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A complete guide to cyber security degrees

Interested in shaping our digital future? Discover more about cybersecurity degrees in this guide – and if they’re right for you.

Cyber security analyst working

With so much of our information stored digitally, companies and individuals are continually at risk of data breaches. So, it’s no wonder that cyber security is booming. 

Highly skilled professionals in this field are in demand to help companies combat cybercrime. And with that comes fulfilling job opportunities and high salaries. As a relatively new and lucrative space, it’s an exciting time to be exploring a cyber security degree. But, is it the right path for you? 

Choosing a degree is a big decision that will affect the rest of your career. It can seem daunting with so many choices on offer at different universities. But this guide gives you the rundown of everything you need to know to take that next step for you and your career in cyber security.

What is cyber security? 

Cyber security is how we protect our digital systems from unauthorised access, theft, and damage to sensitive information, including finances, data, and intellectual property. Fraudulent emails, malicious software and hacking are all common types of cyberattacks. 

Why is cyber security so important?

Security breaches can ruin lives for individuals and organisations. And unfortunately, according to AAG’s latest Cyber Crime report, someone is a victim of cybercrime every 37 seconds.

Cyber security is a huge concern for companies. Regulations set by GDPR require businesses to maintain robust security measures to protect personal data or else face large penalties. But despite these measures, cyber-attacks are only becoming more sophisticated, making the demand for cyber security professionals that much higher.

Online Degree

MSc Cyber Security

  • 2 years
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

What is a cyber security degree? 

A cyber security degree is an academic program designed to provide students with specialised knowledge and skills in protecting computer systems, networks, and data from cyber threats and attacks. These programs typically cover a broad range of topics, including information security fundamentals, network security, cryptography, ethical hacking, digital forensics, risk management, and cyber security policy and law. 

Through hands-on learning experiences and coursework, students learn how to identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, implement security measures, and respond to cyber security incidents effectively. 

Graduates of cyber security programs are well-equipped to pursue careers in various sectors, including government agencies, corporations, financial institutions, and cyber security consulting firms, where they play crucial roles in safeguarding digital assets and ensuring the security and integrity of information systems.

Are there different types of cyber security degrees?

Yes, there are a growing number of cyber security degree options available. It’s a good idea to take time to research the different courses and find one that best matches your career goals and passions.

Some cyber security degrees focus specifically on cyber security, whereas others offer a separate specialisation (joint honours) option. Some examples are:

What do you need to get onto a cyber security degree?

Like all undergraduate degrees, a cyber security degree has set entry requirements you need before you can apply. This will differ by institution. Typically, universities ask that you have previously studied A Level (or equivalent) science, maths, or computer science.

Cyber security degree must-haves:

  • A Levels: ABB – CDD 
  • BTECs: DDD – MMP
  • Scottish Highers: ABBBB – CCCD (Advanced Highers: BBC)
  • International Baccalaureate: 41 – 33

Cyber security degree nice-to-haves:

  • Grade B (at least) in maths and science
  • Work experience in an IT role
  • cyber security knowledge
  • Attended STEM summer schools (e.g. UNIQ or Sutton Trust)

Your qualifications and grades are translated into UCAS points. UCAS is the website where you apply to study your chosen course. For a cyber security degree, you’ll need between 72-136 UCAS points from subjects you’ve studied.

How long does a cyber security degree take to complete?

The duration of a cyber security degree can vary depending on factors such as the level of the degree (e.g., associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s), the student’s course load, and any prior education or experience they may have. 

Typically, an associate’s degree in cyber security can be completed in about two years, while a bachelor’s degree may take around four years. Master’s programs often range from one to two years in length. 

Some accelerated programs or those offering credit for prior learning or work experience may allow students to finish more quickly, while part-time enrollment or extended breaks may lengthen the time needed to complete the degree.

What are cyber security degree course assessments like?

