The good, the bad and the ugly sides of Cyber Security MSc Programs

People will often hope they are able to secure a role immediately after graduation from their master’s degree, unless of course they are aiming for a career in academia. With this article we are aiming to offer you food for thought; Do Master’s degree programs really deliver on their promise? You will of course find mixed reviews and answers depending on the university and your expectation levels.

Therefore, we are aiming to present the good, the bad and the ugly sides of Cyber Security MSc Programs, this will enable you to evaluate the considerations and make the best choice. 

Let us start with the good sides.
Good 1- Having a degree might be practical, especially if you do not have a relevant, formal education.

That is true! If the education you receive is relevant, excellent, and practical, you can learn the needed skills to step into a real job. 

Good 2- You will learn the foundations with a well-rounded theory. 
In some cases, learning all the theories can give you the good stuff, especially if you are looking for a job in academia.

Good 3- Network with fellow students
If you continue to stay in touch with your network and fellow students, you can maximise the benefit of your connections. Maybe they will open different opportunities for you. 

When we look at the bad sides of having a master’s degree, we see the following. 

Bad 1 – It is expensive 
Depending on where and what you study, it can cost you a lot. Yes, you can make use of loans or different finance options and funding support, but it does not change the fact that they are expensive at the end of the day.

Bad 2 -It is time-consuming 
Being expensive is not always about money; it is related to time as well. Master’s degree programs take at least one year. One year in your life is a significant investment. Consider this, as an average entry level cybersecurity professional, you can easily make 5-6 thousand dollars in the US, 3-4 thousand pounds in the UK. When we look at the equation, if you delay the starting point of your career in cybersecurity for just three months, that will cost you a minimum of 15 to 20 thousand dollars in the US; at least 10 to 15 thousand pounds in the UK.  

Bad 3 -Typically starts once a year.
If you decide to start a master’s degree out of the academic term, you will need to wait until the next intake commences in September. That is a long time. You can easily calculate this in terms of finances. 

Lastly, let us elaborate on the ugly sides of the master’s degree.

Ugly 1- Not enough hands-on skills & practical experience 
Lecturers are university professors, and they have different agendas. 
If you forget why, you are learning the specific topic and what kind of outcomes you will create with the specific know-how and skills, you will find yourself drifting away from what is happening in the real industry while reading many papers. 

Ugly 2- Not focused: you will learn bits from different pieces. 
When you graduate, you will wonder which one of those fields will be your focus? And what kind of job you will get? Knowing bits and pieces creates problems. You need to focus on a particular subject and then spend your time only on that bit. By doing this, you will give yourself the edge and be able start a conversation with the potential employer easily. 

Ugly 3-Not job-oriented: No career mentoring or industry guidance 

In many cases, most of the lecturers do not have strong relationships with the industry. The lack of awareness for industry’s need might be missing because of this reason. 

If you want to make a move and start a career in cybersecurity as soon as possible, these facts should offer you some considerations as to why you should not consider a master’s degree. There are a host of other avenues to explore instead.

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