Methodology for Fortune’s ranking of online cybersecurity programs

BY Sydney LakeJune 29, 2022, 10:50 PM

As of late 2021, there were more than 715,000 cybersecurity jobs left to be filled in the U.S., research shows. And demand for these professionals is only expected to grow during the next decade—by 33% to be exact—more than four times faster than the average for all occupations, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These jobs also have salaries to match the demand. Depending on experience, education, and the type of role, cybersecurity professionals, on average, make well into the six figures. Plus, your earning potential shoots up with credentials—like a master’s degree in cybersecurity.

There are many reasons to explain the number of open jobs in cybersecurity, including an increase in data breaches each year and a move toward a more digitized work environment. But the crux of the talent shortage has to do with a lack of qualified professionals in the field, experts agree. Because cybersecurity is such a technical field, positions often have certification or degree requirements. That’s where Fortune comes in.

This year, we’ve launched our inaugural ranking of online master’s degree programs in cybersecurity to help students find the best opportunities to join the growing industry. In total, we ranked 20 online master’s of cybersecurity programs.

Our final ranking is made up of three components: Selectivity Score, Success Score, and Demand Score.

Selectivity Score (50%)

The best cybersecurity programs have both world class professors and a top-notch curriculum. But that’s not all: They should also attract some of the brightest students. The post-college success (or lack of success) of those alumni helps to shape how the outside world will view that program. It’s also why Fortune put so much weight on the strength of a school’s incoming class.

To calculate the Selectivity Score, we started by looking at the average undergraduate GPA of incoming students. Finally, we weighted the program’s acceptance rate. Simply put: Programs that are challenging to get accepted into attracted a stronger cohort of students.

Success Score (30%)

To hold programs accountable, we measured both one-year retention rates and graduation rates.

Demand Score (20%)

If programs aren’t successful, they won’t be able to continue to attract and graduate top students year in and year out. Not to mention, a larger student body also means a larger alumni network. That’s why we measured the total size of program’s most recent graduating class.