Cybersecurity Degrees and Careers Minnesota Guide

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

In 2019 a state agency email was breached, putting 11,000 people’s data at risk. In 2018, Minnesota’s DHS reported an email hack that may have compromised over 20,000 people medical and other data. If you’re interested in helping to contain other incidents like the 700+ a year that Minnesota already faces, then look no further. You can figure out the best way to do that right here. Individuals in this field regularly combat statewide, national, and even global cyber-crime.

While there are a wide variety of opportunities available to those with a cyber security degree, some of the best jobs include:

  • Information Security Analyst
  • Lead Software Security Engineer
  • Chief Information Security Officer
  • Security Architect
  • Penetration Tester
  • Information Security Crime Investigator / Forensics Expert

Why an Advanced Degree in Minnesota is Needed

Those who wish to have a successful cyber security career in Minnesota will need to complete some level of higher education. The vast majority of employers expect candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field but may give preference to individuals holding a more advanced degree. Master’s and doctoral degrees prepare professionals for additional employment opportunities that lead to higher pay. There are a limited number of entry-level positions available for those with associates degrees and/or certificates.

Four of the top universities offering cyber security degrees in Minnesota are Capella University, University of St. Thomas, Metropolitan State University, and the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. These institutions are all properly accredited and offer a variety of programs that can help prepare students for successful cyber security careers.

Minnesota Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements

Associate’s Degree

While most cyber security jobs in Minnesota require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, some associate degree holders may be able to find entry-level positions. When combined with professional experience, this degree level can sometimes get your foot in the door.

Admission requirements:

  • High school diploma
  • Minimum high school grade point average (GPA) in more exclusive institutions
  • Passing grades in any necessary prerequisite courses

Depending on the institution, associate degrees are generally available on campus or online. They often consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and require two years to complete. As long as the college is properly accredited, graduates are able to transfer credits to a university for further education or find entry-level employment.

Coursework frequently covers:

  • Business and Professional Communication
  • Computer Forensics
  • Criminal Law
  • Windows Operating Systems

Bachelor’s Degree

Most people interested in a cyber security career in Minnesota start by earning a bachelor’s degree. On campus and online programs are available and both usually consist of 120 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students can expect to complete the various degree requirements in about four years.

Admission requirements:

  • High school diploma
  • Minimum high school GPA
  • Minimum Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) scores
  • Passing grades in any necessary prerequisite courses
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation

Curriculums usually include major-specific and general, liberal arts coursework. Graduates can choose to either apply to an advanced degree program or find employment.

Coursework frequently covers:

  • Cyber Defense
  • Cyber Threats
  • Fundamental Security Design Principles
  • Information Assurance Fundamentals
  • Information Technology Systems Components

Master’s Degree

While most entry-level positions in Minnesota do not require a master’s degree in cyber security, many employees do give preference to candidates who have one. These graduates also tend to have access to higher level positions throughout their careers and can make more money.

Admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field
  • Professional work experience
  • Minimum Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores (or GMAT if you attend a business school)
  • Passing grades in any necessary prerequisite courses
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation

On campus and online programs are available, both often consisting of approximately 60 credit hours of coursework. It usually takes a full-time student about two years to graduate.

Coursework frequently covers:

  • Information Security Strategy and Policy
  • Security Governance and Compliance
  • Information Security Management
  • E-Commerce Security
  • Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Analysis

Certifications in Minnesota

On campus and online certificate programs in cyber security are also available at some Minnesota institutions. They generally take less time to complete than associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs. Some consist of as few as 12 credit hours of coursework, which means most students can graduate in a single year.

Admission requirements:

  • High school diploma
  • Minimum high school GPA
  • Personal statement
  • Letters of recommendation

Certificate programs are usually available at undergraduate and graduate levels. They do not include general education coursework. Instead, they focus solely on the core subjects necessary for success in the field. Recipients can use them enter the information technology field, to specialize, or to boost their careers.

Coursework varies depending on the certificate, but can include:

  • Cyber Law
  • Digital Forensics
  • Network Systems and Security
  • Security Administration

Why is Accreditation Important?

