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Western Governors University Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

Why Western Governors University?

Western Governors University is a private non-profit university based in Millcreek, Utah, in the Salt Lake City area. WGU has a distinctive instructional approach, in that all of its programs are competency based, as explained further below. It offers an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance degree program. 

Applicants to the program should hold an undergraduate degree a STEM field or a quantitative business degree such as analytics, accounting, economics or finance. Applicants without this type of degree can be competitive if they have two years of related work experience, a relevant and current IT certification, and/or relevant undergraduate coursework.

Standardized test scores are not required, and there is no required undergraduate minimum GPA to apply.

Program Snapshot

University Name Western Governors University
Location Millcreek
State Utah
Niche.com Grade C
Name of Degree Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Informaton Assurance
School or Department Administering Program School of Information Technology
Credits 30
Cost per credit $612.00
Tuition for Entire Program $18,360.00
Test Requirements None
Minimum GPA None
Campus Visit Required? No
Typical Time to Complete Variable
When Can Students Start the Program? Any time
Program Concentrations None
Synchronous Classes No – Self-paced
Required Courses ·   Cybersecurity Management I – Strategic

·   Information Security and Assurance

·   Cybersecurity Architecture and Engineering

·   Secure Network Design

·   Cybersecurity Management Ii – Technical

·   Secure Software Design

·   Ethical Hacking

·   Forensics and Network Intrusion

·   Cybersecurity Graduate Capstone

Does the Program Include a Capstone? Yes
Does the Program Include a Practicum or Internship? No
Other Features that Make the Program Unique Competency unit model where students work through course material at their own base and then complete an assessment at the end of each course, students can take as many courses as they wish as fast as they wish and pay tuition per term, not per course, each student assigned a Program Mentor, Amazon Web Service Academy offering AWS-developed curriculum,  EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certifications included in cost of fees
Program Objectives  Strategic alignment of organization’s information security programs including durable principles and sound decision-making, risk management and appropriate management of information assets, secure design principles for wired and wireless networks, secure software acquisition and development, exposure and discovery of system vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies, ethical hacking of a variety of systems, extracting evidence of cyberattacks for reporting and audit, implementation and management of a durable cybersecurity program 
Program Description This 30-credit program emphasizes the practical techniques of information technology. This is a generalist program with no concentrations offered. A capstone is required. The program follows a highly variable time to complete the degree because of the self-paced nature of the program

 

What will I Learn?

The cyber-security Master’s curriculum at Western Governors University is based around the idea of managing a durable information assurance and cybersecurity program with an organization. Students learn the principles of strategic alignment of an organization’s Information Security Programs to the business’s overall goals. Key skills include risk management and the appropriate management of information assets. Students also learn the principles of secure software development and acquisition. They are prepared to discover and expose system vulnerabilities. Using the skills of ethical hacking, students learn to navigate a variety of systems and extract evidence of cyber-attacks for reporting and audit purposes.

All students in the program take the same set of courses in the same order. The required courses are: Cybersecurity Management I – Strategic, Information Security and Assurance, Cybersecurity Architecture and Engineering, Secure Network Design, Cybersecurity Management II – Technical, Secure Software Design, Ethical Hacking, and Forensics and Network Intrusion. Students consolidate their learning in a Cybersecurity Graduate Capstone course.

Dedicated faculty members design courses and support students within each course and each student is also assigned a dedicated program Mentor by WGU.  The university is an Amazon Web Services Academy member institution giving it access to a computing curriculum developed and maintained by Amazon Web Services. The curriculum also prepare students for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certifications, 

How much will the program cost?

The time to complete the degree and cost of degree  is highly variable, given the competency-driven model. However, students typically may take 1-2 years to complete the program, paying a typical cost of $612.00 per credit for a total of 30 credits, or $18,360.00 in total.

EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certifications are included in cost of fees

How does the program fit into my life?

The program at WGU is taught according to a competency unit model. For each course there is a set number of learning objectives.  Students work through these learning objectives with the support of faculty and complete activities to build their skills.  Once they feel that they have mastered the skills they can take a course assessment and if they pass it they can move onto the next course.  

Although all students must pass the assessment for all courses it’s possible that some students may already have acquired most of the learning objectives for a course prior to entering the program such as through work experience or prior coursework. If students enter the program with a strong skill set  they will move through the curriculum more quickly and at a lower cost since the university charges per term and not per course.

Summary

The lower-cost cybersecurity master’s program at this innovative university emphasizes the practical techniques of information technology. This program may be attractive to applicants who are highly self-motivated and know that they prefer to work independently.  However, it may be less appropriate for students with weaker time management skills and/or students who prefer  a highly structured or more traditional mode of instruction.  

Students with significant work experience who suspect they may have already gained substantial cybersecurity skills on the job may find the WGU model highly attractive.  the curriculum may also attract students focused on working in the Amazon Web Services industry area.