What is “Network Security”?
Network Security is best defined as a program or bundle of programs designed for the protection of critical data and access to a specified computer network (be it Business focused, Industrial, Administrative or Governmental). It is a broad term with many facets; although the common theme is permitting only authorized access to the program and information therein.
What are the Best Degree Programs for Network Security?
Information technology and security is still a young field; while nearly all colleges and universities have degree programs in Information Technology, the field of Network Security is still being refined. Currently, there are 2, 4 and 6-year degree programs available; each type has its pros and cons.
A 2-year Network Security degree (equivalent to an Associate’s Degree) may be valuable as an introduction to the field and entry-level job placement (with the anticipation of on-the-job training within the workforce to increase knowledge and hone skills).
A 4-year Network Security degree (Bachelor’s Degree) is good for career placement if the candidate has existing credentials within the IT field. Many schools offer a Bachelor’s Degree in the field and graduates can have good success in that career.
A 6-year program is considered the highest level/top tier degree program (typically a Master’s Degree or MBA program degree) and will be more comprehensive in its coursework (e.g. including intranet security as well as Network) and lead to more lucrative career placement (and future growth and success).
While the general field of study is still being settled (market forces are at work), all degree programs will include certain vocabulary such as Cyber & Network Security, Information Technology: Data Networking & Security, Engineering & Information Technology, Information Systems and/or Information Security.
What does the Curriculum Include?
A student can expect to cover these courses in their pursuit of a network security degree: Information Technology Concepts and Practices, Systems Administration, Information Security Hardware and Software, Network Engineering Hardware, Computer Forensic Essentials, Reverse Engineering and Ethics for Information Technology Professionals. This is but a sample of the courses, but it reflects the broad scope of the field that is addressed in the degree program.
Is Financial Aid Available for these Degrees?
Free applications for federal student aid (FAFSA) can be completed to find out government aid available regardless of your degree program. Other routes for financial aid are merit based scholarships, company school loan programs and a host of non-profit organizations. Most of this information is available with a little research on the web in addition to speaking with an admissions representative at your school of choice.
Is there specific Accreditation for Network Security Degree programs?
The two most popular accrediting organizations are ABET, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) program which is a program sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
How can I find a Reputable School for Network Security Degrees?
The best way to find a program that is right for you is to do your research! There are many resources available to gather information about network security degree programs; and there are several factors for the prospective student to consider. These factors include program/school accreditation, duration of the program, financial aid, employment placement assistance programs and net cost. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of criteria; it is included to help the student to make the best choice for their specific situation. As a wide field, the opportunities for success are great, as is the need for capable, competent graduates!