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How to Choose an Information & Cybersecurity MBA
An MBA – Master of Business Administration – is a highly respected degree that opens various interesting career doors. However, the world of business is changing and people with even more specialized skills are required. One of these specialized skills is information security. As more and more of what we do is digital, and various pieces of sensitive information and data is kept electronically, coming up with systems to keep this secure is vital to the success of any organization. This is what those with an MBA in Information Security are charged with.
What We Do
Someone with this degree ensures data and information kept electronically is completely secure. They come up with plans to stop it from being hacked and from falling into the wrong hands.
Why It’s Hot
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for Information Security Analysts is $86,170 per year. However, this is at bachelor’s degree level. Someone with an MBA in the field is likely to earn significantly more.
Perhaps most interestingly, however, is that the BLS also reports that demand for these professionals is set to grow by 37% between 2012 and 2022. This is one of the fastest growth rates in all industries. One of the reasons for this is that our information systems are becoming increasingly large and complex, and the danger posed by cyber attacks is becoming larger. Indeed, some say it is a constant cat and mouse game.
The majority of people with an MBA in Information Security will work in offices. However, due to the nature of their work, they will also have to do quite a bit of field work. Their particular concentration will determine what type of field work this is. For instance, someone who works for Homeland Security may have to visit disaster zones and actually be active in these areas. Someone who works in IT security will work in server rooms and other closed areas. As such, the job is highly varied in terms of work environments. Indeed, many specialists work from home, accessing the systems they work with remotely.
How to Do It
In order to obtain an MBA in Information Security, you will first need to complete a four year bachelor’s degree. Various majors could fit in well with this MBA program, including IT, security, business or administration. As this is a very popular degree, admissions are particularly stringent and you will have to do well on the GMAT exam. It is also recommended to apply for several different universities, thereby increasing your chances of being accepted to one of them. Making yourself stand out by participating in elective courses and through your career is also very beneficial.
MBA in Information Security Online
Below is a list of 30 top online degree programs for obtaining a MBA degree that offers the information security specialization. Included is the name of the degree and specialization, the school it is offered at, and various relevant information, such as the GMAT requirements, the credits and how they are split between core courses and the information security courses, and any unique aspects of the program worth noting. The degree programs are:
- *Online MBA – Information Systems & Business Analytics – (100% Online & Highly Recommended) – University of Maryland at College Park – Ranked #20 in the Top Public Schools in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
- *Online MBA in Computer and Information Security – (Editor’s Pick) – Northcentral University – This no GMAT school offers this specialization to train experts of the newest and constantly changing technologies. There need to be leaders familiar with the threats of security breaches, as well as ways to incorporate new safeguards into newer evolving protections. This 30 hour program includes 15 core MBA credits and 15 credits from the computer and information security specialization, including cyber forensics. Graduates not only gain the managerial knowledge to lead projects and teams, but also increase your technical knowledge in key computer security disciplines. Under the guidance of your mentoring professors, students will explore the latest information security threats, defenses and trends, and examine realistic examples of the crucial links between security theory and the day-to-day security challenges in IT environments.
- *Online MBA in Information Security Management – (Editor’s Pick) – Keiser University – The 42 total credit hours includes 30 hours of MBA foundation courses and 12 hours of the specialization subject. In choosing a specialization at this school, there are no electives offered. The information security management courses use the available elective hours. The GMAT test score is required for applicants unless they meet certain criteria, such as GPA from undergraduate degree and/or previous relevant work experience.
- *Online MBA in Information Technology Management – Capella University – There is no GMAT requirement for admission to this program. Each course in this program lasts 6 weeks and contains 48 total credits. Up to 12 credit hours can be transferred from previous education, work experience, or special certifications. The course offerings are flexible, and can be completed on a full-time basis to complete the degree quickly, or on a part-time basis to be able to meet existing obligations to employment or family.
- *Online MBA in Information Technology – Kaplan University – This program contains a total of 76 credits, of which 16 are courses in the information technology specialization. Managing technology and system analysis and design are primary concepts in that part of the degree education. Their multiple offerings for courses will work for nearly any schedule, and the program can be started every six weeks, so there is no need to wait until fall or summer like some programs.
- MBA in Information Technology – South University – This curriculum is designed for incoming students to be able to completely finish all requirements for graduation within two years. They also offer an accelerated program that involves some Saturday classes, that can be completed in less than one year. GMAT test scores are only required for applicants with undergraduate GPAs of under 2.70.
- MBA in Information Security – James Madison University – The GMAT test score is required for admission to this school. This curriculum is delivered online, but does require face-to-face meetings each 8 weeks on Saturdays. It takes 27 months to complete all coursework. The 14 total courses include 10 core MBA courses and 4 courses on information security and relevant topics.
- MBA in Information Security – Saint Leo University – This flexible schedule program includes options to finish in as little as one year, or can be extended to take as long as five years. The 36 total credit hours include 21 credits of the core and 15 credits of the information security management concentration. The GMAT test score is only required if the applicant does not meet certain criteria such as undergraduate GPA and relevant work experience.
