The 5 Best Online Doctor of Cybersecurity Degree Programs in 2022 

Online Doctor of Cybersecurity - featured image

The best online Doctor of Cybersecurity degree programs adopt a multidisciplinary approach, from information technology to the human aspects of cybersecurity. Students in these doctorate programs benefit not just from the interdisciplinary philosophy but also from the opportunities to advance their careers, promote the cybersecurity profession, and contribute to the body of knowledge. 


Overview

Online doctorate programs in Cyber Security have a similar format as their on-campus counterparts, with a few differences to account for the use of an online learning management system. Many are also designated as a Center of Academic Excellence for cyber security education, awarded by the National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.


Methodology

Graduates of the top cyber security degree programs are sought-after professionals in diverse industries! Corporate businesses, government organizations, nonprofits, and colleges and universities look for experienced cybersecurity professionals. 

That said, choosing the most reputable graduate school is paramount! Each of our five recommended online Doctor of Cybersecurity Programs excels because of these features:

  • Awarded as a Doctor of Cybersecurity degree, but may vary in the area of specialization,
  • Offered mostly in a blended learning format requiring students to complete certain courses online and some on-campus, benefiting adult learners juggling work and doctoral education,
  • Sharpens skills needed in actual research-intensive and application-based Cybersecurity work, including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, analysis, and problem-solving, so doctoral degree holders emerge as competent candidates for Cybersecurity careers in private businesses, commercial industries and the government sector,
  • Instructed by seasoned professionals in Cybersecurity and Cyber Defense, enabling students to learn from teachers who can offer their expertise and experience,
  • Delivered thru top-of-the-line LMS or Learning Management Systems while also providing students access to state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools and technologies,
  • Provides Financial Aid for qualified doctoral students and candidates seeking assistance with education funding,
  • Hosts facilities for Student Help and Career Guide or Assistance with networking and other opportunities being offered,
  • Properly accredited to meet the standards of doctorate-level teaching,
  • Acknowledged as a reputable online Cybersecurity doctorate program by agencies and industries that promote the profession.

Visit our Methodology to learn about our selection of the best Doctor of Cybersecurity programs offered online.


The 5 Best Doctor of Cybersecurity Degree Online Programs

The five doctorate programs in cybersecurity are considered the best in the field due to their active accreditation status, recognition as National Centers of Academic Excellence in cybersecurity education, and excellent graduate outcomes. Remember, nonetheless, that the best program addresses your specific needs in a doctorate program. 

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University
Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity

The Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity program at Capitol Technology University is considered the first of its kind in the United States! The doctorate in cyber security degree program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. The doctorate program brings students and respected cybersecurity professionals together in a conducive learning environment. 

Graduates possess the skill sets to conduct research essential for executive-level decision-making processes. Their research skills were developed via diverse electives, including healthcare information security, software assurance development, and information assurance strategic management. 

Students complete between 54 and 66 credit hours in courses like: 

  • Fundamentals of Doctoral Learning 
  • Information Assurance Research Literature
  • Applied Research in Information Assurance
  • Special Topics II in Information Assurance
  • Writing the Doctoral Dissertation

Students must also complete residency courses, including Situation Awareness Analysis and Action Plan Processes, Dissertation Preparation, Dissertation Presentation, and Oral Defense. 

Capitol Technology University provides graduate students access to its Center for Cybersecurity Research and Analysis. Faculty members, many of who have experience in security-related government agencies, are known for their willingness and ability to guide students toward success. 

Financial aid is available for online students. Retired and active military personnel can also apply for per-credit-hour tuition discounts. 

Capitol Technology University is accredited by the  Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).


Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University
Doctor of Computer Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

The Doctor of Computer Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program at Colorado Technical University prepares students for leadership positions in the field. Students explore best practices in enterprise management via discussions on trust and privacy laws, Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, and enterprise tools. This is the best Information Assurance education with a robust computer science foundation you can find! 

The online doctorate degree in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance has a residency component, offers in-person symposiums, and has multiple start dates. The doctoral program also features a built-in dissertation development series of courses. 

Students must complete 100 credits hours on sequential courses that cover: 

  • Information assurance 
  • Cybersecurity management 
  • Doctoral research (Literature review, annotated bibliography, and research methods and design)

Financial assistance is available for online doctoral students. Tuition discounts are available for active military personnel aside from institutional grants and scholarships. 

Colorado Technical University, a private for-profit university, has active accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 


George Washington University

George Washington University
Doctor of Engineering in Cybersecurity Analytics

The Doctor of Engineering in Cybersecurity Analytics program at George Washington University accepts applicants with a Master’s in Computer Science, Engineering, Information Technology, Mathematics, or Applied Science. This is a cohort-based doctorate degree program with weekend classes; students complete the program in lockstep format. 

Students participate in two distinct phases. First, the classroom phase has 10-week course sessions conducted at synchronous times (Eastern time). While the classes are synchronous, students can view recordings for reference. Second, the research phase covers the praxis development of approved research topics on cybersecurity. 

