Is A Master’s Degree In Cyber Security Worth It?
You already know the benefits of studying cybersecurity. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be contemplating going back to school. You could be even wondering whether a master’s degree in cybersecurity is worth it.
A master’s degree is worth it, especially when you’re interested in an academic career. It takes 1-2 years to complete with a focus on intensive self-motivated research. However, if you’re looking to develop a particular skill for an IT job, a certification might be your best bet.
This article isn’t about telling you what you want to hear. It’ll present the arguments and the case for earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity. No added sugar. No gimmicks.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to pull the trigger.
Cybersecurity Master’s Degree vs. IT Certifications
A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree that you obtain after earning your undergraduate degree. In some sense, acquiring a master’s is “optional.” The three types of a Master’s include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), and Master of Engineering (MEng).
These master’s degrees fall into two categories. The first category is when you attend classes and pass an exam. The second category is when you present your research paper to a committee.
The latter is the Master of Research (MRes) degree, which offers a research-focused path to the Master’s degree in cybersecurity.
Most of the work will fall on you to do original research. Still, this path is following the rules of the first category.
Cybersecurity diplomas and certificates can also help you accelerate your career. They offer similar qualifications as a master’s degree. However, they’re more accessible and take less time because they focus on teaching specific knowledge and skills.
You don’t need an undergraduate degree to study for a certification, but you’ll need it for a master’s degree.
The Master’s Difference
A master’s degree in cybersecurity won’t only look good on your CV, but it’ll also demonstrate your skills. Thus, you’ll stand out to potential employers more than your peers.
Your income will likely increase as you prove your commitment to study cybersecurity over a long-term course.
A master’s degree will also help you get a promotion as it’ll qualify you to take more specialized tasks.
Furthermore, a master’s degree can help you switch careers when you apply for a conversion course.
Without a doubt, a master’s degree will make a difference in your career.
However, you can achieve similar results with a specialized cybersecurity certification in a shorter time.
A typical master’s degree would take 1-2 years to complete. On the other hand, a certification takes a few weeks or months to complete.
The real difference a master’s degree would make is putting you on the path to a doctorate (Ph.D.).
If your goal is to advance your career, a certification makes more sense. If you love teaching cybersecurity, a master’s degree would be the best route.
Who Else Study For A Cybersecurity Master’s Degree?
If you have an undergraduate degree in engineering or computer science, you may be eligible to apply for a master’s degree in cybersecurity.
However, the requirements will vary from school to school.
Many students plan for a master’s degree even before earning their undergraduate degree. Work or family might get in the way, but they come back to fulfill their dream when they’re ready.
International students may travel to obtain a master’s degree in a prestigious university. Perhaps, they completed an undergraduate in their home country and are looking to further their cybersecurity education abroad.
It helps grow the international cybersecurity community and foster overseas collaboration.
Whatever your situation, you can apply for a master’s degree if you set your mind to do it.
It’s Not About The Skills And Knowledge Alone
Studying for a master’s degree will give you an in-depth look into your chosen specialty. It allows you to do your original research. You can find a course that focuses on your favorite cybersecurity field.
Doing a master’s degree involves around 60% self-research along with studying the course material.
You can’t give up in the middle of the road. On the bright side, this prolonged study will expand your expertise like no other. It’ll prepare you for specializing in a narrow field that might be in demand in your country.
In contrast, studying for a Ph.D. is at least three years long. It’s big on research. And you may get the chance to publish your doctoral thesis.
The Ph.D. path is for you if you want to teach cybersecurity academically and give lectures.
Not only will a postgraduate degree in cybersecurity enhance your skills and knowledge, but it’ll also make you more attractive to employers.
It’s not only about getting a job. Along the way, you’ll pick up benefits like research skills, better communication, improved critical thinking, project management, and realistic problem-solving.
The Cost Of A Master’s Degree In Cybersecurity
A master’s degree is forever without an expiration date. No renewals. No maintenance fees. You’ll always have that “MA” next to your name.
It’s understandable if the cost of obtaining a master’s degree is stopping you. Depending on your situation, it might be a hefty sum. But it pays off. More than social status, it’ll transform you into an expert in your field.
Instant credibility, anyone?
If money isn’t an issue and you’re worried about the time commitment, think about your ultimate objective.
It doesn’t matter what your parents and peers say. Think about what you want.
This master’s degree might be the key you need to open the door to industry recognition, career advancement, and personal fulfillment.
Think of it that way and ask yourself: where do I see myself five years from now with and without a master’s degree?
If you see a better version of yourself, then a master’s degree is worth it, and it’ll add to you. If you see no difference, just let it go and build yourself in other ways.
That’s all to it. Don’t overthink it. You won’t find a middle ground when it comes to a master’s degree in cybersecurity. Fully commit or don’t at all.