Get Your Cybersecurity Degree in HALF THE TIME – Here’s How!

Get Your Cybersecurity Degree in Half the Time – Here’s How!

Wondering how long does it take to get a cybersecurity degree?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 44% of students take the four years to complete a degree. Unfortunately, a roughly equal amount takes between four to ten years to complete their degree. The other 12% might as well retire first.

While you can perform quite well without a degree, you’re automatically putting yourself at a disadvantage.

But what if I told you, you could get your bachelor’s degree in as little as 2.5 years?!

Continue reading as I discuss college credits, your options between a traditional classroom setting vs. online classes, various accelerated programs, and even if it makes sense to pursue a Master’s degree.

Factors That Make a Difference

A traditional bachelor’s degree, no matter which major you decide on, requires approximately 120 semester credits, and takes four years to complete. This is also true of students majoring in cybersecurity.

However, the duration for completing a cyber security degree may vary depending on factors such as:

how to finish college faster

Course Credits: Instead of completing four years of physical coursework, you can save time by testing out of courses and receiving college credit.

Transfer Credits: If you’ve already completed credits from another institution, some of those credits may be transferable to your new college or university to further reduce the completion time of your degree.

Schedules: Some degree programs offer part-time or full-time tracks to help students balance work, life, and school. While part-time programs require less of an up-front commitment, they can also increase the time it takes to earn a degree.

Degree Program: Graduation requirements are university specific, resulting in course loads that may differ slightly. Additionally, several universities offer various cyber degree programs depending on your pace and aptitude, such as competency-based or accelerated programs.

Receive College Credit for a Quicker Graduation

Still in High School?

If you’re in high school, you can shorten the time you spend in college by receiving college credits.

While still attending high school, it’s worth your time to pursue college credits using one of three methods: by either participating in your school’s Advance Placement (AP) courses, Concurrent Enrollment (CE) in college while still attending high school, or enrolling in your school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

advanced placement, concurrent enrollment, international baccalaureate

Depending on the program and if you’re accepted, you can shave off as much as a year from your college degree.

No Longer in School?

If you’re no longer in school, you can still receive college credit by passing the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam.

If you pass multiple exams, you might have enough to credit out of your freshman year at college. It’s a quick way to test out of non-relevant courses so you can turn a 4-year degree into a 3-year degree.

The upside with CBE is that it’s pass/fail, you don’t receive a letter grade. As long as you score 63% on the exam, you pass. And the great news is that CLEP is accepted by over 2,900 college institutions, so it’s worth checking out.

At this point, all you need to do is research which college or university would accept your credits and is also aligned with your cybersecurity educational goals.

Is a Cyber Security Degree Online or On-Campus Faster?

Certainly, there are benefits of attending a cybersecurity course on campus.

You get to interact with your peers, have in-person face-to-face exposure with your professors, and there’s always help when you need it because professors (or their teaching assistants) are usually available off-hours.

Unfortunately, the biggest downside of being in a classroom environment is that you’re stuck with the professor’s curriculum. There’s no skipping past topics you already know, or feel are easier to whiz past.

That’s where online learning really shines; it can be beneficial if you have the mindset and are dedicated to self-paced learning.

With online learning on the rise, many educational institutions are now offering online cyber security degrees, which provide increased flexibility and accessibility!

This means that you can obtain your degree by completing more coursework in a shorter amount of time.

While there are downsides to an online program, the biggest advantage is the speed at which a course can be completed.

That’s Not Fast Enough!

If you’re ready to learn at an even faster pace, there’s also another option that you might not have heard of called a “competency-based degree program.”

A competency-based education (CBE) is a non-traditional educational model wherein you learn at your own pace.

It’s very different than most students are accustomed to because there’s no instructor teaching you face-to-face.

Depending on your learning style and how dedicated you are, a CBE model might work in your favor.

Many institutions will charge a flat fee per term during which you may register for as many courses as you can handle, offering a tremendous cost and time savings.

