Finding the best cyber security university course

People looking to get into cyber security now have more options than ever to secure the education and certifications they need to build their skills and prove their expertise to prospective employers.

Traditionally, many qualifications have been industry-led, with academic options focused more generally on computer science as a whole. However, dedicated cyber security university courses have become hugely popular in recent years, with many of the UK's most prestigious institutions now offering their own courses.

These can be a great starting point for a career in the sector, whether you're coming to IT for the first time or looking to retrain with an advanced-level course. But what do you need to know about before making a decision?

Why study for a cyber security degree?

A university degree can be a great way to showcase to potential employers your expertise in cyber security. A Bachelor's or Master's qualification from a well-regarded institution can help you stand out from other candidates and reassure hiring managers you've received the highest-quality education.

Other benefits of opting for an academic path into the sector as opposed to professional qualifications are that it can offer a route into higher-salary careers - with many executive-level jobs requiring at least an undergraduate, and often a postgraduate degree. It also ensures you learn skills in areas such as leadership, management and business that other qualifications don't provide. 

What to look for in a course

However, because many cyber security courses have been developed fairly recently, there is often little consensus on what a course should include. As a result, there are a wide range of syllabuses out there and some universities may offer a much higher quality of teaching than others.

It's therefore vital you look carefully at the course outline to see what areas will be covered and where the focuses will lie. For instance, some courses may have a stronger focus on threat analysis or digital forensics, while others have a heavier focus on programming, which could make them more suitable for roles such as security engineers.

Beyond this, some institutions may offer degrees that can be completed remotely, which could be ideal if you're looking to balance education with your current work. Consider as well whether it would be more beneficial to undertake a full-time course, which will usually take one year for a Master's, or a part-time course than may be two or three years.

The benefits of a NCSC-approved degree

One way to be sure you're getting the best possible results from your cyber security degree is to consider a course that has been certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). This organisation, which is part of the UK's GCHQ intelligence agency, gives official recognition to the institutions offering the highest-quality of teaching.

More than a third of universities with dedicated postgraduate programmes such as an MSc in cyber security now offer NCSC-certified courses, with a limited number of Bachelor's degrees also approved. This doesn't just ensure you'll be getting the best education, it also indicates to future employers you have all the skills you need to succeed.

Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber growth, explains: "Offering a certified degree helps prospective students make more informed choices about their future careers and employers can rest assured that graduates will be well-taught and have valued industry skills."

If a university-based cyber security training course sounds right for you, check out the range of degrees on our site today.