Degree Overview

Master of Science, Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

With the ever-present risk of cyber-threats, there’s never been a more complex and exciting time to work in information systems security. Arm yourself with the knowledge and skills to take a leadership role in the global digital economy. Become the authority on keeping infrastructures and information safe. Earn your master’s degree in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance online from WGU.

Designed in collaboration with national intelligence organizations and IT industry leaders, WGU’s MSCSIA degree program will ensure you are up-to-speed with emerging technologies and best practices in security governance. You’ll develop your skills in predicting, exposing, and deterring potential cyber-threats—so you can build more secure systems and solutions to prevent security issues.

Who the Program is For:

Experienced information systems professionals or individuals with real-world IT experience who are:

  • Seeking a master's degree to prepare for a key leadership role in cybersecurity, information systems security, and information assurance.
  • Looking to expand their expertise and align their skills with the latest cybersecurity and information assurance guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Security Agency (NSA).
  • Planning to become certified in ethical hacking or computer forensic investigation.

While you should plan to commit 15 to 20 hours a week to your studies, this program is flexible and adaptable to your schedule. Click here to learn how this program works.

What You'll Learn

Essential Knowledge and Skills

WGU’s online M.S. in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program has been created with significant input from industry and academic experts who serve on our Information Technology Program Council. The curriculum is closely aligned with the 2014 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Workforce Framework that identifies a standard set of competencies for cybersecurity professionals.

This online cybersecurity degree program requires completion of project-based courses, supporting courses, and a capstone course—all focused around core competencies including risk management, secure software and network design, cyberlaw, ethical hacking, computer forensics, and disaster recovery.

The program consists of 30 competency units (CUs, our equivalent to the traditional credit hour), including the completion of a capstone project.

Core Competencies

  • Understand levels of risk and mitigation strategies for maintaining business continuity in a global marketplace.
  • Explore the current state and future of cyber-related capabilities, threats, and emerging technologies.
  • Analyze cybercrime laws and address relevant governance, standards, policies, and legislation. 
  • Evaluate and implement information security audits and assurance initiatives.
  • Understand organizational challenges and threats to networks connected to the public internet, along with countermeasures to disarm them.
  • Learn to expose and prevent system vulnerabilities, and apply hacking skills on different types of networks and platforms.
  • Evaluate forensic investigations of computer networks, stored data, and physical and virtual devices.
  • Create plans to implement comprehensive organization-wide initiatives for information assurance management. 

Key Subject Areas

These Courses Add to Your Credentials

  • Risk Management

  • Cyberwarfare

  • Cyberlaw, Regulations, and Compliance

  • Security Policies and Standards—Best Practices

  • Secure Network Design

  • Secure Software Design

  • Ethical Hacking

  • Forensics and Network Intrusion

  • Disaster Recovery Planning, Prevention, and Response

What You'll Earn

IT Certifications

This program incorporates two recognized industry certifications as part of your degree program. You will study for and complete the following certification exams (both included in your tuition):

  • EC-Council Ethical Hacking and Countermeasures (EC0-350)
  • EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (EC0-349)

Capstone Project

The M.S. in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program culminates in a capstone project. The capstone project allows you to take what you've learned and apply it to solving a significant real-world business problem. Capstone projects require an oral defense before a committee of WGU faculty.

How It Works

A Degree Program That Fits Your Schedule

WGU is designed to let you go to school on your time, not according to a class schedule. Our online degree program is flexible and puts you at the center of your education: you choose when and where to complete your coursework. Once you demonstrate your competency in a subject area, you can move on to your next course.

Online learning is not easy.

You should expect to work hard and spend 20 hours or more per week on your studies. Still, your program will be flexible enough to fit into your schedule, not the other way around.

How Long Will It Take?

It Depends On You

Many students proceed faster than the normal pace designed into each program. The time in which you complete your WGU program depends upon how quickly you are able to take and pass the required assessments. Successful students who commit at least 20 hours per week to their studies are often able to complete their degrees more quickly. Although master’s degree programs are challenging and rigorous, our faculty is available to help students who are motivated to achieve their goals. It’s your degree and your time: Create your own schedule, choose your pace and achieve your personal goals.

Ultimately, the pace at which you complete your online IT program depends on how rapidly you pass assessments.

It’s your program. It’s up to you. Create your own schedule, choose your pace and achieve your personal goals.

"Employers in the information technology field increasingly are looking for students that not only have a degree but certain certifications in the technologies that are really driving the industry forward." Brad Smith, Executive Vice President for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft

How Competency-Based Education Benefits You

Put Your Existing Knowledge to Work

Western Governors University was the first university in the country to employ a cutting edge, competency-based learning model that lets you use skills and knowledge you already have to accelerate your degree program.

In WGU's online degree programs, students advance by demonstrating their competence in each subject area. You’ll be able to move quickly through material you already know so you can spend your time focusing on what you still need to learn.

  • You’ll work with your assigned Faculty Mentor on a personalized Degree Plan that establishes the pace at which you move through the program.

  • With few exceptions, you’ll be able to choose when and where you study.

  • You’ll complete as much work as YOU choose during each six-month term.

  • You’ll collaborate with your Faculty Mentor to determine the learning resources that will help you develop and demonstrate your competency in each subject area.