Individuals interested in earning a cyber security degree in Minnesota should keep institutional accreditation in mind. Regional accreditation is an especially useful type to look for in a program before you apply. A college or university’s accreditation status can impact the validity of the degrees they offer. While accreditation is not required, it does prove that the school adheres to important academic standards and will be important when you look for work or if you choose to earn a higher level degree. These requirements reassure students, employers, and higher level learning institutions that the education provided adequately prepares graduates for success in the field.

The US Department of Education recognizes regional accrediting agencies for cyber security degrees. This type of accreditation means that the institution meets the general academic expectations and standards of the area.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) program. All regionally accredited colleges and universities are eligible to apply for designation as CAE in cyber defense. These institutions are regarded as top subject matter experts in the cyber security field as they have passed rigorous standards in order to become a CAE institution.

CAE Accredited Programs in Minnesota

  • Capella University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021
  • Century College
    CAE-2Y / 2019-2024
  • Lake Superior College
    CAE-2Y / 2017-2022
  • Metropolitan State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2020
  • St. Cloud State University
    CAE-CD / 2014-2021

Computer Science or IT Programs in Minnesota

  • Capella University

    Capella University is a private institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the US Department of Education. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, as well as postgraduate certificates. While it is an online institution with no physical campus, certain graduate-level programs do require students to attend residences.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Computer and Information Sciences – Doctorate Degree
    Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Master’s Degree
    Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management – Master’s Degree
    Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration – Bachelor’s Degree
    Information Technology – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
    Information Technology Project Management – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
    Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $14,579
    Average Net Price: $13,387
    College Retention Rate: 56%, Full-time Students; 27%, Part-time Students

  • University of St. Thomas

    The University of St. Thomas is the largest private university in Minnesota. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the US Department of Education. The university offers over 150 bachelor degree majors and minors, as well as over 55 graduate degrees. On-campus and online learning opportunities are available for both undergraduate and graduate programs.

    Programs Offered:

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

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $42,736
    Average Net Price: $30,183
    College Retention Rate: 86%

  • Metropolitan State University

    Metropolitan State University is a public institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the US Department of Education. It is also a CAE-CD institution. The university offers bachelor and master degrees, as well as undergraduate certificates.

    Programs Offered:

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

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $7,879
    Out-of-State: $14,980
    Average Net Price: $14,900
    College Retention Rate: 66%, Full-time Students; 61%, Part-time Students

  • University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

    The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is public research university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized by the US Department of Education. The university offers bachelor and master degrees, as well as certificates. This institution provides several flexible learning opportunities, including on-campus and online coursework.

    Programs Offered:

    Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate Degrees & Undergraduate Certificate
    Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst – Bachelor’s Degree
    Informatics – Master’s Degree & Postgraduate Certificate
    Information Science/Studies – Master’s Degree

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $14,760
    Out-of-State: $30,438
    Average Net Price: $16,691
    College Retention Rate: 93%, Full-time Students; 67%, Part-time Students

Minnesota Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees

Minnesota students can also pursue an associate degree in computer science or a certificate in cyber security. While these degrees may not qualify graduates for employment right away, they can lead to entry-level positions or future educational opportunities in the future. Not every college and university in Minnesota offers associate degrees in cyber security, but many do have programs related to information technology.

  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $5,396
    Out-of-State: $12,868
    College Retention Rate: 52%, Full-time Students; 42%, Part-time Students

  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $5,692
    Out-of-State: $10,838
    Average Net Price: $10,068
    College Retention Rate: 63%, Full-time Students; 40%, Part-time Students

  • Century College

    Tuition Cost

    College Retention Rate: 56% for full-time students and 47% for part-time students.

  • Inver Hills Community College

    Tuition Cost

    In-State: $5,435
    Out-of-State: $10,600
    College Retention Rate: 56%, Full-time Students, 41%, Part-time Students

Scholarships

  • Capella Progress Reward - $8,000 Bachelor’s Scholarship

    Amount: $8,000
    Deadline: Beginning of the Semester
    Link: https://www.capella.edu/tuition-financial-aid/scholarships-grants/scholarships-new-students/bachelors-8k-scholarship/
    The Capella Progress Reward for undergraduates is funded by Capella University. The university understands that progressing toward a degree can be difficult. In an effort to recognize the determination to graduate, the institution offers new and returning students this scholarship for use toward tuition costs. It is not need-based.