The accelerated format means students can earn the degree in two years’ time. Attendance is compulsory except for approved leaves of absence. The program has 30 credit hours of graduate-level courses and 15 credit hours of dissertation courses. Students can conduct research on cybersecurity issues in healthcare, defense, and corporations, among other settings.  

Tuition per credit hour is $1,625, but financial aid is available. George Washington University is duly accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 


Dakota State University

Dakota State University
Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Defense

The Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Defense program at Dakota State University is recognized for its academic excellence. DSU is, in fact, among a handful of universities with multiple Centers of Academic Excellence designations – Cyber Operations and Cyber Defense among them. 

These National Centers of Academic Excellence designations are awarded by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. DSU also has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. 

Students in the Ph.D. program develop knowledge and skills in technology and innovation management. Effective strategies against cyber threats (i.e., cyber defense) are also discussed. 

The online Ph.D. program features a largely online learning component. Students, however, must fulfill annual residency requirements consisting of on-site research seminars. 

Note that DSU also offers a Ph.D. in Cyber Operations degree program. Graduates of both Ph.D. programs find gainful employment in government agencies, academia, and private industries. 

The Ph.D. program has an extensive curriculum with 72 credit hours of courses like: 

  • Managing Security Risks
  • Network Security Monitoring and Intrusion Detection
  • Mixed Research Methods for Computer and Cyber Sciences: Design and Implementation

The capstone in the online Ph.D. program is a dissertation. Electives cover management and leadership, software exploitation, and independent study in cyber security research. 

This is among the most affordable online Ph.D. programs not only because Dakota State University is a public university with reasonable tuition. Online students can also apply for financial assistance. 


Marymount University

Marymount University
Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity

The Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity program at Marymount University prepares students for the increasingly complex war against cyber threats to the country’s national security. The nation’s digital infrastructure requires experts in cyber defense, and Marymount’s doctoral students are in the best position to do so. 

The online program is intended for working professionals in the information technology industry and related disciplines. Students work in diverse digital environments and have opportunities for employment in government agencies and private organizations. Collaborations are common in the online learning environment. 

Students complete 72 credit hours (with a post-bachelor’s degree) or 36 credit hours (with a post-master’s degree). With $1,190/credit hour, students may find it overwhelming. Financial aid comes to the rescue; the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service is available here. 

Courses include: 

  • Managing Cybersecurity Risk
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence
  • Malware Analysis
  • Beginning Applied Research in Cybersecurity

Students engage in extensive research into the myriad aspects that affect cybersecurity in the United States and worldwide. 

The National Security Agency or NSA and the Department of Homeland Security or DHS named Marymount University one of the National Centers of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense Education. 

Marymount University, a private Catholic university, has active accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


About Online Doctor of Cybersecurity Degree Programs 

Admission Requirements 

Every online program in cyber security has its specific admission requirements, including prior education, prerequisites, and minimum GPA. But the most common admission criteria among the best doctor of cyber security online programs are as follows: 

  • A bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, or information technology, among other related fields (The degree requirement varies between online programs, so be sure to check for specifics) 
  • Minimum GPA, usually 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or its equivalent, on the undergraduate or graduate degree earned and considered for admission purposes 
  • Satisfactory GRE scores (The requirement may be optional or may be waived under certain conditions) 
  • Letters of recommendation 
  • Personal statements 
  • Current résumé

The best online programs look for prospective applicants with excellent potential for academic success and research contribution. 

Time-to-Completion 

Online doctorate programs have a time to completion between three and five years, on average, but with a maximum completion period of 6-7 years. Be sure to check the specific rules on time-to-completion before applying for admission into an online program. 

Format, Curriculum, and Courses 

The number of credit hours in the doctor of cyber security online programs varies between 60 and 100, with the credits distributed between core, research methods, and dissertation courses. Most of these credit hours are earned via online learning (i.e., no on-campus visits required), but the dissertation courses are usually residency courses. 

Graduate students access their learning materials, such as reading and research materials, via a learning management system. If you’ve been in online classes in your undergraduate years, then it’s a similar learning experience.  

Major Examinations 

Graduate students in a typical cybersecurity program must pass three major types of examinations before being considered for candidacy. These exams are considered guideposts in your academic progress, too. 

  • Qualifying exam for formal admission into the doctorate program 
  • Preliminary exam as a demonstration of readiness for the dissertation 
  • Final exam for the presentation and defense of the dissertation 

Every doctoral program has its timeline and title for these exams, but this is a general idea. 

Doctoral Dissertation 

Both Doctors of Science and Philosophy in Cybersecurity programs consider the dissertation as the capstone project. The dissertation is a formal paper that contains a doctoral candidate’s original research. Every student works with faculty members as mentors and critics. 

The dissertation phase is usually covered in a series of courses, including: 

  • Introduction to the doctoral dissertation 
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Research process 
  • Literature review 

The original research must cover cybersecurity-related issues like biometrics vulnerabilities, ethical hacking problems, and law and policy. Every cybersecurity program has its preferred research areas, too. 