- MBA in Information Security – Colorado Christian University – The christian nature of this university drives this program through traditional intellectual instruction, with a special focus on moral and ethical factors in decision making in the business world. The GMAT test score is only required for applicants with undergraduate GPAs of under 3.0. The 39 total credits are designed to be completed within two years.
- MBA in Information Security – Excelsior College – Studying both the security of the information and the technology associated with it are fundamental factors of this degree program. Another specialization offered is cybersecurity management, and between these two options, most interested students would find the exact studies relevant to their intended career path after graduation. The 33 total credit hours include 24 hours of MBA classes and 9 hours of concentration classes. This school does not look for a GMAT test score for applicants.
- MBA in Information Security – Franklin University – This degree can be earned in as little as 16 months on a full-time basis. With certain standards met, there is no need to submit a GMAT test score for admission. The highly interactive class framework provides a level of teamwork and interaction traditionally only expected in a campus setting.
- MBA in Information Management – Aspen University – This school does not request a GMAT test score for admission. There are both transfer credit options and military tuition discount options available for this degree. Twelve courses make up the total curriculum and include topics covering fundamental MBA core topics as well as specialization courses in information management.
- MBA in Information Security – Bellevue University – The part of information security the student is interested in will make the electives designed to serve that exact interest. Of the three courses required for this concentration, there are six courses to choose from, and deal with cybersecurity, operations, risk management, and others. This would provide a valuable offering to prospective students with particular interests in sector of this field. No GMAT test scores are needed to apply to this school.
- MBA in Information Assurance – Walsh College – This no-GMAT school offers 13 specializations under the online MBA degree. Depending on the selections made when choosing your curriculum, the degree contains a total of 39 up to 57 credit hours.
- MBA in Information Security and Digital Assurance Management – Trident University – This degree program is designed for working professionals interested in earning an advanced degree around their busy schedules. 95% of the students in this program complete it in the designed length of 30 months. Extra focus is spent of the Trident MBA to prepare students to work comfortably with all aspects of international business. Since the modern business world exists in this global environment, the degree at this school wants to make sure their graduates are capable of excelling in that setting. No GMAT test score is necessary at this school.
- MBA in Technology Management – Herzing Online – This degree program includes the studies of issues related to information security, and includes systems analysis and design as well as technology and innovation in handling issues of information security. Special attention is paid to the online nature of much information and the special circumstances that this has on how information is obtained, stored, and retrieved. This school does require a GMAT test score for admission, and applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in business or a similar major as well.
- MBA in Information Security Management – Brandman University – The completely online nature of this program work well for prospective students looking to maintain their current employment while earning an advanced degree. The GMAT test score is only needed if certain undergraduate GPA and work experience needs are not met. The curriculum of this degree is designed with sustainability in mind, and how these beliefs can impact decision making, ethics and social responsibility.
- MBA in Cyber Security – Long Island University – The cyber security concentration is offered in conjunction with the online MBA program to provide this special expertise to those students interested in future leadership positions within the field. This school does no require a GMAT test score for admission. The cohort framework is used here to develop the sense of teamwork through the entire program, similar to what would exist in a job setting.
- MBA in Digital Forensics and Incident Response – Ferris University – This specialized area within information security involves the way that the information a company has can be studied and investigated, as well as researched after their is an incident of security breach in relation to that information. Courses are offered in seven week sessions, making it more manageable for students juggling other demands while completing the degree requirements. GMAT is required for most students, with some top applicants receiving waivers for undergraduate GPAs of 3.5 or higher.
- MBA in Management of Information Systems – Dallas Baptist University – This school aims to take a holistic view of all applicants, so only requires a GMAT test score of those who have not had sufficient relevant professional experience or sufficient previous graduate coursework. The 36 credit hours needed for graduation include 12 hours of the specialization, and cover systems analysis and design, database system management, and information technology management.
- MBA in Information Technology Management – American Public University – Only about 10% of students from the 2011-2012 program completed this program within the two year normal graduation timeframe. The online nature of this degree seeks to fully utilize all aspects of this learning environment, using web-based learning technologies, social media, and the limitless amount of information available through the internet for conduction research studies. This school does not require a GMAT test score for admission.
- MBA in Information Security – Florida Tech University – This program uses the case method to give students the opportunity to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real world business situations. Each student creates a business plan as part of the coursework, and the plan can be actually brought into being through the program with the full integration of each of the course topics. This degree can be completed online in less than two years while maintaining current employment and personal commitments. There is no GMAT test score required for admission.
- MBA in Information Security – Kennesaw State University – This school does require GMAT test scores be submitted by all applicants. For those who have not taken it, they offer four preparatory sessions for all applicants in order to help get them as well equipped as they can to score highly on the test. The courses are divided into five terms, and total up to a 20 month completion timeframe. Each program starts with a two day orientation at their Georgia campus, and the entire rest of the program is completed online.
