What can I do with a doctorate degree in cyber security?

Skip to >> Our ranking of the 10 best online doctorate degrees in cyber security

Fact: Holders of Doctorates in Cyber Security Degrees Have a Great Career Outlook

If you’re considering a doctorate in cyber security, you probably don’t need to be reminded of infosec’s significance, and the challenges that online security and information assurance professionals face. Data breaches and cyber attacks occur daily, disrupting government bodies, business organizations, and private lives, and all signs indicate that the crisis will get worse before it gets better. We have already begun the digitalization of everything: private records, personal and commercial transactions, entertainment, communication – the list goes on. Once a theoretical possibility, the Internet of Things has arrived for the long haul, which means that by 2020 there will be 200 billion connected “things”, everything from your car to your home, which for the cyber security professional means 200 billion more potential vulnerabilities.

Of course, all that also means an explosion of professional security hiring needs. Forbes predicts 6 million cyber workers globally by 2019, but experts still estimate a workforce shortage of 1.8 million by 2022, a number which has actually increased in the last few years, and which includes openings in financial services; software and networking; government, nonprofits, and education; business services, and healthcare.

In other words, the world needs highly qualified, expert cyber security professionals, and earning a doctorate is one way to meet the challenge. If you’re already prepared to take the next step, we’ve posted a ranking of the best online doctoral degrees in cyber security. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about different types of doctorate’s in the cyber security field, and what you can do with a PhD.

Common Doctorate’s Degrees in Cyber Security

Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Cyber Security

The Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Cyber Security is a relatively new degree which has gained popularity following the global surge in cyber threats and attacks. One of the main functions of a PhD in cyber security is to prepare the next generation of professors and researchers, as well as to give students the opportunity to pursue in-depth research in the latest theoretical or technical components of cyber security. For students interested in the highest levels of cyber security policy development, or students who are interested in performing high-level original research on a select topic with the resources of a higher learning institution, a Ph.D. in Cyber Security may be a great choice. Before enrollment, most PhDs in Cyber Security require a master’s in a related field (e.g., Computer Science, Information Technology, or Cyber Security).

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Information Assurance

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Information Assurance (alternatively, Information Assurance and Security), like the discipline’s master level work, is generally more interdisciplinary than a doctoral degree in cyber security or computer science, meaning integrated studies in law, social sciences, criminology, technology, management, and other areas. For students looking to specialize in a particular disciple, focus more on policy or decision making, or study a less technical aspect of cyber security, a Ph.D. in Information Assurance can be a great route to pursue.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science is the traditional track for doctoral-level course work and research in cyber security. As many doctorates are generally paired with extended substantive research into an area of interest, students who want to specialize in cyber security may elect to focus on security measures in addition to the CS base. As with doctoral degrees in most fields, many programs advise students to contact individual programs directly to determine if the research department and/or professors are a good fit for the student’s particular interests.

FYI: Doctorate in Cyber Security Jobs

Information Security Manager

  • Job Description: Develops and manages organization’s cyber security, including disaster recovery, database protection, and software development.
  • Median Salary: $116,148

The Information Security Manager role typically requires at least 5 years of professional experience, ideally with several in a managerial or supervisory position. In addition to day-to-day IS responsibilities, the IS manager oversees a staff of analysts, recruits new analysts, and generally has full authority over personnel decisions and acts as team leader. Of course, being in charge of an organization’s cyber security also entails developing and implementing standards, protocols, architecture, and systems at all levels. Additional responsibilities may include writing the security budget, performing forensic investigation and vulnerability audits, and selecting optimal security products.

Information Security Director

  • Job Description: Head administrator for an organization’s information security strategy and procedures.
  • Median Salary: $165,934

The Information Security Director, which in smaller organizations is the equivalent of a CISO, needs at least 5 years of managerial experience and obviously top-tier technical expertise. In addition to establishing top-to-bottom cyber security strategies, the security director evaluates threat risks and vulnerabilities, promotes security awareness and best practices within the organization, liaises with non-tech executive management regarding security needs, and oversees, manages, and hires all cyber security employees. About 40% of security directors have master’s, so a doctorate should put you in a good position for the role.

Chief Information Security Officer

  • Job Description:
  • Median Salary: $212,926

A relatively new position, the Chief Information Security Officer is an executive-level professional that oversees the development, implementation, and enforcement of an organization’s cyber security strategy and policy. In addition to traditional security responsibilities – vulnerability assessments, disaster recovery, digital forensics, etc. – the CISO may be required to work with federal investigators and law enforcement in the event of security threats or breaches. Given the seniority of the position, the CISO will also likely perform a variety of business and organizational management functions, as well, including hiring, budgeting, and more. About 40% of CISOs have a master’s degree and 4% have a doctorate; a little less than third work at large companies with between 1,000 and 7,500 employees.

Other Possible Cyber Security Roles