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Masters Degree or Cybersecurity Certificate — Which Is More Valuable?

March 26, 2020

In today’s fast-paced world things are constantly changing, especially when it comes to technology. With our dependence on the internet growing each day, it’s more critical than ever that things remain safe. Because of this, the need for expert cybersecurity professionals who can implement effective cyber safety measures in a variety of industries continues to increase.

Cybersecurity is an exciting professional field that affects the lives of everyone connected to the Internet in any way, shape, or form. It involves the practice of protecting information and data from outside sources in cyberspace or online. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing fields with more than a million unfilled jobs worldwide. Great news — nearly half of those are in the United States!

Download SHU's Guide to Graduate Degrees in Cybersecurity, IT, or Computer  Science to learn more about jumpstarting your tech career!

Cybersecurity Certificate or Master’s?

You may be considering a career in cybersecurity, but could be wondering — how can I earn the competitive skills I need to advance professionally? Translation: should I get a certificate in cybersecurity or do I need to pursue a master’s? 

Understanding which educational opportunity best meets your needs is the first and most critical step on the path to a career in cybersecurity. It’s crucial that you take the time to determine the real return-on-investment of graduate school and consider which program will allow you to achieve your career goals.

Certificate in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity certificate programs are typically designed to provide individuals with the fundamental skills needed to succeed in cybersecurity. You will receive an introduction to networking, risk and threat management, security architecture, ethical and security skills to effectively address the threats and risks in our rapidly expanding and technology-driven world. 

If you did not receive an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity and are interested in breaking into the field, a graduate certificate may be the way to go. Many working professionals may also choose to get a certificate rather than a degree in order to fuel a promotion in their current job. In most cases, the college credits earned from a certificate program can later be applied to a graduate degree program if desired. 

Master’s in Cybersecurity 

Getting a graduate degree in cybersecurity after you’ve worked in the field, may give you the skills you need to advance your career and obtain leadership positions. A master’s in cybersecurity will provide you with increased levels of proficiency in products and applications, the skills to build secure and dependable systems, the opportunity to conduct hands-on cybersecurity research, and so much more. Completing a master’s program allows students to focus more intentionally on their desired area of study and become experts in their field. 

While the cost to pursue a master’s degree is more than that of a certificate, professionals who hold a graduate degree make thousands more annually than those who hold a bachelor’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many jobs for computer and IT-related professionals require a master’s degree. By pursuing your master’s in cybersecurity, you’ll develop the knowledge and skills needed to be considered for leadership roles, and in turn, position yourself as an indispensable thought leader in your field.

Making the Right Decision for You

In the end, the decision lies in understanding your personal, educational, and career goals. Do you want to kickstart your career in the cybersecurity field? Are you looking to gain skills and training as soon as possible, so as to get started on a cybersecurity career? If so, a graduate certificate in cybersecurity is probably best suited to your needs! Or are you looking to gain a more in-depth skills and experience that will position you as a competitive candidate for leadership positions? If so, a master’s degree program might be the best fit for you. 

In the end, both master’s and certificate programs in cybersecurity offer ways to drive your career forward. If you think a graduate degree may be in your future, but now isn’t the right time, remember that the credits from a certificate program can be applied to your master’s program later. 

Cybersecurity Graduate Programs at SHU

Sacred Heart University offers both certificate and master’s programs in cybersecurity to help you jumpstart your career and propel yourself into leadership positions in this fast-growing field. 

Sacred Heart University offers a Cybersecurity Graduate Certificate program through the School of Computer Science & Engineering. The certificate program requires the student to complete a minimum of twelve semester credit hours of coursework that may be later applied to a master’s program. 

SHU also offers an MS in Cybersecurity program that provides you with all the necessary skills (theoretical and hands-on), knowledge, networking opportunities, and real-world experiences to build a successful and rewarding career in cybersecurity, and to set yourself up for leadership positions in the future. 

At SHU, we’re here to help you achieve your educational goals and transform your future. Our programs are highly competitive and taught by expert faculty with over 50 years of combined experience in the cybersecurity field. By becoming part of the cybersecurity community at SHU you will be joining the fight against the virtual forces that threaten the online functionality of businesses and governments around the world. We’re excited to have you join us and look forward to talking to you soon!

To learn more about the graduate programs we offer at Sacred Heart, download our resource: A Guide To Graduate Degrees In Cybersecurity, IT, or Computer Science.

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SHU Graduate Admissions Team

About the Author

We are the graduate admissions team at Sacred Heart University. We aspire to create a welcoming and supportive environment for students looking to continue their education while empowering them in mind, body and spirit. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a graduate degree at Sacred Heart!

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