  • Undergraduate Scholarships

    Amount: $1,000-$5,000
    Deadline: February 24
    Link: https://iamcybersafe.org/s/undergraduate-scholarships
    The Undergraduate Scholarships are funded by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education. Each year, the institute awards up to 20 scholarships to students pursuing, or planning to pursue, a degree with a focus on cyber security or information assurance.

  • Thomson Reuters Scholarship

    Amount: $500-$1,000
    Deadline: Fall & Spring
    Link: https://www.inverhills.edu/Foundation/Scholarships.aspx
    The Thomson Reuters Scholarship is funded by Inver Hills Community College. The scholarship is awarded to a student enrolling in the information technology degree program. Preference is given to students who attended Apple Valley High School’s E3 Program, Como High School, or Humboldt High School YCC programs. Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement, community/campus service, and financial need, as well as have recommendations.

  • Computer Support Technology Scholarship

    Amount: $200-$500
    Deadline: April 1
    Link: https://mnwest.academicworks.com/opportunities/309
    The Computer Support Technology Scholarship is funded by Minnesota West Community & Technical College. The scholarship is awarded to students on the Granite Falls campus enrolled in the Computer Support or Information Security & Assurance program. Students must be enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours and have at least a 2.5 GPA in order to qualify. You’ll complete a general application for the college to apply.

Conferences and Workshops

Cyber Security Summit

The Cyber Security Summit takes place every fall. In its tenth year, the event brings together a variety of technology professionals, business manages, government staff members, and academics from all over the country. Attendees have access to expert presentations and panels for two full days.

Secure360

Secure360 was created by a group of security and risk management professionals to provide education and advancement opportunities in the field. The event occurs yearly. This all-encompassing experience unites professionals at all levels in the industry for collaboration.

Security B-Sides MSP

Security B-Sides MSP is an education community event designed to bring information security professionals together. This grassroots conference takes place once a year and offers several speaker tracks and workshops. The event is two days long, but additional training is often offered the day before as well.

Minnesota Cyber Security Jobs and Salary

Most professionals in computer-related security occupations work as information security analysts, computer system analysts, computer programmers, database administrators, and network and computer systems administrators. In 2018, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported there were 35,740 of these positions in Minnesota, with the highest employment levels in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington. As these individuals are responsible for planning and carrying out security measures intended to protect company, organizational, and government computer systems, demand for their skills is high. Employment in this field is projected to grow between up to 32% from 2018 to 2028, with information security analysts experiencing the best job outlook. This is much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Overall, the earning potential for individuals involved with cyber security is decent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for information security analysts in Minnesota was $94,040 in 2018. Even the lowest paying of these positions, network and computer systems administration, still reported a median annual wage of $85,620 in 2018. These salaries are significantly higher than the median annual wage reported for all occupations in the United States, which is $37,690.

It is worth noting that salaries will vary significantly depending on the position and years of experience a professional has. For example, computer programmers in the bottom 10% of the profession’s pay scale made less than $48,790, whereas those in the top 10% of the information security analysts pay scale made more than $156,580.

Resources

(ISC)2 Twin Cities – Minnesota Chapter

The Minnesota Chapter of the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC) is a membership organization that covers an area including Greater Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington. They strive to create a safe environment for information security practitioners to openly share their expertise and ideas.

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) – Minnesota Chapter

The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is a not-for-profit, international organization made up of information security professionals and practitioners. The Minnesota Chapter provides a wide variety of forums, publications, peer interaction opportunities, events, and resources to the local community.

OWASP Minneapolis – St. Paul (MSP)

The OWASP MSP is a professional, non-profit association that is open to individuals interested in software security. While the association is made up of global members, local chapters are run independently. Their goal is to provide unbiased, practical, cost-effective information about application security.

Minnesota Cyber Careers Consortium – Mn (C)3

The Minnesota Cyber Careers Consortium was built to address the many needs of the state’s cyber security workforce, as well as assist businesses dealing with cyber risks. They accomplish this by providing Minnesota college and university students with the resources needed to transition into professional careers, advancing awareness of cyber security issues, and facilitating continuing education and training for the existing workforce.

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