Information security is the study of online security systems, and those who wish to work in the field of computer science but who are also currently employed or have family obligations may benefit from attending a school that offers an online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security instead of a traditional on-campus program. A large number of college students have less free time to devote to their education due to obligations and commitments they have in their professional and personal lives. Between spending time with loved ones and working, many students feel they simply cannot go back to school to earn a doctoral degree. Fortunately, this does not have to be the case.
Therefore, we wanted to help make the process of researching schools that offer online information systems degrees much easier for prospective students. Although the following list does not include every college or university in the U.S. that offers these programs, it does focus on the most affordable, high-quality degrees one can pursue. While some online Ph.D. degrees in computer and information systems security offer a fully online curriculum, others require some face-to-face learning, and although visiting a campus for any period of time may seem inconvenient, many students agree that these residencies provide benefits and opportunities they might not have otherwise had. Below is our list of the 15 most affordable online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security degrees.
One of the first things future students look at is the cost of any given program, and doctoral degrees in this field can range from $20,000 to $70,000 or more, not including other expenses that many students have. However, it can be tricky to weigh the quality of a program with its cost, which is where we come in.
In order to develop an accurate list, we began with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which maintains an updated list of universities in the U.S. as well as statistics relating to higher education. The data provided by the NCES includes the most recent information available, and the 15 university and college campuses included on the following list offer the best, most affordable options for students who wish to pursue a high-quality, inexpensive Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security degree online.
In addition to using the statistics provided by the NCES, we also used the site’s College Navigator database to help determine which schools offer degrees in computer and information systems security and which of those programs are available for doctoral students. We conducted a search for the term “Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security degree online” and retrieved an initial pool of 20 institutions. We then narrowed this list down to the top 15 schools that offer a doctorate in this field, ranking them in order from most expensive to least expensive.
Ranking Low-Cost Online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security Degrees
15. Nova Southeastern University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Online Ph.D. in Information Systems
Students interested in a Doctorate in Internet Security may consider pursuing the online Ph.D. in Information Systems with an optional concentration in information security from Nova Southeastern University. The concentration is recognized by both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). To earn their hybrid degree, online Ph.D. students must complete at least 64 credits while taking two research classes, a doctoral dissertation, and eight major courses in areas such as database systems, knowledge management, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, managing risk in secure systems, and network security and cryptography. Graduates are prepared to take on roles at government agencies and intelligence agencies.
14. Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Technology and Innovation Management
Northcentral University offers an accredited Ph.D. in Technology and Innovation Management. The program is completed entirely online and has no on-campus residencies. Designed to prepare students to take on leadership roles in both the public and the government sectors, one of the major outcomes is that students will be able to mitigate, analyze, research, and anticipate cybersecurity risks and threats. This comprehensive degree can be completed within 50 months of full-time study, and students have up to seven years to complete the program requirements. In addition to 60 credit hours of coursework, students are required to complete a dissertation, a comprehensive exam, and a research project. Courses cover areas such as contingency planning and disaster recovery, advanced risk management, and cyber forensics.
13. New Jersey City University
Jersey City, New Jersey
Online Doctor of Science in Civil Security Leadership, Management & Policy
The online Doctor of Science in Civil Security Leadership, Management, and Policy at New Jersey City University is a rewarding and competitive option for students seeking an online Ph.D. in Internet security. The program is approved by the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the DHS, making it an extremely in-demand program. It is conducted in a hybrid format, and students should expect to spend four weekends during the academic year and two weeks during the summer on-campus; these residencies allow students to attend the lectures and symposiums given by current and former professionals in the field. This particular program focuses on management and policy within the field of cybersecurity, allowing students the chance to learn how policy affects cybersecurity. Students must complete 48 credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and research. Course topics include civil security policy/budget development and implementation, management and policy, communications for civil leadership, and data analysis for civil security leadership.
