Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Illinois Guide

Learn About Studying Cyber Security in Illinois, Requirements and Job Growth Careers Guide

Cyber security in Illinois is definitely a part of the conversation. Since Chicago is home to the world's largest commodities market and leads the nation in its financial industry, security in general is a hot topic. The state is also home to many top universities where students can become experts in the field.

In fact, Illinois has some community colleges that offer stellar instruction in cyber security and computer science. You can then go on to study at a university that is recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for excellence in the field. The Silicon Prairie is still developing, and you can be a part of keeping it safe for the future.

Why an Advanced Degree in Illinois is Needed

If you are pursuing a career in cyber security, an advanced degree is vital to your success. These days, companies reward advanced degrees with higher salaries and greater responsibilities. You could pursue a purely technical graduate degree such as computer science or even one that focuses solely on cyber security. If you prefer, you could work towards an MBA with a focus on IT or cyber security. There are also a growing number of dual MBA programs that will confer two graduate degrees in the time it takes to earn a single diploma.

Advanced degrees are even more vital in a state like Illinois. Chicago alone is a highly competitive market where you will need to have the best resume possible in order to achieve your goals. Thankfully, the state is full of opportunities to earn your master's degree in a traditional classroom setting, online, or in blended programs that provide the best of both worlds.

Illinois Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements

Associate’s Degree

A two-year degree is a great way to launch your career in cyber security. Community college programs don't always offer courses in cyber security and it’s difficult to find an associate degree program specifically focused on cyber security. That is because the field is fairly new and because that sort of specialization requires a more thorough background in the subject. However, you should be able to find a traditional program in information technology or computer science and then augment your learning with online courses from another school. With that said, you can earn an associate degree in either of these subjects and land a job in an IT department that will provide the security experience you desire.

Bachelor’s Degree

It’s easier to find a bachelor's degree in cyber security, or at least a technology degree that includes specialty courses in the field. Depending on your university, you may need to apply directly to the program or department. Check the department website for specific prerequisites, but be prepared to need courses such as Calculus, Introduction to Programming, or Introduction to Cyber Security.

Master’s Degree

Cyber security is a hot topic in graduate school Computer Science departments. More and more programs are offering it as a special focus or as a degree to itself. There are many fully accredited programs available online, as well as those on traditional campuses. You may even be able to hone your studies to specific areas such as computer forensics or penetration testing.

Certifications in Illinois

Certifications are a fantastic way to expand on your degree without returning to school full-time. Non-academic institutions offer a wide array of specialized cyber security courses that allow you to advance your credentials. Often these are offered through a professional association, but they might also be offered through a corporation, such as Microsoft or Cisco Systems.

Why is Accreditation Important?

Academic accreditation is a vitally important part of your education. This is because, when a program has been accredited, it has received a thorough audit from an independent agency. The agency has taken a close look at student outcomes, attrition rates, graduation rates, and more. Thus, when they sign off on a program, you can be assured that it will meet your academic and professional needs.

In the cyber security field, you should especially look out for programs that are known as Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE). This credential comes from the National Security Agency / Department of Homeland Security and can be bestowed on any degree-granting program with an excellent cyber security program, whether it is a 2-year, baccalaureate, or graduate program. Your CAE-approved degree will take you far, especially if you decide to work for the federal government or enter the military.

You should also seek out the best-accredited program possible if your employer offers tuition reimbursement. Many companies only reimburse students who attend accredited programs, and they may even discriminate depending on what sort of accreditation the school has. Regional accreditation will often pass muster, but a national credential, such as CAE, will always be acceptable.

CAE Accredited Programs in Illinois

  • College of DuPage
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • DePaul University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • Illinois State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • John A Logan College
    CAE-2Y – 2016-2021
  • Lewis University
    CAE-CD / 2016-2021
  • Lincoln Land Community College
    CAE-2Y / 2018-2023
  • Moraine Valley Community College
    CAE-2Y – 2014-2020
  • Rock Valley College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • Roosevelt University
    CAE-CD / 2018-2023
  • University of Illinois at Springfield
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
    CAE-R / 2014-2021

Computer Science IT Programs in Illinois

  • Illinois State University

    Illinois State offers an undergraduate major with a focus in cyber security that can help you launch a brilliant career. The program is housed in the information technology department alongside other programs such as Computer Science, Network and Telecommunications Management, or Web Computing, among others.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Bachelor’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer Science - Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst - Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology - Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $14,516
    Out-of-State: $26,040
    Average Net Price: $19,489
    College Retention Rate: 79% (Full-time Students); 68% (Part-time Students)

  • DePaul University

    DePaul is a private, Jesuit university located in the heart of Chicago's Northside. As such, you can find innumerable cyber security internships and other opportunities nearby. Once you graduate, you'll find so many tech firms and startups in the Loop or elsewhere in Chicagoland.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Doctoral Degree
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Computer Programming/Programmer – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master's & Doctoral Degrees
    Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Master’s Degree
    Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Science/Studies – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $39,975
    Average Net Price: $30,584
    College Retention Rate: 86% (Full-time Students)

