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University of Sunderland

Is a master’s degree in cyber security worth it?

Posted on: December 1, 2023
Businesswoman is taking notes of clients needs to protect cyber security from hacker attacks and save clients confidential data. Padlock Hologram icons over the typing hands. Formal wear

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the field of cyber security has become more crucial than ever before. With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks, businesses and organisations are in dire need of skilled professionals to safeguard their digital assets.

The global cyber security market is predicted to continue growing, too. In 2022, it was worth a booming $173.5 billion, and is expected to grow by 8.9%, to $266.2 billion by 2027. This level of growth will be reflected in the need for cyber security professionals, making it a future-proof career choice.

This consistent growth has led many to consider pursuing a master’s degree in IT security. In this blog, we will consider all aspects of Higher Education study, weighing the benefits and potential drawbacks, to help you make an informed decision.

Why study cyber security?

A master’s degree in cyber security provides in-depth knowledge and specialised training in various aspects of information systems security.

Cyber attacks are rising year on year. According to a report by Check Point Research (CPR), from 2021 to 2022 there was a 38% increase in attacks. Criminal groups now instigating the attacks are smaller and more agile, and are exploiting vulnerabilities in business collaboration tools and the rapid shift to online working and learning.

Industry knowledge on cyber security risks continues to evolve, but with every new approach, hackers are constantly evolving their own knowledge and becoming more clever and adept at breaking through digital defences. Due to this, professionals who have gained up-to-date knowledge and skills through studying a master’s degree are in high demand.

Master’s degrees will typically cover a range of sought-after topics such as network security, cryptography, digital forensics, security management, and risk management. This level of expertise is vital in today’s landscape where cyber threats are constantly becoming more sophisticated.

Career opportunities and progression

One of the most compelling reasons to pursue a master’s degree in cyber security is the abundance of career opportunities it opens up. With a postgraduate degree, you are well-equipped to take on high-level roles such as cybersecurity analyst, security engineer, or information security manager.

As the demand for cyber security professionals is expected to continue to grow, it is a stable and potentially lucrative career path. Further study can lead to higher earning potential compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree in the field. With the specialised knowledge and expertise that comes from studying an advanced degree, higher salaries are common.

Specialised knowledge and hands-on experience

A master’s programme in cyber security delves deep into advanced topics, ensuring that graduates have a comprehensive understanding of the field. This includes hands-on work experience with real-world scenarios and practical applications, which are invaluable in dealing with cybersecurity challenges in a professional setting.

Many postgraduate degrees offer specialised tracks within cyber security, such as information security, security engineering, or digital forensics. This allows students to focus on their specific areas of interest and expertise, making them highly sought-after in their chosen niche.

Flexibility in learning options

When considering a master’s degree in cyber security, it’s important to note the various learning options available. Traditional full-time on-campus programmes are available for those who prefer a structured classroom environment. These programmes can offer a more immersive experience and the opportunity for in-person networking.

For those who require flexibility due to work or other commitments, part-time and online master’s courses are also widely available. These options allow students to complete their studies and coursework at their own pace, making it more accessible to working professionals and international students. 

Distance learning and online courses have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they enable students to access high-quality education from anywhere in the world.

Tuition fees and financial investment

While the benefits of a master’s degree are substantial, it is essential to consider the financial aspect. Tuition fees for postgraduate study can vary widely depending on the institution, location, and programme structure. Potential students should weigh the investment against the potential return in terms of career advancement and earning potential.

Additionally, some programmes may offer scholarships, grants, or financial aid options for qualified candidates. Researching and applying for these opportunities can help alleviate the financial burden of pursuing a master’s degree.

Considerations for international students 

For international students considering a master’s degree in cyber security, it’s important to consider language proficiency requirements. 

Many programmes, especially those in English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom, may require proof of English language proficiency through standardised tests like IELTS.

Take the leap into cyber security study

Studying a cyber security master’s degree can be a highly worthwhile investment for those looking to advance their careers in this critical field. With specialised knowledge, hands-on experience, and the potential for higher earningl, the benefits of pursuing a master of science in cyber security are substantial.

Before undertaking any higher education study, it is important to carefully weigh factors such as tuition fees, programme structure, and learning options to ensure the chosen programme aligns with your goals and circumstances. If you do decide to study, a cyber security degree can provide a solid foundation for a successful and impactful career in this exciting field.

The University of Sunderland’s MSc Computer Science with Cyber Security is taught flexibly via online learning and is open to individuals from a wide range of backgrounds whether you want to build on knowledge learnt in your undergraduate degree to specialise in cyber security, or you’re looking for a career change into this future-proof industry. 

The programme will make you adept at fighting cybercrime and keeping computer systems secure, with industry-relevant modules covering cyber security fundamentals and user experience design, alongside data science and database systems security and development.

With six start dates a year, you can begin within months, and you have the option to study either full-time or part-time.

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