12. Colorado Technical University
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Online Doctor of Computer Science – Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
The Doctor of Computer Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance at Colorado Technical University that is recognized by the DHS and the NSA. This evidence-based program focuses on teaching students the proper research theories and methods so that they may apply their education to real-world cybersecurity situations. This degree features an online curriculum with in-person, on-campus symposiums, enabling students to continue working without disrupting their education. Students must complete 100 quarter-credits of coursework, a dissertation, a comprehensive exam, and a research project. Courses are provided in areas such as enterprise security architecture, digital systems security, computer science and information systems, and security management. Graduates are prepared for top-level information security positions in both the private and public sectors.
11. University of Fairfax
Online Doctorate of Information Assurance
The University of Fairfax offers a fully online doctorate in information assurance that focuses on cybersecurity policy-related matters in enterprise management. Graduates of this program have pursued careers with Wells Fargo, Cisco Systems, Lockheed Martin, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Navy, to name a few. Coursework is available in both asynchronous and synchronous formats, and students must complete a doctoral dissertation. The program consists of 62 semester credits beyond the master’s, including 60 credits of pre-dissertation courses and two credits of dissertation development courses. Core classes are available in areas like business and security risk analysis, information security and organizational change, legal and ethical practices in information security, and information security systems and organizational awareness.
10. Johns Hopkins University
Online Ph.D. in Computer Science
Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University collaborate with the school’s faculty on cutting-edge research. Throughout the program, students also acquire independent, strong research skills and begin to establish themselves as members of the research community. All students are matched with faculty advisors, and students are well-prepared for careers in industry, government, research, and academia. Students can earn their degree within five to six years and students must complete a Graduate Board Oral Exam (GBO) as well as a doctoral thesis/dissertation. All students receive support, including an annual stipend in the form of teaching fellowships, research fellowships, or internal and external competitive fellowships.
9. University of Rhode Island
Kingston, Rhode Island
Online Computer Science Ph.D.
Students pursuing the online Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Rhode Island can complete the program within four years of full-time study. Students typically conduct a major research project with one of the school’s research groups with the goal of producing new intellectual contributions to the field of computer science. Students must complete 54 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree as well as 18 credits for a doctoral dissertation. Students who have earned a master’s degree in computer science or related field may be able to transfer a maximum of 30 credits toward their doctoral degree. Within the curriculum, students must complete two architecture and systems courses, one programming languages course, two mathematical foundations courses, and three additional computer science courses. Areas of study include computer networks, topics in distributed systems, and advanced computer organization.
8. Capitol Technology University
Online Doctorate in Cybersecurity
The online Doctorate in Cybersecurity from Capitol Technology University is a three-year program designed to prepare graduates to demonstrate creativity and innovation while conducting research in the field of cybersecurity across a range of agencies and industries. The program helps to ensure that graduates have the skills and knowledge to make executive decisions and take action as leaders in cybersecurity. A variety of electives and a solid core of foundational courses are available online, but students are required to attend one two-week, on-campus session at the start of each year of the program. In addition, the school is close to Washington, D.C., meaning that these residency sessions can also double as networking opportunities with different defense contractors and government agencies in the area. Coursework is available in areas like information assurance research literature, professional research theory and practice, and applied research in information assurance.
7. Capella University
Online Doctor of Information Technology, Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Specialization
Students may consider pursuing an online Doctor of Information Technology with a specialization in information assurance and cybersecurity from Capella University. Offered through the School of Business and Technology, this program can be completed in fewer than three years and focuses on areas such as security governance and maintenance, assurance controls and compliance, network and enterprise security risk management, and system and application security. Capella also allows doctoral students to work on their dissertation while they are taking major courses, giving students the opportunity to complete their degree as soon as possible.
6. University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Online Ph.D. in Engineering – Concentration in Security
The online Ph.D. in Engineering at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs features a concentration in security. This exceptional hybrid program focuses on the fields of homeland, cyber, and physical security and is designed for professionals who have an interest in multidisciplinary research in order to protect Americans. This degree focuses heavily on practical application and research, and it is one of the leading online programs in the field of computer and information systems security. The program has also earned the “National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education” from the DHS and the NSA. Students must complete 30 semester hours of research and coursework as well as a comprehensive exam and a dissertation. Course areas of study include advanced system security design, applied cryptography, and the fundamentals of computer and network security.