  • You’ll be required to complete at least 12 CUs per term for bachelor's degree programs and 8 CUs per term for graduate degree programs in order to make On Time Progress. If you choose to and are able, you can add courses and move more quickly through your program.

How Much Will It Cost?

Less Than You Think

We're committed to keeping tuition low and making sure our online education degree programs remain the very best value for hardworking students. WGU doesn't spend money on classrooms, research facilities, or football stadiums. Instead, we focus on keeping costs low. In fact, we haven’t increased tuition since 2008. And because we charge tuition at a flat-rate each term, if you complete coursework ahead of schedule, you can save yourself money as well as time.


You pay for time—not credits

  • No matter how many courses you complete each term, your tuition stays the same.

  • The more courses you complete each term, the fewer terms you have until graduation.

  • Our competency-based model gives you the opportunity to accelerate your progress.

  • If you complete your program ahead of schedule, you'll save both time and money.

Total Tuition Depends on Time

You’ll pay the same low, flat-rate tuition each 6-month term, regardless of how many courses you complete. If you accelerate your degree program, you’ll pay less for your degree. The following hypothetical students illustrate two common scenarios for the Master of Science, Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program:

Tuition and Fees

For this program, a full-time course load is 8 competency units per term. Because we allow you to complete extra courses at no extra cost, you may be able to increase the value of your program by dedicating extra time to your studies.

  • $2,890: Tuition per 6-Month Term
  • $145: Resource Fee per 6-Month Term
  • $65: One-Time Application Fee

The Cybersecurity and Information Assurance online degree program at WGU is designed to be affordable for hard-working adults with bills to pay.

Learn more about tuition and fees.

WGU Is Half The Cost

WGU's Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree program is typically about half the cost of other equally reputable IT programs. Other schools charge as much as $625 per credit, which can ultimately cost between $25,000 and $50,000 for your degree. WGU is different. You’ll save thousands with our affordable, flat-rate tuition and an online learning model that won’t require you to buy expensive textbooks. In fact, you can earn your master’s degree from WGU for as little as $11,560.

Financial Aid

You Can Afford to Earn a Degree

WGU's financial aid experts are on hand to help you finance your education in the smartest way possible. 76% of WGU students receive some type of financial aid.

Federal Financial Aid is available to most students.

Respected, Recognized, and Accredited

Northwest Commission Accredited

Western Governors University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Northwest Commission is also responsible for the accreditation of other major universities in the West, including the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, and the University of Utah, among many others. Learn more about accreditation here.

An online IT degree from WGU tells employers that you're serious about success.

Take the next step into a prosperous future.

WGU Graduates Succeed

Become a Success Story

Our latest survey of leading employers speaks volumes about our ability to prepare grads to work in many industries:


of employers said WGU grads exceed expectations.


of employers rated WGU graduates’ job performance as very good or excellent.


of employers consider WGU graduates prepared for their jobs.


of employers rate the "soft skills" of WGU grads as equal to or better than graduates from other institutions.

Note: 2015 Survey of Employers by Harris Poll

You can learn more about how employers view WGU grads by exploring our National Student Success and Performance Data.

"The big draw was the fact that it was online. I could work at my own pace." James Dye,
WGU Alumnus

How a Course Works

Prove What You Know and Move Forward

You set your own pace by demonstrating your skills. In the online degree programs at WGU, you'll advance through each course by first mastering the course content, then completing and passing challenging assessments that measure your knowledge and skills in each subject area.

These rigorous assessments (tests, papers, assignments, and projects) let you demonstrate your competence in each subject area in order to pass the course and earn competency units (CUs), our equivalent to the traditional credit hour.

WGU sets a high standard, and we want our students to succeed. You'll be given ample opportunity to master the subject matter and re-take assessments as needed in order to graduate.

Get Started

Enrollment is easy. View our Enrollment Checklist for the easy steps to getting started.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university, and must also demonstrate IT security experience through at least one of the following three methods:

  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree in IT security or IT networking that covers at least two CISSP CBK domains. (You can find the domains listed here.)
  • Hold a CISSP, CCIE, CCNP, CCNA, CCNA Security, CEH, CHFI, GIAC 2700 or GCWN certification that is valid and earned within the last five years.
  • Submit a resume for review showing recent significant IT security experience, of at least three years, which demonstrates at least two CISSP CBK domains.

Speak to an Enrollment Counselor who can help you understand what is required of you.

See more about College of Information Technology Admission Requirements

Speak to an Enrollment Counselor and Apply Today

You'll be on your way to a successful career. A world of opportunity awaits.

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Question and Answer

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How does WGU keep its tuition so low?

As a nonprofit university, WGU doesn’t need to benefit shareholders. Our students are our main concern. We also try to keep our operating costs low. And since we’re an exclusively online university, we don’t need to maintain expensive classroom buildings, a campus, and other non-academic programs. 

Should I consider financial aid?

Using financial aid is a personal decision. When making this decision, you should know that a degree is a great investment in yourself that will pay for itself many times over. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn on average almost a million dollars more over the course their careers compared to those without one. A master’s degree typically has a similar impact on your wallet. You should definitely consider federal financial aid if it means the difference between getting your degree or not. Speak to an Enrollment Counselor to learn more.


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