Cybersecurity, Master of Science

Earn Your Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree at the University of Nevada, Reno

Fall Applications Due:
Thursday, July 27, 2023

Summer Classes Start:
Monday, May 15, 2023

In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, staying ahead of change means constantly reinventing yourself with new skills to meet the moment. From seasoned professionals to recent graduates, a degree can give you the currency you’ll need to jump-start your career as a cybersecurity analyst, security engineer, ethical hacker or other cybersecurity professional.

The online cybersecurity master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno, has been designed to prepare a new generation of cybersecurity professionals with the technical and critical thinking skills, leadership insights, and theoretical knowledge needed to address evolving cybersecurity challenges.

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Earn a master’s degree entirely dedicated to cybersecurity.

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Learn from industry experts and faculty active in the cybersecurity field.

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Study at an R1 Carnegie Classification research institution.

Benefits of Pursuing an Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree

Our online cybersecurity master’s degree program offers you the flexibility to build your educational experience around your busy schedule. The program also provides you with the opportunity to broaden your skill set, developing and refining both your technical expertise and leadership capabilities, to help you advance professionally.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Cybersecurity?

Earning an online master’s in cybersecurity can prepare you to pursue any of a wide range of leadership roles and specialized professions related to cybersecurity. Opportunities can range from building secure data communication networks and data security systems to overseeing network operations and coordinating computer-related activities. Because these roles focus on protecting critical data, they can be found in a broad spectrum of industries.

Master’s in Cybersecurity Career Paths

A master’s in cybersecurity degree can qualify you for advanced roles in cybersecurity and IT that may not be available to candidates with only an undergraduate education. Among the roles our online master’s in cybersecurity can prepare you for include:

Information Security Analyst


Forensic Computer Analyst


Vulnerability Analyst


Database Architect


Computer Network Architect


Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)


*Payscale, approximate median salary as of November/December 2022**U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median salary as of May 2021

What Is the Typical Master’s in Cybersecurity Salary?

The median annual salary for individuals with a master’s in cybersecurity was approximately $92,000 as of January 2023, according to Payscale. However, the precise salary an individual can earn depends on the specific job they have as well as factors such as experience level and location.

Cybersecurity Job Outlook

Plenty of opportunity

Globally, an estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs were available in 2023, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Those with an online master’s in cybersecurity degree can take advantage of this burgeoning job market.

An increasingly important field

The average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is about $9.44 million, according to a report from IBM. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, employer demand for cybersecurity professionals is likely to rise.

A wide variety of industries to choose from

Virtually every organization, large and small, needs cybersecurity professionals to safeguard their data, which means you can pursue a cybersecurity career in any of a wide range of industries, including health care, finance, government, manufacturing or transportation

Prepare for Leading Industry Certifications

The Master of Science in Cybersecurity covers concepts that are the basis for many highly regarded industry certifications. As you complete courses, you will be better prepared for the following certifications:

  • ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
  • GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)
  • GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • (ISC)2 Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)

Why Choose UNR for Your Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree?

The online master’s in cybersecurity degree program at the University of Nevada, Reno, is specifically designed to help you amplify your skill set to stay one step ahead in a constantly evolving field. You’ll focus on the theories, strategies and core concepts that shape the cybersecurity field. You’ll also gain valuable insights from industry experts in an engaging, community-driven online setting.

Our core values are another way we stand apart from other programs:

  • Excellence in all of our endeavors.
  • Integrity in all our actions.
  • Inclusiveness of diverse cultures and identities.
  • Collaboration between disciplines, programs, community partners and stakeholders.

Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Curriculum

Earn your advanced degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, while maintaining your current commitments. Our flexible program allows you to learn while you work and apply new knowledge to your current position.

At the University of Nevada, Reno, we’ve structured our curriculum so that you start the master’s program in cybersecurity with either core or bridge courses, depending on your background. All of our courses can help you develop technical, leadership and critical thinking skills.

The technical courses focus on the hands-on practice of protecting systems and networks against digital attacks. If you’re coming into the world of cybersecurity from a nontraditional background, your path will start with bridge courses to gain a firm foundation in computer science. Next, all students will learn to identify, formulate, analyze and solve complex computing or engineering problems by applying principles of computing, engineering, science and mathematics.

The leadership courses deliver the knowledge, insight and training to create a generation of cyber leaders prepared to embed security in every level of a company’s operations. Our courses prepare you to analyze and tackle threats while playing a vital role in an organization’s structure.