- MBA in Information Assurance – Weber State University – This unique specialization is offered at this school and can be taken as a stand alone graduate certificate or taken in combination with the online MBA program as a concentration of that program. There is no need to take the GMAT test for application to this school. There is some required classroom time, which occurs at their Utah campus.
- MBA in Cyber Security – University of Maryland University College – This degree program uses the cohort model, which groups 25 or so incoming students together, and they work through the program with each other from start to graduation. The MBA program is made up of 42 credit hours, and the electives available from that degree are what can be used to select cyber security courses, which is also available as a dual degree option. This would earn the MBA with a Master of Science in Cyber Security Policy. This school does require a GMAT test score for admission.
- MBA in Information Management – University of Massachusetts at Lowell – Case studies and various other learning techniques are used to simulate real business dilemmas for students to practice applying the skills and topics covered in the classroom. The GMAT test score is required for admission. For applicants with the fulfilled prerequisite courses, this degree consists of 30 total credits, or 10 classes. Seven of them are within the core MBA courses and three courses are devoted to the information management focus.
- MBA in Information Technology – University of Wisconsin – This focus allows study into information security policy development, system security, enterprise resource planning, and managing technology during turbulent times. Each of these subjects provide an essential piece of managing the information security of an organization. The 30 total hours include 16 credits for the foundation MBA courses, as well as electives that can make up a focus that relates to each student. The GMAT test score is required at this school.
- MBA in Information Security – Western Governors University – This highly flexible and adaptable schedule works well for the schedules and commitments of most people. This school assigns each student a mentor, who will design and format your track to match your learning abilities and style. This will determine the combination of instruction that will be used in different courses of study. The standard time to complete this degree is two years, and there is no requirement for a GMAT test.
- MBA in Information Security – Penn State University WorldCampus – The renowned Penn State MBA program is now available to working professionals wherever they live. The schedule has flexibility to work with existing schedules, and allows the degree to be completed around employment needs. There are two residencies involved, which include week long studies, mainly at the campus in Pennsylvania. Only applicants that have doctoral degrees are excluded from having to submit a GMAT test score.
Pros & Cons
Every educational and career choice has certain advantages and disadvantages and this is true for an MBA in Information Security as well. By being aware of these pros and cons, you will be empowered to decide whether or not it is right for you.
- Much faster than average growth of around 37% expected between now and 2020, which means you are almost guaranteed to find work.
- Salaries are very interesting and you may be eligible for bonuses depending on where you work.
- You can work in a large range of different industries.
- Teleworking is very common, meaning you could work from home.
- The job comes with a great deal of responsibility. If something goes wrong, it will be blamed on you and the consequences could be catastrophic and far-reaching.
- You may have to work unsociable hours.
- You may have to spend most of your time sitting down, which is not good for posture or physical health.
- You must be committed to continuous education, as the world of IT is ever changing.
- James Madison University – This university offers a range of aid programs for their students.
- Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University offers a range of financial help programs that students do not have to pay back.
- Northcentral University offers eight different full tuition scholarships.
- Capella University offers various scholarships and grants to their students.
- Kaplan University offers various scholarships designed specifically to help students achieve their personal and professional goals and dreams.
- Computer security specialist: you will be responsible for coordinating, planning and maintaining the information security systems in an organization. You will install software and provide supervision for other departments. Additionally, you will recommend new security processes to keep company data protected. As cyber attacks evolve and become increasing sophisticated, your responsibilities will grow with them as your role is to prevent these attacks from harming your organization. Sometimes, you will also collect and present findings and data that will be used to prosecute those engaging in cyber crime. Your role is vital to information security, as you will also be able to develop responses to a cyber crisis.
- Homeland security officer: in this role, you will be charged with making sure U.S. data and resources are kept completely secure should a disaster happen. You will be trained to anticipate and react to various disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorism and earthquakes. You will make sure that the nation is less vulnerable should a catastrophic event occur. Much of your job will focus on research, as well as on developing new and analyzing existing security technology that could be of benefit should a national emergency occur. You will also be able to analyze intelligence reports that help you to detect and deter threats.
- Information technology project administrator: you will be responsible for maintaining the security of information systems and on making these more efficient for the organization for which you work. You will be an IT expert and ensure that the IT systems within your organization are efficient across the board. This includes computers, but also software and the network, each of which is inextricably linked. If a technical issue does arise, you will make sure you can troubleshoot the issue and make various recommendations to the chief technology officer in order to resolve these. Sometimes, you may also have to maintain the security of the systems.
- The Economist
- The Princeton Review’s Overview on Management Information Systems
- U.S. News’ Best Information Management and Technology Programs
- Cyber Defense Magazine
- InfoSecurity Magazine
Six websites with helpful resources for those working in field relevant to an MBA in Information Security