5. Liberty University
Online Doctor of Business Administration in Information Systems
Students may pursue an online Doctor of Business Administration in Information Systems from Liberty University. This 60-credit-hour degree is available entirely online and is designed to prepare students for careers in systems integration, data networking, or data administration. Throughout the program, students learn basic business platforms with an emphasis on strategy, security, ethics, and design from a biblical worldview. Students take core courses in business areas like human resources development and business research methods as well as information systems-specific courses such as human-computer interaction and emerging technology, systems analysis modeling and design, information technology infrastructure, and enterprise models.
4. California Intercontinental University
Online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Management
The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Information Systems and Enterprise Resource Management at California Intercontinental University is a 60-credit-hour program designed to help students perform applied research, transforming mature learners into leaders. While focusing on advanced decision-making techniques and skills, students hone the writing and research skills necessary for high-level responsibilities in the business and academic environments. Graduates are prepared for careers in consulting and management in information systems planning, support, and development. Coursework focuses on information systems, information security, knowledge management, and information technology at all levels of an organization.
3. University of the Cumberlands
Online Ph.D. in Information Technology
The University of the Cumberlands offers an online Ph.D. in Information Technology that is available entirely online. The program consists of professional research and coursework in areas such as enterprise risk management, data science and big data analytics, information technology importance in strategic planning, information governance, and information technology in a global economy. The professional research component of the program includes an inferential statistics course, a dissertation, and advanced research methods. Graduates will be able to utilize their education to effectively identify cyber threats, manage data-driven decisions, empower smart cities, use predictive analytics, and improve connectivity.
2. Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Online Ph.D. in Cyber Operations
Dakota State University offers an online Ph.D. in Cyber Operations that is designed for students who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science. Throughout the 61-credit-hour program, students learn the latest techniques in specialized cyber operations activities such as reverse engineering, analysis of malicious code, software exploitation, and data collection. Students may complete the program on a part- or full-time basis, and those with a master’s degree in computer science can earn their degree within three years. Other requirements include three on-site research seminars and a doctoral dissertation. Graduates are prepared for careers as professors or researchers for private industry firms as well as local, state, and federal government agencies.
1. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Online Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies
The Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee prepares graduates for professional and academic careers where an in-depth knowledge of research evaluation and processes is needed. The program emphasizes the study of the impact, use, retrieval, storage, and representation of information resources in society. Distance learners will be required to attend a week-long orientation on-campus at the start of the program and be physically present for all major program milestones, including the defense of the preliminary exam, dissertation proposal, and formal dissertation. Students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework, including three credits of electives, nine credits in research methods and design, 12 credits of foundational courses in information studies, and nine credits of specialized classes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Doctorate in Computer and Information Systems Security?
Many positions in information systems security and assurance do not require an online doctoral degree in the field. However, a doctorate is a must-have for students looking to pursue a more research-based career. A doctorate may also be beneficial for professionals seeking to advance in their current position and become a high-level executive or manager.
The field of information systems security works closely with a number of other industries, so graduates with this type of doctoral degree may find themselves working in a broad range of settings. Potential workplace environments may include banks, healthcare providers, government agencies, and other large technology firms and financial institutions. While some people in this field do consult work for different organizations and companies as part of a cybersecurity firm, others work primarily with one company as a member of the information technology department.
Typical job titles for this industry include:
- Information Security Manager
- Corporate Researcher
- Information Security Consultant
- Professor or University Faculty
- Chief Technology Officer
How Much Can You Earn in This Field?
The earning potential for a graduate with an online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security is statistically higher than a graduate with a master’s degree, although there are a number of factors to consider such as industry setting, level of experience, and type of job. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was $139,220 per year in May 2017. The highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $83,860.
The top industries in which the highest-paid IT managers work include information, computer systems design and related services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, and management of companies and enterprises. In addition, most computer and information systems managers hold full-time positions, and in 2016, about one in three managers worked more than 40 hours per week.
What is the Employment Outlook for Computer and Information Systems Security Managers?
According to the BLS, employment of computer and information systems managers is projected to increase 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. This means that those with a doctoral degree in this field should fare well in their career advancement or job search. Demand for IT and computer specialists will grow as organizations and firms expand their companies and move onto digital platforms.