Our online master’s in cybersecurity courses cover:

  • Fundamentals of Computer Security
  • Internet Security
  • Computer Systems Administration
  • Mobile Computing Security and Privacy
  • Digital Forensics
  • Blockchain
  • Cryptography
  • Cybersecurity Law and Ethics
  • NIST Security Framework and Compliance

MS Cybersecurity Online Admission Requirements:

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited academic institution.
  • Applicants having minimum GPA of 2.75 and computer science minor equivalency or better will be directly admitted into the core program.
  • Applicants not having the minimum computer science minor equivalency or with GPA below 2.75 will be considered for admission into the bridge program (two bridge courses) before taking the core courses.
    • Bridge program candidates must successfully complete (as per UNR Graduate School Policy) two bridge courses (6 units) before starting core classes (30 units).

All applicants must also submit

  • One-page personal statement describing career goals
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Resume/CV
  • Proof of residency required to confirm students reside sanctioned countries or regions. Examples below: 
    1. Copy of current driver’s license 
    2. Water bill 
    3. Power bill 
    4. Waste Management bill 
    5. Lease agreement

Jay Thom, Senior Information Security Engineer

We’ve asked Jay Thom, senior information security engineer in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, for his thoughts on the online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program. Here are his responses:

What are some of the areas of focus within the online Master of Science in Cybersecurity (MSCY) degree program?

The online MSCY program is open to students graduating with both computer science (CS) and non-CS degrees. As such, the initial focus of the program is on bringing non-CS students up to speed on basic CS concepts to prepare them for further work. The two bridge courses are “Fundamentals of Computer Science” and “Principles of Operating Systems.” The goal is to provide a breadth of knowledge in the field, covering basic math, logic, architecture and programming skills.

For students successfully completing this phase of the program, or for students that have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a CS-related field, topics covered include internet security, systems administration, mobile security, reliability, security policy and procedure, law and ethics, game theory, digital forensics, and cryptography/blockchain. The program will expose students to a well-rounded course of study in preparation for careers in cybersecurity.

What advice would you give to someone studying cybersecurity?

A broad understanding of topics in cybersecurity is important, but hands-on experience is a must. Students should also involve themselves in extracurricular activities and the security community by engaging in opportunities such as cyber clubs, cybersecurity competitions and conference opportunities. Security is a very broad field and exposure to its various aspects will require more than what can be gained in the classroom. Efforts to put the knowledge learned in the classroom to use through personal projects is very helpful as well.

What are some reasons students should pursue a career in cybersecurity?

Forbes reports salaries in the cybersecurity field are, on average, twice that of all other career paths, and Fortune estimates there are as many as 700,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions open nationally.

If the raw opportunities available weren’t enough, the field of cybersecurity is incredibly diverse, ranging from technical to managerial, and spanning all industries. The security landscape is ever-changing, with new challenges presented by cybercriminals both large and small, making this a dynamic career that will require lifelong learning. This is not a field that will become “boring” or “predictable.”

What are the most important skills employers in this field are looking for?

The skills required in this field often depend on what aspect of security a student pursues. Generally speaking, the skills and competencies required for cybersecurity include: problem-solving; technical aptitude; a general knowledge of security across different platforms; an eye for details; excellent communication skills; technical skills such as forensics or a knowledge of networks; a desire to learn new things; an understanding of hacking and hackers, including how they think and what they do; and a patient and persistent approach to solving problems.

How can an online master’s in cybersecurity help students achieve their career objectives?

The MSCY program provides a great starting point for students seeking to enter the field by exposing them to a broad range of topics and provides an entry point for students with a non-CS background. We also have many students that have found themselves in security-related roles either through their work experience or military background that pursue this program to gain a credential that will help them advance their careers.

Speaking as a former student, why should students take this program at the University of Nevada, Reno?

The University of Nevada, Reno, has a well-developed program that spans multiple disciplines. There is excellent research being conducted in a variety of security fields, providing new knowledge and opportunities, as well as a mature cyber club and cybersecurity community among the students. Cyber club participants have consistently placed very high and even won in national competitions against many highly reputable universities. In addition, several security-oriented members have joined the very experienced faculty recently.

What is one area of cybersecurity that you are most excited to teach about?

I regularly teach “Fundamentals of Computer Science,” which is primarily a course on Python programming, which I very much enjoy. I also teach “Computer Systems Administration” and conduct research on fingerprinting IoT devices in the network. I find the topic of security very interesting and enjoy engaging students as they seek to develop these skills themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Earning an online cybersecurity master’s degree can prepare you to pursue any of a number of cybersecurity-focused career paths, across a wide range of industries.