Methodology for Fortune’s ranking of in-person cybersecurity programs

BY Sydney LakeJanuary 11, 2023, 2:09 PM
Illustration by Martin Laksman

While there are more than 1 million cybersecurity workers in the U.S., according to industry researcher Cyberseek, there are nearly 770,000 jobs left to be filled as of early 2023. Industry demand is expected to continue to expand during the next decade; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of information security jobs will grow 35% 2021 and 2031.

Combating the gap between cybersecurity talent and cybersecurity jobs has been a challenge due to a lack of opportunities for entry-level workers. Cybersecurity executives, professionals, and other experts agree, however, that there are a variety of ways to break into the industry. Earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity is one promising route for finding a high-paying job. In fact, some cybersecurity master’s programs report six-figure salaries from their recent grads.

Navigating the cybersecurity education world can be challenging as the space becomes more crowded with certificationsbootcamps, and other online programs. That’s where Fortune steps in to provide our first-ever ranking of in-person cybersecurity master’s degree programs. This list can be a starting point on your journey to finding a job in this lucrative field.

In total, Fortune ranked 14 in-person cybersecurity master’s programs. We also rank the top online cybersecurity master’s programs in the U.S. Our final ranking is made up of three components: Selectivity Score, Success Score, and Demand Score.

Selectivity Score (50%)

The best cybersecurity programs have both world class professors and a top-notch curriculum. But that’s not all: They should also attract some of the brightest students. The post-college success (or lack of success) of those alumni helps to shape how the outside world will view that program. It’s also why Fortune put so much weight on the strength of a school’s incoming class.

Programs that are challenging to get accepted attract a stronger cohort of students, so the Selectivity Score was calculated by considering the average undergraduate GPA of incoming students as well as the program’s acceptance rate. 

Success Score (30%)

To hold programs accountable, we measured both one-year retention rates and graduation rates. 

Demand Score (20%)

If programs aren’t successful, they won’t be able to continue to attract and graduate top students year in and year out. Not to mention, a larger student body also means a larger alumni network. That’s why we measured the total size of program’s most recent graduating class. 

Check out all of Fortune’rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.