maintain security measures to decrease the likelihood of a cyber threat
Each online course features audio and video, plus live chat sessions and teleconferencing. Students learn from industry experts and qualified faculty.
To offset the cost of attendance, generous financial aid packages are given to qualified students.
What is Cybersecurity?
Some schools call cybersecurity information security or information assurance. It is the practice of protecting computer systems and networks from attacks.
Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for evaluating a company’s security needs. They plan and implement appropriate security procedures based on evaluation. It is an important job that demands specialized skills and training.
Attackers are on the lookout for new ways to hack networks and gain private information. Information security analysts are the experts who stand between private information and criminals. As the old adage goes, security must win every time, but attackers must win only once.
Cybersecurity experts in information technology are penetration testers. Certified penetration testers prevent attacks to a company’s security. They help harden weak points in security. Penetration testers use both technological and social means to compromise the networks of their clients.
Cybersecurity Career Statistics
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most cybersecurity professionals hold bachelor’s degrees. But some have completed a cybersecurity associate degree program to get there.
Why do these experts need degrees? Because they must understand how networks get compromised and know how to fix them. It takes special training to understand the different methods of attack and defense.
But if you have a degree, will you get a job? Here are the career statistics for this field. Stats include the projected job outlook and money you can make.
Job Outlook for Cybersecurity Professionals
Job growth for professionals in this field is 35%. This means that over the next decade jobs will increase by 35%. That’s about 19,500 job openings each year, for about 10 years.
Earnings for Information Security Analysts
Information technology and security analysts can expect average earnings of $102,600/year, according to the BLS. The highest 10% of earners in these occupations earn over $165,000/year.
Should I stick with an associate degree or transfer into a bachelor’s program?
It all depends on what you want. One benefit of the bachelor’s degree is that it lets you specialize in a given area of the field. Your major is attractive to certain employers. You can attract employers with your focus of study.
The benefit of the associate degree is that it grants you a credential in half the time as a bachelor’s degree. What if you spend four to six years earning your bachelor’s only to specialize in an area you don’t like? You can take your associate degree into the workforce and get some experience. You can get a feel for the industry, work in different areas, and discover what you like or don’t like.
But if you know what area of the industry you want to work in, then earning a bachelor’s degree upfront can help you advance at a faster pace.
How to Pay for an Online Associate’s Degree in Cybersecurity
Associate degrees earned from community colleges are among the cheapest forms of higher education in the United States. If you are a resident of the state in which you attend school, your college years don’t have to break your budget.
You can earn an associate degree in cybersecurity online that is affordable. Federal grants, scholarships, and financial aid can help cover costs. They can help you pay for your associate degree in cybersecurity.
Student Loans or a Job?
As a last resort, loans can help you cover costs. Federal subsidized students loans offer low interest that doesn’t fluctuate much. They also offer flexible repayment plans. A last option is a private student loan.
If you can, try to get a job to help pay for college. Work in the summer and during breaks. Working can be the difference between taking out a loan or not.
Is online learning right for you?
Learning online adds flexibility for busy students. Online program availability offers asynchronous courses that you can take at your own pace. But not all programs are equal. And learning online isn’t for everyone.
Some students who choose to get an online degree are older than the traditional college age. They’ve worked a few years, gotten married, and have kids. They are at different stages of life when they go back to school than students straight out of high school. Some of these students prefer to learn online. An online platform helps them balance their life and educational goals.
If you’re a student who likes meeting face-to-face with professors and interacting with peers, this platform might not work. Ask yourself if learning online is a good fit. Sure, it helps keep your schedule balanced, in theory. But you have to manage your time. Work. Family. School. They must all balance for you to succeed. If they don’t, once can steal time from the others.
Tips for Online Students
- Have the right technology and know how to use it
- Interact with your instructors and peers in forums when possible
- Test the online waters by taking one class, such as college algebra or English 101
And remember, accredited online programs are available. They offer financial aid and academic excellence, like traditional programs do.
This concludes our article on some of the cheapest online cyber security degree programs.
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