Question: What are the admissions requirements for a master’s in cybersecurity program?
Updated: February 1, 2022
Answer: The minimum requirement for admissions to a master’s in cybersecurity program is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. In addition, there are a number of other requirements and factors that may determine a candidate’s eligibility for admissions. For example, some programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or to have some combination of academic training and professional experience in computer programming, networks, and/or software design, or to complete a bridge program of preparatory coursework prior to beginning the master’s program curriculum. Depending on the program, other requirements may include: standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT); letters of recommendation; a written personal goals statement and/or answers to one or more essay questions, and a detailed resume or curriculum vitae.
Admissions requirements for Cybersecurity master’s programs vary by school and by program. Unlike undergraduate programs where students traditionally apply to a university and then declare a major once they have already started taking classes, students typically apply directly to graduate programs or have to apply to both the university and the program to be considered for admission. Therefore, depending on the university, students may have to meet both university requirements for graduate program admissions and department/program requirements to be eligible for a graduate program.
For example, some schools have a graduate admissions board that requires applicants to all of its programs to meet baseline requirements, such as a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a four-point scale. In addition, these boards may require applicants to submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay as part of the application process. However, program directors may have additional and/or superseding requirements, such as a cumulative GPA of 3.0, 3.25, or higher in all computer science undergraduate courses and/or evidence that a candidate has certain computer programming proficiencies. It is also possible for a program to require graduate test scores even if the school does not have this requirement for all graduate students.
Finally, there are master’s in cybersecurity programs that are designed to accommodate students who did not major in a technical field as undergraduates, career changers, and others who may need introductory and foundational training in computer science, computer networks, and computer programming before moving on to more advanced and specialized cybersecurity coursework. These programs typically offer one or more foundations courses or a bridge program comprised of a cluster of courses that prepare students for graduate coursework in cybersecurity.
Comparing Common Admissions Policies and Requirements for Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs
The examples below are meant to provide an overview of common master’s in cybersecurity program admissions requirements. It is important to keep in mind that admissions policies may change as schools reassess what they are looking for in applicants and that some programs may offer conditional acceptance to candidates who do not meet all admissions requirements.
Note: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many universities have temporarily waived graduate testing requirements (GRE or GMAT) for students applying to graduate programs. It is possible, once the pandemic ends, these programs will reinstate the requirement to submit test scores for future applicants. However, it is also possible that these schools may decide to no longer require test scores in the future as well.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) has an online Master of Science (MS) in Cyber Security program with an optional Information Technology Management concentration. The program has rolling admissions, which means that candidates can initiate the application process at any time and, once admitted, begin working toward their degree during any of the program’s six start dates per year. To be eligible for the program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in any field or discipline. An undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, or another technical field is not an admission requirement for the SNHU program.
Applicants are required to submit undergraduate transcripts and, if appropriate, a professional resumé. GRE test scores are not a requirement. However, applicants whose cumulative undergraduate GPA is below 2.75 on a four-point scale are only eligible for provisional acceptance and applicants who do not have a technical background are required to complete a Core Technologies introductory course that does not count toward the 36 graduate credits required to complete the program.
New York University (NYU) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Cybersecurity program through its Tandon School of Engineering. The 30-credit program has three format options: online; on-campus; and blended. The blended option combines campus-based and online instruction. The program admits students for start dates in the spring and fall semesters. Applicants are required to submit two letters of recommendation and a personal goals statement, along with their undergraduate program transcripts. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher is required for admissions eligibility and a bachelor’s degree in engineering is preferred.
The Tandon School of Engineering offers a bridge program for students who do not meet all of the MS in Cybersecurity admissions requirements, which includes undergraduate coursework in calculus and computer programming, as well as one year of science courses.
The University of Southern California (USC) offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Cyber Security Engineering program through its Viterbi School of Engineering. The 28-credit program is also offered in a campus-based format at USC’s University Park Campus. Applicants to the program must furnish the admissions committee with undergraduate transcripts, a personal goals statement, and a resume or curriculum vitae (CV). Letters of recommendation may also be included with the application but are optional. As of September 2021, the program no longer requires the GRE for admission.
While the program has no minimum undergraduate GPA requirements, it does require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field or a related discipline, such as computer science, information security, or information technology. The program accepts applications for one start date per year, in the fall semester.
The table below provides a side-by-side comparison of admissions requirements and other relevant information for the three programs described above.
|Program||Master of Science in Cyber Security||Master of Science in Cybersecurity||Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering|
|Letters of Recommendation||No||Yes (two letters of recommendation||Optional|
|Personal Goals Statement||No||Yes||Yes|
|Minimum Undergraduate GPA||2.75||3.0||Inquire with school|
|Required Undergraduate Major||Not Applicable||Engineering preferred||Engineering, Computer Science, Information Security, Information Technology|
|Prerequisites||No, but the program offers a Core Technologies introductory course||Candidates require a knowledge of calculus and a least one general-purpose, high-level programming language, as well as one year of college-level science courses. NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering offers an introductory bridge program that may be required for some students.||Bachelor’s degree in an engineering field or an engineering-related discipline|
|Program||Master of Science in Cyber Security|
|Letters of Recommendation||No|
|Personal Goals Statement||No|
|Minimum Undergraduate GPA||2.75|
|Required Undergraduate Major||Not Applicable|
|Prerequisites||No, but the program offers a Core Technologies introductory course|
|Program||Master of Science in Cybersecurity|
|Letters of Recommendation||Yes (two letters of recommendation|
|Personal Goals Statement||Yes|
|Minimum Undergraduate GPA||3.0|
|Required Undergraduate Major||Engineering preferred|
|Prerequisites||Candidates require a knowledge of calculus and a least one general-purpose, high-level programming language, as well as one year of college-level science courses. NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering offers an introductory bridge program that may be required for some students.|
|Program||Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering|
|Letters of Recommendation||Optional|
|Personal Goals Statement||Yes|
|Minimum Undergraduate GPA||Inquire with school|
|Required Undergraduate Major||Engineering, Computer Science, Information Security, Information Technology|
|Prerequisites||Bachelor’s degree in an engineering field or an engineering-related discipline|
Preparing to Apply to a Master’s in Cybersecurity Program
As noted in the sections above, admissions policies and procedures vary by program. Students who are considering a master’s degree in cybersecurity should research programs carefully to determine which programs they may qualify for based on minimum GPA requirements and other factors, such as whether or not a program requires students to have an undergraduate degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field, and if a program has other academic prerequisites. Students should also take note of submission deadlines and required materials, such as GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, personal goals statement, and a resume or CV.
Finally, students who do not feel that they meet all of a program’s academic requirements may want to contact a program’s admissions representative to ask about potential bridge program options and/or provisional admissions policies.
Master’s in Cybersecurity FAQs:
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