  • Illinois Institute of Technology

    IIT is a private technical university that prepares students for success in their chosen field. Its urban campus is located a short distance from Chicago's Loop, one of the nation's key centers for finance. There are bound to be countless opportunities to work in cyber security.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master's & Doctoral Degrees
    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s & Master's Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $47,646
    Average Net Price: $25,814
    College Retention Rate: 86% (Full-time Students)

  • University of Illinois at Springfield

    This branch of the U of I public university system is located in the state's capital. The school offers a great range of technology majors, including cyber security. In fact, their computer science department is nationally recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Science – Bachelor's & Master's Degrees
    Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor's & Master's Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $11,813
    Out-of-State: $21,338
    Average Net Price: $10,733
    College Retention Rate: 77% (Full-time Students)

  • Loyola University Chicago

    This private University is located in Chicago, which will provide you with abundant access to all the city has to offer. The city is brimming with top firms that need cyber security experts, and your experience with them will launch a brilliant career. In spring of 2019, the Computer Science Department began preparations for inclusion in the NSA/DoD Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree & Undergraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Systems Security/information Assurance – Bachelor’s Degree
    Computer Science – Master's Degree
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management– Master’s Degrees
    Information Technology – Bachelor's & Master's Degrees

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $44,048
    Average Net Price: $35,033
    College Retention Rate: 85% (Full-time Students)

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a top University that is home one of the best computer science departments and is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. With a nationally recognized degree, you can launch a career in nearby Chicago or wherever you choose.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor's, Master's & Doctoral Degrees
    Information Science/Studies – Master's & Doctoral Degrees
    Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $15,094
    Out-of-State: $31,664
    Average Net Price: $15,829
    College Retention Rate: 93% (Full-time Students); 40% (Part-time Students)

Illinois Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

A two-year degree or a certificate can be an excellent way to begin your career path. If you already have a four-year degree and desire a career change, a brief return to school could provide a way to launch into graduate school or the next chapter of your corporate career. The following institutions are community colleges; these schools mostly only offer 2-year degrees and certificates. You can contrast these with universities, which provide the full range of degrees, from certificates through full doctoral programs.

  • College of Lake County
    The College of Lake County offers an array of certificate options. Students can study programming, networking, cyber security, or become a support technician in a very short span of time. They also offer an AAS in Computer Information Technology.

    Tuition Cost

    In-District: $3,948
    In-State: $9,212
    Out-of-State: $12,236
    Average Net Price: $3,870
    College Retention Rate: 70% (Full-time Students); 50% (Part-time Students)

  • Rock Valley College
    Rock Valley's certificate and associate degree programs include systems security, programming, telecommunications, and information technology. If you live in this district, it will be hard to find a better educational value.

    Tuition Cost

    In-District: $3,764
    In-State: $8,414
    Out-of-State: $15,224
    Average Net Price: $8,419
    College Retention Rate: 68% (Full-time Students); 55% (Part-time Students)

  • Lewis and Clark Community College
    You can earn a security certificate in approximately one year at Lewis and Clark. The school also offers a range of other high-tech degrees which include networking, web design, and graphics, among others.

    Tuition Cost

    In-District: $3,552
    In-State: $9,552
    Out-of-State: $12,552
    Average Net Price: $3,780
    College Retention Rate: 70% (Full-time Students); 51% (Part-time Students)

  • John A Logan College
    At John A. Logan College you can earn a full, two-year degree in Information Assurance or Information Technology. You can also pick up a certificate in programming or Information Science.

    Tuition Cost

    In-District: $3,552
    In-State: $9,552
    Out-of-State: $12,552
    Average Net Price: $3,780
    College Retention Rate: 70% (Full-time Students); 51% (Part-time Students)

  • Lincoln Land Community College
    LLCC offers up to five computer-related degrees and certificates. You can take this low-cost option prior to moving on to a four-year university. If you study cyber security, your skills can help keep the state government safe from hackers.

    Tuition Cost

    In-District: $3,372
    In-State: $6,480
    Out-of-State: $9,588
    Average Net Price: $6,012
    College Retention Rate: 64% (Full-time Students); 47% (Part-time Students

Scholarships

  • (ISC)² Undergraduate Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000 - $5,000
    Deadline: February 17
    Link: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/undergraduate-scholarships
    To qualify for this prestigious scholarship, you will need a minimum GPA of 3.3. To apply, you need to send your unofficial transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a copy of your resume or CV, and satisfactory responses to a series of essay questions. The award will go to the student who demonstrates the strongest passion, merit, and financial need.

  • (ISC)² Graduate Scholarship

    Amount: $1,000 - $5,000
    Deadline: February 17, 2020
    Link: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/graduate-scholarships
    Graduate students who have a passion for cyber security applying to this scholarship. Both master's and doctoral students are eligible for the award. To qualify, you need to have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better. If you are accepted to a graduate program but have not yet started, you can apply your undergraduate GPA to the application.

