Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership


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Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership Curriculum

The Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership program course design includes 37.5 hours of core instructional time for each three-unit course. Additional homework, research, and study time will be required. Students are advised to spend 15-18 hours per week in each course in order to be successful.

The 30-unit MS-CSOL program consists of ten courses – ten 3-unit courses, including a 3-unit integrative capstone course. This 30-unit program can be completed in five semesters (20 months). You can start this program in any semester (fall, spring, or summer). Each semester is 14-weeks long and there are two 7-week courses offered. Students should ensure that their personal computers meet the following system requirements.

At a Glance

Earn your master’s degree online in just 20 months to position yourself for career success in cybersecurity operations and leadership.

20 Months
30 Units
May 7, 2024
April 8, 2024
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The MS-CSOL program spans over five different semesters which includes a mandatory orientation course. Each semester is fourteen weeks and is split into two different courses. The first course is seven weeks and the second course is seven weeks. Below is a sample outline of what the span of the MS-CSOL program may look like:

Orientation/Semester 1

Course Units

This course introduces you to the University of San Diego and provides important information about the program. Throughout the orientation, …

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This course will feature a comprehensive overview of concepts and tools essential to the cybersecurity professional and provide a review of …

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This course will provide in introduction to modern applied cryptographic theory and practice, and how cryptography is used to support inform…

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Semester 2

Course Units

This course will introduce the student to the importance of architectural and network security at the enterprise level. Security architectur…

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This course discusses and explains the fundamentals of risk governance, the processes to follow, compliance regulation, and the security con…

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Semester 3

Course Units

This course will provide an understanding of the concept of policy in information security. Students will explore the types of policy that a…

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This course will provide an in-depth study of the principals and tenets of the design and development process of secure software used to pro…

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Semester 4

Course Units

Active defense of an enterprise is not only the responsibility of the equipment, applications, and security processes of an organization but…

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This course will present and discuss how information superiority and information dominance is key to influencing operations associated with …

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Semester 5

Course Units

This course will introduce the principles and general practice of incident response, including an overview to digital and network forensics.…

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CSOL 599 will be given at the end of the MS Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree to bring the entire body of knowledge in cyber s…

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Students are admitted throughout the year for admission into one of three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall). Each semester two courses are offered, with students focusing intensively on one course at a time – a total of 7 weeks for each course. An academic calendar for the first year follows.

Admission application packets are accepted on a rolling basis. A decision will be recommended by the Review Committee within 1 week from submission.

Test Out

USD students in the MS-CSOL program will be required to utilize TestOut as part of the curriculum. Instead of purchasing TestOut for the proper courses outside of Canvas, the TestOut online service will be embedded in the Canvas classroom. As soon as you log into your course, you will have access.

The “lab fee” will go towards your program’s tuition. You will only be required to purchase each course once. So, if CyberDefense Pro for TestOut is used in 3 classes, students only have to pay that lab fee once.
While a student will use portions of the TestOut courses, they will not be required to complete the full course, just the professor prescribed exercises. If they do choose to complete the TestOut course in its entirety on their own time, they will be qualified to sit for different certifications (highlighted below). Once a student accesses a TestOut course, they will have access to it for 24 months.

For example, CSOL 530 utilizes CyberDefense Pro. This course prepares students for:
TestOut CyberDefense Pro Certification
CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) Certification

Program Learning Outcomes

The Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership (MS-CSOL) focuses on key aspects of leadership, in addition to the graduate learning outcomes shared across all of USD’s Master’s level programs.

  1. Develops specialized field knowledge and integrates knowledge across content areas of cybersecurity.
  2. Demonstrate critical inquiry through field-based approaches and methods and through effective and ethical information search strategies.
  3. Applies learning across multiple contexts within the field, integrating knowledge and practice specifically relating to the areas of cybersecurity and leadership.
  4. Reasons ethically in evaluating general perspectives, policies, and/or practices relevant to cybersecurity as well as evaluate diverse points of view to include temporal, cultural, linguistic, sociopolitical and/or technological contexts.

In addition to cyber security leadership skills, students are taught theory and how to turn that theory into practice, gaining specific knowledge and skills in the areas of technology, law, policy, compliance, governance, intelligence, incident response, and management. The program places significant emphasis on immersive experiences, which gives students the real-world exposure they need to be truly effective in the field.

Success stories

I know of no other school providing so comprehensive a program and using a total immersion strategy to educate cyber professionals. This strategy, employed by the University of San Diego in my opinion, is the most efficient and effective way to teach cyber security and serves as a model for the nation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are classes scheduled to accommodate working professionals?

Yes. The 100% online M.S. in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree program is designed specifically with working professionals in mind. Online courses can be completed on your own schedule (as long as deadlines are met). It is important to note that all of our professors are industry practitioners, meaning that they have a significant amount of experience and are often well-respected leaders within the cybersecurity industry.

Does the degree have to be completed within 20 months?

The program is designed to be completed in 20 months. The curriculum schedule functions on a rotational system, meaning that if a student skips a course they will have to wait for the rotation to complete before jumping back in. We encourage individuals who are interested in the program to speak with an enrollment advisor, or to work with their program coordinator, who is available to help every step of the way.

Is the cybersecurity master’s degree offered fully online or are there some on-campus requirements?

The M.S. in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership degree program is fully online. The University of San Diego offers two master’s degree programs in cybersecurity. The Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership is 100% online and the Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering is available on campus or online.

How long is each course?

Each course lasts a total of seven weeks with the only exception being introductory courses, which are 14 weeks. Students take two courses each semester, focusing intensively on one course at a time.

Will my degree be conferred differently from an on-campus program?

The degree conferred is identical to that earned by campus-based students. The online courses embody the same learning outcomes and high levels of academic excellence, educational rigor and content delivery.

Does the Master of Science in Cyber Security Operations and Leadership require applicants to take the GRE or GMAT?

No. The admissions committee takes a comprehensive approach when reviewing applications. A GRE or GMAT score is not necessarily a good indicator that someone is, or will be, a successful cybersecurity leader/professional.

Who will benefit the most from this program?

The program was designed specifically to help foster the next generation of cybersecurity leaders, whether they are currently working in cybersecurity roles or launching a career in this vitally important, fast-growing field.

Many of our students are current cybersecurity professionals who are looking to take the next step in their careers. For those students, our degree program offers the security concepts, topics, theories and leadership skills necessary to be considered for C-level positions. For students with less experience, who may be at an earlier juncture in their cybersecurity career, or for those switching careers from more traditional IT roles, our degree program offers the education required to quickly advance into your desired career.