Instead of studying during semester-long courses, a CBE course is completed as soon as you’ve demonstrated mastery of the program by successfully passing an exam or an assigned project.

Another point is that it’s not offered everywhere. As of right now, I could only find Purdue Global as the only online school to offer such a program.

Which Cyber Security Program is Faster?

When deciding upon a degree program, it’s important to understand which courses you’ll be expected to take.

You might find some overlap in the concepts between one degree program and another, so it may not matter too much which program you choose. In other cases, there could be significant differences.

Something else to consider is that universities may have multiple types of cybersecurity programs.

One university might offer a single degree with courses covering a wide range of cybersecurity while another may offer multiple distinct majors with more specialized courses.

I’m not saying one program is better than the other; however, I am saying that in choosing an institution, it should be based upon how their program best fits your needs.

Should I Pursue a Master’s Degree?

A master’s in cybersecurity is an additional 30-36 credits and takes up to two years to complete. It may also require prerequisites that are more rigorous than those offered in a bachelor’s degree.

If you decide to pursue a master’s degree, then the fastest way to move forward is with an accelerated program that some universities offer.

In an accelerated program, you effectively receive a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in one program and in a shorter amount of time, assuming you stick with the same university. Think of it as “killing two birds with one stone.”

Earn Credits for Work Experience

Many colleges will let you convert relevant work experience into college credits, reducing your graduation time.

PLAs evaluate the knowledge and skills you’ve gained outside traditional classrooms through your work experience.

By demonstrating your expertise, you can earn credits for specific courses, making your educational journey shorter and more cost-effective.

For instance, if you have substantial experience in network security, you might bypass introductory cybersecurity courses.

Using PLAs not only saves time and money but also provides formal recognition for the skills you’ve acquired professionally. This approach validates your experience and accelerates your path to a cybersecurity degree.

For more details, check out resources from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and your prospective institutions.

College Credits for Military Training

If you’re a veteran, you can use your military training and experience to earn college credits and speed up your path to a cybersecurity degree.

Many colleges recognize the value of military service and offer ways to convert your experience into academic credits.

Programs like the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) and the American Council on Education (ACE) provide guidelines and recommendations for translating military training into college credits.

These credits can apply to general education requirements or specific cybersecurity courses, depending on your military background. You save time and money, making your transition to a civilian career in cybersecurity smoother and more efficient.

Utilizing your military training not only accelerates your degree completion but also honors the skills and knowledge you’ve gained during your service.

Earn Credits with Industry Certifications

You can even fast-track your cybersecurity degree by converting your industry certifications into college credits.

Certifications like CompTIA Security+, CISSP, and CEH are highly valued by many colleges and can replace certain academic courses, saving you time and money.

Many colleges have agreements to accept these certifications as credit. For instance, a CompTIA Security+ certification might give you credits for a network security course. Similarly, advanced certifications like CISSP can translate into credits for more specialized coursework.

Start by researching colleges that recognize these certifications. Check their policies on credit transfer and see how your certifications can be applied toward your degree. Consulting an academic advisor will help ensure your certifications are recognized and guide you through the process.

Utilizing certifications not only reduces the number of courses you need to complete but also validates the skills and knowledge you’ve already acquired.

This allows you to focus on more advanced topics and hands-on experiences that will further enhance your career prospects in cybersecurity.


Although you may be able to find creative ways of doubling up on these programs to save time and money, the university will only let you go so far. For instance, many institutions won’t let you utilize any CLEP credits if you’re going to opt for the CBE program.

Conversely, on an accelerated program you may be able to use some college credit towards a master’s.

Again, each university has specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them prior to enrolling.

How long is a cyber security degree? If done correctly, you may be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in about 2.5 years, and if you’re smart enough, you can kick in a master’s degree for an additional year.

Of course, the question of how long does cyber security take ultimately depends on college credits awarded, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and the level of personal commitment and motivation you possess.

Once you’ve finished your degree, the next step would be to get that resume polished for your new career!

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