The graduate specialization in information assurance provides you with a practical understanding of the principles of data protection, cybersecurity, and computer forensics. Perfect for midcareer professionals or career changers, the information assurance specialization offers sought-after skills in network and internet security, intrusion detection and prevention, and cryptology, while also strengthening your core IT knowledge and project management abilities.

UMGC was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

These requirements are for students who enroll in the 2020–2021 academic year. For prior year academic requirements, visit our catalog archive.

About the Information Technology Master's Degree with Information Assurance Specialization

What You'll Learn

Through your coursework, you will learn how to

  • Secure information using knowledge of symmetric and asymmetric keys, protocols for exchanging secure data (including the Data Encryption Standard and the Advanced Encryption Standard), and other cryptographic methods and cryptanalysis tools
  • Protect networks using risk analysis, defense models, security policy development, authentication and authorization controls, firewalls, packet filtering, virtual private networks (VPNs), and wireless network security
  • Respond to attacks with damage assessments, data forensics, attack tracing, and system recovery processes for continuity of operation
  • Identify system vulnerabilities and attack patterns and solve problems with intrusion detection tactics
  • Navigate ethics, relevant laws, regulations, policies, and standards
  • Lead successful teams with advanced project management skills

Coursework Examples

In past projects, students have had the opportunity to

  • Study and experiment with real-world tools and techniques to perform
    • Information risk analysis
    • Network packet analysis
    • Forensics evidence collection and preservation
    • Protocol analysis
    • Intrusion detection and prevention
    • Encryption/decryption of files and messages
    • Vulnerability assessments

Industry Certification

This program can help prepare you for the following certification exam(s):

Information Technology Master's Degree with Information Assurance Specialization Requirements

Our curriculum is designed with input from employers, industry experts, and scholars. You'll learn theories combined with real-world applications and practical skills you can apply on the job right away.

Master's - specialization Courses

Initial Requirement

  • UCSP 615
    (to be taken within the first 6 credits of study)

Core Courses

  • ITEC 610
  • ITEC 625
  • ITEC 626
  • ITEC 630
  • ITEC 640

Specialization Courses

  • INFA 610
  • INFA 620
  • INFA 630
  • INFA 640
  • INFA 650
  • INFA 660

Capstone Course

  • INFA 670

Course Rules and Program Progression

  • ITEC 610 must be taken in the first term of coursework.
  • INFA 610 must be taken as the first specialization course.
  • You must complete all other specialization coursework before taking INFA 670.

Other Requirements

  • You must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher at all times.
  • All degree requirements must be fulfilled within five consecutive years.
  • Any transfer credits must have been earned within the five-year time frame to be applied toward a graduate degree.

Please review our overview of overall master's degree requirements for additional considerations.

Career Preparation

This program is designed to help prepare you for a career in the cyber security and information assurance field in the areas of network and Internet security, intrusion detection and prevention, cryptology, cyber law, and software assurance.

Experience Recommended for Success in the Program

You are expected to have some familiarity with Microsoft Excel. You are also expected to have some background in information technology. This background may be acquired through noncredit preparatory coursework, listed below.

If you do not have previous coursework or experience in programming, you are strongly advised to first enroll in UCSP 635 and UCSP 636 to gain the appropriate foundation. Taking UCSP 605 is recommended to help improve writing skills.

Student Clubs and Organizations

    Type: Student organization
    Available To: Undergraduate and Graduate

    The Computing Club aims to create a dynamic environment where members can work collaboratively, share innovative ideas, enhance their career-readiness, and gain marketable experience in their respective fields.

    Type: Student organization
    Available To: Undergraduate and Graduate

    The Cyber Competition Team represents UMGC at various cybersecurity events and highly competitive tournaments nationwide. Students hone their cybersecurity skills, learn to work effectively as a team, and network with other students, cyber professionals, and prospective employers.

    Type: Honor society
    Available To: Undergraduate and Graduate

    Upsilon Pi Epsilon is the international honor society for the computing and information disciplines. Formed in 1967, the purpose of Upsilon Pi Epsilon is to promote the computing and information sciences and to encourage the enhancement of knowledge in the field. Upsilon Pi Epsilon is open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a degree in the computing and information disciplines.

Special Designations

PSM LogoThis program has received a special designation as a Professional Science Master's Degree by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Additional Information

Technology Requirements

This program's curriculum requires that you use a computer with the following:

  • Microphone and speakers or headset with microphone or equivalent device
  • 5 GB of free hard drive space
  • 4 GB RAM or higher
  • A high-speed internet connection
  • Computer processor (Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64) running at speeds of at least 1 GHz
  • Windows 8.1 or Mac OS X 10.6 or higher for an operating system (Linux operating systems can also be used but require more technical knowledge from the user)

Note: The higher the processor speed of your computer (e.g., 2.4–3.4 GHz), the larger the amount of available memory (e.g., 4–12 GB), and the larger the amount of available hard drive space (e.g., 5–20 GB), the better your computer will perform and the smoother your experience will be.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Program

What is the difference between information assurance and cyber security? +

Information assurance focuses on the confidentiality, integrity, availability, authentication, and validation of data. These are all accepted, well-understood, and mostly technical issues. Cyber security focuses on securing the safety of computers and computer systems in a networked environment—security issues typically are approached from a broader background, including socio-economic, political, and psychological contexts.