Employment growth may also occur in businesses that are looking to bolster and improve cybersecurity. Recent cyber attacks have caused alarm for companies worldwide, and many organizations are now considering hiring specialists who can prevent these disruptions in their operations.
What Are the Various Disciplines of Computer and Information Systems Security?
The term “Internet security” is a broad one that encompasses cybersecurity, information systems, information assurance, and more. Most people think of Internet security as a multidisciplinary degree that combines homeland security with computer science, so there are a number of disciplines associated with this degree.
The more important disciplines are homeland security and computer science. Since professionals typically work within government agencies in cybersecurity positions, it is important to have an understanding of both disciplines. When it comes to cybersecurity, both of these disciplines are critically linked.
However, these are not the only two disciplines in this field. Those who work in cybersecurity must have a comprehensive of engineering and math as well as cybercrime, a subfield of criminology. Many cybercrimes focus on architectures and structures within the software, so information assurance and software design also play a large role in these positions.
Researchers must be well-versed in the history of cybersecurity and cybercrime, how they have evolved over the years, and the theories and statistics that are currently being investigated. Researchers may also work with new and emerging technologies to see if the private and public sectors are capable of implementing new security measures.
Regardless of their specific role, all Internet security professionals must learn about leadership and management at the doctoral level, mainly because most of them will enter the field in senior management-level positions.
Do You Need to Participate in a Residency?
Most online doctoral degree programs require students to travel to the campus for at least one residency. Residencies typically include symposiums, intensive research, and face-to-face meetings with faculty members and other students. These in-person gatherings are a fantastic way for students to work closely with others in the program that is simply not possible in a program that is only available online. Residencies also provide valuable networking opportunities. Although traveling across the country, in some cases, can be tricky for students or nearly impossible for those with unusual schedules, many students find that the benefits of the residency component outweigh the inconveniences. In addition, most of the dissertation work may be completed during the residency.
Is Accreditation Important for Online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Security Systems Degrees?
As with any university program, earning a degree from an accredited school is critical. In this field of study, institutional accreditation is more common than program-specific accreditation. Accreditation is a critical component of your education, particularly for online doctoral programs in information systems security. It is a voluntary assessment and evaluation that universities and colleges undergo in order to maintain high stands of quality that is set by a governing body. These assessments might include evaluations by a group of peer schools who are also accredited by the same organization. If a school is not accredited, it may impact a graduate’s employment outlook as most employers require their employees to hold degrees from recognized institutions.
What is CAE/IAE?
Professionals in the field of cybersecurity and information security systems have no doubt heard of the Information Assurance Courseware Evaluation Program (IACE). It was developed by the NSA to guide universities and colleges in delivering the education that the NSA, and other intelligence agencies, require of professionals entering the field. In addition, before schools can be recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE), they must align their curriculum with the IACE program.
This distinction is critical for those looking to work in government agencies after graduation. Not only is it a mark of distinction, but it also provides evidence to the FBI, the CIA, the DHS, and the NSA that a student has earned an education that aligns to the needs and values of these agencies. Students actively pursuing positions will benefit from this indication and likely benefit over other candidates that did not attend a CAE/IAE degree program.
Many of the more inexpensive traditional and online programs in Internet security offers this distinction, but that should not deter students from pursuing these programs. These government agencies do not care how much a student paid to earn the degree; they only care that a student can show evidence that he or she completed the program. Therefore, the CAE/IAE distinction is critical for those pursuing government-related careers.
Additionally, students looking to further reduce the cost of their doctoral degree should keep in mind that several of the degree programs on the above list offer tuition incentives for students who are government employees in the field of Internet security. In other words, the government will pay for a portion of the program if the student agrees to remain employed by a federal agency.
The field of computer and information systems security is complex, in-demand, and ever-growing. Due to the rise of technology and subsequent cyber threats and attacks, more employers are always looking out for experts in their field, especially those who have earned a doctoral degree from an accredited university or college. Earning an online Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Security indicates to potential employers that you have the skills, education, and experience to provide value to any given business or organization, thus setting you apart from the competition and increasing your employment prospects and overall career outlook.