  • KNOWBE4 WOMEN’S CYBER SECURITY SCHOLARSHIPS

    Amount: $10,000
    Deadline: November 25
    Link: https://www.iamcybersafe.org/s/knowbe4-womens-cyber-scholarships-
    This scholarship arose as part of an effort to address the dearth of women in high-tech positions and specifically to address the need for more women in cyber security. The generous award can be used to pay for tuition, books, or school-related fees. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.3 and submit a complete application including recommendations, completed essays, and proof of US citizenship.

  • Illinois Cyber Security Scholars Program (ICSSP)

    Amount: Full cost of tuition, room, board, books, and fees
    Deadline: TBD
    Link: https://www.iti.illinois.edu/education/illinois-cyber-security-scholars-program-icssp
    At least three outstanding students from the College of Engineering and School of Information Science can win this generous scholarship. Full-time students who are US citizens focusing their studies on cyber security are encouraged to apply. Applications must provide a personal statement, resume, transcripts, and a cover letter, among other items.

  • Cybercorps Scholarship for Service (SFS)

    Amount: $25,000 (undergraduate) or $34,000 (graduate)
    Deadline: Varies
    Link: https://niccs.us-cert.gov/formal-education/cybercorps-scholarship-service-sfs
    This generous scholarship program provides for most of your tuition costs. In return, you must work for the federal government in a capacity related to cyber security. Your tenure must equal the duration of your scholarship. Given that you could land a position working for the National Security Agency or the Department of Homeland Security tackling some of the toughest cases, your governmental work could set you up for a lifetime of success.

Conferences and Workshops

InfoSec Cyber security International Symposium

2019 marked the third year this conference has taken place in Chicago. When you attend the symposium, you can expect to meet global leaders in cyber security. Topics you might discuss include new advances in security technology, case studies of incidents, infrastructure policy, and more.

ForenSecure

This conference has been held at the Illinois Institute of Technology and likely will be there again. Though hosted on a university campus, the focus is industry and the practical applications and implications of cyber security. For future events, you can submit a proposal and exhibit your wares, deliver a speech, or simply attend and meet thousands of other cyber security professionals.

Global Cyber Security Initiative (GCSI)

This conference is a one-day event held on the campus of the Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology. The topics are wide-ranging and make for a very full day of learning. By the time the day is over, you'll be primed to revolutionize your approach to cyber security.

Illinois Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

Cyber security is a hot career topic these days. There is a tremendous need to hire qualified professionals who can address the growth of cyber-criminals. Computer science departments across the nation are scrambling to offer courses and degree programs that will prepare you to work in security. The profession is growing so fast and has arisen so suddenly, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't yet fully address the occupation.

The BLS does show that information security analysts in Illinois are earning a median salary of around $98,640. That is for workers with under five years of experience who typically have a bachelor's degree. On the national front, the agency shows that the security analyst profession is slated to grow by 32%, which they note is much faster than average.

The State of Illinois shows that the profession is slated to grow by approximately 16% through 2024. The total number of security professionals is projected to be somewhere around 3,325. However, note that many who work in cyber security might be categorized as Network Administrators, Network Architects, Database Administrators, or Information Technology workers, among other job titles.

Database Administrators, for instance, are slated to experience approximately 13% growth through 2024. Their annual mean wage in Illinois is currently $96,230 and there are currently 3,570 such professionals in the state. The Illinois Department of Labor projects that there will be approximately 5,145 Database Administrators by the year 2024.

The profession can also be folded into headings such as management consultant or other titles self-ascribed by consultancies. Currently, many penetration testers work as independent contractors who perform mock attacks on a system in order to assess its strengths and weaknesses. However, this profession is not yet specifically accounted for by labor statisticians.

Resources

  • State of Illinois Cyber Security Strategy
    The state government has put together a collection of resources for everyone to use in the service of thwarting the growth of cyber-threats. Their website offers printable, informative posters, curriculum, tip sheets, and even games that help deliver tips for average users. As a cyber security professional, you could make use of these materials to help educate workers in your firm.
  • ISSA Chicago
    The Chicago branch of the Information Systems Security Association is a dynamic group of professionals who meet for periodic meetings and conferences. As a member, you can be active in Chicago and in the national organization. Your membership will open many educational, professional, and even personal opportunities.
  • IAAP – Chicago
    The International Association of Privacy Professionals has a chapters in Chicago and throughout the state. In fact, the IAAP has chapters all over the Western Great Lakes Region, including Champaign-Urbana, Rockford, and Milwaukee, WI, to name a few. This professional association will provide abundant opportunities for fellowship, career development, and more.
  • ISACA Illini
    The Illinois chapter of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) creates an association of cyber security professionals. They host events throughout the year, and you'll be connected to the national organization, as well. When you attend regular meetings and events, your professional life will be enhanced and your firm will be all the safer.
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