Core Courses 

Doctoral students must possess advanced knowledge and skills in computer science and information technology – or at least more advanced than in the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. Core courses covered in doctoral programs include: 

  • Cybersecurity Risk Management
  • Law, Policy, Ethics, and Compliance
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence
  • Applied Research in Cybersecurity

Residency Requirements 

Online graduate students must be prepared for residency requirements, but these are common during the dissertation phase, usually during the last 2-3 years. The Dakota State University and Colorado Technical University, for example, require their online graduate students to complete residency courses in dissertation preparation, presentation, and oral defense. 

Skills and Competencies Gained 

The most sought-after cybersecurity skills among security professionals that doctoral students develop can be classified into two major categories. 

Technical Skills 
  • Software engineering, including application security and cloud security development 
  • Threat intelligence analysis 
  • Red teaming/penetration testing 
  • Network security 
  • Risk and compliance auditing 
  • Mobile remote computing 
Transferable Skills 
  • Communication 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Creativity 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Love for lifetime learning since information technology is an ever-evolving field 

Both sets of cybersecurity skills are crucial to success among cybersecurity professionals, too. 

Learning Objectives

The program objectives vary between online programs, but graduates must demonstrate advanced knowledge of cybersecurity concepts and issues. These include cybersecurity analytics, research methods, and information assurance technologies. 

Tuition and Financial Aid 

Not only are doctoral programs demanding in terms of time, energy, and effort, but the tuition and other costs can run into the six-figure range! The average per credit hour cost ranges between $900 and $1,600+ excluding other fees and charges. 

The good news is… Doctoral students can apply for financial aid and other funding options. Graduate and teaching assistantships, research grants, and federal financial aid are common sources of financial assistance. 

Tip: Ask about the CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program administered by the National Science Foundation. Scholars start their cybersecurity careers with government organizations. 

Professional Certifications

Graduate students are well-advised to achieve not just entry-level credentials but also advanced certifications to boost their career opportunities even when pursuing a doctorate degree. Examples are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). 

Online Doctor of Cybersecurity - fact

Overview of Doctorate of Cybersecurity Prospects: Duties, Pay, and Career Advancement

There’s a concerning shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the United States and worldwide! Both the public and private sectors are in desperate need of cybersecurity experts, with more than 700,000 available positions.  Even better, these jobs will still be open five years from now! 

Roles and Responsibilities of Cybersecurity Professionals

Many roles and responsibilities come with being part of the growing number of cybersecurity professionals. But these can be categorized into the following: 

  • Access controls refer to the processes and procedures that determine who, when and how individuals can access information systems. 
  • Application and network performance pertain to the monitoring of security issues that can result in performance issues and their appropriate preventive and remedial actions. 
  • Vulnerability management allows organizations to identify and address system vulnerabilities. 
  • Patch management refers to the regular updates to software and systems to protect against emerging cyber threats. 
  • Endpoint detection and response use tools in monitoring and reporting cyber threats. 
  • Business continuity planning is a method for restoring information and systems compromised or lost after cyberattacks. 
  • Backup and disaster recovery act as a support to business continuity planning. 
  • Cybersecurity training involves continuing education of employees engaged in cybersecurity. 

Average Salary, Job Outlook, and Potential for Career Advancement 

While there are numerous security positions for cybersecurity professionals with a doctorate degree, the first thing that comes to mind is the information security analyst occupation. With a 35% projected growth in employment (2021-2031), it’s no wonder that it’s a popular option. 

Information Security analysts are sought-after by the public and private sectors because of the rising number and the complexity of cyber threats and attacks. The growth in telehealth and other digital health services is also fueling the demand. 

Information security analysts are also among the highest-paid computing professionals, with $102,600 in median annual wage. These security positions are in diverse workplaces, too, from the information technology sector to the finance and insurance sector. 

Aside from information security analyst positions, here are other popular career paths.  

Chief Information Security Officers 

These executive-level officers oversee the design, implementation, and evaluation of cybersecurity programs and projects. 

Chief Technology Officers

These are also executive-level officers whose main duties are in the management of the development, dissemination, and distribution of cybersecurity products and services to third-party organizations. 

College Professors in Cybersecurity 

Educational programs in cybersecurity require knowledgeable professors, and this is where a doctorate degree in cybersecurity comes in. 


Frequently Asked Questions 

How can you choose the best online Doctorate in Cybersecurity degree program? 

Determine your specific needs in an online program first – tuition and other costs, type of classes and schedule (synchronous and asynchronous), and location for the completion of residency requirements. Then, you can consider regional and programmatic accreditation. Look for a National Center of Academic Excellence designation since it’s proof of being the best. 

Is a Doctorate in Cybersecurity worth it?

Yes, it is, considering that there’s a high demand for cybersecurity professionals! Plus, the compensation package means gainful employment. 

Are there specialization options in doctorate programs? 

This is a rare offering, but you can customize your doctorate degree via electives like innovation management. 


Key Takeaways

  •  Now is the best time to pursue an online doctorate degree in cybersecurity because of the high demand for cybersecurity professionals combined with excellent salaries and diverse career opportunities.  
  • Be prepared for the academic rigor of doctorate degrees, however, aside from the tuition and other costs. Advanced knowledge and skills in cybersecurity, effective study and time management habits, and an extensive support system are a must.

Additional Resources:

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor