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Cybersecurity Degree vs. Information Technology Degree Programs

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Studying Cybersecurity or Information Technology (IT)

Nowadays, it seems that stories about cybersecurity breaches are always in the news. Malware, phishing and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are constant threats in this digital age. And because such cyber threats continue to grow, organizations are forced to try to stay ahead of the hackers using innovative cybersecurity measures.

If you’re interested in cybersecurity, an information technology or computer science cybersecurity degree concentration could provide an opportunity for you to study skills related to this field.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Organizations tend to have their own definitions of cybersecurity:

  • The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) defines cybersecurity as the art of protecting networks, devices and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.1
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cybersecurity as the process of protecting information by preventing, detecting and responding to attacks.2
  • Cisco defines cybersecurity as practice of protecting systems, networks and programs from digital attacks. It involves a multi-layered approach of people, processes and technology.3

But despite the different wording, these definitions essentially mean the same thing: cybersecurity involves the protection of electronic data and devices from internet threats. It is focused on making sure that wide area networks (WAN), local area networks (LAN) and other digital communication networks are secure.

Information Security vs. Cybersecurity

While cybersecurity encompasses various measures and approaches taken to protect data and devices from cyberattacks, information security, or InfoSec, refers specifically to the processes and tools designed to protect sensitive data.4 Information security is commonly thought of as a subset of cybersecurity. If you were to visually illustrate information security vs. cybersecurity, information security would appear as a smaller circle within the larger circle of cybersecurity.

What Is IT Security?

IT security refers to securing electronic data from unauthorized users or hackers through computer network security measures. IT security can be thought of as encompassing three different categories:5

  1. Physical Security (protecting people and infrastructure by securing buildings, server rooms and wiring closets, for example)

  2. Information Security (InfoSec)

  3. Cybersecurity

IT security can also be further broken down into additional security categories:6

  1. Network security

  2. Internet security

  3. Endpoint security

  4. Cloud security

  5. Application security

Why Is IT Security Important?

Although IT security is important in all types of organizations and industries, the need for increased protection against cyber threats has become particularly important in the financial and healthcare sectors. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which applies to the handling and storage of certain types of electronic health data, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which aims to protect shareholders from accounting fraud, are two examples of laws passed by Congress that mandate various data security measures. It is the job of the information technology department to ensure that appropriate IT security measures are taken to comply with such laws.

What Is Information Technology?

Information technology refers to the art and applied sciences that deal with data and information. It also refers to both the hardware and software components involved in electronic data collection, transmission and storage, e.g., computers, operating systems and communications hardware and software.7

IT professionals are responsible for ensuring that effective IT security measures are in place and that an organization’s data and information is safe and secure. Most computer and information technology-related occupations require that candidates possess at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field.8 Information security analysts, for example, usually have completed a bachelor’s in computer and information technology or a related field.9 And computer and information systems managers usually have earned a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science, plus related work experience.10 However, some employers in both fields may require a Master of Business Administration (MBA) on top of a bachelor’s degree in addition to work experience in a related occupation.

Cybersecurity Degree Programs and Certificates

In addition to computer science and information technology degree programs, some institutions offer cybersecurity degree programs. A cybersecurity degree program’s curriculum will, unsurprisingly, focus primarily on cybersecurity. Courses on ethical hacking, digital forensics and penetration testing, for example, are standard.

If you’re interested in cybersecurity but aren’t sure if you want it to be your main focus, then an IT degree or a computer science degree program with a concentration in cybersecurity might be a better fit for you. But which one? What is the difference between a computer science vs. information technology degree program?

  • The main difference is that computer science degree programs are more focused on the skills and knowledge needed for designing computer programs.
  • information technology degree programs are more focused on developing the skills and knowledge you’ll need for evaluating an organization’s computer and security needs and deciding which computer programs to install and maintain.

If you’ve already earned your degree but want to enhance your qualifications, organizations like Cisco and CompTIA offer various cybersecurity certifications that may be required or desired by some employers.11

IT Degree and Computer Science Degree Programs

If you’re interested in an IT career, a bachelor’s-level computer science degree or information technology degree program could help you prepare to pursue entry-level roles. For more advanced roles, you might even consider a computer science or information technology master’s program. And if you’re not yet ready to commit to a four-year degree program, an information technology associate degree program could be an early, significant step on your cybersecurity career path journey.

Colorado Technical University offers bachelor’s and master’s information technology online degree programs with various concentration options. We also offer a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science—Cybersecurity Engineering degree program and a Master of Science in Computer Science—Cybersecurity Engineering degree program.

Cybersecurity and IT Careers —Projected Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and information technology job growth will increase 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, largely due to factors such as cloud computing, big data collection and storage and InfoSec.*,8

More specifically, the number of cybersecurity jobs is projected to rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of information security analysts will grow 35 percent from 2021 to 2031. This amounts to approximately 19,500 projected openings each year, on average, over the decade.*,9

It also projects that employment of computer and information systems managers (also known as IT managers or IT project managers) will grow 16 percent during this same period. But don’t be fooled by the comparatively lower projected job growth rate for computer and information systems managers—the BLS projects that there should be an average of about 48,500 annual openings in this occupation each year from 2021-2031.*,10

* This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

Cybersecurity and IT Careers—Work Experience

To become a computer and information systems manager, most employers require that qualified candidates possess prior relevant work experience in an information technology job, though how much experience is needed will vary based on the role. Further, the type of IT work experience matters. Someone pursuing an IT manager position in healthcare should have prior IT healthcare experience, while someone pursuing an IT security manager position should have work experience in information security and/or cybersecurity.10

Similarly, information security analysts typically need prior professional experience in a related occupation (e.g., working in an IT department as a network or systems administrator) and may even need this experience to be in whatever field the position is in (e.g., prior work experience as a database administrator for a database security role).9

Interested in cybersecurity? Explore CTU’s information technology degree programs to learn more about our concentrations and course offerings or apply online today.

* This data represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement.
The list of career paths related to this program is based on a subset from the Bureau of Labor Statistics CIP to SOC Crosswalk. Some career paths listed above may require further education or job experience.

1 CISA, “What Is Cybersecurity?,” (visited 12/2/2022).
2 NIST, Computer Security Resource Center, Glossary, “Cybersecurity,” (visited 12/2/2022).
3 CISCO, “What Is Cybersecurity?,” (visited 12/2/2022).
4 CISCO, “What Is Information Security?,” (visited 12/2/2022).
5 James Stanger, What Is the Difference Between IT Security and Cybersecurity?,” CompTIA (12/2/2022),
6 CISCO, “What Is IT Security?,” (visited 12/2/2022).
7 NIST, Computer Security Resource Center, Glossary, “Information Technology (IT),” (visited 12/2/2022).
8 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Technology Occupations,” (visited 12/2/2022).
9 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Information Security Analysts,” (visited 12/19/2022).
10 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Computer and Information Systems Managers,” (visited 12/2/2022).
11 CTU cannot guarantee that graduates of any program will be eligible to take third-party certification examinations. Certification requirements for taking and passing these exams are controlled by outside entities and are subject to change without notice to CTU.

Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1840792 12/2022

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