Assessments will vary depending on the specific cyber security degree and university you 

choose. Students are usually assessed throughout the course through a combination of the following:

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Shorter tests
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Placement assessments
  • Projects

How difficult is a cyber security degree to complete?

A cyber security degree can be challenging, requiring an understanding of complex topics like cryptography and network security. Proficiency in maths and programming helps, and staying updated with evolving cyber threats is crucial. With dedication and hands-on practice, many students complete their degrees and enter the field as skilled professionals.

What skills do you gain by earning a cyber security degree?

Joining a cyber security degree equips you with a range of valuable skills essential for tackling cyber threats. These include proficiency in cryptography, network security, ethical hacking, risk management, and cyber defence strategies. 

You’ll learn to analyse vulnerabilities, develop effective security measures, and respond to cyber-attacks. Additionally, you’ll gain practical experience through hands-on exercises and interactive simulations, honing your ability to protect digital systems, networks, and data from malicious actors.

Also important, you’ll gain many transferable soft skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, attention to detail, communication skills (both written and verbal), teamwork, adaptability, and the ability to work under pressure

What career options are available to a cyber security degree graduate?

Having a cyber security degree opens up a world of opportunities for careers, both in the UK and globally. Here are just a few career options you can pursue once you complete your degree:

  • Blockchain developer
  • Cyber security analyst
  • Cyber forensic investigation
  • Forensic computing
  • Cyber security project manager
  • Network engineer
  • Information security engineer
  • Security software developer
  • Security architect
  • Digital forensic analyst
  • Ethical hacker 
  • Web designer
  • QA engineer
  • IT support technician
  • Management consultant
  • IT manager
  • Law enforcement
  • Graphic designer

How much does a cyber security degree cost?

The average cost of tuition fees for a cyber security undergraduate degree in the UK is around £9,500 per term. For international students, it’s around £19,000. The university’s location, ranking and reputation will impact the fees involved.

The good news is, there are a variety of funding options available:

  • Scholarships and Grants: Numerous scholarships are available, both merit-based and need-based. Universities, government bodies, and private organisations all offer financial support to eligible students.
  • Student Loans: Government-backed loans are accessible to UK and EU students, providing financial assistance with favourable repayment terms. However, international students may need to explore private loan options.
  • Employer Sponsorship: Some employers support employees in pursuing further education by sponsoring their degrees. This can alleviate financial burdens on individuals.

What are some of the benefits of becoming a cyber security graduate?

Job security

With cyber threats increasing and becoming more sophisticated, the demand for cyber security professionals is far outweighing the supply. A government report showed there were 30% more postings in this field in 2023. But despite increased demand, 37% of these roles have proved hard to fill. So job security is practically guaranteed.

High salaries

Cyber security professionals are some of the highest-paid in the tech sector. Graduates start off earning between £25,000 to £35,000 in their first role. With experience salaries jump to around £60,000 as a senior cyber security analyst or £70,000 in a leadership role.

New specialities

As cyber security has become an established field, more roles are opening up within it. These cover engineering, compliance, risk management, architecture and forensics. 

Continuous learning opportunities

The cyber security space is constantly evolving. Hackers will always find new ways to attack, pushing you to keep learning to remain one step ahead. 

Career progression

Moving from junior to senior or consultant-level positions can be quick as you gain more skills and experience. From there you can level up to a leadership or managerial role, or even set up your own company or branch out as an independent cyber security consultant.

What’s the benefit of joining an online cyber security degree?

Having the flexibility to study online around your work and home commitments is a game-changer for many looking to enter this field. Online degrees are a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and cost-effectiveness. 

Online Degree

Master of Business Administration (Cyber Security Management)

  • 1 year
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Discover cyber security degrees with FutureLearn

FutureLearn’s online degrees are designed to make learning work for you. You still come away with the same qualifications as those studying onsite but have the freedom to tailor your studies around your commitments.

With a range of IT degrees from world-class universities, you can explore options in a variety of fields, including cyber security.
Check out our online cyber security degrees here.

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