Master of Science in Cyber Security

An MBA vs. a Master of Science in Cybersecurity: What’s Right for You?

Michelle Moore, PhD

Michelle Moore, PhD

Academic Director of the Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership

So you work in cybersecurity or a related field and want to move up the ladder to a more prominent, better paying position. You’ve decided that your experience combined with a master’s degree is the best path to your dream job. But what master’s degree will be the most lucrative and appealing to employers? Oftentimes, for those in cybersecurity the choice comes down to a master of science in cybersecurity or an master of business administration (MBA).

An MBA

If you are considering an MBA you are likely considering an MBA with a technical specialization. This degree can be a good option for those interested in gaining management and ecommerce skills while staying up to speed on the all-important technical side of business and the ever-growing concern over information systems security.

However, if you are looking to differentiate yourself from the competition and know that you want to work in cybersecurity, an MBA might not give you a huge boost over fellow applicants. Plus, in order for an MBA to get you a high-level position in cybersecurity, you will likely need to supplement a relevant bachelor’s degree and years of experience in the field with certain cybersecurity certifications.

On the positive side, if you want to keep your career options open and aren’t ready to commit fully to a career in cybersecurity, an MBA offers greater flexibility because it is not as specialized (as a master of science in cybersecurity) and can be applied to a broad array of fields.

A Master of Science in Cyber Security

By obtaining a master of science in cybersecurity, you are gaining specific high-level training in a field desperate for employees with your caliber of education and experience. Additional motivation for choosing to focus your graduate studies on cybersecurity include the opportunity to earn a high salary and experience job security in a fast-growing field while making a meaningful contribution in the fight vs. cybercrime. Some programs offer the opportunity to learn not just the basics, but operational and leadership skills as well.

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The main difference, of course, between an MBA and a master’s degree in cybersecurity is the major focus of the program – where students will spend the majority of their study time and gain the most thorough training. In a cybersecurity program the focus will be on computer science and information systems, while an MBA will be primarily focused on business policy, practice and leadership.

The Best of Both Worlds

But what if you wanted both the business acumen provided by an MBA program and the technology-specific knowledge and skills needed to specialize in cybersecurity? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose.

For those looking to combine the leadership and management aspects of an MBA with the technical, theoretical and tactical components of a cybersecurity degree, your best option may be a master’s degree in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership. This degree gives you the best of both worlds by building on your bachelor’s degree and your field experience to give you a deeper understanding of the tools and tactics for defeating adversaries plus leadership and management skills specific to the cybersecurity field.

Other Degree Options

Of course, an MBA or master’s in cybersecurity are not your only options. Other degrees that you may consider are:

  • MS in Computer Science
  • MS in Computer Engineering
  • MS in Information Assurance
  • MS in Information Technology

However, if you are looking to decide between degree programs that focus specifically on cybersecurity, it is important to closely examine what each program offers and align program objectives with your own career and educational goals in order to determine the best degree path for you.

The University of San Diego offers two innovative cybersecurity graduate degree programs — the online Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership and the online or on-campus Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering — both designed to be completed in as little as 20 months.

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